Scottish Athletics Road Relay Champs (6 & 4 Stage)


3rd April 2011


A very grand title for a very grand event!! The invitation to this landed in the in-boxes of Falkirk Vics a few weeks ago and after much chat and gentle cajoling Claire, Lorna, Nicki and I volunteered to make up a team for this event. I believe we are the first female Vics team for a number of years. So what put everyone off before? It sounded like a good and straightforward relay run with alternate 3.15 mile/ 5.85 mile loops on a ‘flat tarmac path, which slopes gently up towards the railway line’ in nice scenery!! Lesson 1- do not believe everything you read on the internet!! More on that later.

Lorna, Claire and I duly arrived at the car park- slightly later than expected and having observed a flock of bright pink sheep beside the M8- honestly- we all saw them!! Maybe says something about how nervous- okay scared, we all felt at the prospect of representing our club and not letting the team down. We met Nicki and some of the male Vics team at registration after having toured the Civic Centre and a Police compound on our quest to find the High School!! This did not bode well for our navigational skills on what turned out to be a bit of a twisty, turny route!!

Thankfully John had already registered the team so we just had to pin on the numbers then head straight out to see Nicki and our male team off on the first leg. The tension continued to mount and the nerves were getting worse by the second. We were all so nervous for ourselves and each other. I know my legs were shaking even as Nicki set off. There was a great atmosphere at the start/ finish area as it was a gorgeous but windy day. All 94 teams were spread out in wee huddles all over the grassy bank. It seemed like absolutely no time that the first male team had completed their first leg. 3.15 miles in a little over 15 minutes. Amazing stuff. The Vics first leg runner came in in 11th place- superb achievement in a really strong field. It wasn’t long before Nicki appeared, powering up the hill like a demon. She looked so strong and well up the female field too. Next was Claire who had the long 5.85 leg. I was up next so I did a warm up- which was way hard in the wind and went to the start area to wait for Claire. The start area had a real buzz about it and everyone was so nervous. There was a fair bit of banter and encouragement and lots of applause for the finishing runners. Suddenly Claire was there- she too powering up the hill, looking amazing. So I was off, heart hammering- the route was.....hilly- all up (seemed that way!!), windy- head wind of course, twisty- lots of sharp turns, rough and stony underfoot in places and places. The route was good though but I was so conscious of the long uphill at the end. The distance passed really quickly with plenty encouragement from the marshals and locals and suddenly it was me powering up the hill towards the finish to let Lorna go. The hill wasn’t as bad as I thought but a cruel end to a challenging route. Lorna set off and we were still in a very respectable position so there was an air of anticipation and excitement as we awaited Lorna’s return. Our male team were also still looking great and also in a good position. Each loop passed so quickly and before long Lorna was sprinting towards the finish line. We had done it- our first club female relay event for each of us and a 14th place finish. We were so pleased with ourselves, managing to ignore the tired and aching legs. Our male team came a very respectable 16th overall.

A great day out, a great event, a great result for the Vics and a huge thanks to the marshals, organisers and competitors who made it all so special.         

Rhona Penman