British Transplant Games: Newcastle 2015

5 August 2015, 13:28

Five races in under 24 hours is enough to make anyone exhausted just thinking about it, let alone racing it! This is my third year competing for Kings College Hospital alongside other British organ and bone marrow transplantees, and with the World Transplant Games only 3 weeks away, this was a good opportunity for a dress rehearsal (well, not literally as I’ll be wearing Team GB kit in Argentina)!

Melissa before the mini marathon start
Repping Run dem Crew in the sunshine before the Mini Marathon start

First up was the 3km “mini marathon” along the Newcastle Quayside and the Millennium Bridge. I led from the start, and it was pretty smooth sailing, aiming to keep my pace as far under 4min/km as I could manage – til the turnaround point, when I suddenly had to fight my way through the slower runners and walkers (and prams, and dogs…) coming the opposite direction.

Mini Marathon start
The official race start photo, while we still had a free path!

I used a lot of lung power shouting “EXCUSE ME PLEASE!” every five feet like it was the Embankment in tourist season, so I didn’t get the time I wanted, but still managed to be the first across the line (male or female) to earn my first gold medal AND retain the trophy for the first female for another year. Even with the lack of a lead sweep bike for the 3km runners (there was one for the 5km route, but since we turned back before them, the bike was well behind most of the 3km runners), having chip timing and separate start for the competitors and fun runners was a massive safety improvement over last year.

Melissa and John with trophies
Myself and John – overall winners of the ladies’ and men’s Mini Marathon races

Sunday we moved to Gateshead International Stadium for all the track and field events, starting first with the 1500m. This is my favourite of the track events, and the first time in three years that I finally got to race against my NEMESIS – the lady who won all the running events before I came along. The two of us were neck and neck for the first two laps, her in lane 1 and myself in lane 2.

Myself and Orla racing the 1500m
Myself and Orla (my “nemesis”!), neck and neck in the 1500m. Photo: Dave Medcroft

I’d been reading up on 1500m race strategy though, which said that the race is always won in the 3rd lap. So coming into the 3rd I took the psychological step of accelerating so I could move into lane 1 ahead of her, which apparently just killed her off, as she fell off the back after that, finishing in 3rd about 300m behind me.

Nadia and I on the 1500m podium
Nadia and I on the 1500m podium (Orla was seeing a physio and missed it)

Then it was the 200m, which is my weakest event, as I am in no way a sprinter, but I do it anyway to build “character” (and because my team captain says I must run the maximum 5 events!). I was up against sprinter girls in block starts and I swear worked harder for this bronze than I did the next two golds.

I only had about 30min break before the 400m, which saw my legs really shaking as I pushed across the line for another gold, and by the time I got to the 800m race about an hour after that, I was really running on empty. It’s good that I was able to win that one pretty comfortably as I really don’t think I had any fight left in my legs!!

800m podium
800m podium with my BTGBFF Ruth and a visiting American runner

The good news is that I’m racing these same events (minus the 200m, and possibly adding the 4×400m relay) in Argentina spread out over a whole week, so the extra recovery time should really help shave off those extra few seconds. I’m targeting a gold sweep, of course!!

Total medal haul
The obligatory Mister T shot!

(And having finally met my “nemesis”, she is of course, SUPER lovely and we got on so well and had a right laugh the whole weekend. She was only just out of a plaster cast for a foot injury though, so we’re both looking forward to a proper showdown in Liverpool next year. And she laughed the hardest of all when I told her about being my nemesis!!)

Even though we leave for Mar del Plata in 2.5 weeks, there’s incredibly(!) still time to sponsor me for the World Transplant Games if you haven’t done so already – this helps offset my flights, team hotel, competition insurance, and training costs! And likewise, if you’re not already on the organ donor list or the bone marrow database, please, please consider doing so and telling your friends and family about your wishes.

British Transplant Games, 1-2 August
3km “mini marathon”, 12:54 – gold & trophy
1500m, 5:44 – gold
800m, 2:58 – gold
400m, 1:14 – gold
200m, 0:32 – bronze

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  1. Huge congratulations – what an amazing achievement!

    Joanne    5 August 2015, 19:43    #

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