19 January 2020
Results:
268 started
Westies:
201) Audrey Ayres – 02:32:19
190) Andrew Fullwood – 02:28:03
184) Julia McClure – 02:25:47
143) Emma McCahill – 02:15:06
125) Chris Furse – 02:12:16
118) Romy Beard – 02:10:36
105) Holly Barwick – 02:08:43
100) Saki Nakamura – 02:07:08
67) Ruth Crewe – 01:59:34
56) Tom Finch – 01:57:30
29) Joe Waite – 01:48:45
22) Alasdair MacInnes – 01:47:45
9) Iain Stewart – 01:41:19
Overall losers Andrew Douglas – 1.25.03 and Jill Stephen – 1.46.09
                                                                     The hall of the Selkirk Rugby Football club is crammed with runners. I let the first gulps of hot tea flow from my mouth into the cup while I wait for the prize giving to finish. Runners get up at random to walk to the front and bring a gift to the lady with the microphone. After they have brought their gift, the lady calls out their names. Sally Barr gives her a potato, then Angela Mudge gives her a turnip, and she gets a haggis from Jill Stephen. Then Dessie Flanagan, James Britton and Andrew Douglas do the same. She won’t go hungry for a while! Then the lady at the front thanks a lot of different people who are going to help in the upcoming race. I’m surprised she doesn’t thank runners that brought her the food.
       I pour more tea from my mouth into the cup until it’s full. Then I take my full cup of tea to the tea stand and hand it to the lady whose kettle sucks up the boiling water. She takes the teabag out of the cup and puts it back into the packet. ‘Sure,’ she says. ‘One black tea, please,’ I say. I feel exhausted and my legs are hurting, I really want to sit down. I stand near one of the high tables and lick my fingers. My stomach is nice and full now. Then I slowly build the little haggis pie back up from the ingredients in my mouth. First, the dollop of turnip from the top and then bite by bite, I put it back together, the haggis, the tin layer of mash, the pastry. After the last bite, the lovely taste disappears from my mouth and I’m very hungry. I return the completed pie back to the stand where I hand it to a friendly lady with a ‘thank you’. She takes it and crosses my number off the list.
      It’s time to get changed. I walk outside to get to the changing rooms. Outside the changing rooms, I take my muddy shoes out of a plastic bag and put them on the floor next to the other runners’ shoes. Inside, I take my warm jacket off, and the dry clothes that I’m wearing underneath, and put them into my bag. It’s quite difficult to put my sweaty sticky sports bra back on, and then my Westies vest, my tights and my pants. My arms and legs feel very heavy and I’m cold. I close a door, hoping to find toilets but instead it’s steamy communal showers full of naked men, water rising from the floor up towards the ceiling. None of the women go in; how civilized. I pick my bag up off the floor and leave the changing rooms. I’m shivering as I put my muddy shoes back on.
I jog to the start area trying to warm up a bit. At the start, my teeth clatter and I’m shivering. I jump up and down and cheer on the other Westies that are already starting. Everyone is smiley and they seem so happy to finally get going. I’m waiting around until it’s my turn. I ask Ruth if she will go in under 2 hours and she says ‘1.59 – just.’ My heart rate is increasing and I’m starting to feel a bit warmer, it must be my turn to start soon. I walk to the grass area behind the start line and sit down. Now I’m definitely not cold anymore and I can feel my heart hammer in my chest. I squirt big gulps of water from my mouth into the bottle. I take slow breaths to get myself worked into the right state for starting. Finally it’s time to get up and I just know it’s my turn. I push the stop button on my watch, right at 2.10, and then I cross the start line. I take long hard strides, backwards up the hill. I feel like my arms and legs are all over the place, because the ground is so uneven. I’m digging in hard and am gritting my teeth as I hear the other Westies that are still waiting shouting my name.
     The start line disappears into the distance and I’m filled with a sense of longing to go back there. But I must keep running. There’s a turn, and then the gradual hill starts. I’m trying to push hard to go up it and my feet are slipping. I fly up the hill, this must have been the same hill we’ll go down to the finish. When I get to the top, there’s nothing but heather and I can’t see a path but I follow the other runners that are crawling down in front of me. My legs are hurting and I don’t really want to keep moving. Getting down the hill seems to take forever. I’m pushing my hands onto my knees as I take little steps. Holly is way behind me now.
     At the bottom of the hill I get a faint taste of jelly baby in my mouth. I take the jelly baby out of my mouth, it’s a black one. There’s a marshal holding his hand out for it. ‘Thank you,’ I say and smile. He shouts for it, ‘Jelly baby! Jelly baby!’ I put it in his hand next to the other ones. That jelly baby must be happy, back together with his friends. The marshal smiles encouragingly.
      After 5k I go past Holly, who seems to have plenty of energy and doesn’t seem worried about the hill we just came down.
     ‘Not too bad,’ she says and smiles.
     ‘My legs are hurting. And you?’
     ‘How are you, Romy?’ Holly says as I go past her.
      Then there’s a short stretch of tarmac. I pull a crumpled wrapper out of my back pocket and hold it to my mouth, then squirt some sticky gel into the wrapper. I put the fresh tube into the breast pocket of my running vest. I don’t want to keep running. My legs now really, really hurt. Saki disappears into the distance. As I keep moving she gets closer and I overtake her; that must be her just getting warmed up with another 14k to go. I fly back up the grassy hill, this is quite good fun. My legs are starting to feel fresher.
There’s a girl in a red vest and a guy in a green jacket that keep overtaking me and then I overtake them. I’m working hard as it’s quite runnable. There’s a good uphill and I let my arms swing to the sides. At the top of the hill I squish some water from my mouth into my bottle. It’s cold at the top and I put my arm warmers on, I’m glad I packed them. The route is quite undulating, some good hills to fly up and some descents to crawl down and I’m going at quite a fast pace. Physically I’m in great shape now, I feel there’s a lot more power in my legs than earlier. I’m definitely becoming less tired. I’m pushing hard, although perhaps I’m going too fast? But it still feels sustainable. Kind of.
      And then there’s the last downhill, it must be the last one because according to my watch we’re less than 2k from the finish. It’s a lot more crowded around me now, as if all the runners are getting closer together. I keep going at a steady pace down the hill; my legs are feeling great now. I can see Ruth in the distance behind me. Chris overtakes me and then I overtake him. Then we’re going across the big field where we started, and now there’s tons of folks around me. When I head to the finish line we all manage to coincide, Emma and Julia are right in front of me, and then we all stop at the same time, exactly when the whistle is blown. I stop my Garmin at 0.0km. I shake my legs a little, they feel ok. I jump up and down a bit and stretch my calves, circle my ankles. All the sweat has disappeared. Yep, that was a good run, I feel all nice and fresh now.
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