On the run: Man in tights (that’s me) chases man in woolly hat to the top of the Roaches in north Staffs, with Father Christmas (look for him) lagging behind
It might not amount to much on an Olympian scale of things but I have just won my first athletics trophy since my schooldays. (Around the time that England last won a football trophy, in case you were wondering … )
It’s only the Guest Runners category in the Trent Park Athletics Club 2006/2007 Handicap Series. And I came seventh overall, if you include the club runners. But I’m chuffed to bits and I’ve been humming along to imaginary national anthems (for some reason the former Soviet anthem has featured loudly) as I climb up onto my imaginary winner’s podium ever since I got the news.
What makes it all the more exciting (humour me) is that I went into the final race of the year-long series with barely a mathematical chance of winning. The points tally of the leading three guest runners was 412, 391 and 368, with me in the middle. To simplify a slightly more complicated story (you get bonus points for personal bests and your worst performance of the year is discounted), I had to finish at least 22 places ahead of the then leader to win the series.
So I ran the last race thinking that all three leading positions were done and dusted. Only when I came to look at the results when they were posted on the club website a couple of days later did I discover that in fact I’d finished ahead of the previous leader with a couple of places to spare.
That wasn’t the end of it, though. The person lying in third place had produced a storming final race, clipping 15 seconds off a previous personal best and finishing just one place (and one second) short of me. The final points tally was 428, 427, 426. I can’t think of a more exciting finish to an athletics event since Kelly Holmes won the 800 metres Olympic gold in 2004 by 0.05 seconds over Hasna Benhassi and Jolanda Ceplak.
Now where did I put that spliff?