Having survived the 10K race on the Saturday’s RunBalmoral 2018 (in less than an hour, with THE hill) I headed back to the van to decide on a plan of action for the evening. There were acres and acres of parked cars and a bit of a gridlock getting out so a decision was made to stay where I was for the night, and only move if someone came along and told me to.
This gave me the opportunity to have an explore of the local area, although as it is the middle of nowhere there’s not much
else to do apart from head off for a random walk in the naive hope that there may be a shop nearby.There wasn’t, but there was an amazing churchyard and a cracking walk along the side of the river before heading back for the serious athletes evening meal… Jafa Cakes and pepperami.
Exploring around Balmoral.
I’m always a sucker for a nice graveyard, and the old church had one of the best, including memorials placed there by Queen Victoria for her favourite lackeys and a couple of Commonwealth war graves. As the various day visitors had all cleared off by now there was literally not a soul about and a very chilled evening was had which finished up sitting down by the river talking to a lizard and wondering if I’d be able to run the 3 miles tomorrow.
Although by now the van was all alone in the middle of a huge field (literally) the expected knock on the windscreen and shout of “get orf moi laaand” never materialised so that was my camping spot for the evening. At least I’d miss sitting in the massive queues of traffic the next morning.
Which never materialised.
Ok, lesson learned. The first day of RunBlamoral is the big event, the family occasion and there are thousands of visitors, spectators, fun runners and 5 and 10k-ers adding to an amazing sense of occasion. The Sunday is, well, nothing like that. This has a far more serious tone, with the crowd mostly being competitors, many of whom are doing the Devil O’ Deeside challenge which involves doing the 5K and 10K on the Saturday and then the duathlon and 15 mile trail race on the Sunday.
Pre-Race Excitement. Not really.
I moved the van closer to proceedings and got organised for the upcoming trial, or should that be trail. I’d eaten all the pepperami and Jafa Cakes the previous evening but luckily the wee visitor centre place was open, so breakfast was a cup of coffee, some shortbread and a packet of crisps.
To kill time I found a nice spot for a seat at the side of the start / finish straight and cheered on the Duathlon competitors while I waited for the trail shenanigans to start. I must admit I did find myself fancying maybe giving it a go at some point, two runs with a bile ride in the middle sounds easy enough. The “devils” were in evidence too, once they got through this there was only the big trail race to do before they got their just rewards.
Right, it was time to stop thinking of any reasons not to run and get ready for my big (only) event of the day.
The hardy souls doing the 15 mile race set off. This left a few of us milling about near the start for the “wee” 3 mile trail race. I assumed this was the easy option for the folk not good / fast / fit / stupid enough to do the big bugger (I was wrong). As the start time approached I took my place at the back end of the field. I thought I’d probably be staying there and at least I knew I’d be in the top 50.
It looked like there were only about 50 of us taking part.
The TRAC 3 Mile Trail Race.
The starting gun fired and we were off, following the first section of the 10K route from yesterday before heading down into the trees beside the river. After about 1K I realised something strange was happening, I was going well and not wishing for a merciful quick death like I had on the hill the day before. The path was quite narrow but with some “jumping onto the embankment and trying not to fall off” overtaking moves I started to make my way up through the field.
No, I can’t believe I’m writing those words either.
As we approached the bottom of THE hill again I did try to strike up a conversation with a couple of my fellow competitors but they were a surly bunch, so I pulled away from them suspecting I’d regret it later.
I ran up the hill as best I could, thankfully we weren’t going up the whole thing. Soon we turned off the fairly decent track onto proper trail up through the forest. By this point I was frankly knackered so the big climb to the turning point was mostly walked. I thought to myself “well, that’s me buggered then, I’ll be getting passed by all the people I overtook and they’ll point and laugh”. When I got about half way up the clearing I finally bit the bullet and risked a look back over my shoulder. There was not a soul in sight. In fact the only indication I was actually in a race was the girl about 200m in front of me and the photographer at the top of the trail.
Amazing how the presence of a camera makes you run !!!
Over The Top.
Mr Camera Man (no, I’m not going to pay THAT for your photos) marked the end of the climb. Next the headlong charge to the finish began. I’d never done anything quite like this before. I careered downhill barely in control and wondering how the hell I was going to stop. Well a stop that didn’t involve gravity, pain and very probably A&E. It’s slightly scary running, skipping and jumping over booby-trap branches and roots. Especially in a manner most unwise to a gentleman of my advancing years. Yep, I was loving it. I apologetically passed a bloke about half way down the hill. The trail then crossed an actual road with a helpful official pointing the right direction. I also heard the age old lie..
“It’s not far now”.
I emerged from the trees at the bottom of the trail and then the route turned right along a proper road. Great. only about 500m up to the finish. Turning the corner I saw the girl I’d followed up the hill. She was still about the same distance in front of me so I had that argument with myself that I’ve had a couple of times since..
I’ll never catch her… yes you will… No, I won’t… SHUT UP AND RUN !!!
Another sprint finish.
And run I did, using whatever was left in the tank to get as close to a sprint finish as an old bugger doing his first trail race can manage. I caught my target about 50 metres from the line. Although it seemed a bit impolite to overtake I did. I don’t think I’m cut out for serious racing. Anyway I crossed the line to collect my medal and t-shirt.
Gallantry be damned.
And that was that, I knew I wasn’t last. My watch said I’d just about got in under half an hour, I believed it.
If I was happy enough with that, I was about to get an unexpected bonus. The official time arrived of 27:56 and it said I was 15th !!!!! Out of 44 !!!!! But that wasn’t the best bit. That wasn’t the bit I knew I’d be annoying my Gin Running girlfriend with for the rest of eternity..
The BIG result 😉
I’D WON MY AGE GROUP !!! I was the fastest old bloke between 40 and 50 !!!
And that means, technically, I’m the undefeated and undefeatable RunBalmoral M V40 champion forever.
No one can EVER take my title away…
Because I’m 50 this year !!!
And the £15 I won would go as down payment on a pair of socks from Run4It