It was Saturday 8th September and time to force myself out of bed for my pre-race ritual of porridge and banana. Sounds like a healthy start but with a two hour drive to Tighnabruaich for Kyles 10 Miles, the Mars Bars, Haribos and Lucozade Sport took a bit of a pounding in the car.
I arrived about 11:20 and the clear blue skies of last year were replaced by a bit of grey and a bit of drizzle. The walkers were well underway having started at 11am and the beauty of Tighnabruaich was still shining through despite the low hanging clouds. The village was filled with smiling, friendly faces awaiting the start of the race. Running conditions were excellent.
I had put in some decent training over the previous month but as I hadn’t ran many races, I wasn’t quite sure what level of fitness I was at. Last year I finished 8th in 1:04:37, so I had a marker and wanted to be able to finish feeling a bit stronger, remembering how much the hills took out of my legs. I had a wee smile on my face at the bag drop van as my name and number were read over the tannoy as one to look out for.
After a mile warm up, I met Garscube’s Gavin Hinde back near the start and we went off for another jog to loosen up the legs (maybe this was a Garscube plan to make me run extra miles).
Gavin and I made our way to the front and as we set off, we stuck together up the first of many climbs. Eventual winner Grant Baillie was already away opening up a gap between the rest of the field. I was sitting in third place for a while, alert to Gavin’s party tunes coming and going in the background. Duncan Anderson was in 2nd, I kept him in sight but wasn’t closing any ground on him.
I remembered from last year that the hills were really tough around the 3-4 mile mark but I had forgotten just how long this particular hill lasted. As I reached the end of the long slog past Kilbride Farm, I was knackered and slowed down to take on some water from the lovely marshals. As I got going again I could hear Gavin’s party tunes and another runner get closer. Graeme Mitchell then passed me and I thought about trying to hold onto his pace but wasn’t able to, so slipped into 4th.
I made use of the downhills and increased my pace over miles 5, 6 and 7 but was starting to flag again. Gavin was getting closer and caught me as I walked briefly at the 2nd water stop to get a drink. He cajoled me to get moving again and off we went together. I had visions here of staying with him for a big sprint showdown, which would’ve been great fun, but bit by bit he eased ahead of me.
Miles 7 to 10 are pretty flat, which gives some respite from the previous efforts but at this stage they just felt really long as I tried to muster a bit of fight. The fight wasn’t to come but I appreciated the encouragement from the walkers who were in great spirits and tried to dig in for the last mile. Gavin was too far away to catch and he ran a great race to finish 4th and 1st Vet40 in 1:03:01. Graeme had gone on to claim 2nd and Duncan 3rd. I crossed the line in 5th, improving on last year’s time to finish on 1:03:16.
So, overall I’m happy with the result and time but a wee bit disappointed I didn’t have the fight in me at the end. It’s the 10 year anniversary next year, no doubt Gavin and I will be back for our third in a row to represent the Maryhill clubs. Like last year, this is one of the most enjoyable races I’ve done. It’s hilly, tough, challenging, exhausting, beautiful, friendly, exhilarating, addictive and I can’t recommend it enough.
1st Male: Grant Baillie, East Kilbride A.C. 57:13
1st Female: Leslie Blackwood 1:08:46
5th: Kevin Campbell, 1:03:16