Sunday 22 February 2009

Scottish National Cross Country

21st February 2009, Callendar Park, Falkirk
Results | Photos (women's race) | Photos (U20 men's race)

Good fine weather for my 4th Nationals at Falkirk. Annoyingly though I'd had a cold for the past 10 days starting with razor-blade throat and developing into sinus pressure, gluey ears and general dizzy feeling and loss of energy. So the idea of running in the Nationals was less than appealing, and would probably only make myself feel even worse, but I had lost patience with having a stupid cold so was going to run anyway.

At the start of the race somehow I ended up more or less on the front line, rubbing shoulders with an Eritrean. After a false start, the gun sounded and the stampede began. I got swept up the first hill with the masses, and gravity and momentum got me through the first kilometre in 3:22. In retrospect, this turned out to be a stupidly fast start, but it felt OK at the time. I just wasn't banking on the wheels coming off even before I'd finished the first lap. I felt weak and woozy with my head spinning and just wanted to step off the course. I tried to summon some resolve to keep going in the 2nd lap, but was flogging a dead horse, and felt like a car cruising to a standstill after it's run out of gas. No amount of banging your foot on the accelerator has any event. There is just this slow inevitable feeling of grinding to a halt.

By the 3rd lap, so many people had overtaken me I had really lost interest in the race and was only waiting for the point when it would all be over, and the helpless feeling of sliding backwards down the field would finally stop. I reckon I dropped around 40 to 50 places in the last 2 laps. In the end, I managed a sort of sprint finish to pass Phil Williams of Central AC in the home straight to finish 133rd rather than 134th! Phil was in fact the only person I passed in the entire race!

I will probably need another week off running now to hopefully recover properly, and then aim to get back to some marathon training...

The men's race was won by Alastair Hay in a time of 37:14, almost 8 minutes ahead of my time of 45:11. Thomas Russell finished 2nd by 1 second for the 2nd year in a row.

Before the men's race I watched the women's 2-lap race, which was won by an enormous margin by Freya Murray. Toni McIntosh was also well clear in 2nd place, but 3rd place was a 3-way battle between Lyn Wilson, Elke Schmidt and Edel Mooney, who were locked together after the first lap. During the 2nd lap Lyn eventually pulled away to finish 3rd, with Elke 4th and Edel 5th.

Location of route Route Pace chart Freya Murray - race winner Toni McIntosh - 2nd place Lyn Wilson - 3rd place Elke Schmidt - 4th place Freya Murray in the finishing straight The start of the men's race Lap 1 Lap 1 Lap 1 Dying on Lap 2 Approaching the finish

Sunday 8 February 2009

Scottish Masters Cross Country

7th February 2009, Irvine
Results | Photos (women's race) | Photos (men's race)

After photographing the Pollok Park 5k in the morning, I drove down to Irvine in the afternoon for the Scottish Masters Cross Country, with stunning views of snow-covered Arran.

The Westies 'team' consisted of me, David Riach and Don Reid. The weather was bright and sunny with a cold wind, and firm conditions underfoot.

I watched the women's race which is 2 laps of the 2-mile course. Megan Wright forced the pace at first, but was eventually caught and passed by Jennifer MacLean who came in a clear winner in the end.

The men's race is about 6 miles, with 3 laps of the course. The runners each have their 5-year age bracket pinned to their back, so I was trying to keep track of how many V45 runners were in front. When Billy Coyle caught me early on I was fairly sure we battling for 3rd V45, so I tried to stick with him for the first lap, which I was just about managing until Lewis Lawson flew past near the end of the first lap, so I gave up slightly knowing I was no longer in the medals.

Going into the 2nd lap I was closed down by Jeff Farquhar and John McMillan who always give me a good run for my money, so I ended up battling the last 2 laps never more than a metre or 2 from Jeff and John. Near the end of the 3rd lap I started running out of steam, and Jeff, John and Michael McQuaid were all pulling away slightly but when Craig Grieve of Teviotdale caught me as well enough was enough so I let rip in the final 50 metres and closed Jeff, John and Michael right down again and all 4 of us finished more of less simultaneously in 35:01, although I was last of the 4 in 29th place.

David Riach took it at a more leisurely pace finishing 52nd in 36:34, whilst Don finished strongly in 81st place with a time of 38:30.

The race was won by Bobby Quinn in the insanely fast time of 31:12.

Irvine Masters race location Irvine Masters race course Snow-covered Arran in the background Matching Billy Coyle at the start Chasing Damian McAuley David Riach Don Reid David Riach Don Reid

Sunday 1 February 2009

Forfar Multi-Terrain Half Marathon

1st February 2009

Results: 2009 | 2008 | 2007
Reports: 2008 | 2007

My third year in a row at this Forfar Half Marathon over a mix of surfaces. Last year flooding was a problem, whereas this year the heavy muddy underfoot conditions across the last few fields made it hard going. I finished 7 seconds slowers than last year in 1:22:06 for 7th position.

The very start of the race was rather vague when no-one was quite sure if the faint noise we heard was actually the starting hooter. So after a hesitant couple of seconds we collectively decided we might as well start running. I probably did myself no favours by leading the field for the first 2 miles, alongside James Britton of Moorfoots. James and I had been very close the whole way last year so I thought just maybe I could cling onto his pace. But clearly James has been training hard and is way stronger than me now, so after about 2.5 miles I started falling away. Graeme Bartlett went past and caught James and the 2 ran the rest of the race together.

Overcooking the first 2 miles meant I was caught by Scott Young after 3 miles, then Paul Houston around 6 miles, Adrian Davis at 8 and David Burgess at 9 miles. I could see these 4 runners not far in front on the climb up Balmashanner Hill. But on the long descent back towards Forfar I was feeling jaded and wasn't making any ground. After the final road crossing with about half a mile to go I could sense someone barreling down on me. I thought it was Peter Buchanan, and had to really press hard the final 400 metres to avoid being overtaken. I never looked round but realised afterwards that it was Fife AC's cake muncher Mr Brian Cruickshank.

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