After having SO much fun at the Hidden Glen 10k the other month, signing up for the Tay Fitness Mhor84 Half Marathon seemed such a good idea. Great organisation, great scenery and a friendly bunch of fellow runners, what’s not to like.
Who said hills ???
Of course, being not-very-sensible types our drive up to the Mhor84 hotel was interrupted by a stop off in Falkirk for the parkrun in Callendar Park. Nothing sets you up for an “undulating” half marathon quite like an undulating parkrun.
Not the smartest idea, I’ll learn one day.
For some people preparation for a half marathon involves complicated training plans and dedication. For me it involves finding a matching pair of socks and trying to remember where I’d put my race number. I managed one of those, but not the other. Fortunately the organisers are used to dealing with things like that. A quick visit to race control furnished me with a new race number to replace the inexplicably gone missing one.
The start was divided into sections depending on what you thought your finish time might be. It was interesting to note that no one was brave enough to head into the “less than 1:30” section. Definitely not me, I headed back to my customary spot near the back.
Compere Dougie Robertson got a wee helper to count us down and there was much faffing with Garmins and phones as the race set off. Things started with a headlong charge downhill under the road bridge, which was nice, before the “undulations” started. I’ll be using the word “undulation” a lot in this review I think.
The route is undeniably pretty. It’s basically shaped like a three blade propeller with the hub being the Mhor84 Hotel. The first ‘Blade” took us out towards Balquhidder along the side of the river.
After about 3k the route heads back along the other side of the river before heading south towards the pretty village of Strathyre.
This bit undulated too.
This was where things started to go awry. In the run up to the event I’d
buggered injured my knee and it was as I headed up one of the many ups that it decided it had had enough. Shouldn’t really complain, I’d made it to almost half way in a reasonable (for me) time.
I had a word with the aforementioned knee and we came to an agreement. If I didn’t make it run on the “up” bits it would do it’s best on the rest. This isn’t a PB course anyway, and my plan was to get round feeling like I could do the distance all again.
Which, in August, I’ll have to.
Joy of joys, from about the half way point there’s a lovely (as in flat) cycle path for a few km. The entente with my dodgy limb held and at this point my brain started the inevitable finish time calculations. Sometimes it’s nice to have a world of data on your wrist, but this was one of those times when the watch was really getting on my nerves. If you don’t know what your heart rate is you can’t worry about it.
Has to be said though, perversely I was really enjoying myself. Something quite liberating about knowing you’re not going to get within 20 minutes of your PB 🙂
Of course the flat bit couldn’t go on for ever and after a gradual climb on some more trail-ey stuff the “famous” Zig-Zags approached. Now I’d heard mention of these on Facebook, and compere Dougie had mentioned them before the start of the race but I didn’t know what to expect.
Yeah, that was probably just as well.
This wasn’t an undulation, this was a mountain ascent !!
The Zig-Zags turned out to be a path up a hill, so steep it had to have hairpin bends in it. The happy little band I’d fallen in with were chatting and generally keeping going until we got to this point and then, to a man (or woman), we took one look at the incline and thought “Bugger that”. Never mind running up, I was knackered just walking up.
Yeah, if anyone asked we were just saving ourselves for the big finish.
Oh, but then again there was the view…
Yeah, that was actually worth it.
The good news is that from the top of the mountain it’s pretty much downhill all the way back to the finish. Here the usual “nearly done” adrenaline kicked in and the pace was picked up a bit. Then the watch ticked over 21Km and.. well.. the finish wasn’t in sight. Turns out the course is actually about half a mile over the Half Marathon distance (and they do say that on the website). I don’t think I’ve EVER hated half a mile as much as I hated that wee extra bit.
But, eventually I made it over the line. Amazingly (well, to me anyway) I hadn’t hated it, at all. It was definitely one of the toughest things I’ve ever done and I’m sure at one point I got overtaken by a sloth riding a glacier but the sense of achievement was absolute !!
I’m almost definitely sure the Mhor Marathon will probably kill me (it’ll be my first) but all I can say is…