Rarely do I win anything, but I recently won the Rab Scafell Sky Race. I should elaborate, I won entry to the race, not the race itself – now that would be impressive. Not expecting to win, I entered the competition at the National Running Show, for a race I would only dream of running. Sky races were something the likes of Kilian Jornet and Georgia Tinley do, right? Not little old me who enjoys slow and steady bimbles on the South Downs Way. Heck, I found myself automatically entered. I had to give it ago.
My earliest memory of running/racing was at primary school on sports day running a race which was one and a half laps of a grass track that seemed such a long way. I did an after-school class as well called Going for Gold where we got to try all the athletic events but my passion as a kid was football.
I joined my local running club, Retford Athletics Club (AC), as a junior to help with my fitness for football. I had to make a deal with the coach that I could train with them as long as when it came to the summer, I would race for them during the football off-season. The coach saw potential in me for middle distance track racing and I kept at it up to the age of 16.
“Welcome back to Britain’s best marathon”, the Race Director said as he addressed the crowd of nearly 400 runners. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” he continued; “who’s avoided Covid?!”.
There was an atmosphere of excitement and reunion, and not just amongst the runners. This event is an important date in the diary for the residents of Sydling St. Nicolas who host the Giants Head Marathon each June. Opening their land for camping, feeding runners in their village hall, and even hosting a post event barn dance on the Saturday night, the genuine warmth and hospitality offered made for a memorable experience.