I was in a bit of a quandary, as to what run to do on Saturday morning: join one of my friends for most of his long run; do a local parkrun; join in the 250th celebrations at Strathclyde parkrun, the second birthday celebration at Eglinton parkrun, or the fast 5k race at Clydebank. In the end, with it being Poets’ day, I plumped for a trip down to Burns’ Country and the opportunity to meet up with friends and running buddies in Eglinton Park.
A quick check of my course PB, revealed a time of 22:42. “I should be able to beat that no problem” I thought, before seeing that regular ‘Eggy’ parkrunner Sylvia Mulholland’s PB was 22:37. I also noted that Irvine’s James White, had timed 21:45 at last week’s event. These times were a reflection of how difficult the rolling course, on a mixture of tarmac paths and trails through the woods could be. I was still confident that a PB was on the cards but I now realised that I would need to work hard to achieve it.
To mark the milestone, organisers had asked that runners run naked…. well without wearing a timing device. This was fine by me. Before the race, I caught up with a number of other runners, including, the afore mentioned, Sylvia and James as well as Sandra Hunter, Alistair Kerr, Mike Flinn and Jim Sneddon.
After my warm up, I joined in with the other 166 runners for the 9:30 Start. The conditions were almost perfect, I donned my sunglasses and placed myself just behind James and Jim. If I could keep the two Irvine RC runners in sight, then I’d be doing well.
My plan went slighty awry after about 400m, when we climbed the first hill and I ended up overtaking James White. I kept Jim Sneddon in my sights though but I wasn’t surprised when James overtook me and Jim, after about one kilometre.
After about a mile I overtook Jim and tried to keep James in view for the rest of the race. I was working hard but the gap between us was widening as the race progressed.
As we approached the end of the large loop, I thought I could hear a woman running just behind me. If that’s Sylvia she must be running a huge PB, either that or I wasn’t working as hard as I imagined.
As we approached the start of the smaller loop, a marshal shouted “not far to go”. I reckoned that there was about 1k to go and increased the pace. Shortly after this I caught a runner, before entering the woods and then another as we passed the marshals near the Start/Finish. I ran over Tournament Bridge and turned a sharp right along Lugton Water. For a moment, there was no-one in sight but I stuck to my task and soon had some others in view.
I worked hard, up past the castle, and, having had a good 10 x 400m interval session at the Thursday Thrash in Hamilton, I was confident of a strong finish. I sprinted downhill and along the final strait (the start in reverse) crossing the
line in 19th place.
After regaining my composure, I turned to see Laura Haggarty receiving a bottle of wine for placing first women. I congratulated her on her first parkrun and possibly her first race since becoming a mother.
I had last raced against her in the Kilmarnock Harriers 5k Time Trial on 22nd Sept 2010. It was a strange race, as the faster runners started first. Laura and Graham Cairns were given a 10 seconds start on me and Brian Darroch on the out and back, flat and fast course and I had managed to catch her, whilst running my fastest ever 5k of 20:06 (Laura had taken 20:21). It was to be the only time that I had beaten her, until today. It will be interesting to see how fast she becomes as she regains her race fitness.
James White placed 11th, he had been wearing a watch and was delighted to have ran much faster than last week’s 21:45, with a time of 20:54. I didn’t realise that Jim Sneddon, who placed 23rd had been injured, but that will explain the reason why I finished in front of him. Sylvia placed 25th but, like me, would need to wait until the results were published to discover that she had earned a new PB of 22:31. I was delighted to learn that my time was 21:53, a PB by some 49 seconds!
After my warm down, I joined some of the other runners for coffee and birthday cake in the sunshine at the Tournament Cafe.
It was great to see so many friends and running buddies there, all looking great (of course) and extra special thanks to all the volunteers who helped to make this race a lot more enjoyable than last Sunday’s Alloa Half.
Full results here
Pictures by Kenny Phillips, Sandra Hunter, Stewart Horn and Sylvia Mulholland.