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Silver medal for Jo in the World Trophy 50k.

31/10/2014

The gales and torrential rain that have been widespread across Dumfries and Galloway were not exactly ideal weather to prepare for a race in the Middle East, so when Dumfries Running Club's Jo Zakrzewski got off the plane in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday, she was hit by a wall of heat and humidity and had no idea how she'd fare in Friday's World Trophy 50k final...

Jo went into the race ranked 11th in the field, and knew that there were several fast "wild card" entries (unranked as then hadn't run a qualifying 50k race), so she was under no pressure for a specific result. She was keen to check out the conditions and course as the same route will be used for the World 100k championships in 3 weeks' time where she'll be part of Team GB.

The race started at 6pm to avoid the heat of the day, but it was still around 32 degrees Celsius with over 60% humidity. It seemed that the race would be more about positions than times, as people needed to be cautious with their hydration. The race route consisted of 10 x 5K laps, most of which was run on tiles/paving and so was rather hard underfoot. The tiles did become slightly slippy when wet, and some parts of the course were less well lit than others.

Jo found herself running with a group of international ladies for the first couple of laps, and they commented that they really knew that they were running in the Middle East as they pounded across tiles while hearing the "call to prayer" piped out of nearby speakers. In lap 3, the race spread out with an American and Canadian girl leading the field and swopping positions several times per lap.

The men were running on the same course and so Jo was pleased to have got to 28k before the lead man lapped her. She tried to ignore other people's pacing and run a steady race, which saw her moving up into second place just after halfway. All the runners were very thankful that there were 3 water stations/lap as they needed to empty bottles over their heads as often as possible (and yet some runners still overheated or became dehydrated).

Jo maintained her position behind the leading American lady and gradually increased her gap from the Canadian lady in 3rd place to cross the line in 3:32:23, less than a minute behind the winner, a close finish after 50k of running.

Not only were the finish line goodie bags slightly unusual in that they contained boiled sweets and plums, but the drug testers also presented runners with a thermos flask and T-shirts when they had successfully done their tests!

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