When I was first diagnosed with leukaemia, early last year, little did I realise the long road ahead would end up at ‘Transplant Sport’ ! I’d never heard of it until I saw a piece on Look North about the upcoming World Transplant Games, which involves transplant recipients from all over the world, all competing together, but in separate age categories … and it’s all happening within a couple of miles of where I spent months in hospital.
So … I managed to get myself selected for TeamGB, running and cycling, and was ‘encouraged’ to also do the British Games. Off to Newport …
Cycling ‘Road Race’, Maindy Centre, Cardiff
The ‘road race’, had been planned to be up and down lanes of a car park, but when this was announced, with just a week to go, everyone was aghast. People thought all the bends dangerous, but I just thought it was naff. Anyway, helpfully it was quickly rearranged to be on Geraint Thomas’s childhood velodrome, with a lovely smooth tarmac surface, with gentle banking.
The format was 15 minutes plus five laps, in a race combining 50+, 60+, 70+ men. Think I can confidently say I cycled faster than I ever have before (ignoring Weardale downhills): my Garmin was saying 20-22mph most of the way.
Result: third in the 60s to win a Bronze medal! Whoop!
5K Run, Newport Riverside
The longest race distance at these games is the 5K, so was my best chance of a good run. The route was a pre-existing out and back parkrun course along a flat riverside path, nice surface. The only thing the organisers’ messed up was layering a 3K fun run on the top of it, such that the leaders encountered a mass of families with kids halfway back into town! Doh!
Anyway, set off at quick pace, and kept it together for about 2.5 miles, shouting ahead on the way back (politely, of course) for a bit of space. Well-pleased with the time (21’22), even if it was a bit flattering ( 3-mile course, I reckon).
Gobsmacked to find it was good enough to win the M60s … Gold medal! Whoop!
The first track race, next day, was a mere 15 hours after the start of the 5K, so legs were a bit heavy. Got properly warmed up after having various pulled muscles doing track training recently, then set off after the firm favourite for the race, and kept with him for … half a lap! Hung in there in front of the rest though, and was happy with the time: 3’04. Second place, and a Silver!
Once again: Whoop!! One more event …
After a long wait (legs seize up, massage, snooze in van, wake up, warm up again) … my last event, late afternoon, was 1500m, against the same firm favourite as earlier, but with all the MV50s in the race as well. Race tactics? Push hard all way round and see what happens!
Seemed to work … finished fourth in overall race, second MV60, getting round in 6’09 … so another Silver! Whoop!
Well-chuffed with these games … some wonderful people, great stories, very moving at times, a fantastic supportive atmosphere … and to come back with a Gold, two Silvers, and a Bronze in the cycling was way more than I expected, and all a bit of a bonus. I’d like to put my feet up now, but there’s the small matter of the World Transplant Games in Newcastle next month …