In 2018 I [Sgt M A Robertson REME] progressed in my development as an Army Athlete, rising to compete at the top domestic level against full time professionals. To compete at this high level requires a great support team around you and, without the support of REME Cycling and The REME Sports Association and Team Army I would not have been capable of achieving this.
The first half of the year brought great success. I won the Scottish National Circuit Race Championships in May fighting off stiff competition and had the strength at the end to cross the line solo. Having already won the Scottish National Road Race title in 2017, it was a proud day holding the circuit title at the same time.
At the start of July I competed on the big stage; The British National Road Race Championship. This year it was held in Northumberland on local roads which would be a great advantage as I trained on them on a weekly basis. The challenge was still huge, competing against the best professionals in Britain such as Mark Cavendish, Ed Clancy and numerous other World & Olympic medallists. The race was run over 120 miles on a rolling course that would sap the legs over 4.5hrs. Unfortunately, after 100miles I was given the black flag which would mark the end of my race. However, it should be noted that Cavendish, Clancy and numerous top domestic professionals were alongside me so I was proud to have done myself justice, especially because my preparation coming into the race was not perfect due to illness. The experience of racing on local roads is one I will not forget quickly and it was a great motivator as I built towards August and the defence of my Scottish Road Race Title.
The build up to the Scottish National Road Race 2018 was almost perfect. Training was hard but very productive. A short taper 2 weeks before brought the culmination of hard training together and I knew going into the race I was in very good shape, although I kept my cards very close to my chest. The race was held in Cromarty just north of Inverness on the Moray Firth. The 100 mile course was demanding with a particularly punishing 2 mile climb which we had to ascend 6 times. Being the defending champion I was closely marked by everyone and it quickly became clear that this would be a test of nerves and patience. The race was process of attrition and I stayed safely in the bunch until the last 9 miles, playing a waiting game and reassuring myself I would have the strength at the finish. I had done plenty of recces of the course and knew the flat finish suited me, I just had to be in near the front of the group as we came round the last right hand hairpin 400 metres before the finish. Not a pure sprinter, but always one who has the strength at the end of a hard race, it was made for me. As we came out of the last corner I was the 4th man and gradually wound up the gear before going full gas with 150 metres to go. I took the lead with 50 metres to go and crossed the line triumphant. This cements my place as one of the best Scottish road riders, completing the road and circuit “Double” in the same year, and defending the road title for a very rare 2-in-a-row.
Additionally, just before the Scottish Road Race Championship I was nominated for The REME Sports Person of the Year. Always the athlete I played down my chances in my own mind, especially when I heard Col REME read out the achievements of the other nominees – I was expecting to be disappointed. To hear my name being called out was such a huge honour & privilege. I still look at this award as being one of the key moments in 2018, it gave me the kick I needed just at the right moment in the season. Retaining the REME Road Race Championship on the same day as receiving the Sports Person of the Year award added to the value and motivated me to finish off 2018 on a high.
As the season draws to a close I have also been nominated for Army Sportsman of the Year. It is another huge accolade to reach the final three nominees – a huge achievement when you think of the number Army Athletes who were nominated. Additionally, I have also been selected for an Army Sports Control Board sports scholarship to help me in my development in 2019, another piece of recognition which I am truly privileged to receive.
2018 has brought with it great challenges but without the support I have had from everyone none of my achievements would be possible. I extend great thanks to:
- Team Army.
- Army Cycling Union, Men’s Army Cycling Race Team – Sponsors Army Benevolent Fund & Helyx SIS.
- REME Cycling – Sponsors BRIGGS Defence & Performance Cycles.
- The REME Sports Association, Team Army & Army Sports Control Board.
Sgt M A Robertson REME