Its a couple of years since I ran in the Tour. I wasn't going to sign up this year and entries sold out very quickly. Then Michael G said he was signed up and if I got on the waiting list he would sort the transport out as he was taking time off work and coming down from Macduff and would be driving from Edinburgh. I did so and got a place. (Apologies to John Mill (m50) who noticed my inclusion with dismay.)
First up is the iconic St Andrews beach race. I am very busy with work stuff currently but have managed, just about, to put things to one side apart from a few trips to pick up and drop off paint and maybe a couple of hours here and there. I almost dropped the ball leaving late for Waverley and arrived there without sufficient time to buy a ticket which you need to get on a platform these days. Luckily the train was later than I was but unluckily all the seats were taken and I slept on my feet while it chugged slowly across the Kingdom to Leuchars. Then a bus which departed early but arrived late in St. Andrews followed by a suddenly starving stride around the place looking for a newsagents to sell me a sandwich and energy drink. A hundred golf shops, restaurants and hotels but no corner shops. Eventually a Tesco's ticked the boxes and I got to the ToF startline and goody bag (with wooly hat!) in just enough time to warm up and down the long flat beach. Michael, having driven down from Macduff and circled St Andrews looking for the event was in an equally fraught state. We knew the run and dunk in the sea afterwards would sort it out.
Paul is the only other Porty doing the Tour this year. Himself and mate Steve are running to raise funds (rather than racing) for a friends' son who has leukaemia. You can read more about this and contribute here
Greatly admiring of this dudes coiffeur. (First junior I think.)
Can't help with aerodynamics but replaces BC as the most afro on Tour.
Nick - if he is looking a little "focussed" that would be the Callanish Marathon in his legs from the weekend
Michelle - first in her age cat.
A proper celeb.
Baza getting back in shape and kicking ass.
I put the camera in a bag at the finish line - in previous years we were treated to an immersion at the far end of the beach and I didn't want to soak it. We were set off by Graham B with Andrew Lemoncello helping out. And we're off on a five day roller coaster of fun and games. And I seemed to be in the first carriage. I had words with myself about keeping the lid on it for the first couple of miles, but on checking the systems I found I was motoring along fine and not pushing too hard. About 5.30 for the first mile and pretty much with the first handful of guys; at times four of us shoulder to shoulder across the firm sand enjoying the helpful breeze.
Turning the corner we headed into a stiff headwind. There were now just 2 runners ahead and I wondered if I could hold this place. I thought it depended on the wind on the way back. Also I shouldn't kill myself trying as there were still 4 days racing ahead. Then the turn around some taped poles in the sand and it became evident that we were not going to be sploshing through knee deep sea this year. Which was a bit of a shame as it breaks up the sandy miles.
Lemoncello jr admiring the fuzz.
The last mile and a half go on forever. Occasionally there is a better line in firmer sand to watch out for but mostly it is just head down and keep going while the posh sea front hotels of St Andrews stay resolutely the same distance away. The leader Scott was flagging slightly and Alastair B of CAAC made an effort to try and reel him in but Scott looking back saw this and it inspired him to push on and finish first. I watched them both pull away and thought I was nearly a safe distance ahead of Carnegie Martin but alas he caught me a few hundred from the line. I raised my pace and stuck behind him for a bit in case there was a crowd going past. Probably a wise move as Billy was only 3 seconds behind. My garmin averaged my pace at 5.58m/m for the 4.05miles.
MG goes for complete immersion - I did a little cold paddling.
Baptism of err water. Feeling MUCH better!
Sisters Madeline, Michelle and Melissa.
(okay one might be a mum.)
What had been a wee bit showery and overcast turned into a glorious evening and handsome sunset. A brilliant start to the 2014 Tour. Tomorrow is a hill race and could easily see folks' positions change substantially.
Results may appear here
So far they have been on facebook ToF group page
Pete Bracegirdle's photos