Monday, 22 March 2010

Too Much Traffic

(Sorry, this is a long one)

For once, we set off when planned and made good time all the way to the Edinburgh City Bypass where we ground to a halt because of the traffic. I decided we might be better off on a different road, so I directed us onto a road through Colinton which was possibly busier and slower. Words were exchanged but we eventually got through it and were back on the road. I didn't know it at the time but this episode was to be echoed a couple of times before the day was out.

In any case, we arrived in plenty of time, and were setting the tent up as the Spouse Racing was going on and the 5K got under way while we had lunch washed down with G&T. Then registration, a tub of fine stew, and a chance to relax and watch some of the 5K runners finish (looking a bit wet but generally unscathed from their adventures) and generally soak up the atmosphere and look at the various outfits.

As the start time for the 10K approached we met Stephen from our club who was running this event for the second year running and ended up coming 5th this year. And then it was off to the start line to be told the start was being delayed for 10 minutes because it was too bright and sunny (the race is timed so that most runners finish in the dark). So a bit more milling around and warming up later and then we were off and heading up to the first obstacle - a wall of hay bales which I clambered over and then turned round to see Vikki picking herself up off the ground looking embarrassed rather than hurt. A tight turn onto a narrow road created a massive bottleneck which we shuffled through and then managed to run for a bit. Until we got to the first water hazard - two muddy pools followed by a muddy squelchy patch. The water was freezing and deep enough to soak my shorts in their entirety and much of the tweed(ish) jacket I was wearing. Vikki needed to be pulled out of the pool before we could head off up the hill - a long slog with only short sections where the gradient and the crowds allowed a bit of a run. Somewhere up there, it started to get dark under the trees, so torches were going on, and there were more bottlenecks at obstacles, and then we reached the top and headed steeply downhill, past the disco lights, over fences and down to the nets at the bottom before a flat run into the town and into the river which was flowing fairly quickly against us. (By the way, it turns out that wading in freezing cold fast flowing water in the dark is not the best idea for marriage relations. Who would have known.)

The next section took us up another steep hill, past some weird stone pillars and then down along a narrow path to the bottom of a very steep scree slope. I found this bit very frustrating because there was basically a single file path up and it turned into a slow walk with a complete standstill every few steps. At least I was able to do a bit of stargazing. Over the top of the hill, it opened out a bit but the descent was steep and Vikki didn't want to risk injury so we reined back a bit and jogged gently down. A bit more running on slippy paths, then back through the town (we got to use the bridge this time) and on to the sump - more waist depth water, this time in a wee tunnel under a bridge. Another couple of water crossings and we were finally at the back of Traquair House where the scent of the brewery gave me fresh impetus and we ran towards the finish. To my great embarrassment, I cocked up the cargo net in sight of the finish (I'd forgotten about the head torch and the backpack which both got caught). I grabbed Vikki's hand and we crossed the finish line together.

After that, it was time to get changed into dry clothes and then wait in a long queue to get something to eat, before finally getting to the after party and enjoying a beer, although we only stopped for one before heading back to the tent to warm up and chat while listening to the music from there. We woke to find frost over everything but managed to pack away the tent despite freezing hands and set off at which point we realised that my watch was a couple of hours fast and it was still only 8am. Still, it meant we got home at a sensible time.

All in all, an interesting experience, some fun bits, some not so fun bits. A little less fun than I'd been hoping for but more enjoyable than you might think if you listen to Vikki ;)

Would I do it again? Maybe, but I'd hope they did something about the bottlenecks and I'd go harder at the start to try and get further up the field.


There are some pictures on our picasa site here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/i.shanks/20100320TheMightyDeerstalker#
Search sleepmonsters and flickr for photos if you want to get a better idea of what the race was like.
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