Kool Thing – the LSK SVHC Scottish Masters Road Relays 2022

I love these relays.

Usually taking place at the end of January it’s a good wee guide to see how the winter training is going, and for the likes of me usually no pressure as I’ve tended to be Motherwell C or D team, at a stretch B, so if not much in the legs it’s not going to cause much harm. In fact the biggest harm I have caused doing it was one year when my legs went one way and my body went another when I tried to turn a gravel corner too quickly, had a wee tumble and my finger detached at my knuckle, but at least I finished so that Jim White could get a run. I still can’t write properly as the dislocation never quite reset but at least I got a Strava segment named after me. If you are running down Strathy and see the “Finger banging” segment on Strava then get your mind out of the gutter, you can blame young Kev for that tribute.

I digress, sorry. Aye, so anyway, January. No pressure. Blah blah blah. This time though it’s in July. And since I’m over 50 now I’m in a 50s team. And it’s Cambuslang now. No guarantee I’ll make the team as really strong strength in depth but with at least three big names out I do get the call. Unfortunately this year I made the mistake of having a good sprint finish once and because of this I have to anchor the team and try and bring a medal home for our below strength team. I am told this at training on the Thursday, do I sleep that night? Of course not. Friday? Hardly a wink. Saturday? now I believe you are having a giraffe. The pressure has hit me. Out my wee limber up jog on Saturday and every time I thought about it my legs felt weak. I didn’t want to be the one that cost the team a medal. I have no idea when I last anchored a team, it could be back in the 80s possibly when I had hair and people couldn’t slag you on the internet for being shit on the last leg, they would have to write to you, and you knew you weren’t worth a stamp so unless you provided a stamp addressed envelope you were ok. Nope. I am used to being the weak link in these teams, either first so they could make up the damage, or in the middle after a fast guy and told to just not lose too much. I suppose it’s a compliment but for someone like me who gets nervous just taking his parkrun barcode out the drawer it was heavy.

I manage to talk myself down a bit by reminding myself that if we were missing people so were other teams. It’s summer holiday season, it’s still COVID season, there are other races on. And actually who cares about a bunch of old men running round a park apart from us old men running round the park? It’s a hobby you daft baldy old git, get a grip. What would be would be. I know every inch of the course from my MAC days which would be to my advantage as many others didn’t. I did hear a horror story of a competitor doing around 6 miles on the 3.75 mile course and for once it wasn’t me who got lost. It was actually a different and longer course this year coming in just over 6k as the powers that be had banned the race from the front of the boathouse so we had to divert round the back on the road with the start and finish moved to a narrow path. Quite ironic that the section of the park known for being the focal point of the commonwealth games triathlon won’t allow a running race on it but it is what it is.

Right baldy, too much moaning. You need to stop because it was good fun wasn’t it? And it was, forgetting about any results. Stop getting yourself caught up in what may or not be result wise because the relays are always great fun. There’s a special atmosphere about it, friendly competition. As I had suspected on chatting to friends from other clubs they were all below strength too. All we could all do was go out and all race our best on the day and see how it all panned out. I was fortunate with my team. Myself and Richard are the newcomers to the side but Dave and Chris put Muttley to shame on the medal stakes. Chris had actually completed his 1200th race in 22 years of running the day before, averaging more than a race a week over 22 years. Dave I think had just been racing for 1200 years but you get the drift, experienced racers. The really great thing from our club’s perspective was looking throughout the teams. The experienced ones like I said. The relatively new ones like myself and Richard who have raced for a while but are quite new to Cambuslang and then there were people running their first races having come through the development squad which was set up around a year ago. How cool was that?

Kool Thing.

Making that step must have been daunting, I know how I felt on my first race back 10 years ago. But we were all there for each other. Round the course supporting each other. Even clubmates who weren’t running had turned up to give support and it was all appreciated. Being last leg I got to watch the race unfold. Leg 1 and watched with Cumbernauld crew in awe as Grant from EK in the 35s race went to the front and stayed there, running the fastest leg of the day and finishing a long way ahead. Richie had our 35s team (now known as the youngsters) in contention, with George in the B team hot on his heels, a couple of brilliant runs. Dave on the first leg for us ran solid as we knew he would but we also knew Cumbernauld, our big rivals on the day, had sent their fastest runner out first and Hoggy, a runner with a great pedigree, had built a good lead. Leg 2 was a great one with Hodgey putting the youngsters into a lead that they wouldn’t lose (great legs by Al and Robbo too) and Chris making great inroads to be within touching distance of Cumbernauld. Richard is flying, I knew he would have a good leg. In 20 minutes it would be up to me, and I was nervous. And something bizarre had happened. I started chatting to Paul from MAC, then a few more from MAC including the coaches. Coach Joe even asked me into their team photo when I stepped away. It was really good to feel the warmth from some good people at MAC as when I left there was some less than good things said and done, but it’s good to know that was just individuals and not the club, as I still have a lot of time for the club that did so much for me, and I’ll always want them to do well.

Kool Thing.

Right, enough soppy shite, Richard turns the corner, he looks to have built a sizeable gap. I’m ready to go.

Solid run required, no heroics, no falling on my arse, and despite having to run through the mean looking gaggle of geese after the first corner I stayed on my feet and intact.

I used gaggle in a blog. Excellent.

The team had basically done the job for me, this was simply about getting it across the line. I wasn’t going to look back at all. If I could maintain a decent consistent pace then all should be fine. As close to 3.30 ks as I could would be ideal as it’s basically a time trial now. I was fortunate to have a few in the M35 and ladies race in front that I could try and pick off, so the first part of the race was spent doing that.

Came alongside Iain from our B team in his first outing for us and he was doing just grand. Brilliant to see. There was great support out there but I have to admit to losing concentration on the third mile on the wee daft uphill bit with no one to chase, against the wind and with no one watching but as I came into the last mile Colin Feechan was there to tell me in no uncertain terms to get the finger out, increase the pace and to go for a time. He scares me and he was of course right so despite being against the wind I tried to up it again. I finished well enough, had some good cheering from both the Cambuslang and MAC squads and got the short sprint of glory over the line. Great team effort and job done.

The team seemed as happy with me as I was with them so we got our picture taken. Many would have confused us with the hottest new boy band sensation, and our birth lines were scrutinised by forensic genealogists before we got given our trophy. Our youngsters collected theirs and our ladies team got a well fought bronze, a cracking day for the Cambuslang masters.

The hottest boy band in Lanarkshire
The young and old supergroup

On a personal level my time of 21.28 was second fastest M50 (18th overall) behind the class act that is Davie Gardiner, with Richard and Chris being 3rd and 4th.

I got to take the trophy home to show my boys. Bling speaks and I think they were proud. So I got my picture taken with them.

Very very kool thing.

So there we go, another cracking days racing, I got all stressed but no one got shot. Daft Baldy heid. Cheers all my running pals for a great day. Cheers to Kenny Phillips, Joe Hoolaghan, mark McLean, Paul Burns, Keiran Cooper and Elaine Gallacher for the pics, and Sonic Youth for their 1990 twisted guitar hooked pop belter, now on the playlist.

Kool Thing.

3 thoughts on “Kool Thing – the LSK SVHC Scottish Masters Road Relays 2022

  1. You flew past me about four hundred meters into your leg (I was the really auld and shuffling guy in the Calderglen vest) and watched as you quickly disappeared into the distance, not to be seen again. Very strong, impressive running Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

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