PART iii: THE FINISH
There is something so beautiful about being that alone, out that late, and out of place. I guess this is when those demons could arise for some, but for me I love the solitude of these races. It’s a good thing.
PART III: THE FINISH
It’s now been a couple of weeks since I completed the race. I have such happy memories and really don’t think the low points were that low. After leaving Shap I can’t remember any thoughts that I would not finish, just frustration at the setbacks that slowed me down. Well done to winner Karen Nash, I knew she was so much faster and more experienced than me and fully deserved her win. I was pleased to come second to her, and to be in the top ten overall. I really don’t feel any more than a very average plodder in my races. I guess I have had a few thoughts since the race, wondering if I could have gone faster in the morning I left Shap, or other parts, or what extra food and kit I could have carried. I know I give up easily when things get hard, and don’t push myself in races, even of this length, but I accept this won’t change overnight in one race, so the fact I pushed more than in my last race means I don’t worry so much about that. I’m heading in the right direction, even if its baby steps at times. I also have to make peace with the fact I didn’t live up to Marcus’ expectations in terms of my finishing time and place, but really that’s his issue not mine. Maybe he tells me what times I should be doing in the hope it will motivate me to achieve them, but it has the opposite affect for me, and is something that detracts from my sense of achievement at the finish, becomes more like something I have to get over after a race. I am grateful for his advice in my training and treatments to keep my legs happy though, I feel that he thinks I am a much better runner than I am. Thanks also to Montane, Beta Climbing and Mountain Fuel who helped me with my kit for this and other races.
Although I loved the race and am proud to know I crossed the country, it feels a gradual fading memory, and I don’t dwell too much on the race or results. Compared to what I can see from other runners, although important to me for many reasons, my races and running are not so important that they define limits of my life. They are something that give me pleasure, but so are many things in my life and they are just this small part. Running gives me self-worth in my dedication with training, in finishing what I thought was impossible, the care I take for my body, but not in times on a results sheet. I was surprised that I didn’t feel more emotional at the end, given the emotional aspect this route holds in me after my walk, and that it was an accumulation of nine months of planning and training. But then I am not so surprised, as these races show me more than anything about how the fleeting moments of pleasure, of pain, of frustration, and grief, can seem so permanent in one moment but can fade or disappear in the next. The joy of having the body, the freedom, and the privileged opportunity of running across the country will live with me a little longer though and that feeling of pure bliss of my body running after 170 miles will be one I can take forward to the next race, the next challenge, the next time that I feel broken and ready to give up.
That feeling when my body wakes and whispers, we can do this. And then I fly.
Jen Scotney. Northern Traverse 2018
190 miles, 27,487ft ascent, 78 hours 37 minutes