There is something quite disconcerting about standing on a startline with 450+ runners, and knowing what on earth sort of pace you should start with.
I tried to ease gently and not get too excited on the first lap. My pre-race plan had been to try for laps of just under 15 minutes each, and in fact the first lap was pretty much bang on 15:00. This seemed OK given that the course was pretty muddy and heavy. I don't remember much about the 2nd lap other than getting passed by Mark Johnston and trying to follow him around the golf course, but the gap getting bigger and bigger.
I think I must have been slowing up badly towards the end of the 2nd lap, since I suddenly had company at the start of the 3rd lap from David Wright and Greig Glendinning, shortly followed by Marco Consani. I tried to go with Marco but he was too strong, and instead I tagged along with Dave Eiser for the middle chunk of the final lap. I was probably running too slowly since I suddenly became aware of Paul Thompson right on my heels, which gave me enough of a fright to dash up the grassy slope 3/4 of the way around the loop, and then really start running the final kilometre.
I thought that once I started pressing the final 3.5 minutes, I could hold off any challenges, but I could sense attacks from behind, so had to keep surging and re-surging until the desperately slippery corner into the final straight and with shoes caked in mud you have to give it all you have left for the final 200 metres. This involved 32 seconds of acceleration with the fibres in my hamstrings popping one by one. I knew that Paul was right on my tail and would be doing everything to pip me on the line, so I couldn't be taking any chances, but my right hamstring was really not happy about this. With 20 metres to go I passed Sean Gaffney of Inverclyde and was barreling down on Ben Mitchell of Lasswade, but just pulled out of the challenge with my hamstring about to explode, which was enough to allow Will Hensman to edge me on the line by less than the width of a vest.
Looking at the results afterwards, I couldn't quite understand how Mark and Marco had ended up in positions 86 and 90 respectively. They must have torn through 20 places in the final lap.
I was a little disappointed to finish 111th and miss out on a Top 100 spot, but with Jeff Farqhuar 101st and Allan Fotheringham 102nd, this shows just how tough it is to make the top 100 at the Scottish Nationals.