The GinRunners tour of the more far flung parts of the UK continued with a trip to the beautiful Mull Of Kintyre. We headed across-and-down to check out their MOKrun Festival. Of course beings there was a quick stop off at Greenock for the parkrun first obviously, be rude not to.
The long and winding road from Glasgow to Campbelltown was looking at its sunlit best as made ate up the miles. If we’d had a helicopter the journey is only about 40 miles but as Mabel can’t fly it was the 140 miles scenic route for us.
We arrived in Campbelltown and set up camp in the middle of the town, beside the seaside. By now the weather had taken a portentous turn for the worst and as we sampled the finest fish and chips in town it looked like we were in for a moist one.
The next day dawned bright, wet and with a policeman knocking on the door. It turned out our parking spat was kind of right in the middle of the start / finish straight so the first order of the day was to move somewhere slightly less in the way.
There were two runs setting off at the same time o the start area was filling up for the warm up, not something we take part in, looks far too energetic.
With the warm up done everyone took their place and in no time at all we were off through the streets. After about 1Km the 10K runners took a sharp right while the half marathon went straight on up a reasonable hill. By this point my glasses had gone to that wet and steamed up state that makes seeing difficult so it was just a case of following the brightly coloured blur in front.
And hoping it was going the same way.
The Half Marathon route was mostly on pavements and minor roads and the presence of loads of marshals kept everyone safe. After the first hill out of the town there is another climb about 3K in where you leave the main road and head up a narrower one towards the airport. By this point I’d settled into my target 5:45 per Km pace and was starting to quite enjoy it.
After passing the airport the route heads down through the village of Machrihanish. From here it gets a bit cross-country for a while as we took on the undulations of the golf course. At this point my nice relaxed pace went out the window. As mentioned before I couldn’t see a bloody thing and frankly breaking an ankle on a rabbit hole didn’t seem to be a great idea.
So, reluctantly, walk time.
Just for this bit.
By now the half way point was rapidly approaching. As I headed out across the grass the speedier folk were already on their way back and many a “good luck” was exchanged. Between the friendly competitors and the even friendlier marshals there was a brilliant atmosphere. Even the locals were out standing in their gardens cheering us on.
After the run outer the course there was a narrow bridge thing that took the route down onto the beach for a 1Km-ish out and back on the sand. There was a fairly narrow hard packed stretch along the tide line that was interesting to run. The people going out were meeting the people coming back so we had to keep a soggy eye out so as not to run into anyone !!
Any thoughts of keeping remotely dry went right out the window here. It’s not that the puddles were deep, it’s just that, well, there were rather a lot of them.
At least it wasn’t cold.
Heading along Westport beach the inevitable wail of the bagpipes indicated that the turning point was approaching. Giving the traffic cone a pt for luck and with a cheery “Boy, am I glad to see you” to the Marshall there it was time to head for home.
So far there hadn’t been any serious hills, the most undulations were the ones going across the golf course so I hoped the return leg would be similar. As it turned out it wasn’t, it was even flatter. Once the wee climb back up though the village was done it was pretty much flat all the way. The return route took us back into Campbelltown by a different route. By now the drizzle had stopped and I managed to clean my glasses enough to take in the scenery. On the way out we’d been battling into a headwind which now gave you a push all the way back. It was about here I heard one of the most poetic things I’ve ever heard a marshal say..
“This wind will carry you over the moss”
And you know what, it did. The Moss Road heads back to Campbelltown from the airport and I don’t think there’s ever been any run quite as enjoyable as the second half of this one for me. The road was flat, the pace was good and the wind was indeed pushing us along the moss.
And then there’s the right turn and the glorious sign. “Campbelltown 2”. I’d totally lost track of the distance and to see there was only two miles to go was a very pleasant surprise.
I kicked on to get some last minute overtaking done. Almost all of the last 2 miles is various degrees of downhill and there were marshals at every corner to cheer you on. At the 400m to go sigh I risked a look over my shoulder to see if anyone was closing in but thankfully there wasn’t a soul in sight. The job done I backed off and crossed one of the best supported finish lines I’ve ever seen. There were loads of folk there, competitors, marshals, locals, all cheering the finishers over the line.
Just THE best feeling.
The post race refreshments were top notch too. Sandwiches, coffee one of their famous Danish pastries. There was also the best goodie bag ever. The bag itself wasn’t the usual polythene effort, oh no. It was a proper silver lined sandwich bag resplendent with the MOKrun logo.
All in all this was just about the best Half Marathon ever. Apart from the rain everything was just bloody perfect and it’s a definite fixture for us in next years running calendar.
But the less said about the journey home the better. A serious incident (we hope everyone was OK) had closed the main road and, well, have you ever seen two big lines of traffic trying to go in opposite directions on a single track road?
It was, erm, interesting…