I keep saying that I am no fan of competitions yet I keep entering races – and I honestly don’t know why I keep finding myself counting down to the inevitable start line dread when it’s a scenario completely of my own making.
I mean – some people choose to do this kind of activity for pleasure !
This year in my commitment to NOT do much racing, I have taken part in the Inverness half marathon (and got a PB), the Balfron 10k – scenic and undulating, the Black Rock 5 – always a fun adventure, participated in a deceptively tough ‘Fun’ 10k in a very hot Direlton, then just last weekend after entering on a whim – completed the Aviemore half marathon ( and got another half PB).
Maybe,like pressing a bruise,there is a tiny part of me that secretly enjoys the discomfort of the whole cycle of running competitions ; from the optimism of signing up, through the reality of inadequate training and the inevitability of lining up at the start, culminating in the joyful satisfaction of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.
Coming late to running after a lifetime of avoidance of any kind of competitive sporting endeavour, I have something of an ambivalent view about races, so my choice of competitions is influenced more by an assessment of the event and if it will be an interesting experience rather than if it might have PB potential.
By that classification – Aviemore ticked lots of boxes. The location is hard to beat, being in the shadow of the Cairngorm mountains surrounded by majestic highland scenery. The size of the race is just about right – big enough for us at the back of pack to not feel pressurised by the club runners, but not so big that you feel the running is overshadowed by razamatazz.
Add to that a route that is essentially downhill and for a large part through trails and forest, with a lovely relaxed start including free tea and coffee for the runners and it is one I would hope to do again.
I was at the race on my own, but or maybe because of this, I met lots of interesting fellow runners – from the guy on the bus who was doing this for a second year and before in two weeks time the Snowdonia marathon , to the lady at the start who – new to running -had run 3 halfs this year and raised over £ 600 for the race charity partner Badaguish / Speyside Trust, to the Speyside trail runners looking towards the Paris marathon. And not forgetting Andy – who throughout the race I spotted had a steady pace and who I ran the last mile or so with discussing our respective favourite runs and the vagaries of Scottish weather.
I don’t imagine you get as much of this chat and camaraderie at the business end of a race, but the snapshots of life you see from the back third of a longish race are one of the reasons I will probably find myself signing up for a few more adventures next year.