A Forest – the Devilla Forest 15k Trail race 2019.

Fife.

You hear the stories.

The horrors.

Even people from Greenock show trepidation when the Kingdom is mentioned.

You see the pictures on Running Friends Scotland with their luminous vests, stories of running around pan handles, mad names like Skwerls, these people who apparently wear shorts over their tights and wear headphones in races just to noise up race organisers. Broke their leg on a 55 mile run in the morning but foam rolled it so they will be back out this afternoon for another 20 miles. They don’t wash their hair, buffs and sweat will keep it natural.

Why am I telling you this? Well myself and Kev had put on the big boy pants and managed to get places in the much lauded Devilla Forest Trail races, the 15k for me and the 5k for Kev. As we crossed the Kincardine Bridge we could see the eyes peeking out of bushes but we made it to Tulliallan safely and through the police barrier safe and sound. We parked in a walled garden, they even had bricks and walls instead of flowers, a hardier bunch than us West Coast jessies, and when we got our numbers they gave us beer.

Beer.

I like Fife.

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All has been in jest as the welcome was lovely. Really well organised and had a wee chat with the lovely ladies giving out the numbers who recognised the name from the blog. No hills they said, but I’m not sure I believed them. Lots of hellos. Good seeing a lot of folk I don’t see that often as I don’t get out my own wee comfort area for racing that often. Up we went to the start which was to be on road and we were offski. I had been warned in advance to get up to the front as there was a lot of single file trail and I did mean to but I was slightly further back than planned when we went off.  First bit on road then a wee gradual climb on the trail and my legs felt like they hadn’t met each other before. I was trying to run along with Danny Burns but I couldn’t get myself in any space and when I did the legs were like a mud resistant Bambi.

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Thanks Brian Miller for the pics

Danny was away but I caught him up again and there were already groups and gaps as we headed towards the single trail.

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photos courtesy of Carnegie Harriers/Steve Adam

Danny for some reason let me in front of him but I was stuck behind lads from Giffnock and Pitreavie as we hit the infamous single file and swamp section. Wasn’t too bad this year but I still wasn’t quite feeling like I’d hoped and the groups in front were getting further away.

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Thanks Fiona Rennie for these pics

This section went on for a bit but we were back onto a wider trail again and I decided I had better get the finger out and give it a go. The nearest group in front contained Scottish Marathon Champ Alison McGill who appeared to have been dropped by her clubmate Kristin Lownie in the race for first female. I’d mentioned before that I used to work in the same place as Alison but since I was a few stones heavier and smoked more fags in a day than there are miles in a marathon back then I didn’t actually know her. I had a target now though and over the next few miles closed the gap until I caught up her just as the rain started and the wind came out for a dance. Don’t think she was too happy and didn’t let me away and we had a mile or so of cat and mouse, the usual me doing well uphill then getting left downhill. A steward shouts “the whole of the moon” at me as we go round a corner. I wave and laugh. We were soon joined by Ian from NAAC who’s time of 62 mins last year I was really impressed by and my secret A aim today was to get close to that.

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photo courtesy of Carnegie Harriers/Steve Adam

He simply said hello and ran away from me. For a minute or so I let him go but woke up again and despite my reservations about my endurance fitness went after him. For the next few miles I tailed Ian which I was pleased with as he is a fine trail runner. Couldn’t quite catch him but away we went, steep downhill single file, jumping the “Ditch of death”, uphill, downhill, muddy bits, cobbles, round the water, we were picking folk off and starting to gain on the groups ahead. Kristin’s group was visible in the distance, Victor from Kilbarchan was there fresh from a sub 30 at the Glasgow Uni 5 the day before, social media darling Supertramp and his beard of splendour leading the charge. I thought we could catch them. Like last week I was in the middle of the ladies title battle and was in a perfect position to strike the last couple of K and reel them all in. This week however it simply didn’t work out that way. I simply wasn’t as good as I thought or hoped I was. No one caught me or anything, don’t get me wrong, but Ian pulled away from me with ease and caught the group and despite running hard I just couldn’t catch up at all.

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photos courtesy of Carnegie Harriers/Steve Adam

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Thanks Brian Miller for these shots

I ran as hard as I could but it just wasn’t there. My lack of trail talent and lack of endurance just not letting me step it up this week. Mixed emotions with coming in well under the 62 minutes but not quite going to plan on the racing front.

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Pic by Kevin Durnian

It’s one of those wake-up call ones where you realise that no matter how well training is going, the racing world is a different place. Theory and practice, different things. These cows are small, those ones are far away. Jaws and Jaws 2 – different sharks. Reminded me of the Shettleston 10k last year where I thought I was in shape for a 37.30 and struggled to beat 39 and never ran a decent 10k the rest of the year. Back down to earth.

So that was that. 23rd finisher, 22nd male, 13th V40, 4th v45 in a time of 1.01:49 which is more than decent.

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A few days later but still a bit flat and undecided if that’s good or bad, but we stick the vest in the wash, stick the training gear back on and we go again don’t we? A great event though and a good course, get yourself in for it next year if you are able. For all my meh, I did enjoy it.

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Thanks Carnegie Harriers and all their volunteers. Thanks Steve Adam, Kevin Durnian, Brian Miller and Fiona Rennie for the superb pics. Now have a tune, it’s a forest, so it’s the Cure.  Added to the Playlist along with another Forest style classic from Lloyd Cole and the Commotions.

2 thoughts on “A Forest – the Devilla Forest 15k Trail race 2019.

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