Monday, 6 February 2012


  The snow hit Ilkley earlier than I thought it would on Saturday.  It was around 1 p.m. I was on the ridge on the Middleton side of town and could see it sweep in from the west.  It drew a curtain over the moor on the opposite side of the valley and continued to envelop the town for the rest of the day.   It built up on the garden table until it reached 6" deep. A  bit more than I had expected.
 I thought that it would have disappeared by late afternoon on Sunday so I planned to leave my daily outing until then but that didn't happen.  I'm sure many of you switched your Sunday session to Saturday but I was too optimistic and perhaps too cautious not wanting to do a long run the day after a 5K time trial on Friday.
 In days of old when I was bold (!) I'd go up on the moor,  I would have frolicked  in the white stuff on the moor risking whatever was hidden under foot.  But that spirit of adventure has somewhat  disappeared  and I settled for a safe 5 miler on  a section of road just out of town.
 So no progression in terms of quantity last week maintaining the average of 42 but the considerable improvement recorded for the 5K trial bodes well for any races coming up.
 If I had switched Saturday/Sundays I would have missed some excellent races featuring local Wharfedale
primary school children.   It was the under 11 girls race which started me thinking about the competitive aspect of our character.   We hear the phrases  "I'm very competitive" or the opposite, " I'm not competitive at all"  quite often. But is being competitive down to the genes we inherit or is it learn behaviour?
  Whilst the previous winner of under 11 girls races in this league held back on the first lap, well off the pace in about 6th position, out front a rival was determined to score a victory on this morning. She lead from the gun, resisting any challenge from behind.   With half a lap to go  she seemed to spy the league leader out of the corner of her eye,  rapidly closing from behind in an effort to continue her winning streak. But the contender was having none of it.  She kicked again from the front and once more opened up a gap of a few metres.
 Undeterred the closing girl came at her again with 100 metres to go.  I'm sure many watching expected at this point the girl who had lead throughout would buckle at last.  But no this was HER morning for victory and she was not going to give it up without a damn good fight!
  They turned the final corner and raced shoulder to shoulder through to the finishing funnel.  I think the majority were disappointed to see the race leader miss out by the thickness of a vest.  But our disappointment was nothing compared to the way she felt.  At the age ten or eleven she was already so hungry for  success.  Clearly very upset, several of us, including mum of course,  rushed over to console and congratulate her on the way she had given 100% from "gun to tape"  only to be beaten by inches.  But I'm not sure she was buying it....second was second. She had come to win!
 Nature or nurture?  Who knows; but certainly an inbedded trait at an early  age.
 I couldn't help but think about that Sydney Olympic 10K final. It was Gebrselassie  and Tergat all over again ......on a grass field in Wharfedale.
  I have read that whether learnt behaviour or natural, being competitve is an "undesirable" trai. It tends to "make people more unhappy than not".   Certainly this 10/11 year old was very unhappy.  What we have to learn in life is that  when we do compete we try to do our best but on some occasions doing our best is just not good enough to win. Nevertheless we should be proud of our efforts;  which is how I hope she will view the race in retrospect.
 There is one more  event in the league;   perhaps on that day her tears will turn to smiles of victory.


  1. Probably nature I would say. It is clear that it starts at a young age anyway. Good or bad? As you have shown it needs at least two people with a competitive nature to make a good race and so it is good for those watching. I also don't believe you can make a champion without it. It is certainly something from within yourself, where you set your own level at and where you want to go with it ie best in school, best at your club, best at county level or the best in the world. You can bet that this young girl is already planning a strategy to win next time. I'm looking forward to the update.

  2. Most kids still have a competitive nature, just as in yesteryear.
    I think these days though, too easily a resolve and tenacity disappears, along with a realistic perspective, with then an apathy setting in leading to mediocrity and unfulfilled potential.
    You still have a competitive nature Terry, but you channel it to what works for you now, and sweep past guys in the 2nd half of races as many run out of steam.

  3. Thank you Terry for your kind words, Sassy is fine now and yes she is training hard for the next race so watch this space.....