Edinburgh Cross Country Weekend

The first non holiday weekend of January is always an exciting one for cross country fans in Edinburgh and this year was no exception. For club athletes, this time there was the added bonus of a Scottish Athletics organised cross country workshop at Meadowbank on the Sunday. I was lucky enough to take part in and enjoy both.

Following a really good run at the East Championships in Aberdeen in December, I was once again selected to run for Scotland East in the Interdistricts senior cross country race. Unfortunately, due to the wishes of the BBC, instead of getting the opportunity to start with the Elite race, we were kept separate and started at 9:55am. This was a bit disappointing and also meant that I cycled to Holyrood Park with my lights on!

But… the changes to the race format and schedule did allow more Scottish athletes the opportunity of a quality race. And a quality race the women’s race most certainly was.

You might think that being selected to run for Scotland East would afford you a few advantages over a normal league race? Not really. No nice warm school to get changed and leave your stuff in. We had a very crowded corner of a rather large tent to fight over, with a team manager to look after excess kit at the start line.

The presence of the media did make things more exciting. And I enjoyed catching up with a few people both before and after the race. After a normal warmup on the muddy parkland, sussing out the wind direction and the course (not too tricky on a fairly plain 1km loop), all too soon it was time to line up at the start. Another change this year was the inclusion of a Celtic nations under 23 match within our race, so there were a smattering of Welsh and Irish runners amongst us.

And we were off… Plenty of elbows in evidence as we all jostled for position going into the first corner. Beth Potter rapidly headed away into the distance, fairly closely followed by Emily Stewart and Abby McGhee not too far behind. For the first four of five laps there was a lot of chopping and changing position wise, with most of us unwilling to take the wind on the downhill run towards the finish. As we entered the final lap, competition had become more intense and we were full on racing for the finish. Having been competing for 4th place all the way along, I was outsprinted in the final 500m to finish 6th. Some alternative tactics may have ended in a different result, but I was satisfied with my run and performance and know what I would do differently another time. I still find I have things to learn from racing and in training.

And the following day continued the theme of learning at Meadowbank. Learning from speaking to each other. And learning from our excellent speakers – Bobby Quinn & Chris Robison, who between them held the Scottish National Cross Country title for the grand total of 14 years (amongst many other great achievements).

But the day started with a pack run. A 9am, 2 hour option, collecting an even bigger group at 10am for those (including a large number of junior athletes) wanting to do 45 mins or an hour. It was great to chat to some different people during the run and I especially appreciated the chance to speak for longer with Freya Murray before she headed off for altitude training in Kenya.

There were two 90 minute sessions to the workshop where Bobby & Chris shared their experiences, backgrounds, training, races & results of cross country. As modest as the best runners generally are, neither of them considered themselves particularly naturally talented. Their overriding message was that of hard work, dedication and planning to achieve your goals.

So, first things first, be clear what you’re aiming to achieve. Work out what you need to do and what improvements you need to make in order to get there. Then, be single minded and focussed in pursuit of your goal without getting distracted by racing and training opportunities. They both emphasised the importance of working on your mental state to build your confidence and maintain your focus during training and races.

It sounded like they’d both got a lot of enjoyment and cameraderie from their running and relished now challenges and opportunities as their careers progressed. As a ‘mature’ athlete, it was very encouraging to hear that with the right planning and application there is still the potential for further improvements and a lot of fun. It was also brilliant to see athletes and coaches of all ages and different areas of Scotland in attendance and speaking to each other. There was also a good range of abilities represented and I’d encourage anyone wanting to improve to come along to future events – there were lessons there for us all.

After a hard run 5k cross country race on Saturday and an 18 mile run complete with two laps of Queens Drive on Sunday, I finished the weekend with a busy brain, tired body and a smile. Brilliant!

Full results on Scottish Athletics. Edinburgh AC had loads of runners in the different races – far too many to mention individually. Top results were Josh Kerr who was 1st U15 and Emily Stewart who was 2nd women’s Interdistrict.

Replies for “Edinburgh Cross Country Weekend”

  • Garry

    Any ambitious athlete could learn a great deal by listening to guys like Bobby and Chris, it was a very good endurance workshop and anyone who didn’t go along missed out. Main summary from it: To achieve all you can, it’s all about planning, focus, dedication and a lot of hard work!

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