ASK and the GingaNinja were signed up for the West Lothian Running Festival about a week before the event – we’d be umming and arring about attending as the GingaNinja wasn’t sure her training was ready for 7 race kilometres and attending for the kids kilometre on its own seemed a little excessive.
I wasn’t ever going to run the race (this year) as I should have run the Thieves Road Ultra last week (delayed until next week) and would need to rest or be resting, however, after a couple of nasty injuries in the last two weeks I’ve found myself needing rest rather than races and so it was down to the other family members to take up the baton.
So with the GingaNinja happy to run and test herself it was decided that we would all go down and I’d support ASK round her kilometre.
The weather was lovely and cool with a whipping wind around that made for good running conditions.
Picking up the numbers from the small but well stocked ‘race village’ was easy and there were lots of little local businesses at the start/finish area providing opportunities for coffee and bacon sandwiches.
The start location in the centre of Bathgate had been easy to find and there was lots of good parking a 2 minute walk from the start – which is good news with the threat of rain in the air.
The assembled runners were a hugely mixed bag of fast, slow, old-hands and first timers and it was clear that the West Lothian Running Festival was geared to be inclusive of all running abilities. The turnout wasn’t massive but it was certainly more than enough to make it a fun atmosphere and a competitive event.
As support crew for the day I find myself really enjoying the experience – I don’t have any nerves about performance or my need to have a pre-race toilet stop (good toilet facilities at this event though). All I had to do was provide jumper storage and waterproof jacket storage as races came up.
ASK was first and the pair of us lined up alongside dozens of other young athletes.
We started near the back, which is very much my style but I’d forgotten that ASK is competitive – much more so than I. So as we set off ASK thundered forward and broke through the ranks of the runners ahead of her. I was somewhat surprised by her resilience as we crossed the park and through the 200 metre point and the explosive start continued without much showing of it slowing down.
The GingaNinja awaited us on the long tarmac stretch around the second corner and we had a swift high five before pushing on through the halfway point. ASK was running very much on the front foot and I shouted out words of encouragement and advice. I was delighted as we picked off a couple of fellow runners ahead.
Now with less than 250 metres to go I could see a little bit of upset creeping into her face – such had been the effort she had given – I reminded her that the GingaNinja was just ahead and with a final spurt forward she thrust herself across the line (albeit with need for minor course correction as she followed me (who had dipped to the side to rake pictures).
There were tears at the end as the effort had left her exhausted – she’d left it all on the route, as it should be, but with a chocolate bar in hand and a medal around her neck she was ecstatic. Awesome.
Still armed with a medal we saw the GingaNinja to the start who had that look of ‘why the hell am I here?’ But she was there and when the race started she headed out, albeit with less gusto than ASK but still going for it.
The runners started with a circuit around the field and as supporters we followed the GingaNinja to key points that allowed us to shout support and take a few pictures – then she was gone.
The GingaNinja was now wending her merry way around Bathgate and of the course she said that it was both scenic and relatively easy but with a gentle undulation all the way round that made for a fair challenge.
ASK and I awaited her return by playing on swings and zip lines but then half an hour later and we decided to join one of the volunteers cheering runners in. I wanted ASK to experience the cheering aspect of the event so she could see and be inspired by the runners but also appreciate better the support she had received as she ran for the finish line.
After a few minutes of cheering in runners we could see the GingaNinja in the distance and we immediately broke out into loud cheering. With every step that she got closer our daughter got more shrill and excited – it was now that she wished to join in and run the final few hundred metres to the finishing line with her mum.
It’s always a delight to watch them finish together and the race volunteers were as enthusiastic about the back of the pack runners as they were about the winners – a real credit to the event.
With both ASK and the GingaNinja back over the line it was time to collect a medal, eat a banana and bask in the success of the day. Good fun.
A really lovely event was put on by West Lothian Run and the organisers deserve a lot of credit for delivering a wonderful local event aimed at everyone. You couldn’t really ask for much more. It had the air of a local community race and it seemed to draw locals to it, which I think is a great thing. It’s one of my favourite things about being up here – Scotland seems to exude great pride in each town and village delivering a bit of independent community and sports/races are often part of it and this was no exception.
Both my daughter and my partner really enjoyed taking part and we will be back next year. One thing I hope is that this event goes from strength to strength and we see even more runners lining up to compete.
Check out West Lothian Run and their other events by clicking here and sign up – I think you’ll rather enjoy it.