Sunday 8 February 2015

Scottish Masters Cross Country


This was my 8th attempt at the Scottish National Masters Cross County.

My first was back in March 2004 when I finished 30th V40, and 48th overall, on a heavy muddy course at Cupar before I even had any cross country spikes.  Things improved a good bit for my next attempt where I placed 5th V40 at Bathgate in 2007.  For the next 4 events at Irvine (x2), Kirkcaldy and Kilmarnock I was always 5th or 7th in my age category.  And then in 2014 was the horror show at Hawick, in the worst conditions anyone had raced, where I was happy just to finish and get off the course. My position was way down as 11th V50.  So apart from 3 times getting 5th age category in the past, I'd never really been close to a medal.

For 2015, I felt much better prepared than the previous few events, and determined to run more positively from the start. I'd run most of this course before as the West Districts in 2013, and knew there was plenty of good running, but it was important to get out fast at the start, since there are a few pinch points.

I found myself well up, without trying too hard, and reeling folk in early on.  It was tempting to keep on overtaking on the first small lap, and also tempting to hold back a fraction, but I ignored any voice hinting at sitting back and forged on, and getting higher up the field than I'd expected.

I sometimes find that running hard and aggressively produces its own positive feedback loop, where having committed the effort, you need to hang on to reap the reward.  Going into the last lap, I still felt reasonably good and strong, and ready for any final battles.  I was swapping places with Greig Glendinning, and was aware of more vests right on my shoulder.  I attacked the final hill to try to slingshot a gap at the top, but runnng off Eddie Stewart drew level alongside.  For an instant I could imagine him passing, but then responded and surged away, and made the last 800 metres count to hold position, and to finish as 1st V50 in 13th place overall, with no older athletes in front.