Saturday, 5 June 2010

Kilpatricks hill race

The start of the race was along a country road on the outskirts of Glasgow. I was lined up towards the front of the 117 runners in the race, but didn't go out too hard. On the road, the studded fell-running shoes of the many runners made a light clomping sound as we ran.

After about a kilometer, the course left the road and began to ascend through a grassy field. It was warm, and as I climbed I quickly found sweat dripping from my forehead into my eyebrows.

The first climb in a hill race always seems to be a a shock to the system. I was breathing hard, and on the steeper portions of the climb, walking. Runners have different techniques for walking the steeper climbs. Some bend over and put their hands on their legs for extra effort. I tend to stand a bit upright and put my hand on my hips. My thinking on this is that it allows me to get a bit more air in my lungs.

Once I reached the top, I started running. I think that one measure of fitness is how quickly you recover from the climb and start running the runnable portions.

The trail which the race followed rose and fell, and dipped along a loch. It was a pleasant Scottish summer evening, and to the north all one could see was hills.

After a bit, my body seemed to overcome the shock of what I was putting it through, and I started to feel in control.

I was on the tail of a runner wearing a yellow vest with a "W" on it - for the Westerlands hill running club. In front of him was a guy in a long-sleeved blue shirt.

They were both tearing along on the flat and downhill sections. It was a pleasure to run fast through the heather and grass. We lept over burns, and squelched through the occasional boggy bit.

We reached the summit of the last hill, and began our final descent back to the road. Immediately, the two guys in front of me picked up the pace appreciably. There was a panoramic view of Glasgow beneath us.

I stretched my legs and passed the W runner. I closed in on the guy with the blue shirt and passed him on a steep stretch.

I was now running all out on the descent. I picked my feet placements to avoid the occasional boulder in the field.

I hit the road, and could hear the guy in the blue shirt right behind me.

I was running hard, but the road's gradient was nothing like that of the hill, so any advantage I had in reckless descent was lost to runners who were simply faster.

The guy in the blue shirt was right on my shoulder. Our feet hit the road at exactly the same time.

I knew he was going to pass me, but I thought to myself, I'm going to make him work for it.

As he started increasing the pace to pass me I increased my pace. He didn't pass.

We both shifted to the inside portion of the road as we rounded a curve.

I could see that we were gaining on two runners in front of us. The end of the race had to be near.

I edged up the pace just a touch now, and the guy behind me, surprisingly, now sounded just a step or two back from where he'd been.

I could see that the finish was very near, and started sprinting.

I crossed the finish at 56:57, 52nd out of 114 finishers. I shook hands with the guy in the blue shirt, who finished a few seconds after this.

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