The start gun fires. A wave of white English vests hurtles down towards the first turn, progressively interspersed with the colours of the other four nations and disappears into the trees. The interval session begins. 400 metres across the course to see the runners as they begin the half-lap drag up to the top of the course. Cheer the Welsh runners as they pass, count the placing, FV45’s over all, FV45’s within the Welsh team. “Well done Sue, keep it going” as she passes. 400 metre uphill sprint across to the far side of the course then 400 metres back to my original position. One lap of four gone so repeat three more times. Words of encouragement become increasingly banal, and probably increasingly infuriating to Sue. “Dig in”, “Push on”, “Catch the three in front”, “One big push”, “GO ON!” A 200-metre sprint to the finish line dripping in sweat, breathless I’m knackered!
Being selected to go to an International race is a pretty exciting thing. However, it does come attached with strings and that is a responsibility to do well for your team, in my case the FV45 Welsh.
The races began at midday. We had arrived the day before, looked round the course and attended a team meeting at 9p.m. in the hotel. Here, race teams were revealed and ‘International vests’ awarded along with the race numbers for each team member. Every member got a cheer.
The course, a soggy parkland affair was four laps for the women. No hills per se just a long second half drag for each lap. Total distance was 6.2 km.
The weather was perfectly calm and dry after the week’s storms. 10 minutes before the race, the whistles started to blow for us to assemble at the start. Countries colours became apparent, teams huddled and England made a solid block at the front.
As the gun went off the usual scuffles broke out, the start was narrow and fenced. I hung on to the surge as best I could, trying not to get spiked, tangled, elbowed too much or trip and fall. It was quite a way into the first lap before I could finally see the ground. I looked for the Welsh vests and we pushed each other on, I looked for V45’s and worked to overtake. I hardly noticed the laps or people shouting and the race seemed to be quickly over. I was pleased to finish.
The front runners are an inspiration with overall race winners and times being 1st Claire Martin V35 (Eng) 22.07, 2nd Emma Stallard (Eng) V40 22.21, 3rd Melissa Whyte V45 (Sco) 22.26. (First averaging 5.55 min per mile!)
Our V45 Welsh team (a little laid-back in comparison) were (including the race times /order): Sandra Pinkham 25.14, Sue Davies, 25.44, Jane Coker 25.44, Mary Bowen-Rees 26.07.
The overall team results for FV45. 1st England, 2nd Republic Ireland, 3rd Scotland.