Dashing to the finish line


Dashing to the finish line

I rounded off my fund raising challenges for the year by taking part in the Glasgow Santa Dash – a 5k route starting and finishing at George Square in the city centre. My mate Paul said he would do it with me toward the end of October just for the fun of it. Over the weeks that followed he’d put in a bit more training than I had, but I’d kept up a reasonable level of fitness since my last physical challenge and felt I’d comfortably manage the distance.

The Santa Dash wasn’t supposed to be a gruelling challenge like some of the others; just a way to finish off the year in a fun way with a somewhat physical event. In comparison to Tough Mudder or the Graeme Obree Sportive, the effort required was nothing, but I thought it was a great way of book-ending the series of fund raising events I’d done.

After pulling my hamstring the week before I had to drop out of attempting the Helensburgh Santa Dash, which I’d wanted to do with Elisha. However, I’d already paid to enter the Glasgow one and didn’t want to risk further hurting my leg and end up out of the Glasgow event.

When the day came my hamstring felt okay – the bigger problem was that I’d overslept by an hour because I hadn’t set my alarm to go off on a Sunday! Waking up at quarter past eight, I washed my face and brushed my teeth, dressed in my running gear, threw my bag in the car and drove as fast as I could up to Glasgow. I parked up at about ten past nine, changed into my Santa suit, pinned on my number and ran all the way to George Square, arriving just as a fitness instructor was on the PA getting everyone there to do a warm-up.

Me and Paul at the start of the 2012 Glasgow Santa Dash
Me and Paul at the start of the 2012 Glasgow Santa Dash

I was already plenty warm and out of breath, but totally relieved at making it before the race was under-way. I met Paul by the lions at the far end of the square. He had on a pretty luxurious Santa suit of his own, which would come in handy for spotting him in the crowd of freebies like the one I was wearing.

The race started just after half past nine, although it was a couple of minutes later before we got going as we were right at the back of the pack. I wanted to keep a pace of about five and a half minutes per kilometre to protect my hamstring, but Paul had other ideas and set off up St Vincent street with the kind of speed that made me think he’d been doing a lot more training than he’d let on!

At the rate we were going we were cruising past lots of people, having to take to the pavement and weave through the crowd of slower runners. I actually struggled to keep up at first – I usually prefer to take it easy to ensure I have enough left in the tank for a fast finish, but once we were over the top of the hill I had warmed to the task.

At about the 3.5k mark we had to run up hill into the wind and this seemed to knock the stuffing out of Paul by the time we were back on Argyll Street. I suggested we took the pace right down to get his heart rate and breathing back under control, as it is difficult to recover when you’ve hit the limits on a windy day. Judging by the Endomondo tracking report we didn’t slow down for that long, though, as that last kilometre was one of our fastest.

Once we were up Buchanan Street and back onto St Vincent street I wanted to go for a big sprint finish, but after I accelerated a wee bit I could tell Paul wasn’t for joining in with that, so I eased off and we crossed the line together. Me with my fist raised and a big smile at drawing a line under my fund raising challenges for the year. We came in at a shade over 27 minutes, which is pretty good going.

I felt a combination of pride and satisfaction as I walked to the car, and I reflected back on all the events I’d done going all the way back to the Bealach Beag in early May. I’ve raised over £500 for my father’s local MS Scotland support group and I’ve had one of the most memorable years of my life along the way.

Still, I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, my friends, and everyone who so generously sponsored me during the year. That’s pretty humbling, I have to say. 🙂