While the other half of the Gin Runners was off offering moral support down at the London Marathon I headed off in the opposite direction to visit the Queen’s wee place in the Scottish countryside for the RunBalmoral 2018. Now I probably should explain that this was the first time I’d ever tried an event like this, but after a few gins of an evening it seemed like a good idea.
RunBalmoral 2018 consists of a number of events over two days, and I found myself signed up for the 10K on the Saturday (as the 5K had sold out) and the 3 mile trail race on the Sunday as, well, f**k running the 15 mile one.
The drive up to Balmoral was fuelled by a mixture of excitement and nervousness. As I got closer to the event I found out just how big it actually was, and judging by the miles and miles of queueing traffic there were going to be quite a few folk there!!
Ready for the off.
There wasn’t a great deal of time to play with by the time I’d got parked up, changed and walked into the estate. Of course there was time for the obligatory “selfie with the big horse” before I headed into the starting pen, staying safely near the back with the old, the slow and the bloke dressed as a dog.
Now in my extensive pre-race research I’d seen mention of “the hill” and was quite frankly dreading it. I mean hills are hills but this is THE hill. In capitals. THE !!!
The 10 minutes until start time dragged by as they always do. My pre race preparation involved standing looking cold and nervous, it’s a good look and one I’ve cultivated since, until the signal was given and we were off, walking at first until the crowds tinned out a bit and a slow trot became possible.
Getting going, then THE HILL.
The first couple of K were actually quite enjoyable. The large that had plagued me the week before had abated which meant I wasn’t streaming snot everywhere and both my legs seemed to be functioning correctly. Getting swept along with the crowd was just becoming fun when we left the riverside and turned left. Oh, that’ll be THE hill then.
While the more athletic participants took on the hill at a run, most of us back where I was decided that walking for a bit was a much better idea. I did try running bits of it but not with much in the way of success. The bloody thing seems to go on for ever, adding a minute or two per Km to my pace.
Eventually (very eventually) the sound of the pipes greets you as you make it to the top. The slow ascent had well and truly buggered up my hopes of getting round in less than an hour but at least it had to be mostly downhill for the rest of the route.
Downhill from here.
The descent from the top of THE hill was actually quite good fun.As the pace picked up my whirring arithmetic told me that if I got a move on an hour was just about achievable. The last couple of K undulates, and it was here that I first discovered someone using the run/walk method. I overtook said walking bloke on the undulating “up” bits, fair enough. Then he ran past me again on the “down” bits. This happened about 5 times and by christ it was getting annoying.
It did make me go faster towards the end.
I left my run/walk nemesis behind as we headed onto the finish straight and really went for it with one eye on the watch as it ticked over the hour mark. 1:00:12 it said.. THE BASTARD.
Chip / Gun / Run!!!!
But I’d forgotten… Chip time, Gun time, all that technical stuff runners bother about. I was happy just to get round so when the text arrived with my official time I may have let out a little happy squeak. 59:11 it said, new 10K PB (well, technically only about the third time I’d done that distance).
And I beat the Dog!!!!
I have to say I’d really enjoyed that. The support from the crowds was brilliant, lots of cheers and high-5’s from the kids that lined the last couple of K. Nothing quite like having some woman on a picnic blanket with an ice-cream shouting “Don’t stop!!!” to keep you going. Without her sage advice I’d not have beaten the hour.
Day 1 done, just the wee 3 miles to do tomorrow.