Archive for January, 2009

First Hill Race of 2009 – Alex Drain

In last year’s report I recorded lessons to be learned…

1. Get there in time
2. Get there in time
3. Get there in time

So, this year I decide to… get there in time.

I knew that leaving at 10am would not only get me there in time but also allow me to enjoy the journey. It was as beautiful a day as I could expect in the west and even with the sun blinding me, I felt that things were looking up. Last year had been my annus horribilis (that’s a DOUBLE ‘n’ George) and I didn’t want to tempt fate by reckoning that things could only get better.

Anyway, to continue… I got to Broughton without mishap and for those of you who’ve never had the pleasure, Broughton is a lovely wee village situated 5 miles from Biggar, surrounded by some of the most beautiful, unspoilt hills in the borders. Amazingly, it’s under 30 miles to Edinburgh and 12 to my inlaws at Peebles!

To the race…

I met up with Al Murray and Davie White of Killie and Lightfoot Begley of Irvine. These are guys I really like so a good day was certainly on the cards. The only cloud on the horizon was the certainty that I would be the last to finish of the four. But hey, in this weather… in these surroundings… with these guys… happy days.

Plenty of time to get ready. Visit toilet, warm up, visit toilet, go have a look at the river (very low), visit toilet, check out ground underfoot (solid), visit toilet, visit toilet, get to starting line (wish I’d got to toilet one more time.

Dick Wall is the organiser and Wall is a very unusual name. Normally it comes in the form, Walls, as my Maths teacher was called (actually he was called something else but I won’t mention that). I make this comment because my wife’s maiden name was Wall and she’s an east coaster (please don’t hold that against us). However, Dick is no relation. What this proves – and the point of the anecdote… there’s no Dicks in my family – boom boom!

Dick was the starter and, true to his name, tried to start the fun run – 5 minutes after it had gone off! Anyway, he’s really a good guy and once almost hesitated when he saw me lying in cramped agony during a race – no, of course he didn’t stop but at least he didn’t laugh – much! … So, Dick counted us down from 3 to 1 – we set off at 2 for the mad dash down the brewery road and over the dry stane dike.

For the first time in my experience, the rugby pitch was mud free. It was solid. Already it was looking like this could be a fast race.

Over the barbed wire fence and into the river. Last year it was above the knees and a lot of people went for the full body submergence. This year, I hardly got my feet wet (well, I could hardly say balls!). The bog was as solid as the rugby pitch and I was wishing Kerr could have been here – YOU COULDN’T HAVE SNEAKED PAST THIS YEAR BOY!

The turnip field was a dawdle and onto the hill.

Previous years have seen me in agony, hoping for death at the least. However, I felt really good – not fast mind – just good. I was passed by a few but I wasn’t worried. Hang on and I’ll strip them on the way down.

For a very cold hill it was surprisingly sure underfoot on the descent. I took place after place but almost came to grief by guffawing as I passed one guy who was running like a girlie!

When I reached the road, which is the section I always dread, I found that I felt fine. Not only did I feel fine but I wasn’t passed by anyone (even the guy who ran like a girlie). My finishing time (by my watch) was 24:02. I’m hoping I’ve got it wrong by a few seconds – either way. 24:05 means nothing but 23:59 would get me under 24 for the first time in a number of years.

Meeting up with the guys at the finish I was, of course, fourth out of four Ayrshire runners but first Tortoise!!!!!!! We went into the hall for our cup of tea and bottle of beer (now waiting on me finishing this ditty).

A great day out and whilst Henry V said something about St Crispin’s day and people not being there… I can only say that

And Tortoises in Troon now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their (wo)manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That ran with us upon SAINT BASIL’S day.