For its beaches, unhealthy for its ruined castle and cathedral keeping watch over the North Sea, doctor for its unintentionally comedic street names (Butts Wynd to name but one), and St. Andrews will always feel like home to me. The friendships I made and the experiences that shaped me will always be with me and, if I had my time again, I would find myself back in that windswept corner of Fife. I love that place and everything about it, but for 18 minutes each year I wish I had never even seen it.
Today was the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, two crews row until their bodies scream for four miles and 374 yards. At more than double the Olympic distance, the guile of the coxes must match the metronomic power of the strokes as the mercurial Thames plays favourites with its current and conditions. If I could only compete in one race in my life, this would be it.
I love this race because it always motivates me to push myself harder, to give as much of my soul as those sixteen men on the river, but watching the race always reminds me how different the test I have ahead of me truly is. When Ben and I reach our journey’s end, there will be no trophy to collect, no podium to climb, just the sight of the coastline stretching before us. There will be no crowds, no cheers as the world celebrates with us, just a moment of silence. The ocean will be my trophy, the sound of gulls my roaring crowds, and in that moment I hope to find something that I would not exchange for 18 minutes in that dark blue boat on the Thames.