I have run this race several times but such a long while ago I could only remember the titular Brae down to the shore paths and the last punishing bedraggled thrash (after ascending Donkey Brae) across the playing field. Someone said the course has evolved a bit over the years although I couldn't remember it well enough to confirm or deny. It was very jolly though. A romp of 6.87miles from Aberdour to Dalgety Bay and back on trails, paths and tarmac sections with enough undulations and turns to keep things interesting.
Andrew drove us through. Jim Heneghan having local knowledge had suggested we park at the station which was close by the race but further away than the usual parking, so not advantageous to run to after the race and collect camera etc. So I carried my bag and left stuff (as not advised) in the school. (It was fine.) I felt so sorry for the locals who had gone to a lot of effort to make the festival and race happen, spoiled by rain coming down in torrents. OK to run in, pretty horrible to marshal in. It made the underfoot conditions quite sploshy and more like a cross country on the hard (fast becoming soft) dirt trails. As I warmed up I was thinking I should have brought gnarlier trail shoes.
Around 20 Porties gathered for this champs race and after an unexplained delay we set off. After the near disaster of last year (some of the leading pack re-routing the race before Donkey Brae itself,) you would think there would be more alert marshals keeping the front runners on the right path. They nearly let it happen again and only as an afterthought shouted LEFT as the leaders went right. I had made an effort to get further up the field than I would finish as the steep descent down Donkey Brae had a wet sheen and if someone went down could have ended in a horrible twisted log jam. I was just behind Johnny and Chris U. I had been talking to Chris and was relieved to hear he had not yet turned 50 but was doing so shortly. Mostly he finishes races just ahead, sometimes lots ahead. I was concerned about the number of quality runners warming up! After the descent to near waterlevel, Michael came past. He got into a group of 3 or 4 who jockeyed for position, and while I was able to keep them in visual contact I couldn't quite catch the back of their pack. Johnny was just up ahead of that.
The trails were great – nothing too arduous, but never boring long straights. And none of the hills were too extreme or sustained. Had we had some of the recent bright weather it would have been near perfect. I surprised myself by overtaking Chris U and enjoyed the long descent along the paths and trails to Dalgety Bay. A few folk overtook and I reckoned I was just outside the top ten.
Sorry about the terrible photos - this was Michael receiving his prize for first v40
On the return leg Dougie, who had been just behind me pulled alongside and then ahead. His breathing was considerably more relaxed than mine and suggested he would stay ahead. I did go past him briefly as we ran down a tree lined trail but when it levelled off he was past again and I realised I didn't stand a chance as the climb up Donkey Brae would sort me out. Which it did though I ran all the way as my heart leapt out my chest. Dougie went past the guy ahead. The 2 of them were too far ahead to catch and I couldn't hear the next one behind. I finished, just scraping under 41 minutes. I think they may well have shortened the lap round the field – it wasn't as bad as I remembered. Nobody came in for ages behind.
After standing around in the rain watching folk finish I realised I was getting cold, so went off for a handbasin rinse in the school. The rain was easing off by the time I went back to the finish line and I enjoyed going round the festival stalls with Andrew and others looking at the wares and chatting to folk. There were plenty Speed of Lighters and many familiar faces. The prize-giving was a bit strange with the race winners (m&f) being called up twice to receive stuff. And I think only first and second for most prizes and no team prize for what may well have gone to the fine performances of Johnny (first Porty), Michael and Dougie. Michael was first v40, I was first v50 and Aileen also won a prize. I think Yana may have been third lady.
Festival King, his attendant, Festival Queen's attendant and Festival Queen.