Entering this epic race seemed like a good idea many months ago, but on the day I had the fear, big time! It was an amazing Harriers turnout, with Stuart, Mike, Rob, Yan, Jan, Al, Sadie, Chris and Andrew, plus Alan in the wrong vest ;-). Rob and Mike were clearly readying themselves for their personal battle, and Rob seemed keen for Jan and I to also do battle, adding to my general fear! As we got to the start, the misty cloud increased and Caerketton disappeared briefly. Thankfully, it was to clear up quite quickly once we got going. I don’t think I’ve experienced quite such a busy start to a hill race, and it seemed painfully slow going for a while. However, that’s probably what saved my wee legs later on.
The first part of the race over Caerkertton, Allermuir and then Castlelaw was very comfortable and as the sun broke through, it seemed like the perfect day for a Pentlands run. My gang and Sandra with Calum were waiting at the foot of the Castlelaw descent with some much appreciated cow bell ringing and shouts of encouragement. Then down towards Flotterstone, passing another lovely group of supporters with Mark S. Jan came flying past me down the Tarmac track, and I thought I’d never see her again on route, but as we headed up Turnhouse, I passed her again, trying very hard not to think about battling! I’m not keen on that climb, and although I was really enjoying the run, the sight of some of what lay ahead made me wonder what on earth I was doing there. (Thanks to Elizabeth too for coming out to support us, looking fabulous!) However, after that brief panic, Turnhouse, Carnethy, Scald Law and South Black were done, and it was on to the two Kips. By this time, the legs were feeling a bit wobbly on the downhills so I was glad to see some flat running ahead and the water station at the Drove road. After grabbing a random selection of snacks, I stuffed down a fruit bar on the move and kept running (scared if I stopped I might lose momentum!). So, on to part 2 of the race.
The climb up Hare hill seemed ok, and at this point there was a small group of us and a bit of entertaining chat going on, which really helped. However, as we approached the heather and bog on the way to Black Hill, I realised I was going to lose my new found friends as my legs are just too damn short to leap and keep pace. This was the first point I thought I might be in trouble, but thankfully with the way well marked, I caught up and was fine for the climb ahead. It was frankly a big relief to take the right route across Black Hill, having gone a bit wrong on two previous attempts! Then there was some more downwards slippering and sliding and off up Bell’s hill. Which was too steep – and my first experience of properly cramping calves. I’d been really feeling pretty good until this point, but oh deary me, that was not fun. I managed to keep my legs moving but my pace was slower and I struggled a bit on the descent from Harbour hill – but was kept going by the crazy but amazing shouts of encouragement echoing across the cleuch from Susie, her boys and Gord, and Andrea! Completely crazy, the lot of them, but so very welcome! Andrea then ran with me for some time and kept my mind off the cramps setting in. From that point, I knew I didn’t have much more to do, and managed with a struggle up Capelaw and then to Allermuir (I have never been so glad to see that gate!). Thanks to Duncan for his support here too!.
From there, I could already hear shouting, and as I headed on, the crazy shouts from Amy, Tracy, Michael, Rachel and Bert kept me moving while cramp rippled through my poor done in legs. To shouts of ‘I loooove yoooou’ from Amy and co, I tried to muster together something resembling a smile, and to keep running with some degree of style, but think I failed on both counts. Scott and my boys plus Calum H were there again for support and more cow bell ringing. I was so relieved then to head to the final descent. Which should have made for a straightforward finish….but oh no, not for me. Despite running this hill every week all summer for hill reps etc, I decided to abandon all common sense and follow others who clearly like me couldn’t follow a simple sign saying ‘way to finish’. Instead, we ran down by the fence, had to climb over it, and dive through chest high grass. This resulted in me losing my footing, falling headfirst into the grass and both calves going into full cramp. If it hadn’t been for a fellow runner stopping and stretching out both my legs, I’d probably still be there. Don’t know who he was or what club he runs for, but I am so grateful!
So, no elegant finish but at least I did finish, phew. Stuart, Mike and Rob were in – apparently Amy’s declarations of love distracted poor Rob and lost him his battle with Mike :-). Jan was close behind me, and we saw our fellow Harriers in, including Chris and Andrew crossing the finish together.
36 Stuart 3:05:09
68 Mike 3:19:27
70 Rob 3:20:42 PB
123 Yan 3:35:16
156 Gillian 3:46:09
170 Jan 3:49:43
204 Alasdair 4:02:13
213 Sadie 4:05:27 PB
238 Alan 4:25:24 (in wrong vest)
253 Andrew 4:38:19
254 Chris D 4:38:19
I loved this race!! Well done to all of my fellow Harriers, what a brilliant day!
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