by Peter G
Sunday was the 3rd race in the Borders Cross Country series held in Peebles. 4 fearless Bella explorers had entered ready to do battle with the expected artic conditions on the last day of November, over the 4 mile course.
Unfortunately Greig Glendinning had contracted Ebola and had to be confined to Uplawmoor Hills. This was just as well as Davy Weatherhead was still wearing the head scars of Greig’s 6×2 rusty nail infused dog throw toy and was seeking revenge. Clearly that would have to wait another day!
So, early morning on Sunday I borrowed Mrs Gallanagh’s pimped up tractor for the trek towards the Siberian village of Peebles, only stopping to pick up Graeme Paterson and Davy Weatherhead on the way.
Now, runners have a lot to answer for with their insistence on not using showers but instead preferring to apply the ‘shower out of a can technique’ thus clearly damaging our beloved Ozone. As we descended the North of Britain the temperatures rose and the sun shone to Saharan proportions. Mrs Gallanagh’s tractor looked magnificent in the scorching sun albeit the speed we were travelling meant we would not get there with much time to spare before the start of the race. I however revelled in driving such a wonderful vehicle.
You will not be surprised to read that by the time we got to Peebles, the locals dressed in their finest Sunday mankinis and Hawain shirts were picking the low hanging fruit from their trees in the wonderful sunshine.
This completely caught me off guard as I had brought running gear for arctic conditions. Graeme however was well prepared as he unzipped his tracksuit revealing his hairy chest.
As we had arrived late we had to rush to the start line. Me, in my thermals, Davy wearing his Bella top and Graeme in his speedo’s were ready to do battle with the Gutterbluids and Stooriefoots.
The pre-race advice from GG was all about getting a fast start as 100 metres into the race the course narrows to single lane. So as the gun sounded I sprinted like Usain Bolt. I was flying….Davy and Graeme in front of me! 10 yards before the funnel a guy running backwards, wearing a diving suit with his laces tied together came past me. I could have swore he was reading the Scotsman too!
It was then I realised we were in for a tough day.
The first mile was in the park. A steep incline in the first 200 metres followed by a slippy muddy decent. I felt great although had a few Bambi on ice moments. We then ran along the riverside and up a grass wall. I could see Graeme pulling himself up whilst Davy, the goat, bounded up no problem. I managed to beat the Deep Sea Diver up the wall. Hopefully that would be the last I saw of him.
We then ran past the start and out of the park along a muddy, stoney trail along the riverside.
Mile 2 was undulating and slow…….I had managed to keep in front of deep sea diver and revelled on holding him up on the single track. I could sense his frustration.
Under a viaduct and up over a short climb to a wider path took us to mile 3. By this point I was feeling good and decided I would start to push on a little. Up a climb through the woods which started to level out. 1.5miles to home I thought to myself and I started to kick harder for home. There were several Carnethy runners ahead of me and I pushed on by them. I ran hard through the rest of the woods and out into a farmer’s field. It was a sharp decent and I told myself that these guys were feeling the pain and I was in great from. 1 mile to go!
At the bottom of the farmer’s field we ran around a small pond and then bang! When did Mount Everest move to Peebles! It was a bloody cross country race not an expedition to the highest mountain in the world. There were dead bodies up there!
I could see Graeme’s illuminous Speedo’s in the distance, about the same height as the sun and Davy wasn’t far behind him. I was not going to be beaten. I continued to push with hands on both knees stamping up the climb. The Carnethy Clan soon took over me again and Deep Sea Diver also came past……he really was reading the Scotsman!
Up over the field and back into the woods. The climb continued into the woods but soon levelled off. A sharp decent took us into another farmer’s field and my garmin bleeped for mile 4. I baked past Deep Sea Diver. The finish must be close……no chance.
Round another loop (Graeme and Davy were now hours ahead in the distance) and back up what was to be the final hill into the woods. I could hear stomping getting closer and closer. I guessed the finish was now back at the start and we had about 600 metres to go. Hold it Peter you’ll be strong in the run in. Round a corner……why is everyone standing 100 yards in front of me? Deep Sea Diver passes me in full flight……..sh$t it’s the finish!
I chased him hard, his face smiling at me as his long backwards stride took yards out of me and as he crossed the line he lowered his paper to provide me with his victorious salute. At this point my left lung exited my body as a slumped over the line.
I picked up my lung and put it back, shook hands with Graeme, already dressed in his Baywatch swim shorts and Davy and then trudged to Mrs Gallanagh’s tractor to get changed.
It was a fantastic race, a mix between hill racing and cross country as we know it. It had everything. The standard was high with Graeme finishing 3rd old boy and 29th overall, Davy not far behind in 35th and me several light years behind in 63rd. Next race in the series is in exotic Chirnside. Roll on then as Deep sea diver is getting it with Greig’s 6×2.