When I entered and trained for the Xiqiao 24 hour ultra race in China that took place on November 4th 2017, I had a goal of completing the race. I worked hard on my endurance and strength as I knew I was going to ask more out of my body than I have ever asked it before. It was a different kind of ultra race, relentless, in that there is no hiding, no respite and constant repetitive use of muscles,I was into the unknown.
I not only managed to complete the race but won it. I am constantly amazed how, when you commit to something and put 100% effort into it in every way leaving no stone un-turned, then with perseverance and patience it pays off. Importantly, however, was that i'd not only won the race, the distance I had covered qualified me to British qualifying standard for the discipline. Fast forward and I was to hear on 25th January 2018 if I had been selected to represent GB at the European Championships in Romania later in the year in the 24hour distance.
The 25th January was an unnerving day. We received news that there was a delay on letting the athletes know. Expecting to find out in the coming days I relaxed a little. It was hours later, that we again received correspondence to say that England Athletics had been quicker dealing with matters and indeed we were back on for notification later in the afternoon on the 25th. Roller coasters don't come close to the adrenaline ups and downs I had on this day.
Fast forward again and I was informed that I had been successful and my aims and goals were coming to fruition. I was again to don a GB vest, this time in a very different ultra race and one that I have committed too in the past and moving forward. The enormity of my achievement to get this far is difficult to comprehend and for most, they can't or don't. For me, it's a step in the direction of where i'm heading and the purpose now is to go out there and demonstrate individually and as collaboratively as the GB squad, what we are capable of.The aim for the Great Britain squad and indeed any Great British athlete both individually and as a representative of the nation within a team is to perform strongly, to dominate their respective sports, stacking up against the best in the Europe.
The team has a mixture of experiences: In the mens team there is a wealth of experience and calibre. In 2016 the IAU 24 hr European Championships was won by Great Britain's Dan Lawson in a remarkable distance of 261.84km. Overall the men brought home the Silver medal for their strong performance. Marco Consarni, Steve Hollyoak, Patrick Robins along with Dan brought home the Silver medal after an all round solid performance. These guys were joined in 2017 by James Stewart at the World 24 hour Championships in Belfast and again the men evidenced their potential at this challenging discipline. This year at the European Championships, the men are joined by Craig Holgate and there is no doubt that they are a force to be contended with. The full mens team are:
The women are a mixed contingency with experienced 24 hour runners Ali Young and Jess Baker, both who have competed in the 2017 World Championships and Adela Salt who has a consistently evidenced her strength in the 100km and 24 hour disciplines, holding a remarkable PB of 7hr 54 100km distance and in December 2017 evidencing her continued capacity to consistently run the 24hour distance during the Across the Years Race outside Phoenix, Arizona.
New comers for the women include Wendy Shaw and myself both making our debut for Great Britain at the 24hr discipline. Wendy is no stranger to the distance, she has completed two 24 hour races previously and demonstrating her capacity and consistency. She has a wealth of experience at the 100 mile distances and no doubt will be drawing on these previous experiences in Romania. The women's team are: