Saturday saw my fourth running of this slightly off-the-wall event based at Traquair in the Scottish Borders. A beautiful sunny day meant that the start was delayed by 20 mins to ensure we experienced some night time running later in the race so at 5:45pm 1,500 of us set off up the grassy avenue of Traquair House and within 100 yards encountered the hay bale hurdle - the first of many obstacles we were to encounter.
Having run this several times before, I knew the key was to start fast to ensure you didn't get caught up in the bottleneck of runners formed at some of the later obstacles. I was feeling good and ran the first section well and comfortably (I think someone had been dredging the "pond" as what had previously been a waist high water feature was now chest high!). Up the long climb before a mad descent down the mountainbike trail of hairpins and jumps and through the forest into the catch nets by the road.
After a spectaular head over heels just before the nets I was laughing with guy behind me when this picture was taken.
Onwards and along by the river before descending into said river for 300 yards of upstream wading before emerging onto the muddy bank and heading for the main climb of the day up the scree covered side of the hill. Over the top and over a log bridge before once again, plunging down hill through the forrest in the fading light. One particular section of muddy bank was so steep, they provided ropes to help you down - I preferred the "bum-slide" method!
Another river crossing:
and then back through Innerleithen and the finish at Traquair (with a few more tunnels / rivers etc. just for fun!)
I finished 92nd out of about 1500 but to be honest, the placing and time is irrelevant. I was running well within myself and just set out to enjoy the day. It's a great atmosphere and a really fun event and so there is no pressure on you for times or pb's.
I changed into some dry clothes and shivered my way through an excellent plate of haggis neeps 'n tatties before getting back into my car for the journey home. As I left the field I looked up to see a trail of head torches still snaking their way up the hill I had battled with 1.5 hours earlier. There would be some very weary, wet and cold stragglers out there for a while yet. See you next year!