Distance: 18 km
Elevation: 800 m
I signed up for Deuchary at the last minute in a desperate attempt to test my hill-racing fitness ahead of the Two Breweries later in September. It had been rescheduled from its usual April slot for obvious reasons, which led to some route changes as parts of the course were now hiding under thick fern growth. Not usually a problem in Spring! I headed up courtesy of a lift from Rob and Andrea (just Rob and I running the race), and it was so good to see them and have a good chat about all things running and more. We arrived in Birnam for registration in plenty time, so grabbed a coffee in the Arts Centre cafe. Just ahead of us in line for registration were a couple of very fit-looking ladies, one in tiny green shorts and with an Amazonian build that made my nerves kick in. I started to feel anxious, under-trained and just a little over-fed!
After a short drive up to Cally car park, Rob and I took a jog along the last bit of the race route, so we could recce the bits that had changed. After a bit of head scratching and doubling back, we were eventually satisfied we’d found the course so jogged down to the start line for the briefing. Unfortunately, with the slightly clammy conditions, our recce jog had resulted in a prematurely sweaty head and my hearing aid batteries shorted and could not be revived in time for the briefing (I take them out for racing). So I stood at the back of the very small field (only 47 runners this year, 8 of whom had started early at 10:30) and missed the whole thing. I was now terrified I was going to get lost, so took my map out and scrutinised it. According to Rob the only important bit I missed from the briefing was the explanation about the rerouted end section we’d already recced. I needn’t have worried though as the course was actually very well-marked from beginning to end.
We set off just after 11 and Rob quickly disappeared from view. I deliberately held back as I know I’m not very fit at the moment and didn’t want to burn out too fast. Before long though I’d moved up five places, and was enjoying the gentle climb up through the woods. Rob had described the route as ‘annoyingly runnable’ and he’s right. It’s undulating but apart from the last climb up to Deuchary itself, there is a lot of forestry track which you can get quite a bit of speed up on. I passed a couple more people on the first track after the woods, and then spotted those tiny green shorts not too far ahead! For the rest of the climb to Deuchary, I kept tiny green shorts lady (TGSL) within 20-50 metres in front of me. I still wasn’t sure I could catch her, but on the last climb up to the summit I was getting closer and closer. Andrea appeared on the hill just before the final climb, taking photos and cheering us on. She had cycled up the trails and climbed up and down Deuchary twice to see us, so she’d probably done more hard work than both Rob and I that day!
After a quick photo stop at the summit (it was quite a nice day with no rain so it would have been rude not to!) I followed the red and white tape off the hill. TGSL was powering down ahead of me and I thought that was it, but when we hit the forest track at the bottom of the hill she started to slow down. This was my chance! I hauled my 45-year old carcass past TGSL and another male runner along the track. I was determined not to be passed again so pushed up the pace and despite gasping for breath and muttering swear words under my breath I didn’t let up until the course dropped off the track back into the woods.
The rest of the course is mostly down hill, with a short climb up onto a grassy moor and a wonderful, fast descent onto the forest tracks again. I glanced behind me and TGSL was nowhere to be seen. The last few kilometres are pretty horrible forest track but fast running nonetheless. Soon I was crossing the car park again and onto the last kilometre. Suddenly I tripped on god knows what and did a commando roll into a clump of nettles, right in front of a young family getting into their car. The dad looked over at me with concern, but I jumped up, did a quick once over and shouted “I’m OK!”. Luckily it took a few minutes for the nettle-stings to kick in so I powered down the trail to the finish, passing another female runner on the way.
I was almost on for a sub-two-hour finish, but in the end crossed in just over 2:03. Rob was waiting there, and had been for twenty minutes bless him! We made our way back up the trail to the car park and met Andrea on the way. Another quick coffee back in Birnam Arts Centre and then back down the road, feeling good about the race and glad that I wasn’t last. It felt good to put my harriers shirt on again and I really enjoyed this race. Just a little bruised and stung the day after!
13th – Rob Wilson – 1:43:17
29th – Jan Dawson – 2:03:14
Full results here