Welcome to Link Up Week at Eat Primal, Run Hard: a week of posts linking up to other blogs to spread the blog word! Today’s link up is with Jessie at The Right Fits – My Best (or Worse) of my racing history.
Despite not enjoying the Edinburgh Marathon Festival Half, I really like the t-shirt. There’s something about the silhouette of the Mound and Edinburgh Castle on the rear bottom right of the t-shirt that I love.
I also love the look of the Aviemore Half Marathon t-shirt, as well as the colours. It’s one of the first t-shirts I reach for when it’s clean, and it’s seen me through some great races.
Worst Finisher’s shirt
The St Andrews Sprint Duathlon t-shirt: it’s too big and the colour is horrible!
The Stena Drilling Tartan 10km (aka the Balmoral 10km) shirt from 2013: it’s an awkward fit around the neck, and it just looks weird on me.
Best Finish Line
Without a doubt, the River Ness 10km / Loch Ness Marathon finish. I loved the atmosphere from the crowd, the vocal support of the announcers, the riverside finish line, and the raw emotion as the marathoners ended their race. I’ve only experienced finish lines from my own perspective as a runner, but waiting for Pat to finish the Loch Ness Marathon was something else. It was a very inspiring and emotional place to be. At times, I had tears beginning to well up in my eyes; I also felt nervous for Pat to finish his first ever marathon. It was also at the River Ness 10km where I crushed a long-standing 10km PB by almost 4 minutes!
The finish line at the Craggy Island Triathlon is also great. I’ve only experienced this race as a spectator, and I just love the atmosphere and energy this race provides. To start, you have to take a ferry to the finish line because the race mainly takes place on the Isle of Kerrera, just off the west coast of Oban. Competitors swim from the mainland to the island, then complete a mountain bike leg and trail run on the island. Because it’s an off-road triathlon, people cross the finish line in all sorts of states: sweaty, muddy, bloody, triumphant, limping and wrecked. This year’s race was especially bloody!
It’s also fantastic to see this one man – who does the trail run as part of a relay team – with his very obedient Jack Russell terrier at heel, the entire run! The two years Pat’s raced Craggy Island I’ve seen this man and his dog.
Best Overall Swag/Gear
Three races come to mind for this category: the River Ness 10km, because I’ve never received so much swag at a race before! A t-shirt, a medal, water, and a banana are usually what one gets at a race, but I also got a Clif Bar, candy, a tin of Baxters Soup (they sponsored the race festival), Tea Pigs tea, shortbread, cereal, a granola bar, and more! Pretty fantastic, even if most of it isn’t primal. I have colleagues who enjoyed the treats instead.
Race #2 was the 25th Anniversary Bennachie Hill Race: a pretty awesome buff – printed with elevation gradients and the race’s logo – as well as a shoe bag. That buff has become a favourite accessory of mine!
Race #3 was the RNLI Reindeer Run 10km at Glamis Castle in 2013. We got a cotton t-shirt, a blinking red plastic nose, and felt reindeer antlers. Cute and festive!
Best Crowd Support
Without a doubt the Perth Kilt Run of 2012. It was a 5 mile race, trying to break a world record for the most people to run (a mile?) wearing a kilt. It was also part of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee weekend festivities, so there were hundreds (thousands?) of people around the centre of Perth to take in the run and line the race route.
I high-fived the hands of too many kids, and couldn’t get over the amount of people supporting the race. Their energy and enthusiasm was contagious! Too bad we didn’t break the world record that day.
Heat isn’t really something you experience in great quantities in Scotland, but it can surprise you every now and then. I usually don’t race in July and the beginning of August, but this past year, I did. I would say the Ballater 10 mile race, held at the end of July this year, was very hot for Scottish standards. It was probably at most 25’C that day, and considering I used to play softball tournaments in temperatures up to 35’C, the heat that day pales in comparison. But running in heat and playing softball in heat are two different things. It was a struggle towards the end of the race because of the heat; I remember mile 8 being incredibly tough. I also saw a woman lying on the side of the race route, getting fanned by her friend.
My race season starts in March at the earliest and finishes in November, which in Scotland, if you’re lucky, can produce some very mild and pleasant days. So mild and pleasant that I actually can’t think of a race that was particularly cold. I guess the 2013 Templeton 10 (mile) just outside Dundee will have to do. It was pretty chilly to start, and it was windy, which made for less than ideal running conditions.
Most Beautiful Course
The Aviemore Half Marathon is beautiful. It starts in the forest, where you’re surrounded by the Cairngorm Mountains. You then run most of the way around Loch Morlich, also stunning, and back into Aviemore.
The Bennachie Hill Race also fits the bill. Forest trails, heather, running up three peaks, dramatic rock formations, and views for miles of rural Aberdeenshire make this the most beautiful race I’ve ever run.
Most Ugly Course
I’ve added this one in. Without a doubt, the Montrose 10km is the ugliest, most boring race route I’ve ever run. I think part of this is because the race route follows paths I used to run when I ran with the Montrose group, and also because I don’t think Montrose is the prettiest place…. The upside to this race is that it’s flat which means a PB is likely to be had.
The Bennachie Hill Race. It has Hill in the name of it! 2500 elevation gain, enough said.
The Templeton 10 is very hilly for a road race; it’s 770 feet gain puts the Balmoral 10km – and it’s reputed ‘big’ hill of 300 feet – to shame.
Race that took the Most Mental Strength
Probably the EMF half marathon. It was crowded, and once you got to the half way point and Portobello beach, it was awful. That beach section of the race literally stretches for miles! When you think it can’t go on, it does. Then, when you think the stretch is over, and you’ll get to just turn, not only does the stretch continue, but you get to run alongside runners who are ahead of you, heading towards the finish. What a cruel end to a half marathon!
The sheer amount of people in this race (13,000 I think?) also makes it the largest race I’ve run. I think there were actually too many people, which created many bottleneck situations. I found this race to be incredibly frustrating, as I wanted to beat my time from Aviemore, and as a result, it’s likely I’ll never run it again.
Another mind-numbing race is The Running Shop Beach 10km. Laps around the beach promenade in Aberdeen? I’ll never do that one again. What a boring race.
Most Disappointing Finish
The EMF half: I wanted a new half marathon PB.
The 2014 Balmoral 10km: my slowest 10km time ever, and I walked up that 300 foot hill, sigh.
Best Start Line
There were two: ironically, the EMF half start. There was a lot of energy, it was well organised, and we were right in the centre of Edinburgh, so we were surrounded by all of it’s dramatic sights.
The River Ness 10km start was good too. There was a woman announcing information every so often, which helped. Plus, I was aching to get my now-PB-race started!
Definitely the Loch Ness Marathon festival races. There was an expo for the marathoners; I’ve never been to one! And as a finisher, you made your way through the finisher’s chute and picked up treats and goodies as the chute progressed. The bag collection was also situated very close to the finish. I was actually very impressed with the whole organisation of this weekend.
The Montrose 10km is flat, and therefore presents a possible PB opportunity. The EMF half was also very flat. The Running Shop Beach 10km was flat too. All races where one could possibly set a PB, but I didn’t.
Best Finish Line Food
The best finish line food is when there’s a small buffet of homemade baking and a hot cup of tea! Even when it’s not primal!
The Bennachie Hill Race had a smorgasbord of home baking, that I inhaled and from which I consequently got a sugar headache – and hangover. This year’s Templeton 10 also had an array of delicious home baking. I made sure to take it easy with this buffet, and limited myself to a chocolate chip cookie and a slice of lemon cake.
The EMF half, which looks like a dagger from behind.
The Aviemore Half because of the colours.
The River Ness 10km because of the laces made to look like Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.
Most Emotional Finish
Without a doubt, the River Ness 10km. I’ve long wanted a sub-57 minute 10km, and not only did I run this race in under 54 minutes, but I ran such a strong race I’m still in disbelief of my efforts. I had a big smile on my face at the finish, and when I saw Allison, I was ecstatic and we hugged each other!
I’ve yet to experience tears at the end of a race.
What is one of your best race experiences?
What’s one of your worst race experiences?
Are you going to link up too?