My name is Linda Johnson and this is the story of My Snowdon Race, 2016 which I ran for Kidney Cancer Scotland.
This year’s Snowdon Race was the seventh time I had taken part. I was aiming for under 2 hours and got a time of 1:56 so, I’m pleased with that. My best times were in 2009 and 2011 where I came in at 1:41 and was second lady vet getting to the summit of Snowdon in around 1:05; it took me a whole ten minutes longer this year!
The conditions were perfect, slightly cool and drizzly, normally I push to close to the front on the start line but this year I held back and enjoyed the race, no pressure to get a PB. You tend to settle in with a group during the race and this is good fun, you can push each other on and give each other encouragement when someone is struggling. I did my usual and fell uphill, a skill I seem to have mastered. As a result I had slightly grazed and bloody knees but I told the rescue team, in good humour, to back off: I was not getting the train down!
The support on the hill from marshals and spectators is fantastic, you have your name on your race number and it fair pushes you on when someone shouts out “come on Linda, you’re doing well”. The decent off Snowdon was misty at first but once you got down so far the mist cleared and you could see the park in Llanberis and the finish line, not far to go. The last few hundred meters of the race route is lined with members of the public, all shouting and encouraging the runners and it helps those tired legs over the finish line. I was glad to get there. I had hoped for a chance to speak to the TV crew again and promote Kidney Cancer Scotland, but they were busy and as the race organiser Stephen Edwards says, everyone racing has a story. Bryan was there to meet me along with the faster teammates from Lochaber Athletics Club.
My training went well this year but I don’t race as much as I did back in 2011 and its racing regularly that makes you race fit. My husband Bryan is completely to blame for this, since meeting him I have put on half a stone and cut back my running, clearly content! Around 20 Lochaber Athletics Club athletes went down to race at Snowdon. We stayed in a hostel in Llanberis, the whole event is good fun and very social. It is a joy and privilege to be part of such a friendly club.
I am a member of Lochaber Athletic Club and try to train with them on a regular basis. My operation to remove my kidney and the tumour was in early November 2015 and I set a date for Christmas 2015 to get back into the club training nights. I also train when I can with a group of friends, these are usually the big hill days where we can be out for hours in some amazing scenery.
My honeymoon was three weeks spent touring the Pyrenees, this gave us ample opportunity to train, cycling some of the big cols you see on the Tour de France and walking and running in the Spanish National Parks. I thought I did okay cycling the cols until I found out the Tour cyclists are three times as fast!
I ran Snowdon for two reasons, one because it is my favourite hill race and two to raise money for Kidney Cancer Scotland. I hope to continue to raise money for Kidney Cancer Scotland and have a wee plan forming to race Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafell next year. There is a trophy for the fastest woman to compete in all three races, The Queen of the Mountains. Quite a title which I won two years in a row – 2008 and 2009 – when I was younger, lighter and fitter…………can’t do anything about the age bit but maybe, just maybe, I could get that trophy back and raise money for a great charity at the same time. If not I’ll still have great fun training and racing with a brilliant group of people.
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