Saturday, 25 August 2012

Nipping over the Irish Sea

The Frank Duffy 10mile race in Dublin was my first chance to wear a Scottish vest in a roadrace, so I jumped at the opportunity, especially as I hadn’t run a 10 mile race for a couple of years. Flights were booked for us by Scottish Athletics and we checked in online, so it was funny to play “Spot the Runner” in the airport as none of us on the team knew each other very well.

We had all googled the hotel before leaving….and let’s just say that appearances can be deceptive!!! Sarah Inglis and I had a few comedy moments trying to turn our old key in the lock of our room, and listening to the alarms clock next door going off every 15minutes from 6am the next morning.

We had a good evening team “bonding” in the bar after checking in, though it meant I only managed a short catch-up with an old Irish friend living in the neighbourhood who popped round to the hotel to say “Hello”.

Niamh and I after our cool-down jog/gossip

It was a great shame that we couldn’t do justice to the full Irish breakfast pre-race the next morning, but headed off on the bus to the race in good spirits (if not in matching kit)!

There were over 6000 entrants in the race, so it was actually nice to get there early and use the portaloos before the rest of the field arrived. An announcer was telling us to “inspire a generation” that day, on the back of the Olympics, which brought out a smile as we warmed up. I thought I’d been very cunning in spying a large tree to hide behind before the race (and so avoid the portaloos), but the small “lake” on the far side of it, showed me that many others had had similar ideas!

Spotting my friend Niamh on the startline, who was also aiming for the same time as me, was a great bonus and we ended up actually pushing each other to the fastest times we’d ever run, with me finishing just 3 seconds behind. I’m not used to running with others, and so appreciate the opportunity to run in big races with others of a similar speed. I guess it was a compliment that my friend ran on my shoulder for the first 5 miles as she thought I’d be good at pacing the race. She then passed me, which I’d been expecting right from the start, but trying to keep with her spurred me on, and I guess the same applied to her through the hilly second half of the race as our 10th mile was the fastest of them all! We were both so happy to finish well under our estimated times, and I actually PB’d by almost 4 minutes.
Hmmmm.....getting the flowers back safely might be harder than running the race!

It was a great day for Team Scotland, as the men finished 1st, 3rd and 5th, with the ladies 3rd and 7th (so taking the team victory in the Home Countries International), so we celebrated together with a drink at the airport bar….which led to a very giggly flight home from some of the junior team members!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A new generation of races at Moffat

Last year I spent a great weekend participating in the Annan Festival of running. This event consists of 4 races run over different distances and terrains over 3 days. On Friday evening, there is a mile track race followed, after a short break, by a 3.75mile cross-country race. Saturday morning brings a handicapped <6-mile road race and the festival finishes on Sunday morning with a short sharp hill race. Everyone's time is age-sex graded,so making the competition wide-open, with everybody pushing right to the line in every event.

The runners before their mile race
This year, I wasn't able to take part in the festival but I went along to help the organisers, and what better way to spend a sunny Friday evening than cheering/encouraging/timing your clubmates, friends and rivals on the track?! I was then inspired to run my own lonely timed mile while the others were away caking themselves in mud on the cross-country run.

One of the best things about the weekend is the banter and atmosphere........and another is the food provided after the hill run on Sunday. I missed seeing everybody finish racing up and down Hind Hill, but made it to Moffat in time to see the presentations - as the Festival was won overall by the awesome 75yr old Jim Buchanan for the 8th time - and to eat up all the leftover food and cake!!!

The highlight of the weekend was yet to come, as Moffat was also holding Scotland's first ever sheep racing competition that very day. Could you think of a better way of banishing the Post-Olympic Blues? We headed down to the High Street (along with about 3500 other people) to watch the races being held to celebrate Moffat's heritage of sheep farming and the woolen industry.

The Moffat Races!

There were several heats as the sheep (complete with custom-made knitted jockeys) raced down the high street, before the winners went head-to-head in a grand final at the end of the afternoon. Before placing your £1 bet, you could see the sheep in an enclosure by the start, but unfortunately for our friendly sheepstake, my "Lady Ba-Ba" lost out in a sprint finish to both "Sheepshank" and "Sheepshape"  (I just hope the losers didn't end up near the stalls selling lamb chops!!).
The day proved so popular that there was talk of making it an annual event, and even of extending it over 2 days, though whether the reigning champion Lingonberry will return to defend her title is unknown!!