3rd August 2012


…and now for something completely different. My first track race.

The idea had been brewing since last summer when a couple of colleagues mentioned that the Glasgow Athletics Association were organising metric mile (1500m) and 5000m races with the backing of the British Milers Club, and I noticed that top hill runner Murray Strain had won a 5000m. Captain Chris trumped me by pitching up at a 3000m during the winter meet series, and Dave Calder has always insisted that Westies featured regularly on the track in days of yore. Definitely time to give it a whirl so I entered for the 5000m, assured it would be grouped by ability (“graded”).

It was indeed a graded meet so the metric milers were set off in their groups. Here’s where my problems began. I noticed there were a couple of entrants from Norway, one from Italy, and the record-breaking Laura Muir on the sign-up list. Paul Sorrie, usually deployed by Shettleston to demolish Leg 4 of the Devil’s Burdens, was only in the “B” race (and came second-last). Clearly, I had made a complete horse’s cock of this and was in deep trouble. Worse – the 5000m was graded, but with relatively few entrants all 4 groups would be set off together (bugger!), so my “D” group would be lapped twice by the 14-min “A” group. As my namesake might say, grim.

On the plus side there were pacemakers in each race and for each group in the 5000m. I thought my assigned 1.25/1.26 per lap would be tough but decided to try to stick to it for as long as possible then just gut out the last few laps. Better than being cast adrift in 200 empty metres of Scotstoun’s blue surface. Off we went, and the “D” quartet was joined by Kirkintilloch’s Stephen Allan who decided his “C” group’s 1.17 pace would be too hot. I swapped places with Garscube Harrier Lesley Chisholm during the first half before she jumped ahead to track Stevie through the closing stages when the pacemaker chucked it. It was a painful last quarter for me with lap 11 slumping to a 1.28 but I was still heading for sub-18. Giving everything over the closing stages, I bettered my 17.59 road 5k apogee to claim a PB of 17.54, second in the “D” group to Lesley’s 17.44. Douglas Selman of Corstorphine won the “A” in 14.45.

Despite being third-last of all the 5000m competitors, I was still delighted to have claimed another PB and to have avoided the wooden spoon that looked to be heading my way when I made the rash decision to sign up. With so few racers matching my lowly ability, I didn’t see an alternative to sticking with Stevie and Lesley through the first half then clinging on. Certainly made for a very uncomfortable experience though, taking me to (beyond?) my max.

I actually recommend trying one of these meets as it’ll give you a brutally honest view of how you’re doing, and there’s nowhere to hide once you’re out there on that oval. It can be rather officious (think McAndrew Road Relays and more). You can end up in some very strange groups – Garscube V55 Alex Chisholm was in with a 1500m group of U13s and a U11. It’s very hard work – but once you’ve got your breath back, quite rewarding.

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