This is a lovely race that perhaps doesn’t get the publicity it deserves.
I came across it via the Scottish Running Guide, and jumped at the chance of doing the race. I come from near this area, indeed my parents live just a couple of miles from the route of the race. So I paid my money and signed up.
The weather forecast for the day of the race was dull and overcast – perfect for distance running. And my plan was simple. I would set my Garmin’s “Virtual Partner” to 8:45 per mile, and just run at that pace all the way around. That way I would see whether I still had anything left in the tank for any possible longer run I might be considering…
Come the morning I drove to Coatbridge, noting a distinct lack of clouds on the way. I tried to park in the grounds of the school that served as the start and end point of the race, but when I saw all the other cars in front of me being turned back I did a quick U-turn and drove to the Drumpellier Loch car park. From there, I had a roughly one mile walk back to the school – I think I should have listened to the parking marshals who apparently were directing people to a closer car park.
Having said that, Drumpellier Loch is rather pretty.
Eventually I got back to the school. Registration was smooth and painless, and I retired to the changing room to pin my race number on and get togged up for the race.
A crowd had gathered in front of the school, and then at some unspoken signal we all walked over to the start line.
Aaaaand… we’re off!
After the first hundred metres or so I looked at my Garmin, and was pretty shocked to see it saying I was running behind my pace. Sure, it was warm, and I was running slightly uphill, but it felt like faster than 8:45. Strange. I started running a little faster to try to catch this Virtual partner, and wondered when I had become quite so unfit!
By half a mile I knew that the Virtual Partner was definitely wrong. The same watch was telling me I was running 7:50 to 8:00, yet I was falling behind the Virtual Partner all the time. I tried messing around with the watch and still I couldn’t get it to make sense to me. I had the option of stopping to fix it (if I could) or just running. Oh, sod the plans. I ran.
The route (below) takes you along the road to Drumpellier Loch (hello, parked car!). This was the only uncomfortable part of the race, as the road is quite narrow, is open to traffic and doesn’t have a pavement.
From there, there are two full laps of a route that goes through the park, then along roads that mark the boundaries of the park. Finally, another half-lap of the same route before turning back through a housing estate to get back to the school where the race started.
For lap one, I felt great. I was running smoothly and (for me) fast. I knew that the stretch from mile 4.5 to 5.5 was quite harsh, but it still felt okay. When I saw a friend marshaling at the five-mile marker, I was able to greet him with a big smile and some very fast banter. But I was also aware of the temperature climbing as the sun rose in the sky.
My mum was spectating at this point, and she managed to grab a quick snap as I passed.
The second lap was a different story. I was getting really tired by this point. I made the classic mistake of not taking a drink, because I felt that I needed a wee. I had no gels or anything similar with me, and my breakfast had clearly not been quite up to the job. I was bushed.
As we went through the park, I was really tired. I started walk / jogging, and I think I had about four separate walking sections. But that was quite good, in as much as I was able to get back to running for the final three-quarters of a mile or so.
A final downhill stretch and there was the finish line
(don’t let the picture fool you – there were loads of people there and great support – the picture was taken before the race started!) and I felt more tired than I did i the Alloa Half a few weeks ago. Why?
Probably a combination of bad preparation and hot weather. But after getting changed I walked back to the car and then on to my parents’ house, where a cup of coffee and a Greggs’ Steak Bake revived me in short order.
A good race, though, and one I will hope to do better in next year.
Max elevation: 93 m
Min elevation: 73 m