Lanark athlete Jessica Robson has revealed taking a chance on Hill Running led to her first-ever Scotland vest and a bronze medal.
The 18-year-old got a last minute call to compete in the Scottish Hill Running Championships last month, which enabled her to qualify for the Slieve Meelbeg Home International in the Mourne Mountains near County Down.
And it’s given the Law and District AAC star an unexpected taste of success after an injury-hit spell.
The Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association organised a course of 4km with 393m of ascent for the event, which comprises Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ulster, with team scores calculated from the fastest three finishers.
Having finished fourth at the Scottish Championships, Jessica came 14th in the under-20 female category in the international, but it was enough to help the Scots team to bronze overall.
Explaining her whirlwind few weeks, she said: “I’d been injured on and off for about three years and with Covid, I hadn’t been competing at all.
“So the Scottish Hill Running Championships last month was only my fourth race in three years.
“I’d never done any hill running training in my life, but I got a call the day before the race and I was told there was a place available if I wanted it.
“I was thinking: no, not really, but I just went and did it because I felt it would be a good experience.
“I ended up coming fourth, so I scraped the last place on the team for the international, so it was a complete surprise.
“That was to qualify for the international and then I certainly got shown up. It was a really difficult course, but it was a good experience putting the Scotland vest on for the first time.
“It was a bit surreal because you dream about that when you are really young, but this is not the way I thought it would happen. It’s given me the appetite to do it all over again.”
Jessica, who has just started studying maths and education at Stirling University this week, has now set her sights on the Musselburgh Half Marathon this weekend.
A career in teaching is her long-term goal, but she insists the focus for now is taking her athletics as far as she can.
Jessica, who has been with Law and District AAC since the age of nine, added: “I’m looking to go under 90 minutes in the half marathon.
“It’s my first one and I can see myself being a marathon runner in the future, so this is the first step towards that.
“I want to take my running as far as I can. That’s my priority.
“I still consider myself a road runner but this past month has opened my eyes to what is available.”
Follow Lanarkshire Live Sport onTwitter via@LanLiveSport, like us onFacebookor find us onInstagramfor the latest sports news, pictures and video.