You know it really didn’t take long to get into this trail malarkey. One double rainbow across the field and I was really feeling it. The only quandary was do I keep running hard or stop and take a pic? I picked the wrong one and kept running but thankfully others took some pics and I’m indebted to them. Thank you Kenny Girvan, Vicky from the Rundirtycrew, Emily Jackson and Graham Kelly for their picture taking on the night. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me recap, I had been invited to take part in the TrailFest Scotland Solstice Trail Series which is a series of trail races from 7k to 15k over three weeks at Mugdock Country Park. You know me by now, yo-yoing from road to track with moans and stresses and times and splits and all that jazz. Despite doing a lot of trail in my long runs I had never raced it, and have no reasonable excuse why. I guess I always thought that road and trail were mutually exclusive, you did one or the other. I was filled with trepidation beforehand, thinking of all the real hardy trail runners that would be there with their long beards and buffs, and I expected the men to be even scarier … (well done Marko, alienate the trail community before you’ve even started… 🙂 ) I had been sent a pair of Salomon trail shoes (as well as shorts and a t shirt) to try out but only got them this week so had only worn them once, briefly, so already going against my own rules of racing in unbroken shoes.
Changed in the work toilets and sneaked out early for the drive up and arrived far too early as usual. The weather was glorious, sun splitting the trees and stuck some sun cream on my baldy napper, stuck on the shades and went to explore. Gorgeous scenic starting point at the visitor centre. Met David from the club who was also doing the race, and had the obligatory selfie and registered.
Number? Check. T shirt? Check. A beer for after the race? Don’t mind if I do, nice one. And a sticker, and some high 5 for our water if we wanted it. Very impressed with the warm welcome to be honest. Had a wee chat with Ryan the organiser, a few folk from Running Friends Scotland then hid like a baby when the thunder came out to play. And the rain started lashing down. Now I know the slogan is #rundirty, but the timing was impeccable. Thankfully it cleared up relatively quickly and the clamminess and protein in the form of midges came back out for the start.
And we were off, a rapid downhill and tight turn to start off. Now I’m a wimp on downhills so held back. Or tried to but my pace a wee bit sharper than I planned. These guys were flying. Now I am not going to go through every nook and cranny and twist and turn of the run as there are many, but down the grass, down a gravel path, then running across grass, uphill, uneven ground, long grass, undulating, jumping over a style. And this all in the first couple of k. You just never knew what was around the corner and I loved that.
Pic by Kenny Girvan
I was having great fun and working my way through the field in more ways than one. I had soon got to the head of a group and the next batch of runners were a long, long way away and I kept losing visuals with them and was worried about getting lost but the course was clearly marked with red flags and stewards with ding dings at any contentious turns. There was a long stretch down a gravel road and I was taking in the scenery as we went. Lovely. My legs were feeling it though, the twists and turns and ups and downs, the changing terrain and the fact I was wearing rigid shoes that weren’t broken in and were probably too big for me wasn’t helping. I was opening and closing gates as once more I had ended up on a solo run. The rainbow I had told you about was stunning (thank you Graham Kelly)
and I started to catch a couple of guys ahead as we came into a technical section. Steps, tree roots, more downhill where my bottle went but at 5 1/2k as we came down, out of the trees and alongside Mugdock Loch in the sun it was truly glorious.
An out loud wow, and as good as Emily Jackson’s pic is it doesn’t do justice for how beautiful it was.
I had caught the 2 fellas in front now passing one as the other went away and we were on a path now, my terrain, but up and down it went.
Thanks Victoria Garnett from RunDirtyCrew
There was a castle and stuff like that. Magic. We were already past 7k as we went back through the trees and I had no idea where the finish was, but when Giffnock’s Trail veteran Jan Bienkowski came sprinting back past me I had an idea it wouldn’t be far off. I had thought we still had another hill to go up but it just goes to show that my bearings had been totally lost and didn’t respond, but round the last corner, wee climb to finish and home.
Strathclyde parkrun’s Ally was helping out and I think she told me I was 8th. I’ll certainly take that for a first trail race. Really good fun, tough on the legs though worth it, and a really enjoyable calm atmosphere. Lovely wooden medal to go with what I had been given prior to starting.
This apparently was the easy run with the two longer more technical ones still to come and I’m really looking forward to them though as the trails get madder and longer and the climbs get higher and more technical I expect to slip further and further down the field. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Controversial time now. I know how some folk can be road runners. Others are trailrunners. I may have the bug for this trail stuff and want to do more so I want to combine this with road racing as they actually don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Eyes truly opened. Do both. Eureka and all that stuff! Does it really matter that it isn’t on Power of Ten? Now where do I buy that TrailFest buff!!!
Here are some more of Bellahouston Harrier’s Emily Jackson’s pics of the night, great stuff. The rainbows!
A big thanks to Ryan and Jo and all at TrailFest Scotland for a fantastic evening, and thanks to Ellis Brigham Mountain sports and Spike PR for sorting me out with gear. I’ve moaned about the shoes purely because I haven’t broken them in yet but the Salomon Sense Ride had a great grip for every part of the run. I am a huge fan of the shorts, Salomon Fast Wing twin skin ones with an excellent upper compression, great for my old hammies and quads on the hills, check those bad boys out next time you are at Braehead.
Next up back to the roads for Killie’s Roon the Toon 10k, then a return back to the trails for the 12k event. I have a feeling that that one could be a real #RunDirty event…..
Whatever your poison running is just magic 🙂 Catch you out there soon, and do you know what? Gie it laldy down a hill to a loch, it might just make you smile.
The song? People like their T shirts and bling and think they have to do big races to get that. You don’t, this is an alternative. Trail races can be as well organised as road ones. There IS a Commercial Alternative, so here’s Teenage Fanclub 🙂