This weekend has been a scorcher in the UK. We Brits can’t cope with heat to put it lightly. Regardless of that and the fact that only a week before I had run 65k in 24 hours, I had signed up for a 10k.
If I’m honest I hadn’t planned to write about this race, it was a small but tough race around the outskirts of Oxford. What I am going to write about, however, is looking after your fellow runner.
During my short running ‘career’ I have experienced nothing but support from fellow runners. From welcomed advice on my blog, tips from running friends or encouragement by fellow runners on the road. I fell in love with running because it is a community filled to the brim with support.
That was true until this weekend.
I started the race with great pace and felt strong, a PB a serious possibility despite the heat. Then at kilometre two the course went over a bridge, the steps flared up the quad injury I picked up at Endure24. By the third kilometre I had to slow and I began to walk to rest my muscles. I did that for a time and then sped up again back to pace, over taking people who had just over taken me as I did, before once again falling back into a walk when the pain became to much to handle. It was then that my rose-tinted view on the running community cracked. I was overtaken by a guy in his mid-forties who turned as he overtook me and said these words;
“maybe understand the distance before you come to race”
Clearly he had become annoyed by me overtaking him and then him overtaking me when I started to walk. In that instant I felt my blood boil. For the rest of the 10K I let my thoughts dwell on that spat sentence. I know I’m a rank amateur compared to so many amazing runners who line up with me at all the races I’ve done but never before had I felt like a burden to other runners. That I must have annoyed him that much by simply running my own race to make him feel justified in speaking up. I carried on doing the same technique, not letting his words stop me altogether. As I came to 8K I began to feel a lot better and so I cut out the walking breaks and continued running. At 9K I was feeling back to full strength and increased my stride to an almost sprint. It was near the finish line that I saw this man again, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by. I put the hammer down and overtook him at the last and as I ran past turned and said; “maybe you should understand them”.
While I’m not particularly proud of my comeback or even that I felt the need to say anything at all it has made me think about supporting your fellow runners. Regardless of wether it’s your 100th race or your very first you have a duty to always encourage. You never know when you are going to be at morale’s dark depths and in need of a hand on your shoulder and a few golden words to bring your legs back to life.
We as runners need other runners, to strive with and to better ourselves against. To share our stories with and be inspired by.
Every race I’ve done I’ve met incredible runners; from people overcoming great adversity, to brave souls lining up for their first ever race and those who have run their entire lives. We share a strength in having the courage to start. So, if you see someone beaten down share your strength because one day it will be you. Just a few words can make all the difference. So be the difference.
Next Race: Compton Verney Half Marathon