A great way to add an extra element to running is to give races, events or challenges a shot that you’ve not taken part in before. The Kirky 12.5k is certainly a unique – as far as I can tell – race distance. Having heard many great things about this event, I figured it was high time to give the event a shot last Sunday, 14th Feb.
Number collection at the primary school had me briefly pondering how good it’d be if all running events used primary schools for registration: The fantastic posters and art projects on the walls a pleasant start to the day, and reminder of primary school times, and then the small tables, chairs and facilities offered a pre-run comedy experience: I’m sure parents attending PTA meetings will probably feel differently!
To the event itself, and the main challenge was going to be the underfoot conditions on this undulating course. A sharp dip in temperatures on a clear night meant lots of scraping to get cars ready, and snow on the hills as we approached pretty much told us what to expect. Sure enough a large expanse of ice in the start area outside the school. But the sun, and vigorous attempts to clear away the worst of it by volunteers made it safe to start, but out on the course itself constant vigilance was required by participants to avoid expanses of ice mostly caused by runoff from fields where the sun hadn’t quite reached.
For me, with the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon my principle target just now, I’d decided I’d aim for Half marathon effort (if not pace; I had no idea what the hills would be like!). Largely managed to stick with that plan, and settled in with a group of runners running from Springburn and Maryhill Harriers for the first 6k or so, but – surprisingly for me at least – started to build out a bit of a lead on them after the large hill (reminiscent of the gradient on the steeper parts of the Sherbrooke Hill loops, just several times longer!) coming out of Kirkintilloch for the return leg. I was myself soon passed by Michael Lancaster running an excellently paced, and surely negative split effort: he quickly eased away I and only just managed to keep him in my sights through the second half, even as I struggled to remember whether there was an uphill or downhill section around each corner as we traced our route back to the start.
A total of five Bella’s took part. Michael was first Bella home in 54:26. I was pleased with my time (55:17), pretty much spot on my HM target pace, then Paul McGunnigle (57:18), Terry Nimmo (69:16) and Lynn Reid (75:50) completed the Bella field. First runner home was James Stewart of Victoria park, City of Glasgow in a time of 45:41, and first lady Joanna Murphy of Carnegie Harriers in 49:28. Full results online at kirkintillocholympians.co.uk. A Strava segment for the race exists too.
The mobile coffee concession setup in the playground was an initially delightful sight, but a broken coffee machine a bit of a shocker: quickly recovered it’s reputation with a lovely bit of millionaires shortbread and a super and fantastically ht cup of tea. Just the ticket after an hour in cold conditions.
Well worth a visit, and hope to do so again next year in the hope the conditions will be a bit more favourable. Hope those hills will be a bit flatter next year too…