It’s the eve of the World Ultra-MultiEvent Championships. I head off to Belgium tomorrow.
On this bank holiday weekend, two years ago, I sat idly watching the IAAF World Championships over a late-night take-away curry. With almost no idea what was going on, I Googled what events were in a heptathlon. I could not have imagined the road that this action led me down. It’s been quite a ride.
One of the joys of athletics fandom is seeing the stories form through the numbers. The constant pulse of the seasons. Rising stars and ageing athletes, clinging on for just one more season. The elation of surprise results and the devastation of the disasters.
Now I have my own numbers to worry about. Last year’s tetradecathlon at the European Championships gave me a benchmark of 4000 points. I will be fiercely competing against my former self- hoping for 5000, but will likely be some distance from the winner’s 8000+.
No matter how many times I’ve told people that I started all of this so that I could be 12th in the World (of 12)… the truth is that I’d be devastated to come last. I’d not even be that pleased with second last. It’s pretty frightening to put your goals out there, but I’m hoping for a top-ten finish.
This is all completely ridiculous, given that a) my initial desire was simply to finish, and b) most of these women have been training for this since birth. But after putting god-knows how many hours into it, one can’t help but care a bit.
Last weekend, I competed ten events and came last in all but two. I am constantly saying that I like to find the joy in coming last; but it’s a bit of an untruth. It was funny last year to come last- in my first season, the taking-part felt enough in itself. But what’s my excuse now?
So off I go. Off I go.
I’ve enlisted Arron to take photos of the most painful moments this weekend, lest I forget and sign up for something stupid again. If you want to see what’s going on, keep an eye on my Instagram.