I’ve often wondered what happens if it’s race day and your body just doesn’t turn up; today, I found out. I left work on Tuesday morning ice cold and aching all over. Having spent two days in bed and one on the sofa, I decided I should return on Friday – not least to prove that I was well enough to run on Saturday.
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Flower of Scotland. It’s unlikely I’ll ever hear it again without emotion welling up inside. It’s Saturday and we’re strung out along the northern slope of Stob Coire a’ Chàirn. Only moments before I’d lost my footing on what should be an easy scramble around An Garbhanach. For a second I’m suspended between this life and the next, or at least it felt that way. I stare down at a 1500ft drop and my tired and cramping legs grapple to find their hold.
Every few weekends in summer, I’m left with a mix of awe and envy as my social timelines fill up with my favourite athletes on their way to the Golden Trail Series races. Six epic races around the world in incredible locations with stunning scenery. I spend the days before and after each race living vicariously through the lives of the athletes and the Salomon media team.
There are many things that I find frustrating about the Great North Run. It’s expensive, over commercialised and mainly ran on dual carriageways. There are too many people and the t-shirts are cheap. But the moment I hear the gun, and the opening bars of Local Hero come from the speakers, all frustrations are forgotten.
There was a moment of joy, in amongst it all. One of those moments where your lungs seem to find an unlimited capacity and your legs float along, leaping over rocks like a mountain goat. There was a moment of joy, but there’s far more to my experiences at the weekend than that.