It is always an honour to be selected to run for England and this time the race was in Bermuda! A beautiful location for my first race of 2017. It was an amazing opportunity to see a new country as well as good experience to race in a warmer more humid climate and adapt to changing time zones.
Prior to the trip I had been packing boxes in preparation for Rich and Josh moving house in my absence, starting my first day teaching 2 year-5year olds and getting my head around what to pack for Bermuda. A bit of a whirl wind but before I knew it I was at the airport to fly to the UK to join the rest of the team the following day.
It is always a bit odd to start with when you meet everyone for the first time at the airport. None us of knew each other prior to the trip except from hearing or reading about past running performances. We had all raced in the Great South Run in October in order to qualify for selection. So here we were, strangers, going to an amazing location with the common goal of a race and with an understanding of each other all being athletes. It didn’t take long for the team to bond.
After a long day of travelling we arrived in Bermuda to be greeted by our host families. This was a new experience as normally we stay in a hotel. We arrived in the dark and were driven to our home for the next 5 days. The men’s team stayed in one house and us girls in another house. Feeling weary from the travel it was a great surprise to see that we were staying in amazing house. We were made to feel so welcome by our hosts Ian and Donna and by their 3 dogs Wilson, Sky and Milo. Prior to coming I had expected that us girls would all have to share a room but we all had a room each. Always a bonus as we all have our own ways of doing things pre race e.g. time of getting up, when you eat breakfast etc.
After a welcome cup of tea and a brief chat we all went to get some sleep. A bed always feels so much more comfortable after trying to sleep on a long haul flight. Despite waking at 3am I managed to get back to sleep until 7am. It was a delight to open the curtains and see the ocean out of the window and to see a swimming pool in the garden! First stop for me was to get out for a run. I had been directed to the rail trail which as you can tell by the name is a disused railway path which ran parallel to the sea. The island has an array of palm trees and greenery, colourfully painted houses and the spectacular turquoise sea.
The day was fairly relaxed to get over the travel. A short trip to Hamilton and then a second run before the sponsors evening. Here all the elite athletes as well as sponsors and a few running legends were present including Steve Jones! After some mingling all the elite athletes were announced and the sponsors were thanked. There were also a team from the America’s Cup. A chance to check out the competition and look up a few names on the internet to see what we were up against!
The day before the race we went to the track and did our easy pre race runs and strides. A lovely track that was quite springy underfoot. This was where the 10km was to start and finish. As we drove to the track it was apparent that the finish would be tough with a mile long climb before levelling off and turning into the track. After the run we were driven around the 10km course. In Bermuda there are very few pavements and the roads are quite windy so it would have been too dangerous to run the course prior to the event. It became clear that the course was going to be tough but sometimes that is no bad thing it can mean that you just go for it and race it rather than looking at your watch checking your pace.
The morning of the race we arrived at the start and a huge rainbow appeared on the horizon against the back drop of a grey overcast sky. The conditions were hot and humid and it felt harder to breathe. We did our usual pre race warm up routines and final strides and then it was time to line up. The gun went and away we flew. It was a fast start as the first kilometre was downhill. The road surface felt softer than in the UK, we were told that coral is a component of the road surface which might explain why. The first 5 km seemed reasonably ok. Gemma and I kept together and then the hills began and Gemma started to take the lead. I kept her in my sight and attacked the hills the best that I could. The final climb was a killer at that stage in the race with a sharp start to it, and then just a long drag. It was a relief to hit the track and sprint the finish. 2nd lady and I was glad to see that my time wasn’t too bad considering how awful it felt towards the end! I was chaperoned immediately afterwards for drug testing. I was pleased to see that they were testing. It was a successful day for the England Team with us girls coming 1st, 2nd and 3rd and the men’s team coming 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
Some of the team raced the following day in the half marathon again doing brilliantly with 1st and 2nd in the women’s race and 2nd and 3rd in the men’s race. I opted to do a long steady run instead. After the lows of injury last year I didn’t want to chance it.
That afternoon our hosts took us out in their boat which was an amazing end to a wonderful trip. We got to swim in the sea, jumped off some rocks, fed fish that were gathered by a wreck and saw how beautiful Bermuda is by sea.
A successful trip of racing and what an amazing opportunity to visit Bermuda. With all the hard graft that goes into training day in day out it felt like a reward to have the chance to go to Bermuda. I have aspirations to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in the marathon which will be in Australia so this was a good chance to get used to time zone changes and race in a warmer more humid climate. Thank you England Athletics for the opportunity and thanks to our hosts Ian and Donna for making us feel so welcome. The next race for me will be the Barcelona Half Marathon.