There are many reasons for not starting a race and I think I’ve experienced them all.
I’ve been injured. That’s a common one: a strained ankle, shin splints or a dodgy knee. They’re all common reasons for not starting. Less common is a broken rib caused by tying a bungee cord around my waist while playing five a side football aka Bungee Football.
Bungee Football is a stupid, stupid game that recreates table football by tying players together with bungee cords so that they have to work together to play. Of course, it doesn’t work like that because when you run right, the rest of your team runs left and you’re thrown to the ground faster than a losing scratchcard. And, unlike an actual bungee, where a lot of time and effort is spent making sure that you don’t hit the ground, in bungee football you hit the ground again and again and again until you break a rib.
I’ve never played it since.
But I did play it four days before I was meant to take part in the Caledonian Challenge, a 56 mile walk along the West Highland Way in 24 hours.
I tried to take part, I went up with my team the night before but, as I couldn’t sleep as I could’t lie on my chest and I couldn’t carry a rucksack with tweaking my broken rib every time the chest strap moved across it, I had to pull out.
That wasn’t the strangest reason I’ve ever had to pull out of a race. Iain TwinBikeRun and I were going to take part in the Tour of the Borders – a cycle Sportive starting in Peebles. The forecast was poor, it was meant to rain all day but we still went ahead as we knew we had waterproofs to manage the bad weather. It turned out though, that what we didn’t have was a front window wiper for Iain TwinBikeRun’s car. As we drove down, and as black clouds gathered and the forecast predicted the start of a 36 hour downpour, the windscreen wiper fell off Iain TwinBikeRun’s car. Blimey!
We stopped at Abingdon Service Station to see if they had a replacement but they didn’t have anything we could use. We were left with no choice: we could carry on, but with no wiper to clear the rain from the windows – and no certainty that if we could get to Peebles before the rain started that we’d find a wiper there the next day so that we could drive home safely. Or, we could abandon the race and head home and order a wiper knowing we didn’t have to drive again until it arrived. We decided to head home.
Most times though when I’ve abandoned a race it’s because of the weather – I used to regularly take part in a half marathon in Fort William in November until I realised that of the five times I’d entered it, I’d only taken part twice. Fort William in November is a good month for submarines, goldfish and putting out fires. Every race day I’d open the curtains of my bed and breakfast, look out at the torrential rain and make a mental note to start gathering animals two by two.
When I think of Celtman 2021 now, I think of it in terms of the races I’ve not entered and how it compares. And I think it stands on it’s own as I can’t think of another race where I’m injury free, the weather was good and I’d trained as much I could yet that training wasn’t enough. There wasn’t any more I could do as I couldn’t swim before the pools were open in Glasgow and I could practice outdoors until the lochs had started to warm up too.
Knowing this, I don’t regret not taking part because there was never a chance of taking part. Just like Bungee Football, there was a limit to how much I could do safely – and that limit was set by the pandemic. There was nothing I could have done to change it.
So, after 32 months of training, effectively the lead up to Challenge Roth in 2019, the postponed Celtman 2020 and this Celtman 2021, I suspect I will now hang up my Celtman training. I doubt I’ll apply next year as 44 months of training is at least 32 months too long and it would be good to be able to swim, run and bike without thinking that I need to hit a target for training.
Unless I change my mind when entries open in October… 🙂