Archive for April, 2011

I found out about this race when innocently reading someone’s blog and thought it would be a good try-out for the London to Brighton race which I’ve wanted to do for a few years now. That race is hilly and has aggressive time-outs whereas this one is literally along 2 canal tow-paths for all but a mile of its 56! It’s also £50 cheaper to enter!!!

The race is in April and my training was getting ready for the Wilmot Wander round Derby which is 32 miles and very hilly – very muddy too as it’s always in January! I did the race in 6 h 15 and did it again in training 3 weeks later, managing to count 80 stiles along the route. Well, I thought, if its half a minute lost per stile, I could do that 40 mins faster!

Husband Dave, daughter Sarah and I went up to Glasgow by train and got a good deal at the Hilton which we managed to seriously negate by having a blow-out 3-course room-service meal. The race started at 9am at RuchilPark in Glasgow and we dropped off a bag each for Checkpoint 2 and another one for Edinburgh. The route followed a branch of the canal north for a mile before joining the main Forth-Clyde Canal. The instruction was to turn right here otherwise we would end up at Clydebank on the west coast!

Everyone must have been saving themselves as I was 2nd for the first 2 miles of the race, and about 10th by the first checkpoint at Auchinstarry. This was 13 miles in and I got there in 2 hours, refilled my water bottle and had a Bakewell tart from Dave and Sarah who’d got there by train. From then on, they managed to get lifts from 2 different runners’ wives – probably because Dave was sporting some handy OS maps and Sarah – aged 9 – looked fed up!

The route was very pretty, there are lots of Roman ruins and alleged bits of the Antonine Wall and there’s been some millennial regeneration of the canals, which had slipped out of use since the 1930s. The main focus of this was the opening in 2002 of the Falkirk Wheel which lifts canal boats 40 metres from the Forth-ClydeCanal to the UnionCanal – but only when there’s a boat coming in the other direction to counterbalance it!

The Falkirk Wheel at 22 miles – the world’s only rotating boat lift, replaces a series of 11 locks and the only climb in the whole 56 miles!

The second checkpoint was at the Wheel, 22 miles into the race, and I got there at about 12:30. There was a nice atmosphere there and some of the visitor centre crowds had come to spectate while runners’ partners enjoyed a bit of tourism! From here on I carried a bladder as it was getting hot and we were well into the race.

We had to detour from the canal here as a tunnel was in need of repair so there was a marked route up through Falkirk for a mile. The next leg to Linlithgow was 11.5 miles and was the low point of the race as the end wasn’t yet in sight but I kept telling myself I could walk after Checkpoint 3. I got there at 14:50, ate and refilled my bladder.

The next section to Broxburn was 8 miles and the canal did a big S bend so I could expose my left side to the sun for the first time in the day! I got a bit of a second wind but was still moving slowly, needing to walk some bits. At Broxburn, the next leg was only 5 miles and everyone was doing it without rucksack so that was a nice bit of relief.

We met our friend Chris here with her car so they were able to intercept me at other points and Chris and Sarah would wave from bridges while Dave ran with me. He did all of the last 9 miles from Checkpoint 5 at Ratho to Edinburgh Quay. It was interesting to see how the canal crossed the M8 via an aquaduct and gradually the route got more urban as we ran into Edinburgh. Parts of the UnionCanal had been filled in when it fell into disuse in the 1930s but since 19?? It had been restored to its 18?? Glory.

The last 9 miles took me 2 hours and I finished in 11 hours 3 minutes, coming 46th out of 64 and 8th woman. It would be interesting to see if going slower on the first bit would make for a faster overall time – but I think you should always go for it while feeling fresh! Perhaps I’m too impatient for ultra distance running!

POST-SCRIPT: This race was much better for a beginner than the London to Brighton – 5 miles shorter, no climb (literally) and canal tow-path all the way – as the organisers say, ‘If the canal’s not on your right then you’re lost!’ Because you run from west to east all day (and the canal is always south), the right half of your body comes back sun-burnt!!

Next year the race is on Sat 6th April, check out http://www.resoluteevents.co.uk/GEDM.html

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