No such problems this year and, despite the atrocious weather, I decided not to wimp out and made the trip to Garscube Estate. Plus, I had forked out for new racing shoes.
I felt a bit nervous so agreed with my Dad I would quietly collect my number, prepare then be sociable afterwards. The course was the same 2 lap course I had run before though had possibly been slightly below 5 miles in the past since it had been remeasured and the start line moved further back. While raining by 2pm, it wasn't windy, good enough for me. There was a decent field with Robbie Simpson (Scottish hill running international), Marc Austin (last year's winner), Murray Strain (Inter District Cross Country winner), Calum McKenzie (part of Corstorphine's strong senior team), Aiden Gilbride (a fast improving teenager from East Kilbride) and Robert Gilroy (little introduction needed) to name a few. As a reminder, a lap was out Garscube Estate, down the Switchback, by the Forth and Clyde Canal, through Dawsholm Road and Park, onto Maryhill Road and back into Garsube. Then repeat.
I took the first hill towards the Vet School gate cautiously, running in the pack. At the top, I gradually moved through and by the bottom of the Switchback had worked up into 3rd place. Robbie was setting the pace with the lead bike with Marc behind him. I felt I was going well as I strived to strike a balance between keeping in contact and maintaining a gap on the chasing pack. Climbing uphill from Dawsholm Park onto Maryhill Road, I closed Marc down and surmised with a spurt at the top I may gain another place. Alas, he found a second wind and re-established the gap he had before as I gave chase along the straight stretch of Maryhill back to the estate into another lap.
I sensed being in 3rd place with several good runners at my back I must be moving okay. I struggled up the Vet School hill this time and, seeming to need reassurance, checked my watch at the top which marked 3 miles. 15:01. Super, nothing wrong with that. The hill had taken its toll so I broke the remainder of the race into stages. Hammer the two downhill stretches (the Switchback and Dawsholm Road) and hang on for the remainder. By Maryhill Road, I really was hanging on with it being more about staying in 3rd than catching those ahead. Both Robbie and Marc had decent gaps. I never however gave up hope. You never ever should.
I held it together and crossed the finish line in 3rd place with 25:14, meaning a decent 10:13 for the 2 mile segment from 3-5 miles. Robbie won the race in 24:34 with Marc 2nd in 25:03. Murray Strain was next after me in 25:32 followed by Calum McKenzie (25:37), Robert Gilroy (25:53) and Aidan Gilbride (26:15). Also from our club, Alex Lamond, running for Strathclyde University, finished in 30:34, appropriately receiving the Sheila Fairweather Memorial trophy as leading female student. Finally, fellow former Hare and Hound Dean McNaught clocked 31:26. 198 people finished the race, a commendable number for such a foul day and 20 more than 2010. Often you need to manage your nerves and channel them in the correct manner. Thankfully, on this occasion, I did.
After a welcome hot shower, I enjoyed the Hares and Hounds post race hospitality, received a £10 voucher as a prize and made acquaintance with some of the current Hares and Hounds members and reacquainted with a few from my time (Des Gilmore, Michael Pugh, Kevin Farmer). I'm repeating myself from the 2010 report but I'm glad to see the club still go strong.
2015 has been a pleasing year for me because I've now managed to revisit both my old alma maters, Glasgow and Lund, after gaps of 5 and 11 years respectively. Neither will be left so long again.
Full race results can be found here- http://haresandhounds.com/race/