I have run this race a few times now and as it is the last mid-distance hill race (17.7kms, 460m) of the year it is a good race to keep one’s fitness on point for Feel the Burns in January.
Although one must cross into Brexit land (start/finish is in Rothbury) it is really worth the 1hr 45 min drive. I left Penicuik at 8am in a biblical rainstorm with the Temple road being more of a river. I hoped that the forecast of sunny skies with a stiff SW wind would be correct or it was gonna be an awful day. Luckily, the climate models were correct. The wind was not too helpful I will admit, especially when it was a cross wind.
Simonside is one of those annoyingly runnable races with the climb being slight but continuous for the first 11 kms, and then it is all downhill. What makes this race challenging (bar the weather which can be atrocious at this time of year) is that much of the mid-section is rather muddy – and today, it was uber muddy. The first few kms are on road and track, but then there are about 6kms of muscle sapping muddy tracks – all slightly uphill. As one passes Selby’s Cove and start the final climb up to Simonside itself, it is a good test for one’s fitness as to whether you bomb out at the point. Today my legs felt strong, and forewarned with prior knowledge, I wore my Salamon Speedcross trail shoes as the 4kms from Simonside back down to the car park is continuous stone flags and steps which are slippy as hell if you wear Mudclaws. I managed to pass a few runners here who appeared to be running on ice and were cursing the whole way.
Of ca. 90 runners, I came in 21st and 3rd V45 – I quite liked them creating new categories. Wine gums as a prize. My time was 1:42:46 which was only 2 mins slower than last year (much better conditions).
Overall – shoe choice is crucial for this race – Salamons are definitely the best for wet rock, but you still need profile for the mud. Finally – my first race since I turned 49. The number clearly was an omen for a good race. 🙂