Another week day night, and another town festival run. This time the Balerno Rigg Race, which forms part of their Children's Gala Week. Well what else are you going to do on a Bank Holiday Monday?!
This was one I'd done last year, so I knew more or less what to expect. A 6 mile rough square of a course that turned right every so often. The first half is quite tough as you climb steadily up to the 3 mile mark before a bit of a helter-skelter back down to the finish at Currie Rugby Club. The quid pro quo being that you get a really nice run along the Rigg between around 1.5 miles and 3 miles, with (providing you get a night like tonight) some pretty stunning views of the Pentlands to your left. And the views to the right, back down towards Edinburgh and the sea, are almost as nice.
However, we are in danger of getting ahead of ourselves.
Last year I did this race the day after the Edinburgh Marathon. The marathon had been a near total disaster and I was determined to get right back on the horse and salvage something from the weekend, sore legs or not. So this year I came into it much fresher having not done a marathon the day before (best to gloss over the 30 miles on Saturday, eh?).
Being an event on our club championship list, I arrived at registration to find Anne and Stuart already there, with David and Andy A not far behind. Dr Neil was, as ever, the last to arrive. But at least not in a cloud of tyre smoke, lobbing his keys to the nearest valet to park the Jag for him!
Stuart and I embarked on our warm up, which thankfully did not take in the entire course tonight. We managed to restrict ourselves to just 4 miles - turning at the 2 mile marker. Although it was only a warm up, and we were blethering, I was concerned how slow the pace up the hill was given the amount of effort expended. On the plus side, I did get to chuckle at a guy mending his fence who was using a hammer on self-tapping Phillips screws...
The start came courtesy of the Gala Queen and her Champion (who had a pretty powerful voice on him for a little lad). We careered out of the car park onto the road just in time for the 44 bus. Stuart was a little ahead and appeared to be leading it out like in the early days of the internal combustion engine - he just needed a flag to warn approaching pedestrians. While I was sandwiched between its left flank and the pavement, waving to an old biddy on board with a very fetching raspberry beret. The Artist formerly known as Prince would no doubt have approved.
|Panic at missing the last bus home!|
(photo: Syd Woods)
We got away from it when it stopped to drop some passengers, and began the slog up Mansfield Road towards Bavelaw. Michael F from Porty and Stuart were still within touching distance, and I was running more or less alongside David. David has been in very good form all year (including trouncing me at E2NB and BR5), so I knew my only hope of beating him (and securing 9 club championship points for second to Stuart) was to work hard on the upwards incline and hope that I could build enough of a lead that he wouldn't overhaul me on the descent.
I put in a fair bit of effort, particularly where the hill is at its steepest snaking around the SSPCA building, and turned the corner at Red Moss in what I reckoned was 8th place. By this point Michael (then 4th) and Stuart (then 5th) were perhaps 150 yards ahead, but the gap was growing.
Two or three guys that I'd been able to keep at arms length on the steeper section of the hill came past me on the flatter first section of the Rigg, seeming to prefer the faster going.
I then managed to hold station as the route started to rise more gently again, topping out around the 3 mile mark, and the next right turn back towards Balerno. A sneaky peek going round the corner, hopefully under cover of the trees, revealed a chap in a light blue (Lothian?) vest who seemed to be making ground. I couldn't see David, but then it had been a very quick look.
|Satisfyingly gnarled beech trees|
The 4th mile has the greatest elevation loss of the race, and I fell into an eerily familiar trap of kicking for home with 3 miles still to go. Determined not to give any unnecessary encouragement to those following, I put in a 5:40, which compared favourably with the very near 7 minute mile of the 2nd. But meant that the less-amply assisted (i.e. flatter) 5th mile seemed to go on for ever.
|A peaceful pastoral scene - entirely out of kilter with the screaming from the engine room - "she cannae tak' any more Captain!"|
Spectators started popping up along the route during that 5th mile, and I listened carefully to their applause - trying to measure the gap to the next runner, and trying to work out if a short burst meant a single runner, as opposed to a longer burst which might signify a pack hunting me down.
I didn't need to wait very long to find out. Just before the 5th mile marker, and the turn left down Johnsburn Road and back into civilisation, I was passed by light blue. Not a club vest, and a comment from a mother to child suggested he was "X's Daddy" so presumably local, but happily on his own and not leading a train past me.
I tried to hang onto him as best I could, even clawing back a few yards with a very sharp racing line at the roundabout, but he was just too strong and we finished in that order.
|Approaching the finish|
(photo: Syd Woods)
The results are still to appear at the time of writing, but I think I might have been about 13th. More significantly, I was over a minute faster than last year. Stuart thought that Michael F was first MV40 in 3rd, and that he had finished a couple of spots back in 5th as first MV50.
A good friendly well-organised race (and cheap at £7) was capped by very generous provision at the finish - water, bananas, energy bars, before plentiful delicious home baking back in the clubhouse. A fine way to spend an evening.