2nd running of the Chirnside course. The big question this year was would the mud be as memorable as last year when it stuck to our shoes like cement and felt like running with drain covers tied to your feet? Short answer NO! A combination of frost and stubble covering the fields made the route a pleasure by comparison, although there was enough soft ground and icy puddles to make it challenging.
Mary drove a full Berlingo Bus of Porties down the road towards Berwick upon Tweed. Steve opted out at the last moment, to be replaced by stand-in Gav. It was unclear whether the East District XC or the PRC night out accounted for Steve's absence. Also on board were Richard and David, the latter doing his 3rd race of the weekend (parkrun and xc yesterday). Our passengers were blissfully unaware of the Berlingo's refusal to start during the wet weather (a bit like myself) and we had to attach Steve via jump leads to rescue it last weekend. Since then Mary became the proud owner of a self contained portable (only just) battery and jump leads self-starter pack. However it has yet to see any action as the car started without assistance on Sunday.
Chirnside lies in a Bermuda triangle network of small roads unmapped by google. It looks like a straight road (B6437) off the A1 will do, but arriving and leaving seems to inevitably involve more junctions, headscratching and a couple of extra miles than google maps would suggest. By way of compensation the weather was ideal: sunny and crisp with a light frosting. I had heard midweek from a local that the fields were stubble and was hoping the farmer had not yet ploughed them into the quagmire of last year. (He hadn't.)
We arrived in plenty time not only to admire the Jim Clark memorial but to run a couple of miles round the start of the course. For us (Nick and I) this was recreational. Mike however was paying much more attention and had planned on arriving earlier to check out the exact route. The potential for being in the lead and unsure about route direction is one problem most don't have. This year we were starting in a (farmer's) field, rather than last year where we started in the football fields, did a circuit then exited down the lane. Apart from the start line not really facing the direction we were headed, this made sense and I'm sure the runners had thinned out into aprox single file by the time we hit the narrower trails.
I wore Hoka Speedgoats for this. Haven't raced in them before (unless you count wintervals!) but as the Inov-8s are wearing out and I thought the cushioning in the Speedgoats would be better on hard icy ground, I thought I'd give them a bash. The grip was pretty good and they worked very well - I am warming to them considerably though they took quite a bit of bedding in before they fit my footshape and you have to triple tie the laces otherwise they slacken off.
do we go this way?
maybe it's that way?
After crossing one field and skirting another, this was the first of the single track, and very pretty it was.
I should have worn a Garmin to get a course profile. (4.4 miles.) I'm fairly sure it was downhill, along flat, downhill, along the flat disused railway before a turn about half way which then climbed back round the edges of fields. In essence 2 miles gradual down and 2 miles back up. Mike had mentioned Stewart wouldn't be running today. I also hadn't seen Adam. However Des was right there by my shoulder so I wasn't getting a free ride in my age group. And Des stayed right there all the way along the old railway, which made me work a bit harder than I had hoped. At the turn and drop before the climb he was still there and it was only halfway up the short sharp hill that he began to drop back. Ooh that's better!
a small gap developing.
There was still a couple of tough miles to go and I certainly didn't feel out of the woods yet. I could hear footfalls getting closer and was much relieved that it was David from Bella and not Des. I gasped "well done" and could hear from his reply that he was not as out of breath. It's an age thing I think. I tried not to look behind to monitor Des but did check once or twice to see a reasonably safe gap. We ran along the edge of a field or 2 then up the dirt path lane towards the football pitches. However, this year we finished at the top of the track rather than do a circuit round the pitches. Only 24secs ahead of Des. Pleased to get first 50.
David had a top ten finish and was well ahead of myself - revenge for Peebles!
Not bad for a three race weekend.
(both had strong runs, great to see Greig getting back to form.)
Stuart - just got a dose of the cold that's doing the rounds.
I was chatting to Martin C who let me know this baby jogger originally pushed someone who is currently learning to drive. Before such things were commonplace it was imported from the US. And is now several owners down the line. Good recycling!
Neil has sweated a tiny pair of lungs onto his vest!
Mary had a fab run getting carried away with all that downhill to start with; sending her heart rate skyhigh for a couple of miles.
Thanks to all the Chirnsiders for organising, marshalling and providing tea and homebakes at the finish. And perfect weather with no sticky mud this year! Excellent day out.