Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sherrifmuir Challenge

Summer finally returned to Scotland this weekend and as the temperature soared, I finished 4th overall and first vet at the Sherrifmuir Challenge 11 mile road race.

The race starts and finishes at the Sheriffmuir Inn, just north of Stirling. I ran this race for the first time last year and it certainly lives up to its name with the first half being mainly downhill, before turning around and running back uphill. It caught me by surprise last year and despite being in 5th place at the turn the brutal hills found me out and I faded back to 12th at the finish. This year, I was determined to run conservatively for the first half to ensure I was still strong for the second half - particularly as the rising temperature looked like adding to the challenge this time. The first half mile is uphill before the downhill section along narrow country lanes and all went to plan for the first mile or so. There were plenty of runners around me but as the miles passed by - whilst still feeling I was running relatively easily - I found myself in 4th place. As we approached the turning point, I felt that I had pulled away from the runners chasing me - the leader passed me on the way back uphill and then second and third running closely together. Soon I was heading back and starting to feel the pain - a mile and a half of fairly steep climbing before the route levels out slightly. Not for long though - and despite knowing the course it still wasn't any easier - the hills seem much steeper on the way back than they did when we were running down them! I calculated that I was the best part of a minute ahead of the runners chasing me at the turn but I knew that I could easily be caught if I started to fade.

I had to keep working and thought at one stage that I may have been closing the gap on the runners in front of me. I finally reached the top of the last hill and started the final downhill half mile to the finish, still convinced I might get passed in the run in that seemed to last forever. At last I crossed the line and had held on to 4th overall and first 'extreme' vet - in fact I had opened up a gap of around two and half minute over the 5th placed runner.

Barry Patterson from Falkirk Victoria Harriers won the race in 68.52. Robert Warnock took second and first V40 in 70.03 and Sam Price third in 70.30. I crossed the line next in 71.31, well over a minute faster than last year, for fourth and first V50. Local runner, Richard Coombes from Central AC was fifth in 73.59. Wee County Harrier, Beryl Junnier retained her title in the women's race despite running 60 miles a week in training for her first marathon, in Amsterdam. She finished 7th overall in 74.32.

This is a brutal course but it is small and friendly, well organised race that is well worth the hour or so drive from home. A free beer in the Sherrifmuir Inn is an added bonus!

Results / Route on Garmin

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