Carousels – The Scottish XC relays 2022

Firstly thanks for the many hundreds of you (!) who read my wee rant last week about the Great Scottish Run. I’d have spent a bit more time on it if I though it was going to be more than just me and my tortoise that read it. I may be an an old man who yells at clouds (cheers Legend), but I stand by every word I wrote and thanks for the support.

Moving on though it’s a Saturday and I make the picturesque drive in the pouring rain through Airdrie and along the A73 to Cumbernauld.

By choice.

I wasn’t forced.

It’s that time of the year. Hatred and love. The camaraderie and excitement of the Scottish Cross Country relays at the hell that is Cumbernauld. Hell because it’s a tough, tough course, it’s pouring, and it’s muddy, but it typifies what Scottish Cross Country is all about. It’s a pretty perfect course as much as I detest every hill, swamp and turn. I won’t make this a long blog so I’ll crack straight on with it. I arrived as the kids races were on and already the atmosphere was amazing. Pure effort. Team support. Family support. As much I was dreading this as I was worried about letting my team down it was so easy to get dragged into the event despite the weather. Cheering everywhere, the course such that you can see what’s happening over most of the race. As my race drew closer the rain hit it’s crescendo. Wetter than Gareth Malone in an otter’s pocket. I was on leg 2 so as I waited for the first leg runners to do their stuff I was mingingly saturated and my hair pretty much ruined… The 50s race was stacked with great teams this year and to be honest I felt that if we got top 5 we would do really well. Brian ran our first leg and had a cracker, and it was brilliant seeing him back up there after a few tough years for him. Cumbernauld were well clear as expected, but Brian had us in in 7th and in touch with a few other teams. The starting pen was chaos, and trying to just get to the front to run as Brian came in was like trying to get 2p at a wedding scramble in Greenock. Elbows, fists, kicks, and that was just the timekeepers. VAR would have went into overload. The first mile is pretty much all uphill so it’s crucial to get your pacing right.

I didn’t.

I could see Forbesy ahead and went after him and as I went to overtake him he played the “putting you off game” by falling on his arse. When I say on his arse he took a while to get there, as he seemed to kick like a karate expert then somersault like that lad Whitlock. It was a high scorer both on execution and difficulty to be honest. I had my splits from my previous run here and was disappointed to see that after a k I was 10 or 11 seconds slower than I had been on my last visit. I had been too cautious and in a relay race you just can’t do that. Up the top of the first big climb and ahead of me I could see Shettleston and Corstorphine who I assumed would be right up there, but they were further ahead than I wanted. I tried the best I could, down and up, round and through the swamps, but never really felt I got moving until the last k. Up the hill round the tree then the loop to finish and I am starting to move and catch a little. Sprint hard to the line maybe 5 or 6 seconds behind Corstorphine in 4th place with one leg to go and just felt like I had let the team down, I just hadn’t had the run I thought was in my legs. No excuses, I simply didn’t run well enough. It’s a team event though and Chris on the last leg had an absolute stormer for us. He reeled in Shettleston and Corstorphine, having a great duel with Iain from Corstorphine over the entirety to bring us home in silver. Absolutely amazing. Cumbernauld had led from start to finish and totally deserved their win. On the day I was really annoyed with myself but on reflection even if I had been better it wouldn’t have made any difference. As a team we had done brilliantly, the silver a great achievement. A carousel of emotions over the course of the day.

It’s what relays are all about.

A grand day out.

A grand day out, me and a passing dog.

Thanks to all involved, in particular our hosts Cumbernauld AC. Here’s a few pics of the day, thanks to all who took them, hope I remember you all…. Paul McMonagle, Jennifer Beattie, Iain Burke, Kim Forbes, El Desidente, Bobby Gavin (thatonemoment).

The song? Carousels by Doves. Just because. Enjoy.

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