Bit of a last minute decision to do this one, but it had always been on my list as it’s another long distance effort (20 miles) through my lovely home county. But maybe too long after the 50k two weeks prior? At least I’d be trained up for it! So, after some car-sharing-shuttling shenanigans was hastily arranged, Allan Dunbar, Ngeme Ntuli and I set off for Porty Prom.
The weather was pretty grim on the day. No rain, but cloudy, cold and most importantly – very windy. North Easterly too, in the exact direction we were heading. Looking back on the race’s history this seems to be a common occurrence. Well, it is a coastal run so it’s sort of to be expected, even in early May. So, after faffing about with various kit combinations I settled on a thin base layer, club vest, gloves and buff and combined with a pair of shorts to catch any rays of sun that might eek out through the clouds. We gathered at registration pretty early so Allan could drive all the way to NB to drop off his car where his mate had gamely agreed to pick him up and drive him back to Portobello. Ngeme and I set off for the start-line about 10:40, which is just as well as it was a fair walk to the start line from the Sports Centre. At the start coach Dave (officiating on the day) was trying to mark out a line in talcum powder, which was a challenge in the wind! Lining up with a nice smell of talc in our noses, Ngeme and I saw Allan dashing up to the start just in time for the gun (11:00).
Off along Porty Prom we went, Allan and I running together while Ngeme decided to hang further back and enjoy the distance at a more leisurely pace. I was expecting to be left for the seagulls by Allan pretty early on but by some miracle this didn’t happen, which was probably a result of a knee injury he sustained on a training run we did in the Pentlands a month before, where my constant gabbling led to a momentary lapse of concentration on the marshy track! The gabbling continued a fair few miles into this race too, to the consternation of one runner who we kept passing/kept passing us, and who remarked “You’re obviously not trying hard enough if you’re talking so much!”. Ah well, it took our minds of the headwind. But I did keep hearing Dave in my head shouting “If you’re talking you’re not running!”. Sorry, coach.
Despite the chatting, glances at my Garmin showed a pretty steady sub-8min mile pace for the first half of the race. There were a few spectators out to cheer but mostly it was a dedicated set of marshals following us along the course who provided the encouragement. It was odd not seeing the familiar landmark of Cockenzie Power Station to help judge the distance, and running past the ghostly remains of it was even weirder.
By the approach to Gullane the constant pounding on tarmac was beginning to hurt, and I kept looking longingly at the nice soft John Muir Way trails that were tantalisingly close to the roads we were running along. The wind too, when out of the built-up areas, was getting pretty tiring. Along the golf course into Gullane I struggled with my bumbag to get some fuel and started to lag behind Allan. By the time we’d reached Dirleton though I’d caught him up, and slowly passed him on the way into NB. The long approach into town seemed to take forever, and I was counting each breath in and out just to keep going. Just past St Baldred’s Church there was a welcome bit of downhill, where my dad was waiting to wave me on. Then a short slog across the green to the finish, were Dave was recording the finishers. A quick chat with him and a hug from my dad and there was Allan, just behind.
A tough race, but a really good one. Made tougher by an uphill walk to the Sports Centre to pick up bags, coffee, tea and snacks. Even tougher still as I lead Allan and another runner the ‘scenic route’ there! Oh well, good to loosen off stiff legs before a stretch.
Mark and the kids were waiting at the Sports Centre. I didn’t stay for the prize-giving, as I was really cold and had the promise of BBQ food at my dad’s nearby. Later that night though I got a message from Dave – 2nd L40 over the line. Turns out there are some advantages to getting auld after all!
Jan Dawson – 2.40.22
Allan Dunbar – 2.41.38
Ngeme Ntuli – 3.28.26
Full results here.