Sunday, 12 June 2016

Traprain Law Hill Race

photo Bob Marshall

I was pleased when PRC chose this as a club champs race. Not sure who recommended it but it is a good off-road choice as it is short with nothing too technical. You could easily run it in road shoes. It's mostly on riverside trails with Traprain Law being the hilly bit at the far end before returning on the same pleasant dirt paths.

Steve showing Craig how to respond properly to the camera.

Mark doing a thistle impression while Richard conveys how many times I've done this race.
Thanks Bob for the photos and support!

I've done this race 5 times because it's great fun. Any race with a stream crossing is usually good fun. I remember Graham Henry being a fan many years ago and he knows a good race when he runs one. There was a reasonable turnout of around 10 Porties, a shame there weren't more. The weather was turning from that glorious sunny summer we just had into the normal summer weather of light drizzle and a chill in the air. Which is pretty ideal running conditions. There was a record field of over 100 runners. We were set off by the gala queen blowing the air horn.

Thanks Lisa Jarvis for photo,
at the corner of the road coming off the hill.

I stomped off at quite a pace trying to drop and discourage my Carnethy pals - much the same folk as were at the Kips race on Wednesday. This pretty much worked as I hit the riverside trails in 8th place. If you run with your elbows out you can keep folk from overtaking although it is not a foolproof plan. There is also the danger of overcooking it. Talking of which, Nick was directly behind and at the river crossing thought it would be helpful to kick water up my back. I had been careful crossing as I had chosen Hokas over hill shoes; the hill shoes having shaved fleshy 5p pieces off both big toe knuckles on Wednesday. Although compeed plasters (the BIZ!) protected the small red circles I thought the Hokas would be kinder to my feet than the same hill shoes. But I worried that the river crossing and the steep bits might suffer from lack of traction. So I was tip-toeing across the river while Nick horsed through kicking up water.

Tim (a drinking pal from the olden days) and Craig run a jogScotland group

Tom Martin, the winner!

Immediately after the crossing we climbed a steep embankment out a field and up a steep road. This gradient separates the (hill) men from the boys and I turned round to see Nick walking and the Carnethy competition distant but closing. I thought if I could get to the top of the hill in front of folk I could probably hold the place. I was beginning to feel confident towards the road crossing before the hill proper when an orange vest went past and I thought that looks a bit like Colin Donnelly. He wasn't wearing a club vest so I wasn't sure.

Jill, first lady

The climb up Taprain Law is tough going. There is plenty steep ground before the rock wall where a couple of ropes can be used to haul yourself up hand over hand. I surprised more folk don't opt for this - I was about the only one in my group using them - as anything that helps take the pressure off flagging legs is surely a good thing. From the ropes I moved to the fence and used this to haul myself up, all the time lungs and legs at full throttle, nothing I could do as a couple of younger dudes go past. But soon the worst is over and the ground begins to level off and you get a view of Bob Marshall crouched in the wet grass and the Exmoor ponies, a sight for sore eyes.

James: first last year, first local this year

Don: first v40 second overall

The Hokas were fine on the climbs and not too bad on the descent. It is a slightly treacherous descent and you have to be careful on the thin path watching out for rocks and off-cambered tilt. Better to rein it in for this part and give it welly once you get over the fence and onto the road. I slipped and skidded onto my thigh but was up before the guy behind asked was I ok, nothing worse than a slightly muddy hand. The Hokas had seen me past the tricky stuff, now it was just run at max all the way to the end, and most of that downhill.

Jill, also 2nd and first v40

Colin: 1st v50
(only 1 min ahead of 2nd 50)

I saw the orange vest 2 or 3 ahead and felt initially maybe I could catch it. But it became apparent as we went that he was keeping the same distance if not gaining ground. Meanwhile I still had Carnethies on my tail thinking similar thoughts. Jim H was making his way through the field and at the bridge I saw he was directly behind bar one. This was inspiration to keep going full tilt. I knew if I showed signs of slowing he'd be all over it. There was only seconds in it. He had beaten me by a good margin on Wednesday and I was keen to stay ahead. The young dude between us was also full of beans and halfway along the narrow trails I ushered him past. Having him set the pace I hung on and we seemed to get away from Jim for a mile or so but I didn't dare turn round. As we got into East Linton and the harsh climb away from the river we seemed to catch up on the guys immediately ahead and for the remainder I was chasing them rather than running away from Jim who crossed the line only 5 seconds behind. 

Rhona 1st v50

Digby 1st v60

It was a good fast finish to a great event. The orange shirt ahead was indeed Colin D who has moved to Hawick and from Lochaber to Cambuslang. He opted for Traprain because of inclement weather at Durisdeer. I was less than a minute behind him which is the closest by a long way I have been to this running legend. (Put that down to lack of hills on this course.) We chatted about the aches and injuries once you get into your mid-fifties. 

Mary checking to see if it's as good as her own homebrew.
Carnethy ladies were given the team prize but later it was realised it should have gone to HBT as did the male team prize. 

Big thanks to the new organisers and all the marshals, and well done to all the prizewinners. Great event and amusing seeing all the stalls and stuff going on at East Linton. A fun day out.

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