Look at this! The second blog in a week - lets see how long this will last, I'm hoping at least a month. :)
Today was the Scurry to the Sea race, a point to point race starting from Hillend Ski Centre in Edinburgh and finishing on the beach in Musselburgh. The race has 3 checkpoints that are mandatory but other than that you can take what ever route you want.
As I mentioned in last weekend's blog, I did a recce of what I thought was a pretty good course last Sunday. I then got an email from Robert Turner with his course. He's the current course record holder and so I knew it had to be a fast course. I studied his route and felt I knew it well enough to give it a go and this blog is going to tell you how it went.
Before I go in to detail about the race, I have to say, I'm so out of practice with racing. I didn't have a good nights sleep because I was so nervous about this race! Crazy really. I woke up, had some breakfast and felt ill with nerves!
Race registration was at Musselburgh between 7am and 8am so I left the house at 7:15 and drove along the road arriving in plenty of time.
Race number collected, a quick visit to the loo and then I jumped on the bus which took us all from Musselburgh to the Ski Centre.
Arriving with 30 mins to spare I had another quick loo break and then tried to do a bit of a warm up due to the first mile being straight uphill! The only issue with trying to do a warm up at the Ski Centre is that everywhere is on a hill!
I did get a mile in but it wasn't great.
With a short countdown and a quick good luck to some other runners that I knew, we were off, straight up hill for the next mile. Within quarter of a mile I was already hiking and losing places. I tried to run as much as I could but I also wanted to save my legs a bit for the next 10 miles of mostly downhill running all the way back to Musselburgh.
On the final uphill section I started to see the front runners coming back down the hill towards me. I counted about 20 or so runners heading back down already and I was a bit annoyed with myself. I had set a goal to finish in the top 10 if possible.
David Limmer had a fair lead already and Nicola Duncan wasn't far behind him. Both of them are mountain goats, I've no idea how they got to the top so quickly.
The conditions weren't great. It was hummid but also very misty, you couldn't see more than a couple of metres ahead of you at the top of Allermuir Hill and as soon as I got to the top and turned around I realised there was a pretty stiff headwind waiting for us.
I spun around and started the decent. I love running downhill and very quickly started to catch and pass a couple of people. I could have done with a bit more grip from my shoes but since the rest of the route was going to be on road and paths, I opted for my Inov-8 TrailUltras, which turned out to be a good move.
Now off the hill I got in to a good pace and passed a couple more people and then just focused on running relaxed. From Allermuir to the Hermitage of Braid everyone takes pretty much the same route (thanks Stuart Livingstone for the cheers of encouragement in the park), I could see some people ahead of me and then I had to make a decision. Do I head in to the Hermitage or do I take Robert's route which means you get to the checkpoint and then head back out? Decisions time.
I got to the checkpoint and then spun around and ran back out on to the road. I was now alone. For the past couple of miles I had had a couple of people behind me but they must have decided to go through the Hermitage.
The next few miles were really odd. I was racing but you didn't know where everyone else was. Are you making up places or are you losing places? I had no idea on my position, all I could do was run as hard as I felt I could and just hope the gamble had paid off.
A left turn here, a right turn there, a run across 4 lanes of traffic as I some how managed to time it with a green man crossing - I was flying. Loving the navigation aspect of the race and heading towards the 3rd checkpoint at Peffermill Industrial estate.
I came around the corner and spotted Nicola coming down the road from the opposite direction. My gamble had paid off. Even if Nicola wasn't still in 2nd place, she would be pretty far up the pack and here I was now ahead of her.
I ran through the checkpoint and now had 4 miles to go to the end. My legs were getting really heavy and the heavens had opened. I was getting soaked and I could hear some footsteps coming up behind me. I kept on pushing but they were too strong, 2 guys ran past me and I tried to keep them in my sights for the remainder of the race.
Having these two to focus on really helped as it meant I kept on pushing and no-one else caught me for the remainder of the race.
One final turn and we drop on to the beach. A brutal way to finish any race but the add to the experience, the tide was in pretty far and so we were running on some really soft sand. I had to do all I could to stay upright! Tired legs, soft sand and trying to race does not make for a good finishing photo.
I loved the race and finished 7th in 1:22.50, just 2 minutes behind the leader. David had been leading for most of the race but unfortunately he made a navigational error and lost the lead he had. He finished 3rd and the top 3 finished within 30 seconds of each other!
I highly recommend this race - great fun and I reckon I might make it an 'A' race for me next year. Get some hill training in and who knows, I might be able to better my 7th place.