The achievements of a warm summer’s Saturday afternoon in Moscow have not quite sunk in yet, Susan Partridge admits.
The 33-year-old from Oban went to the world championships in the form of her life but still barely ranked inside the top 100 on the planet. Yet, through persistence and sheer will, she crossed the line in tenth place, an accomplishment which was beyond her wildest hopes.
Preparing for tomorrow’s Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run in Glasgow, Partridge’s stature has never been higher. Russia was a high-water mark but it still seems a blur. “I was thinking about it while driving up the road here,” she revealed. “I went: ‘that was pretty good.’ Even the last time I ran this race, if someone had said: ‘in X years’ time, you’ll be tenth in the world’ it would have blown me over. I didn’t think it was possible when I went into Moscow, even the day before.”
Outwardly, life for the Leeds-based Scot has changed little as a consequence. A few extra invites here and there. Undoubtedly a few sheckles extra for postponing her winter hiatus for a half-marathon that will start and finish on Glasgow Green. Internally, it has made all the difference in the world.
“There is a an air of confidence or fulfilment that if that’s all I do in my career, I’ll be pretty happy with that,” she admits. “But at the same time, it’s given me ambitions that if I’m tenth in the world, I should be doing some pretty good things. There’s an expectation now. And the brilliant thing is that the Commonwealth Games carries it on. I’ve had this great year. But it’s not over yet. Because 2014 was always going to be exciting.”
In Glasgow next summer, it will be the marathon or bust. Emboldened, Partridge may attempt to qualify for the subsequent European Championships in the 10,000 metres but it will be merely an adjunct. Making an impression on the track is overdue, she believes. “It’s not a crazy aim, it’s more a luxury. But it would be nice to have a proper crack at it.”
Everything, from here on, will be geared to the Commonwealths. And she will get a taste of what might lie in store when she lines up tomorrow against Freya Ross and Hayley Haining, two of her potential foes. Having such depth in the event bodes well for Scotland’s medal hopes, she says. Having someone who now believes she belongs in elite company can only enhance them still further.
“I thought I was capable before,” Partridge confirms. “If you look back at past Commonwealths, it’s not normally the fastest championships. Anyone who can run around 2:30 should be aspiring to medal. I do think this will be the hardest one in recent memory, though. “It will be a fast marathon. You’ll get a lot of competition from the home countries. The competition to get into the England team will be tough. Kenya isn’t likely to send its strongest team. You never know how you’ll feel on the day, but it wouldn’t be very ambitious of me to not aim for the podium.”
Meanwhile, Haile Gebrselassie has admitted he has no plans to ease gently into retirement as he prepares to chase another world record. The 40-year-old Ethiopian will make his first-ever appearance in Scotland in the men’s race with the age-group half-marathon best of 62 minutes and 28 seconds in his sights.
It comes just three weeks after the two-time Olympic champion pushed Mo Farah to the limit at the Great North Run before settling for third place. This time, he will have Joseph Birech for company in Glasgow with the Kenyan going for a third successive win. Andrew Lemoncello flies in today to spearhead the home challenge.
Gebrselassie is stimulated to chase an extraordinary 28th world record. “I am told it will be a fast course,” he said. “That is always good. And I have never won in Scotland so that would be something new for me.”