Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Bluebell Trail 10k

best homemade medal ever!

Sunday 13th May was the inaugural Bluebell Trail 5 & 10k races (and kids 1k fun run). Back in October I was at Caitlin's wedding and sat next to Kathleen, one of the Bluebell organisers on the Mypas side of things. I was invited to get involved in an advisory capacity. However when I met Seamus and saw he already had covered all the ground, and more, necessary to drive the event forward, I realised we were in safe hands and other than a bit of advance publicity I contributed little beyond support and positive vibes.

I had avoided volunteering for marshalling etc. as I really wanted to run. As race day approached I wasn't sure I'd done the right thing. The day started a bit damp and gloomy and I had to cycle to Dalkeith County Park. I felt fat and out of shape for short fast stuff, and was regretting my earlier enthusiasm, however there was no way I wasn't going to turn up, and if I felt awful I could always do a spot of marshalling or helping out.

Dalkeith Country Park has to be just about the best venue possible for a trail race. Miles of trails; from hard pack dirt roads to twisting muddy single track between mature trees and, of course, bluebells. And those who think they know the place well probably haven't been round every track. I found it quite tricky doing a solo recce, getting lost while running with a map in one hand. My only concern on the day was that the route would be well enough marked and nobody out front would accidentally lead the entire field off course. (I needn't have worried, Seamus did an excellent job and between markers and marshals it was near impossible to go wrong.)

Seamus, understandably, was feeling the pressure on race day. However he kept his cool and when the queues for the portaloos and registration looked like lasting beyond kick off, he announced in plenty of time to set minds at ease, that the race start would now be postponed 10 minutes. Good call. Everyone relaxed! I swithered about carrying the B camera during the race. It was overcast immediately before and so I decided not to. However almost as soon as we set off the sun came out and stayed out. I should have carried the camera as the scenery is fab.

I started at a brisk but sustainable pace. PRC's Chris was up ahead in 2nd/3rd place and stayed there for as long as I could see. (And beyond.) I saw Lorenzo immediately behind myself, about halfway. The first 5k was the easier, flatter part of the course, specifically for the less experienced runners who might require a less testing shorter distance. They started at the same time as the 10k-ers. The second 5k covered more technical bits of narrower, hillier and muddier trails. I tried to say thanks or give a thumbs up to all the marshals who were all very cheery and encouraging. Seamus had given them all laminates and designated marshal points, at which to stand and guide runners as they came through - superb organisation, which resulted in (as far as I could see) the whole thing running like a smoothly oiled machine.

My only other concern had been finishing times and results. Seamus had addressed this long ago by utilising timing chips from Keep it Simple, who would also have the results on the internet by the time I got home.

I wasn't the only one to notice how appealing the whole thing was. There was a great turn out for the events. We had anticipated maybe 75 for the 10k, fewer for the 5k and maybe couple of dozen kids for the fun run. The results show 179 ran in the 10k, 84 in the 5k, and 27 in the fun run. Really impressive figures for a first event. And the feedback has been really positive with comment after comment on the facebook page from people saying how much they enjoyed it and would come back next year.

After a damp start the weather turned out perfect and my spirits lifted by the time we started. I really enjoyed running the course: I had hoped for under 42mins knowing how sploshy it was in parts and that there were a couple of hills along the way. So was very pleased with just under 41minutes. 

I stood around afterwards chatting to many of the runners and they all said how much they enjoyed it. There was reasonable support from a handful of fellow Porties as well, not bad, given Penicuik 10k, a PRC champs race, was the day before.

In order to channel the maximum amount of funds towards Mypas, the prizes were mostly donations from local businesses. So I was very pleased to win first v50 which was a sports massage from a local physio. The photo above was taken by Hazel W, pictured below. She doesn't regard herself as a runner but her pal is involved with Mypas and they decided to jog/walk the 5k. It was great to bump into Hazel, who is the wife of a guy I have known since primary school; we grew up in the same street.

Chris won 3rd overall, which reflects the quality of the field.

Neil Renault motored round the course unchallenged, winning in 34.52!

This was the sort of reassuring signage out on the course.

I was still buzzing after the race and decided since the sun was out (and Mary was busy elsewhere) not to hurry home but go and see if any butterflies were out and about.. And also to record the bluebells for potential publicity shots for next year. I saw a couple of Orange Tips but was hoping for something a bit more exotic. After pushing my bike along and back the trail beside the river, the sun came back out and I saw a couple of Speckled Woods chase each other in spirals. I left my bike on the trail and followed them into a sunny clearing (collecting nettle rash on my shins as usual,) where several more Speckled Woods were congregating. A superb finish to a brilliant event. 

Seamus deserves top marks for putting together such an appealing event, and running it with style and efficiency. It already has the feel of a classic and I'm sure next year, if there is a repeat next year, they will have to consider capping the numbers, as this is going to be hugely popular.

speckled woods in a dog fight

the course, 
although there is an easier map here

Race results here
mouse over events and choose Bluebell 10k, 5k etc.

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