Running offers many benefits. For some it is getting the happy hormones going, health benefits or the social aspect of it. If running could be bottled it would be hailed as a wonder drug: who would not want more happiness, longer life expectancy and more productivity which are just a few of the benefits running gives.
It has offered me the chance to see the world, from the North Pole to the Himalaya, the Sahara to the vast open space of outer Mongolia. It is fair to say that Gravesend in Kent does not offer the vistas or sense of space as outer Mongolia, but this weekend it offers challenge, and the opportunity to represent my country Scotland. The Anglo Celtic Plate is a yearly competition run between five selected athletes from each of England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.
Previously I have purely run to enjoy myself, see the world, and try and raise a bit of money for a few charities I am passionate about. But following some gentle nagging from a few friends rather than racing occasionally abroad, I have raced a few times in Britain this year (Anglesey , Northumberland, Loch Katrine and Lochaber) and have done enough to be selected for Scotland.
It might sound unusual to say that this race is a step into the unknown, but pretty much any race I have been successful in before has involved foreign lands, with either lots of hills, or very hot or cold temperatures allowing the application of science to improve the chance of doing well. The race on Saturday http://www.national100k.com/ is a flat 100km with normal British weather and is on a lapped course so may well represent a mental as well as physical challenge, looping round the same features repeatedly, although at least this means my notoriously poor navigation can not get me lost.
The England team looks fairly bulletproof, with 4 runners that have achieved exceptional results on the world stage, including Steven Way who won the World 50km previously, has ran 6 hours 40 mins for 100km, and ran 2 hours 16 only 3 weeks ago in London. Scotland have a great team which includes Paul Giblin (worth a follow @pyllon on twitter) who destroyed the West Highland Way record last year, and Ian Symington who ran well last year and has great form this year.
So is part of me dreading running laps of a course? Yes. Will there be times as always that the legs say no. Undoubtably? But the chance to pull on the Scotland vest is too great a prize not to give everything your best shot, and so I will. Last year’s top Scot Donnie Campbell (who is also an excellent running coach at www.getactiverunning.com ) has helped give me advice and my training program for this, and all the other races/ capers ahead this summer
These sort of events always create interest for the runners involved, but the Scotland team is organised and supported by an absolute legend of distance running in Adrian Stott of Run and Become who I think just about everyone in the Scottish distance running circuit feel a debt to!