One of the fine views of Largo Law you never see during the race because you are watching your feet.
It was with sadness that I noticed Largo Law Hill Race was on the same weekend as the 7 Hills. It didn't really occur to me to do both. Not until Michael G suggested it would fill out the weekend and make it more entertaining for his pal Martin. Martin (record holder at Graves Parkrun in Sheffield) would be quite a good runner if he wasn't so busy playing cricket at the weekends. He and Michael met (near Sheffield) while Michael worked his way around the country joining as many running clubs as would have him.
Martin, Michael and I warm up
After the course mis-direction 2 years ago the route marking and marshalling was spot on. Someone was asking were they using neon signs this year and with the flash bouncing off the arrows, it looks like it.
The feeling was Martin (who has recently started running hill races) might gain some ground in Fife, which Michael and I might retrieve over the longer course on Sunday. The drive over went surprisingly well - Michael kept to the right roads which can be tricky, with all three of us yakking on about running and races. The one shadow was Michael's knee which was threatening to play up. When we got out the car he ran round the car park and looked quite gutted about the potential for disaster. Maybe he wouldn't be running on Sunday.
We got registered at the Crusoe Hotel and went for quite a long warm up over the first mile of the course. The stream was low, the sun was mostly out and the humidity high. We bumped into Charlotte and Allan who had cycled (from the train station) and Charlotte promised not to beat us as she hadn't quite got over a cold. In fact she spent much of the hill climb blowing her nose on the back Michael's vest. Which was in fact MY vest. MG had turned up with half a dozen club vests from around the country, most with numbers still attached but couldn't find his Porty top - so I lent him a non-denominational vest I had with me, just in case he got ahead and I was forced to run in the toxic plume of a second event Fraserburgh vest.
Mary prays while Martin realises just what a weekend he has been signed up for.
We also bumped into Mary L who was wearing a skirt and looking perplexed. She had some new shorts and wearing them for the first time reckoned she might have bought hotpants rather than running shorts. Of course no one would complain about this, but Mary, feeling self conscious, wondered if she should run in a skirt. I hope I was sympathetic but suspect I wasn't, but I did say everyone would be looking at the ground not her shorts. While doing the first mile warm up we noticed a lovely vista (photo at top of page) to the Law over some trees we had never seen during the race (and I've done this race many times) which tells you the extent of just how glued to the trail one's eyes are. Mary decided against the skirt which on reflection was a good thing as the sight of her parachuting down the Law might have caused an accident.
A hundred yards in and pretty much the finishing order, first to 4th.
I decided to fly through the trees rather than get my feet wet.
ok I lied...
photo: Allan G
photo: Allan G
With an admirable lack of preamble we were set off. I like to sprint the first 100 yard hill as I suspect a queue forms at the first sharp turn where a kissing gate makes a potential log jam. I reached there in second place although the guy who vaulted the gate, quickly went past, and a young Fife dude equally focussed overtook on the other side. Fine by me. Then Martin went past and a small child who didn't look like he was into his teens yet.
Now I have to watch what I say about folk as people are sensitive about stuff like age. More on that later. Anyway the child scampered ahead and while I was counting how many were in front I didn't count the juvenile as I reckoned he'd not keep that pace up. (Fingers crossed.)
some of the paths were very overgrown
The front of the field were fast and Martin, I suspect, maybe pushed harder than advisable. I have run this race enough times to know there is no point in reaching the bottom of the hill (at the far end of the out-and-back) with your stuffing hanging out. I heard some footsteps and a Dundee Hawkhill vest went by. Ah yes, the same gent who overtook me ascending Goatfell. Then we went past Pamela C marshalling. The young lad pulled off the trail and stopped at that point which was a relief for everyone concerned. Meanwhile I was trying to take some photos of Hawkhill Steve and wondering if I could avenge my defeat at Goatfell. I had decided to carry the camera as the route is really very attractive and also the camera is getting towards to the end of it's working life and therefore if I drop it, I am allowed to get a new one.
some of the paths were well groomed
wearing a monkey puzzle hat
As we went past the end of the graveyard Steve went through a gate and seeing me behind, let me know he was still just 42. Ah yes, I had wondered out loud on this blog if he was in my age category (over 50) at Goatfell. Understandably not what a 42 year old wants to read. My excuse is my brain was pretty addled with the exertion. When I was 42 I probably thought 50 year olds were ancient; now I think I am as young as a forty year old. And some 30 year olds. As I considered this Steve, as if to prove a point, pulled away and caught up with Martin a bit. He does do up-hills very well (for an old bloke!)
From this point to the top of the hill is hellish. Last time I ran here a couple of years ago there was a blasting sun frying the backs of our necks. I did a pw of around 54mins and it was REALLY tough. This year it was only VERY tough. But deeply unpleasant. I had a quick look to see how far back the so-and-so in the blue vest catching me up, was. Then I realised it was Michael! I went to considerable effort to take a photo (below) at just the right angle to get me and Michael and the steepness of the hill (very) and the stream of runners below, all in. Then I put the camera away, put my brain in neutral and marched upwards like Sean Connery in The Hill.
Long before anyone can have got near to the summit Ben Hukins (Cambuslang) is powering down the return leg. "Miles ahead" I gasp, jealously. The steepness of the hill is worse than I remember. In previous years, locals and those in the know would veer right towards to the top making a better line for the second summit. This year marshals encouraged us to stick to the main path. The idea of lifting knees higher to go through longer grass is not appealing anyway.
Steve has overtaken Martin...
who is having a lovely run
Over the top of the first summit then rollover to the second where Davie Fishheid Burgess tells me to stop fannying with the camera and start running. We take each other's photo and it's back down the slope to a wobbly stile and then over the second top and down the vertiginous hill front. Past runners coming up the same path. I try and adopt the style of an out of control idiot playing chicken with the uphillers. Most of them are kind enough to avoid collision and I skitter and slide down the bone dry grass and dirt, deadly with dust and dry earth. Several times I do a one footed skite, my whole frame tense, bracing for the fall.
"Nice shorts" I thoughtfully reminded Mary
How far ahead?
At the bottom the 2 ahead seem to have gained ground and swapped places again. However there is a good way to go and although it undulates it is more downhill than up. I feel positive and focus on the running rather than the photos.
photo: Allan G
Similar to a near death experince - going towards the light with a friendly figure (Pam C)
The amount of motion in the photo flatters the speed I was going, it wasn't this fast!
Next time I get the camera up the 2 ahead are much nearer. After the first stream crossing there is a long drag up, but I feel recovered from the hill and chase the 2 ahead up the climb. I take a photo of Pamela and she says if she knew the camera was going to be out she would have put some lippy on. I can see Martin is a bit ragged as I pass and I am already thinking about young Steve. There are a couple more corners and the descent to the last splosh through the water. I am on his heels and as I overtake on the further bank he says "awesome Peter" which is very generous considering the circumstances.
photo: Allan G
I have been overtaken exactly at this point by Brian Cruickshank and know how it feels. I leg it along the dirt trail, through the gate and down the slope to finish in a second best all time, time of one second under 49 minutes. Fourth,and likely first 50: very pleased! Martin and then Michael come in. MG is not happy and he asks if we can walk back to the car. His knee is giving him concern. We go back and change although Michael and Martin are planning having a dook in the sea. The tide is out making the jump off the harbour less of a proposition than last time, and they both walk out to the long shallow beach for a dunk in the water. My towel is back at the car and I don't feel like a swim although it is quite warm and sultry still.
My apologies to this guy who just turned 50 and was hoping to prevail today.
Everyone pretending number 60 isn't peeing.
Michael and his rugby player physique
Fairly quickly the prize-giving comes around. Sadly they have not kept up the free-pint-for-all-runners tradition and we get a scowl from the (slowest) barman (in the world) who doesn't regard our race numbers as valid currency. Martin gets a prize for third senior, which Michael pulls his leg about because he came overall 6th behind a junior and 2 oldish men. I get a prize for 1st 50 and Steve gets 1st 40. Mary gets a prize for being over 40 which she isn't but the Fifie Wifies nominate her for the absentee L40 prize and you can't get a greater commendation than that.
First prizes were steak pies (and wine and chocs) - top quality
I continued my prep for the 7 Hills by drinking half the bottle of red that evening, the nicest of the three wines I have won in 2 weekends. (Well I have to get it out the house somehow.) Excellent low key event, highly recommended, and no online entries!