Silly me. Thought the ‘Doon Hill’ in the title was just Scots for down hill. Turns out Doon Hill is actually a 6th century homestead, 5 miles up hill, and the mid-way marker for this scenic race which loops round the farmsteads south of Dunbar.
It was a fine, warm morning when Sadie and I reached the race venue – Hallhill Healthy Living Centre – eventually, after being sent down some back road by my sat nav. Just enough time to pick up numbers, get organised and attempt a warm up. There were a LOT of club runners there, mostly Portobello, which made us a wee bit nervous. We set off at 11am and wound through the housing estate at the south east of Dunbar before heading out onto the farm roads on the other side of the A1. The race was touted as a part trail, part road race but I think the split was about 70% tarmac 30% trail. Was wearing trail shoes but didn’t really need them. The roads were lovely and quiet though and once we’d gone under the bypass we barely saw a car. The route took us gently up hill via farmsteads and alongside fields, steepening towards Doon Hill itself. Managed to keep a steady pace throughout though, plus a wee burst to get past a guy who’s running vest stank like he hadn’t washed it in weeks (yuck). He passed me again not long after though…
We ran round the back of Doon Hill and finally began the descent back down to Dunbar. Ramped up the speed quite a bit at this point, hitting a 7-minute mile and trying to atone for the slow slog up the hill. The runners in front had the same idea and I only managed to pass someone who’d already passed me a couple of miles back. Felt strong though and the view over the Forth with the Bass Rock, North Berwick Law and Traprain Law to the west was lovely. The trail did seem to head west for quite a long time though and I wondered if we’d ever start heading back to town. At 7 miles we eventually turned towards home and once back under the A1 I decided to risk a bit of speed and tanked it past stinky vest man (again) and a female runner. Felt a bit sick from effort as I passed the finish line back at Hallhill but jubilant at my 1:18:10 time. Sat on the grass and waited for Sadie, who came in only 4 minutes later at 1:22:18. Fantastic effort despite experiencing crippling shin splints in the first 2 miles which nearly made her pull out – what a tough mudder! Local man Andrew Crichton won the race in 00:56:55, with 1st lady Nicola Duncan of Portobello finishing in an impressive 00:59:59.
There were free sports massages on offer in Hallhill centre so Sadie and I got in the queue. As the therapist (who looked so sweet and innocent and gentle) gripped my hamstring I nearly hit the roof. Ten agonising minutes later – during which I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or both and managed to almost rip the head rest off the massage table – I hobbled off to the prize-giving to see if I could bag Sadie and I any soup and sandwiches that might be left. All sandwiches had been scoffed but I grabbed a cup of soup and was heading back to Sadie when I heard my name called – 1st Vet Woman! What a lovely surprise.
All in all, a great race and a great day 🙂
Results and photos available at http://www.dunbarrunningclub.com