Sunday, 12 April 2015

Summer of Love by Heidi

In the summer of 2014 I fell in love with Mountain running!

At the GB mountain running development camp in Betws-y-Coed in cold and damp North Wales at Easter, I never dreamed I would make the Great Britain team for the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy during the summer.

After just missing out on a qualifying spot for the European Championships I knew there was a fantastic opportunity before me. I put everything into my training for the World Trial in Sedburgh: total dedication, total focus on my goal. It paid off I finished 2nd. Now I was on the plane with the GB Team ready to compete for my country at the World Mountain Running Championships in the marble quarry of Casette Di Massa.

Seeing the setting of the course for the first time was amazing. I knew that the race would be in a working quarry but I didn't expect the marble to be so vast and I knew that this would be the toughest race of my life.

On the day before the race we walked the course looking for technical aspects. There were a series of sharp rises at the beginning with short flat sections before it entered a marble cave. After the cave the remainder of the course was a prolonged and very steep drag uphill. Pacing on race day would be critical to success.

The night before the race; my first GB team meeting. Team captain, Robbie Simpson, gave an inspiring talk leaving me feeling excited about the race to come.

Race day, we were called onto the very narrow start line. There was lots of jostling and pushing to try and get to the front.  Waiting for the gun I was eager to get going. Bang! I was in the zone, focused and prepared to do my best.

The GB Junior Women Team
The first ascents seemed easy as we were fresh and going into the cave I was near the front group of girls. As we reached the long ascent one by one the runners in front began to walk as it was more efficient on the steepest sections.  It was steeper than anything I had ever raced on before but I think I judged my effort well. Turning the last switchback into the finishing straight I over took three or four girls in my last final effort to get to the finishing line, crossing in 14th place. Catriona Graves paced her race perfectly coming through the field on the steep ascent to finish in 5th place and Georgia Malir finished in 18th. We gave it our all but we just missed out on a team medal finishing 4th behind Germany, America and the Czech Republic.

The World Mountain Running Championships come to North Wales in 2015. I will be doing everything I can to make the team as this is on my home ground and in my preferred up and down format. It will give everyone a motivational boost to do their best, to come away with both team and individual medals.

The World Championships of 2014 will always be special to me with my first GB vest.  I consider myself very privileged to have run at the World Mountain Running Championships and I hope in the future I will get the chance to run for GB again with such a friendly and inspirational group of athletes.

Mountain running has made a better runner; I am a physically and mentally stronger athlete as a result. Most of all though it has allowed me to fall in love with my running and truly enjoy it!

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