so this is the end
And so we headed to the Mega Monimail Trail and Hill Race for the last day of the Tour. It was refreshing to speak to one of the top runners and hear him say he was just knackered and his only ambition was to not drop any places on the leader-board. This was pretty much my own plan. If I had been going to improve my standing it would have been on day 4 at a flattish trail race, feeling strong and pushing hard. Today I just felt spent and ready to jog round if that was sufficient to stay in the top ten. The 2 Fifers had proved too strong yesterday and I hoped MG would have a better performance, so there was little to aim at other than keeping ahead of those behind.
Finish line banner featuring RK in a Porty vest.
shhhhh... quiet camping
taking it on the chin: flies in abundance
Which is not to say I didn't fuel up on caffeine and give it 100%. From the recce (only arrived 90mins pre-race today,) I knew it was going to be tough. About 3 miles gradual but steady up-hill followed by 1 mile of undulation and steep down to the finish. However my highest placing had been at Tarvit (8th) so I hoped that the hills would slow everyone, not just myself. Well yes and no. The lead 5 shot off and the second 5 followed with myself hanging onto 10th. Sam and Michael led the hills but Nick came through and took the lead of the second group as we reached the highest points. I was pleased for him as he hoped to match his 4 x 6th place with another and it looked like only Michael would be able to foil this. I know it's a bit negative but I have to admit to checking over my shoulder to see if I was being caught by those behind. There was a reasonable gap but at no point did I relax and coast, it's just that full speed wasn't gaining any ground on those ahead.
Good to see my bank providing a useful service for the first time ever.
There was a bit of tarmac at the start of the race and at the very end but most was gravelly trails (and a couple of hundred yards of muddy trails). I had only taken hill shoes and might have chosen Hoka trail shoes if I'd known what the ground was like. However in the heat of the race you didn't really notice the trashing your feet were getting, and it didn't make any real difference speed wise.
best in show
relieved it's all over. Thanks to Vicki for photo
So another Tour comes to an end. We pop out the muddy section of the woods and onto the tarmac which drops steeply into the village and turns abruptly to the finish line. While sorry not to be able to catch those ahead I was equally relieved not to be caught by any behind who were too close for comfort. Nick finished ahead of Michael (must've been that curry) gaining his 5th 6th place. Excellent running both. This was the longest race of the Tour and yet the top 20 were mostly done in 30 minutes or under. The scenery up the rolling hills was nice but most agreed the highlight of the Tour was day 4 at Cambo. Letham was the venue for the last day because it was essential to have a Village Hall for the debriefing and prize giving afterwards. The rain just stayed off until the last of the runners were in and we moved down the road to the hall.
Before we ran today there was a minutes applause in memory of Bob Stark. I'm sure from where he is he appreciated the crowd making some noise in his name and the clapping was appropriately upbeat for an active person, rather than a sombre heads down minute's silence.
There were a number of things said by Graham at the round up and prize-giving. Not the least being the answer to the question many had been pondering. Just what was that starry purse in the goody bag for? A safety pin holder! Nick and I exchanged oh-that's-what-it-is glances.
Nick won first 40, something that had looked fairly safe from day one although things can change over five long days. Also fairly safe from day one was Sophie, first woman, who came first lady 4 out of 5 races. I dropped the first race but led my age group for the rest and was delighted with the generous cash prize. Although the nightly results were in 5 year age groups the prizes were in 10 year groups which meant that although Willie didn't get an age group prize his efforts (and John Mill's, with whom he drew exactly level) were rewarded with a bottle each.
Del was a hugely popular winner. It was his efforts at the up hill time trial that made a significant difference, as he split the rest of the events with Scott, and the 2 were only ever seconds apart.
I REALLY enjoyed the Tour, again. It is one of these beasts that is a mixture of fear, hard work, fun, competition and camaraderie. The racing is fierce and no-holds-barred, but there is something about the mutual respect and the daily challenge, and seeing the same faces, slightly wearier each day on the start line that makes the camaraderie the main aspect of the event. I was sorry not to see some of the Dundee Hawks from last year appear this year, and it was great to see the folk who did brave it again. It is a commitment and it doesn't take prisoners if you go into it under-trained or with injuries. The magic stick was being used most evenings while others were scrutinising the Power of Ten to get the gen on the opposition. And then there was team Porty. A mixed bunch of renegades with Nick along as head driver and honorary Porty for the campaign, there were a LOT of laughs between the caffeine drinks and crumpled numbers.
Massive thanks and very well done to Graham and all of Graham's team of helpers and volunteers, from course markers and result timers, to webteam and caterers. It runs like a smoothly oiled machine and all we do is turn up and run like blazes, while someone else makes the cups of tea and gathers in the hazard tape. Big thanks to all those folk, it really is appreciated, and makes for an outstanding five days.
Nicks Blog here
Race 5 results here
Overall Tour final results here