Wednesday, 2 August 2017

THE END OF AN ERA

It is two days after. I'm at home; in Mid Wales, heading out for an afternoon jog in the rain. My legs are like two blocks of wood that do not want to walk, let alone jog; but the DOMS will soon fade and disappear. On my finger nails; the badly painted union jack's are slowly beginning to chip off; one finger at a time. On my upper arms; the two British flag tattoos are steadily wearing away and soon only two rectangular patches of lighter coloured skin will remain; to remind me of what was once there.

Time will pass and these things will vanish; but the memories made over the past four years will surely live on. 
  
You may wonder what I am talking about. This past weekend saw the end of an era for me; the last time competing for the junior Great Britain team at the World Mountain Running Championships. 


I can still vividly remember the very first time I nervously pulled on my British vest as a 16 year old at the World Mountain Running Championships to race in the marble quarry of Casette di Massa back in 2014. Then to now fast forward to the present moment and the six other times I have proudly raced in the red, white and blue of Britain... it has been a totally incredible journey which I am so fortunate and grateful to have had the opportunity to experience. I still can't quite get my head around the fact that my junior career is all over. I still feel like I might wake up tomorrow morning and it's all been a dream.



Throughout the past four years, my feet have taken me up and down mountains in Italy, Madeira, Wales, Italy again, Bulgaria, Slovenia and to round it all off Italy for the final time this past weekend.



World Mountain Running Championships 2014: Casette di Massa, Italy - 14th

 

European Mountain Running Championships 2015: Madeira - 9th

 
World Mountain Running Championships 2015: Betws y Coed, Wales (A home championships!) - 5th / Team Silver









European Mountain Running Championships 2016: Arco, Italy - 3rd / Team Gold







World Mountain Running Championships 2015: Bulgaria - 20th





European Mountain Running Championships 2017: Kamnik, Slovenia - 9th / Team Gold













World Mountain Running Championships 2017: Premana, Italy - 8th







I cannot even begin to describe the feelings and emotions these past four years have given me at these championships. Just to look back at all of these pictures puts a massive smile on my face.

When I first represented Great Britain; I was thrown into the deep end, wide-eyed, not knowing what to expect. Little did I know how much I would fall in love with the sport of mountain running over the next few years and I had no idea of the incredible journey it would take me on. The passion, pain, determination, joy, motivation, love and ultimate happiness being a part of the mountain running community would give me.


The magnificent ups. Pulling on my Great Britain vest at a home World Championships in Wales and being part of the most successful GB mountain running team ever, with everyone going home with a medal... feeling the goosebumps as we cheered and shouted the GB seniors to their own individual and team medals... feeling the elation of winning my own first international individual medal racing through the streets of Arco... standing on the top step of the podium twice with my GB team mates as the tune of God Save The Queen rang out. 

There are ups and there are also downs as every journey in life should have. It is all part of the process of sport and life. I am immensely grateful for every single moment.

The smiles, the laughter, the crazy times, the races, the team meetings, the team talks, the shouting and cheering, the cowbells, the flags, dai dai dai, allez allez allez, the delicious food, the sometimes questionable edible food, the parties, the friendships built across the world, the stories, the opening ceremonies, the closing ceremonies, the pain, the passion, the hopes and dreams....




Mountain running is more than just a sport to me. It has become like a second family and I am not ready to say goodbye... As the door on my junior career now closes, the door of the senior challenge now opens and I'm here to accept that challenge!

To the people I have pulled on my GB vest beside over the years and to all of the GB team management; I cannot thank you enough for the experiences and for the amazing memories we have all made beside each other. I'm so grateful and thankful to have met every single one of you and to have shared these trips and experiences together and to have grown beside you all. This is extended to the whole of the mountain running community and to the many amazing friendships built and many memories made throughout the years. It is these people who make mountain running such a beautiful sport and this is why it is so hard to say goodbye to my junior days.




A big, massive, huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me over the past four years. To British Athletics for giving me these brilliant opportunities to represent my country at the sport I love. To the people at Welsh Athletics and Sport Wales for the support at home in Wales. To Chris Jones for the knowledge and expertise he has brought to my training. To The Metropole Hotel for the sponsorship through use of the Rock Spa Gym for which I will be eternally grateful. To SportsAid for the financial support. To RWG Mobile for keeping me connected in all these remote places abroad. To inov-8 for providing me with the best kit and shoes out there. If my many pairs of inov-8 shoes could talk; they'd tell you many stories of pain, passion, drive and happiness along the miles I've run over the past few years!

The shoes which helped me to top 10 finishes at the Euro and World Champs 2017

Thank you to my family, for always sticking by me through thick and thin and for always being there for me. Your unwavering support means the absolute world to me and I probably don't say that enough. This has been your journey just as much as it has been mine. 

And finally last but not least. Thank you. Yes you. Whoever you are reading this. Thank you for becoming a part of and following me along this journey. I hope just maybe you've enjoyed the ride as much as I have.

So yes, that is it. The end of an era. My junior career, over and out. Thanks for all the memories, it's been an absolute blast. I'm so full of love for the mountain community all over the world.

Keep on trusting in the process ;-)
Heidi x

PS: My next mountain challenge... 
 







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