30th July 2013

Emma Clayton Blog

30 July 2013

Two weeks ago I was left holding back the tears having to watch a medal ceremony that I wanted to be taking part in.  With the European Championships being uphill, this was never the main aim and a sixth place finish is not a bad result.  However, when I decided a few years ago to move away from domestic races to compete in Europe, it would be impossible not to want to succeed as an uphill runner.  Since the Europeans all focus has now turned to making the team for the World Championships and bettering my tenth place from 2 years ago.

The second WMRA Grand Prix in Arco has been targeted all year as a major race, although this meant having to unfortunately miss out on racing in the first ever Snowdon Super Cup.  I’d raced a 5k version of the 9.5k course a couple of years ago when it was a relay race but now they’ve changed the race to championship distances as part of their bid to host the 2016 European Championships.

The race was always going to be tough; it was the Italian national championships incorporating their world trial, four of the five athletes who beat me at the Europeans were on the start line, plus three Kenyan runners and the runner up from the 2012 GP series.

The race was a short lap (3.5k) and a long lap (6k) with a short loop of the town incorporated into the first lap.  As expected, the 3 Kenyan runners took to the front for the street circuit, so I just tucked in behind hoping that their pace would drop as they hit the climb.  As expected it did but due to the narrow tracks in the early stages of the climb it was difficult to pass. 

As the track opened up, I pushed on into the lead and increased the pace.  This seemed to break apart the lead group and I managed to build a small lead by the top of the first climb.  From here we made our way down through the narrow passages and streets, to begin the second lap.

The organisers had full race coverage on the big screen at the finish area so Ste had been able to see exactly what had been going on.  I still felt comfortable and had a 60m lead at the end of the lap.  By the time we hit the top of the first climb on lap two I had a 35 second lead.  Following a short descent came the longest toughest climb, starting on a steep road before moving onto a rocky technical climb through the woods.  I pushed the final descent in order to gain back any of the lead I had lost during the final stages of the climb. 

By the end, my lead was just short of 30 seconds.  Coming down the finishing straight was one of the greatest feelings I’ve had as a runner, the atmosphere amongst the crowd was amazing and standing on top of the podium hearing the national anthem was a truly special moment.