A quite different type of course compared with Irvine Moor and Callendar Park. This was more like what you might call "real cross country", ie. seriously muddy and quite hilly.
My primary goal was to see if I could finish 3rd in the M45 category. I noticed before the race that Robert Quinn and Andy Little were both in attendance who are both M45, and way faster than me, so my only chance was to try to track the 3rd M45 whoever that might be.
I set off fast but not too fast and found myself in about 10th position on the first smaller lap. At this point I knew I was in 3rd place, and was also ahead of Jeff Farquhar, but wasn't sure how long I could keep this going. On the 2nd lap climbing the stony track I got passed by Raymond Jaffray of Teviotdale sporting a number "45" on his back, so I knew I had to start working now. But I also got caught by Alan Derrick, Jeff Farquhar, and as soon as we were into the muddy field John Bell went past as well, so I felt like I was going backwards. I tried to rally and go after John, but the footing was so slippery and muddy it was hard to generate any pace.
There was a tussocky field to cross, and short section of tree roots before hitting a dis-used railway line where at last you could start running properly. I made the mistake of glimpsing behind me and realised there were runners right on my heels, so I tried to keep pressing. Ian Johnston of Shettleston had several attempts at getting past before finally pulling ahead, but as soon as we hit as small descent dropping off the railway embankment I released the brakes and flew past Ian and also caught John Bell.
I couldn't believe it but John actually had enough breath to start chatting to me about what a good course it was, whilst I was struggling to breathe, and focussing on the possibility of catching Jeff Farqhar who was one place ahead.
I couldn't quite get back ahead of John despite him walking up the steep banking before the tussocky field. I felt a bit sick after running up the steep hill, and then had to keep surging again and again to stop Ian Johnston from getting past.
There was a confusing junction coming up, where I wasn't quite sure if we had to run down the field or blast down the road. I maybe hesitated a fraction waiting for some instruction, and at this point an unknown Perth Road Runner (David Knight) suddenly appeared on my shoulder and nipped in front. I managed to batter down the road slightly faster, but once we turned into the field for the final run in I felt wrecked, and David got back in front.
I didn't actually have any idea how far it was to the finish, but there was still a full 1.1km to go down a really soggy muddy track. I just about managed 3:30/km but it was hard work all the way, and I felt sure I would drop more places if anyone was chasing me down.
With about 200 metres to go Andrew Ronald of Falkirk eventually passed and I pretty much gave up, but suddenly with about 80 metres to go I thought I might as well muster a sprint finish through a complete quagmire. My right hamstring was getting tighter and tighter, but I just managed to jump back in front of Andrew before my hamstring packed up.
So the end result was 5th M45 and 17th place overall. I didn't manage to beat Jeff this time, but I was a good bit nearer to John Bell than I've been before, plus I managed to stay ahead of Ian Johnston for the first time.
Angela Mudge won the women's race after a close battle with Melissa Whyte.