Here in Spain on New Years Eve there are many running races that take place. In my mind that is a great way to end the year! We made our way to San Cugat just outside of Barcelona for the San Silvestre 10km. After a bit of a detour and some bump starting of the car I went to collect my race number and as usual it was not a smooth operation! I went to find that my name was not on the list and was told that without my name on the list I could not race. Thankfully the race organiser was close by and he confirmed that I had a place-phew! Off I went to do my usual pre race warm up and drills. Everyone seemed in good spirits, there was a wide range of people racing from club runners to fun runners and some fantastic fancy dress costumes. The gun went off and off we flew. The course was quite taxing with lots of hilly inclines and some tight corners. I was amazed at how many people were out supporting a running race on New Years Eve. The atmosphere was great. I felt good and kept a group of men ahead of me in sight. As darkness closed in it was harder to see them and it became harder to see where I was meant to be going. There were not too many marshals out on the course. Thankfully a guy caught me up about half way round which helped. As we drew closer to a round about there was a policeman on marshalling duty but he was looking the other way. My new running companion could at least shout in Catalan so we were pointed in the right direction. I felt strong and kept pushing and attacking the hills. Finally the finishing arch was in sight and I could here Rich and Josh yelling as I sprinted for the tape. They announced that it was a big course record and the media got quite excited.
It all turned pear shaped from there. The prize giving was taking rather a long time to commence and then it transpired that the girl in second place was wanting to see my Spanish racing license (which I don’t yet have). She had approached the organisers and after my friends best efforts to protest on my behalf they would not allow my victory. Despite winning by over a minute it did not matter. They produced a piece of paper to say that if I was a slower runner I would have been able to race but because I was faster I was to be disqualified and that I needed a Spanish racing licence. It did not seem in the spirit of new year to me. I had to walk away upset and disappointed. It was the principle of the matter that upset me. I had raced out of my skin and won and that was taken away from me. I train so hard every day and racing is a chance to show that the hard work has paid off and a bit of prize money helps the cause too. My results were wiped and the girl that came 2nd stood in first place on the podium with a big grin and won the 300 euros. It seems that in Spain there are national races and international races. The international races anyone can race and the national races you need a licence if you are likely to be in the top 3! For a fun run it seemed rather silly to me. In the UK anyone can race unless it is a very important race where you need to be a member of a club. My Spanish racing licence is now being processed and I shall race again with even more fire in my belly and will make sure that I race the girl that came 2nd again and increase that margin even more. Even though the race did not count in their eyes it was great training for me and on reflection I can put the situation into perspective. At the time it was hard to lay it to rest.
So that put a bit of a dampener on our New Years Eve and Josh was a bit disappointed to not get a medal or a trophy. On the plus side the goody bags had t-shirts that actually fit well. For those of you that are runners you will know that use race t-shirts could normally fit 2 people in and their only use is a nighty or as a layer to keep warm before a race to then be discarded. There was also a carton of soup, a few bits and bobs and a DVD of Barcelona FC verses Juventus in the final in 2015.
We have some great friends in San Cugat so it was lovely to spend new year with them and we were able to feast on amazing Catalan sea food and tapas. We were introduced to a new tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight. I had seen champagne glasses being sold in the shops with 12 grapes in them and had wondered what it was all about. As the clock strikes 12 you have to eat one grape every time that the clock bongs. If you don’t manage to bolt all 12 of them down then the myth has it that you will have a bad year! I was all set with a grape in hand all ready for the clock to strike without losing any time however it was actually quite a manageable task. Our hosts did go easy on us with small seedless grapes though.
So here is to 2017, next stop for me is Bermuda as I race for England which I am sure will be another adventure. In the meantime Josh and Rich will be moving house on our behalf and on my return I will be starting my new job as a teacher. Until next time.