Big events can offer a lot (they got me into running in the first place) but it’s the small community lead races that normally end up having a special place in my heart.
And Muckle Toon Half Marathon this weekend was a prime example of everything that I love about the trail running community.
At only £20 for a ticket I went into the race with simple expectations. I’m more than happy to by-pass the fuss and frills of large scale events these days.
Give me a start line, some mud and a cuppa afterwards and I’m grand.
Then, Muckle Toon Half only went and delivered value and MORE for the £20 ticket. With an amazing route, great marshalls, medal and awesome buff.
A team effort
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to head to a race with the Warrior Fit team and it was nice to return to that familiar feeling of standing on a start-line surrounded by friends.
Some of us running the half, some running the 10k, and one Warrior in particular, returning to racing after being a total superhero with her fight against breast cancer.
There’s definitely something extra special about running a race with the team.
The race was an afternoon start however before I knew it, I was splashing down the high street of Langholm, only slightly regretting my decision to wear shorts and a t-shirt on a soaking Scottish summer day.
Passing through the village we rounded the corner and started climbing leaving the sound of the local pipe band ringing below.
Hills and the wall of rain
I’d had a really busy week at work, and it felt great to just tune everything out and focus on the hills. And boy was there plenty of them.
After spending the first three miles climbing we started to descend and were hit with what could only be described as a wall of rain, right to the face.
I heard the squeals of friends behind me, all of us knowing the best thing to do was laugh at the rain and prepare for a muddy decent.
Now, I love downhills, that feeling of just letting the legs go and having nothing else to focus on but the placing of your feet.
And these hills did not disappoint, plus there was a good couple of hilarious skids and slips to keep us amused. Note to self, wear grippier trail shoes next time!
Feeling the burn
By mile 4 I was caked in mud, soaked completely through and smiling from ear to ear.
The rest of the course followed with two smaller hill climbs, some lovely river side trails and a couple of longer flatter stretches.
Broken up by plenty of amazing marshalls cheering us on.
By mile 11 I was really starting to feel the hills in my legs and was glad to have some friends Morven, Lauren and Rhona running at a similar pace, to either try to keep up with or have a wee chat and distract myself from the burn.
Toughest half marathon
Then, with a big cheer over the line from pals and event staff we were done.
And I can safely say, it’s the toughest half marathon I have completed to date with 2000ft of climbing and ALL the Scottish weather.
So I was pretty pleased to finish in 2hrs 35mins.
But finish times weren’t really what it was all about on Saturday.
It was about a day out with the team, leaving the week’s stresses behind, being caked in mud, soaked to my pants and smiling from ear to ear.
It’s highlighted to me that I have quite a way to go to prepare for my next ultra in October. So prepare for lots more running posts!
Currently: Trying to understand football as Jamie likes the world cup.
Training today: Walking to the coffee shop and eating cake.
Adventure this week: Heading off up north by myself for a night of camping and then visiting family.