Three ‘ehs’ that would describe this course. Boggy. Muddy. Hilly.
The inaugural Antonine Trail Race, starting practically at my front door, took place on Saturday 20th October. Almost 80 starters lined-up to take on the route which went over Croy Hill through Kilsyth and Twechar, back over Barr (Castle) Hill before finishing over Croy Hill and back down what we know locally as the ‘bogey line’.
As a route this was a familiar run to me. However, even that didn’t prepare me for the energy sapping conditions and I knew after 4 miles I’d gone out too quickly. My aspirations before the race were a top ten finish and after 4 miles I reckoned I was about 8th. But with the stitch that had developed, rather than striving to keep up 7 min/mile pace I concentrated on keeping two people behind me!
Clearly others were struggling too as I dropped back 30s per mile pace-wise but wasn’t overtaken until mile 10 when I, as I had always planned, walked the bulk of the 300+ feet elevation climb that is Barr Hill. A friendly runner gave me a bit of encouragement, I warned him the worst was to come. Coming off Barr Hill I was in 10th.
The next mile and a bit is glorious as a nice descent allows the runner to pick up the pace again before hitting Croy Hill at the Miners and a sharp-short hill. Of course, I walked that too.
Here is a view on the course elevation and you can see the two hills rather clearly.
Thankfully I managed to overtake a couple of runners who had attempted, bravely or foolishly – you decide, to run the two killer hills in the last four miles to come in 8th place.
My time of 1:49.38 for the 13.9 mile trail run was a whole 23 mins slower than my Kirkintilloch Half Marathon time two weeks earlier. That in itself is all you need to know about the toughness of this run. Indeed, my good buddy Barry Mowat had a similar difference in his Kirkintilloch and Antonine times suggesting that the 23 mins difference was about Par for runners of our standard.
I sincerely hope it comes back to Croy again next year. It was great to be able to run from my front door. There has been plenty feedback given to the organiser Rob at Adventure Zone Scotland for improvements but overall the experience seemed to be universally positive. Well, apart from two guys who got lost and look like they may have finished ahead of me otherwise. Even then, they loved the course.
My garmin record for the course: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/235471901