Now this race is legendary around these parts. Yes it’s a quirky distance but that’s part of the appeal, more than a 10k, less than 10 miles or a half, but the distance is relevant because for every full kilometre you run there is a hill. A 12 hill race. As Kev said “what goes up must come down”, but you have to get up first so I don’t buy that nonsense, plus as I have said before I descend far too cautiously like the wee baldy woose that I am.
Looking forward to a new challenge? Check.
Dreading hills and thinking about staying in my bed? Check.
But what would be would be.
I had been warned in advance to ignore any pacing as the hills make it impossible to get any real consistent rhythm and to go by feel but I gave myself a few wee targets.
C. target – finish and get under 55 mins
B. target – get under 52 ½ mins
A. target – get under 50 minutes. Very ambitious but all a bit of fun. No stressing just enjoy the new experience and don’t hurt myself. As Elaine says to me before every race now “Be careful”. Fair point as I can’t even get past a poodle as you know.
Turned up for the registration, which is more than the caretaker of the miners club did it seems, and we got our numbers outside and it was then the quest for a toilet with the building still being locked up. I went a wee warm up with someone who will remain nameless, and that’s for a reason, oh it really is, but I’m sure Paul Simon wrote a song about him. We ran up a hill and down a trail path and found some woods. We know that bears like to shit in the woods? Well so did my running companion. Down he crouched, shorts down, just as a woman came round the corner looking for her dogs. She was shouting for Benji and Sasha and instead of seeing her dogs she must have instead saw the sight of yer man’s arse with a huge toalie hanging out. Aye for that brave woman who I hope is still alive here is today’s song, because yes, she saw the whole of the moon.
Any nerves I had were gone after this. Headed up to the start and was good to see all the old crew from last year’s racing. Garscube Gav was there with his party arm. A new playlist he told me, sod the GBX this is the GHX. Great banter all around. The conditions were to be honest ideal with the previous days wind just about gone. It was dry, the sun was out, perfect racing conditions which gave me one less thing to moan about, so I obviously wasn’t happy. Off we went and straight into the first climb.
Alongside James and tailed by Big Bad Brian fae Airdrie
The course was a few k out, a loop, then back along the first few k in reverse again, so at least I knew we would finish with a downhill. The field was spreading out quickly, the hill gazelles striding off at pace. I’d been watching Ayrshire whippet James Chalmer’s progress recently and he was fresh off a win at Ayr parkrun the day before. In the form of his life and one to watch, but as he flew away from me up the hill it wasn’t in my old legs to go with him. Gav’s party arm was behind me and he was talking to Danny Burns about a carry out he’d stashed halfway. A tall bald Garscubian then came up alongside us having been held up at the start. “Alright John?” I said to Gary McQueen and offended him for life.
Too many tall baldies at Garscube, something has to be done.
Gary danced away pursued by Gav and Danny, I was running by feel and that pace wasn’t what I had in mind with 11 hills still to go. In typical fashion in the first couple of k you tend to end up in a wee working group and this was no different except this time it was an enthralling one to be a part of. I was basically in a group with the first two ladies and it was fascinating watching it unfold over the next few k as Alison Mackenzie and Ruth Fraser – Moodie raced even this far out. I was climbing well and going past both on the climbs but on the descents they were running away from me as the pictures below show.
They really were hitting the downhills hard, I’m still not sure what my problem is – fear? Lack of ability? Something I need to work on for sure if I am going to do any of these races again. Up and down, over and over. Still hadn’t found a flat bit of the course but I was feeling ok. Ali had got away but I was still working with Ruth as we started to catch a few runners ahead. I could see James ahead now, though still a fair bit, he was giving me a target to hold on to. I was actually enjoying the run and the legs were feeling good. I had been warned about the hill between 7 and 8k, the worst in the race apparently but was feeling ok as we came to it and was starting to get closer to the group ahead containing James, Alison and Maryhill’s Mighty Kev Campbell.
Up the top of the hill and I started going about bridging the gap. A look at my watch and probably looking that I would finish just under 51 minutes or so, so B aim well within reach. But I decided to be greedy. Why not give the sub 50 a try, or get as close as I could?
Over the next couple of k I ate into the gap of the group ahead and took the group on as we hit a climb with maybe about 2 ½ – 3k to go. Some good runners who weren’t just going to let me wander past so it was racing legs on now. I ran hard from then on in, thinking probably 2 big uphills to go but of course the downhill finish. If I get to the top of the last climb ahead of the group I was optimistic I could hold my own to the finish. I was pleased to work hard and starting gaining on those ahead.
I was passing people, people who were good runners.
In the distance I could see Gav. Big Ross from Cumbernauld. Hill and ultra specialist Rodger Sangster. Was never going to catch them but to be in sight of them was enough for me. I was doing something right. Last long uphill and still passing people then to the downhill. A look at the watch, sub 50 on unless I capitulated. I felt good and went for it. Last 500m and I am on the shoulder of Shettleston’s Andrew Gibson, a far superior runner. I think he thought I was trying to race him but I was purely running against the clock. He took one look at me as if to say “and you are?” and he was away.
Watching some of these guys as they stride off is pretty awe inspiring. I may be running well for me but these guys are a different level and standard, even if they are having what is for them an off day. Anyway over the line, 49.28 and pretty delighted to be honest. Had ran it the best I could bar perhaps a few downhills, but had left it all out there and got my “A” aim for the race. But most importantly I had enjoyed it! 28th and 5th in my age group.
With Dougie and Alan, the Lanarkshire tourist crew.
So another new race for me, and another enjoyable one. That’s what it’s all about, keep it interesting and keep enjoying it. And I am so for no reason here’s another song, it’s different and I’ve been enjoying it and it’s almost as old as me and it has the warm fuzziness running is giving me just now.
Thanks to Dougie Holmes, John H Roach, Johnj Duffy, Karen Craig, Robert Sanderson and Kenny Phillips for their pics of the event and to Robert Rogerson, Kirkintilloch Olympians and all the volunteers for a great event.