Report from Craig.
For those of you who dont know, Dumfries is my home town and I have ran the half marathon twice before. They were both a disaster and resulted in two of my worst races, so I thought it was about time to go back and give it another go. With 42 miles in my legs from the previous weekend and a disappointing parkrun time the day before I settled into the front/middle of the pack on the start line. In my last couple of half marathons I have set off a bit quickly and felt like I suffered later in the race so today decided to go off at a steady pace, especially knowing the undulating nature of the course.
By mile 3 I was sitting just outside the top 10. I was concerned about trying to race so quickly after such a long run the week before so thought this would be a good place to stay. Maybe it was my new trainers or maybe a moment of madness but I decided not to settle, to have a real go and see how close to the leaders I could get. The front three had set off at some pace and were nowhere to be seen. As I moved up to 8th I could see another group of three runners in the distance followed by the purple Bella vest of Brian Lamb in 7th. I knew Brian had ran well at the GSR so I would be doing well to get near him let alone those in front. Miles 4.5 – 6.5 are mainly uphill, some steep and some not so bad but I steadily chased down those in front. As they say, what goes up must come down and a nice 5:28 mile between 7-8 saw me move into 7th as one of the runners in the second pack dropped back. My legs felt really strong and any thoughts of fatigue from the River Ayr Way ultra were well out of my mind. By 9.5 miles Brian had caught up with the runners in 4th and 5th and I made an effort to move with him and we went by them together. At mile 10 I edged ahead of Brian. Having spent the whole race chasing other runners I suddenly found myself in 4th and became conscious that if I slowed slightly then those behind me were going strongly and I would drop back. Mile 10-11 had a few more uphill sections and I began to feel the first signs of tiredness. That soon disappeared though as I got my first glimpse of the runners in 2nd and 3rd – although they looked far too far ahead to catch. Mile 11 was a fast downhill mile, I could hear Brian’s footsteps behind me and knew I would have to push if I was to hold him off and take 4th place. Little did I realise we had both made up good time on the 2nd and 3rd runners and as we turned for the last mile the runner in 3rd was about 30 seconds in front of me.
To be honest, I now had a second wind and was going to give everything in this last mile to catch him but I didnt think it would be enough. As we ran along the path through Kingholm Quay I was making ground on him. As a kid my football club played football in Kingholm so I knew exactly how far it was to the end and with every step I got closer and felt stronger. With 400 metres to go I decided it was time to make my move, if this runner could beat me over 400m then he deserved 3rd place but I not going to make it easy for him! I sprinted by and he responded with a few steps, I panicked that he may have a strong finish in the bag, but moved ahead and easily held him off to take third place, just missing out on a PB by 12 seconds in the end. Not bad for a race I was going to take easy!!
In the end I wasnt far behind second and maybe if I had gone off a bit faster then I could have taken it but since it was ex Bella runner Steven Reid I wasnt too bothered. Its a shame Steven wasnt still a BRR as with Brian coming home strongly in 5th we could have taken the team prize! I was delighted to get in the prizes at my home race and getting called for pictures for the local paper was the icing on the cake, I felt like the local boy done good!!
Overall, a great race and big confidence boost ahead of what I plan to be a winter of hard training. And, Grant – in keeping with tradition – none!!