As the only Millie running this race, (why?) I took the opportunity to treat Mairi to an overnight stay in the MacDonald Academy Hotel where the race itself is based. Due to another commitment that Mairi had, we weren't able to get away until after 2.30. Mairi had been driving all morning but as we were having to use her car, mine having no MOT, she pulled rank and drove up. Arriving about 7pm I registered at the main hotel reception and Mairi tried to negotiate the one way system to find a parking space near the Academy. Cue some unwanted instructions from me, which went down well. Not. Finally got in and I went down to register for the race and get my number. Great set up, with numbers,chips and shop all in the same room and a nice friendly welcome. I stayed away from the shop as I thought my brownie points were at an all time low!
A nice meal in the nearby Italian restaurant then back to the room for the end of x factor and an early night. I was determined not to have the kind of run that had left me knackered early on for the past two weeks, so I was well fed with pasta and had taken on plenty of fluids all day. Fine in theory but I lost count of the number of toilet visits I had during the night. Up at 7.30ish and down to the main foodhall for breakfast. Cereal and scrambled egg with coffee which was just about right, both in relation to amount and timing. It was well digested and gave me no problem in the race. (A wee bit of shortbread with my pre-race coffee at the start did try to make a re-appearance but only briefly.)Organisation of this race is very good. Registration for the Sunday arrivals was from 7.00am and a large fleet of buses took us to the start at Badaguish. I caught a bus at 9.30 after booking us out of our room, and a few minutes later I was queuing for coffee in the Badaguish sports hall. A short time later I met Ian Beattie and his mate Phil and I was introduced to a few of their friends. It was strange to be at a race where I knew so few people, but in true runner's tradition I soon made a few aquaintances before the start. I must make a mention of the gent who met the bus as it disgorged it's passengers. Every runner was met with a cheery "Good morning, and thanks for coming". Oh that every race organiser had such a welcome!
The race is advertised as "The half marathon course is a truly ‘highland route’ but without the hills! The Start is at a height of approx 1100 feet and the Finish at approx 720 feet."
Well this should be the subject of a complaint to the Advertising standards agency! And as for the wind!!!
At the start the course drops away steeply, so it's downhill from here then! Eh, no. The two mile marker is back on a level with the start and about 150 yards from it so what has gone down must come back up! Being a clever sort of guy I knew this, so took it easy,although it was difficult to start fast due to the number of runners. I hadn't gone too far before realising that I had drunk too much water and hadn't got rid of the excess. So I was in the trees at 2 miles at which point I had ben running 16 minutes, the next mile was mainly downhill although we had hit a strong wind as we hit a forest clearing, but it took 8.42 so it must have been some pee! I wasn't really looking for a good time, as I thought a trail/road course would have been a tough nut to crack, but I was disappointed to start as I had. I buckled down though and, although there were still some fair wee undulations and windy sections, got back to 8 minute miles which I maintained as an average for the race. At the 5 mile marker though I, and most of the people around me were almost blown to a standstill with a near gale force gust. Round Loch Morlich, the views here terrific, indeed the whole event is in a stunning setting, and after 8 miles the real downhill section starts and it's a five mile stretch with only two wee sharp ascents to bother you. Finally finishing in the park behind the MacDonald resort, where the commentator tried his damnedest to give every runner a mention as they finished. I managed a final sprint, which shoes I probably hadn't run hard enough. The next time I looked at my watch it showed 1.45 so I may have been in the low 1.44s which given my pit stop wasn't at all bad.
Medal, cups of juice, sweets, chocolate and a banana all on offer at tables after handing the chip in and then I was re-united with Mairi, who wasn't too happy that I hadn't seen her in the crowd at the finish.Unfortunately I didn't see Ian afer the race so can't report on his race, although I hope he kept his Full Scottish Breakfast down. He seemed reasonably confident of a good run and felt as if he has recovered from his Perth adventure.
Back at baggage collection, again well organised, Mairi asked if I had seen anything I fancied in the shop and added that she had been in the resort shop and it was full of running goodies. And here was me thinking I hadn't any brownie points! I didn't really see anything I fancied, but made great play that I could get the same stuff much cheaper in my usual outlets, which seemed fair to her, so I'm on for some retail therapy next time I'm in the town!!!! It's not only you ladies who get off on shopping!
Hitting the road after a coffee and muffin, we stopped in Pitlochry for a nice lunch in a wee cafe restaurant. Great soup!
So, a great event, well organised and crying out for a real good effort next year! Will I still be the only Millie?