EAC 4 mile handicap race

Edinburgh Athletic Club 4 mile handicap race

29th November 2014

This is a pretty straight forward race, you turn up on the day, pay £2 to enter and run the 4 mile route. I've not ran this race before but thought I'd give it a go since it is organised by Edinburgh AC and is mostly fellow club mates who race it. Guests are welcome but it was mostly EAC runners who took part at the weekend.

We were asked to say whether we intended to run or not prior to the race, just to give the time keepers a chance to work out our handicap from recent performances. I was given an estimated finish time of 24 minutes which I thought was fair.

Mandy came along with me after being roped in to being a marshall on the course. I had volunteered her services prior to asking her which was maybe not one of my best moves. Anyway, the weather was nice, ideal running conditions for a November morning.

I headed out for a warm up to see what the first mile of the course was like and was really suprised to find that I was overheating in my 3 top layers and tracksuit bottoms! I had my vest on, a long sleeved training top and my lightweight jacket on. After the run I was indeed, warmed up.

After a quick change, I was ready to run. Vest, shorts and my rainbow / tie dye New Balance lightweight racing shoes. No question about shoe choice today compared with Alloa XC last weekend.

Mile 1

We all headed out to the start and were given a quick briefing about the course from coach Alex. Once this was finished the first runners were off and racing. I was in the second last group to be sent off but it didn't take long for us to be on the road.
The first mile I probably went off too fast but it was downhill and I felt comfortable. It wasn't long until we left the road and we were running through The Hermitage. If you ever visit Edinburgh, this is a secret gem of a place - maybe less secret now that I've blogged about it!

Mile 2

I was soon passed by the last group and I was now sitting in last place! This didn't bother me as the race was handicapped and I should catch some of the front runners if all goes to plan. I kept a couple of the runners in my sights and made sure that they didn't get too far ahead of me. About half way through mile 2 I was feeling the fast first mile in my legs. Heavy and not wanting to go any faster I decided to stop pushing the pace and just to relax again, let my breathing come back to normal and try and keep in touch with the second last runner as much as possible.

Mile 3

We came out of The Hermitage and back on to tarmac and I could still see a number of runners ahead of me. While running through mile 2 it was difficult at times to see too far ahead due to the trees and windy paths but now I could see 3 or 4 others up ahead, they weren't getting any closer unfortunately. After a short climb, we were heading downhill pretty quickly, my pace was coming back again and I passed Mandy who was watching a road end to make sure it was safe for us to cross since the roads were open to traffic.

Mile 4 - The stinger!

Before the race had started, we were warned about the "Sting in the tail". What this meant, I wasn't sure until we turned a small bend and were faced with a climb up towards the finish line. It zapped any energy you might have left in the tank but since it was the final mile, you just need to suck it in and hope for the best.
I was still chasing the group ahead of me but it was becoming ever clear that I wasn't going to catch anyway and I would finish in last place. Reaching the top of the hill I could see the finish line in the distance so I picked up the pace one final time and got home in 24:26 (watch time). The official results were rounded up to the nearest 5 seconds so the official finish time was 24:30, only 30 seconds off my handicap which I can't complain too much about.

The winner ran two and a half minutes faster than their handicap time so for me to have even got close to them, I would have had to run the 4 miles in 22:00! Maybe next year!

It was a really friendly event and for £2 we had access to Edinburgh Universities Kings Buildings which offered a warm place to get changed, toilets, showers, and somewhere for us to have our prize giving at the end. A bargain!
There were 30 of us in total and I really enjoyed it. Already thinking about going around the route myself and using it as a time trial every so often.

The course is undulating, a tough course to get a steady pace on but a fair course, what goes up has to come back down since you start and finish at the same place.

A massive thanks to Hannah Waugh for the photo, the time keepers, organisers, marshalls and Edinburgh Uni. I look forward to racing this event again.

Owain Williams

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