Report from Sandy
Four Bellas went through to the Pentlands last weekend for this long classic – me, Gordon, David and Grant. The race is 16 miles, 1890 metres of ascent and 16 hills. I had wanted to do this race for ages, but somehow despite this singularly failed to train for it. I think it is fair to say that the week before the race me and Gordon were quite scared – we kept looking at each other and whenever one of us mentioned the word ‘skyline’ the other would say ‘let’s not talk about it!’.
This was my longest race and I wasn’t sure what it would be like. Gordon was worried about pacing, due to his tendency to race off like a maniac at the start and pay for it later. The race was very busy, with 257 people starting (not everyone finished…) meaning that the start was so congested there was no chance of anyone apart from the leaders racing off – we were all stuck doing a frustratingly slow walk / shuffle for the first 10 minutes.
The race itself was lovely (if anything that involves so much pain and desperation can be called lovely). It was sunny but cool, perfect running weather, until we got to Carnethy, about a third of the way into the race, when the rain started pouring down (Gordon claims he didn’t experience any rain at all during the race, he must have been either moving too fast or running in his own world…). Due to a self inflicted nutrition failure the wheels came off my bus about 3 hours in, after trudging through some incredibly life force sapping deep mud on Black Hill. I experienced what I think must be my lowest, dignity free point ever in a race, when I fell on the downhill, got cramp in my leg, and had to beg a passing runner for a sook from her camelbak while rolling around on the ground. The passing runner happened to be someone who had made the mistake of following me at Ben Venue the previous weekend (obviously thinking that as I had a Bella vest on and it was a Bella race that she would be in safe navigational hands) and as a result taken the worst line ever off the hill. Despite this, she took pity on me rather than running off laughing. I then crawled (literally) up Bell’s Hill while belatedly trying to force some energy type things down my throat. I was so tired I actually contemplated just sitting down, but thought I had already embarrassed myself enough for one race. The race got much easier from here, and I managed to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even managing a vague sprint to the finish line (nearly knocking over one of the finish line posts in the process, I must have been a bit delirious and not running in a particularly straight line).
Bella results: Grant finished in a very impressive 3.06, Gordon demonstrated he had mastered the art of pacing by finishing in 3.33 (and this was with stopping to help another runner), I fell over the finish line in 4.14 and David came in looking cool and collected at 4.30.
All in all it was a great race. I felt like I learnt a lot, not least to train properly next time. Thanks to my fellow Bella runners (and the race organisers) for another great day out.