Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Heaven and Hell Half Marathon

Results | Photos | Activity on Garmin Connect

Photos courtesy of roadrunpics.com

A hilly little route just outside Perth, starting near Scone Airfield.

The main challenge is the rather daunting climb of around 220 metres at 8 miles.

I hadn't done this race before, and thought it might be checking out.

I did a short warm up with course record holder Paul Arcari of Kilbarchan, who'd run the course in 73 minutes, and clearly wasn't going to get much competition today. I thought I might be in with a shout at top 5 or 6 depending on how I played my cards.

The race started at a pretty pedestrian pace, apart from Paul Arcari who raced off into the distance and out of sight almost immediately. That left Grant Wilkie of Corstorphine and Craig Reid of Bellahouston Road Runners as the only targets to chase. I possibly could have closed the gap on them a bit, but instead decided to shelter in a group of 6, and get some protection from the wind, even though the pace was a bit too slow.

Taking some shelter in a group in the first couple of miles
Once we hit the first long uphill drag after 2 miles, the race started to stretch out, and I found myself in 6th position by the top of the hill, giving chase to runner 190 in the blue T-shirt who turned out to be endurance triathlete Douglas Allan.

Crest of the hill at 4 miles
I felt pretty good going through 10 and 11km, before battering down the steep tarmac hill to the 8-mile marker. I was catching Douglas all the way down the hill, and almost got onto his heels at the base of the climb.  But somehow all my resolve vanished once I started climbing, and I ended up shuffling up the hill and little more than walking pace. This meant Douglas quickly disappeared from view, and opened the door for Euan McIntosh to catch me halfway up the climb. Euan and I worked together up the remainder of the hill, into the increasingly powerful wind. Once over the crest at 10 miles, I thought I might be able to pull away, but Euan was strong on the descent, and eventually opened a small gap with 2 miles to go.

In my mind, I was going to put in my final burst with 2km to go, but the course suddenly had a few minor hills which killed my pace, and I could feel I was being caught by another runner. With just over 1km to go, Gerry Craig of VP-CoG came trotting past looking pretty comfortable, and looking like he'd catch Euan as well. For the final kilometre I was hanging on for grim death trying not to lose any more places, and also trying not to keep on looking behind, which is always a sign you are fading away. 

With about 400 metres to go, I suddenly thought that rather than wasting my energies on wondering if I was going to drop more places, I should really just shift my body and jump past Gerry again. This meant doing horrible things to my heart rate, but I upped the pace and was hovering on the point of gauging the exact level of effort needed to pass Gerry before diving into the finishing funnel. I thought I pitched the effort perfectly with one last ditch effort, only to discover that wasn't the finishing line, and there was still 100 metres to go around the corner.  

Turning into the finishing straight just after passing Gerry Craig
 The photo might not show it, but this was me gasping into the final few metres of the race.

So the end result was I finished 7th in 1:27:10, which wasn't too bad seeing as most of the route I was running at a pretty steady comfortable pace.  Paul Arcari won the race by more than 6 minutes in 1:15:05.

Race winner Paul Arcari showing howing it should be done

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