A weekend which started and finished with Sue Harrison carrying the Union Flag aloft bookended a race she described as one of the hardest of her life.
Representing Great Britain at her third IAU/IAAF World 100k Championship, Harrison was given the honour of leading the British team in the opening parade at Sveti Martin in the north west of Croatia.
Part of a three-strong ladies’ team, Harrison went into the race, which comprised a small 2.5k loop, followed by 13 further laps of 7.5k with the goal of running sub eight-minute mile pace.
The first five hours went according to plan and Harrison was placed in the top quarter of the ladies’ field.
She went through the first marathon split in 3hr 25min and slowed slightly over the second marathon distance as the temperature rose to 30 degrees to clock 3:35.
At around 70k she started to experience difficulties, with her quads tightening on one of the two sharp downhill sections, forcing her to slow her pace.
The problem persisted for the remainder of the race and at the next turnaround point the team manager gave her the opportunity to withdraw.
She responded by saying: “I have never dropped out of a race in more than 30 years of racing and my first will not be in a World Championship wearing a Great Britain vest.”
For the final 20k, she was forced to combine walking and jogging, dropping down the field as a result.
Approaching the final few metres, Harrison was handed a Union Flag which she proudly flew as she crossed the finish line in 8:55:37 for 51st place out of the 103 ladies’ finishers.
“That was undoubtedly one of the hardest races of my life,” she admitted.
“I am proud to have finished but disappointed with my result.”
Fellow GB runners Sam Amend and Carla Molinaro finished 15th and 30th, respectively as the trio finished ninth in the team standings.