Sunday, 4 May 2014

Dunblane Hydro 7.5 Mile Road Race 2014

Chip Time: 01:00:58

Having originally planned to run the all new Sunderland City Half Marathon on this day, I changed my mind last month when I noticed this little race only 36 Miles from my doorstep.

I was born in the City of Sunderland so was initially very keen to sign up for the half there, but with family life, work commitments and all the other races I had lined up for this year, I felt that I really couldn't justify that length of trip. (I definetly intend to add it to my 2015 list though.)

I'd planned on running the Dunblane Hydro Road Race last year, but unfortuantely the race didn't go ahead in 2013, so was pleased to be able to sign up this time around. My very kind and supportive fiance Clare (a running widow before we're even married) and our two children, came along for the ride to offer their support. The race didn't start until 1pm, with registration open until 12:30pm, so we set off at 11:30am for a leisurely drive down the A9.

There was no race parking availble at the hotel so after dropping off Clare, the children and all the other child related paraphenalia (prams, changing bags, harnesses etc.), I parked the car in a residential area in Dunblane and walked back up to the hotel to register. This was when I noticed the really nasty hill that would be the last leg of the race!

My legs were still recovering from the Kinross 10k, Pencaitland 10k and Balmoral 15 Mile Trail Race which I had completed over four days the previous week. I'd also been out for a longish walk with my 1 year old son Jack the day before (which involved carrying him for most of it!) However, even though every joint and muscle in my legs seemed to be complaining, I didn't let the horrible thought of running up the hill take root and phase me.

Accompanying Jack on his Saturday morning constitutional.

I met back up with Clare and the children outside the Dunblane Hydro and registered. As usual Sophie my eldest was complaining she was hungry. (My children are always hungry! They take after their parents in that respect.) So I said my farewells before Clare took them off to forage for plates of chips inside the hotel, to prevent their hunger turning to hanger!

The sky was overcast when all the runners gathered outside the hotel for the race briefing. I briefly removed my earphones to hear the organiser declare that it was extremely unadvisable to wear earphones on some sections of the course, I quickly put them back in at this point as I find it very difficult to run without music. La la la.. I didn't hear you!

We were piped down to the start line on Perth Rd. near the entrance to the hotel grounds. The police and marshalls had held up the traffic so that we could all line up on the road. Although the race had a chipped finish, it was a gun start (air horn actually). So after a minute or two.. and a loud honk.. we were off!

The race heads along the Perth Rd. out of Dunblane, across the roundabout and on to a country road (the B8033) through to the hamlet of Kinbuck. I know this road well. When I was a student in Glasgow, I often hitch-hiked it and sometimes even walked it, when I was visiting my parents some weekends. (Dunblane being the closest train station to where my parents lived at the time.)

From Kinbuck the route crosses an old stone bridge and takes a sharp left at the other side, then meanders along more country road before reaching a hill at mile four. I always find breaking the half way point of any distance a psychological boost, so at this point I mustered up the mental strength to power up the hill and collect a bottle of water off a cub scout at the waterstation at the top. I poured most of this over my head to cool myself down, so between that and the drizzle my clothes were soaked through.

It usually takes me about 5 miles to warm up in a race, find my stride and for my breathing to get into a good rythym. So by this point I was feeling quite strong. After another couple of miles of country road, the route re-entered Dunblane passing the Tesco store and headed across the roundabout and back towards the Dunblane Hydro. All of the marshalls and spectators along the route were exceptionally friendly and supportive, shouting words of encouragement as we ran by. I especially remember them cheering me on in the last mile and this spurred me on a lot.

Doubletree by Hilton, Dunblane-Hydro

The final hill was a bit of a struggle as I had expected, but the thought of my family waiting at the top kept me going and I powered up it, completing the race in 01:00:58. (I initially thought I had managed a sub one hour time, so was slightly disappointed to miss this by 58 seconds.)

After collecting my medal, bottle of water, funsize Mars bar and banana, I found my family, who had been awaiting my finish. Unfortunately Clare just missed a photo opportunity due to Jack falling and scratching his face on his pram at exactly the same moment I crossed the finish line. 

Exhausted, I collapsed into a chair whilst the children helped me demolish the banana and Mars bar and Sophie proudly displayed the medal around her neck.

All in all, this was an excellent local race. Very well organised, with exceptional marshalls, great support and a nice route. I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to increase their distance from 10k without yet comitting to the half marathon distance.

After the car trip home, it was nice to relax with a few beers, play with the children and contemplate the other five races I had booked for that week. Those being:

06th May - 60th Anniversary Sub4 Mile Markinch 1 Mile Road Race
07th May - Self-Transcendence 5K, Silverknowes
10th May - Loch Leven Half Marathon
11th May - Monikie 5k & Monikie 10k

I think I might have lost my mind, but along with that my fear too, so it's not all bad.