15th August 2013
Cheyne Hill Race
4th/6 Female seniors
Last Thursday I ran the Cheyne Hill Race which is a tiny, old-school hill race ran by the Cosmic Hillbashers running club. It takes place about two miles out of Stonehaven and is in our club championships so I had no excuse to miss it.
I picked up three girls from my club and we drove up to save our race legs. We paid our £2.50 entry and hung around with the 47 other entrants waiting to start, who were mostly tough and weathered hill runners with arms and legs like knotted string. Despite living so near I was not familiar with the route at all and was a little concerned I might end up going off piste, but following the runner in front – how hard can it get, right?
The start was straight up hill from the first step and not having warmed up, my calves and lungs were quickly burning. I overtook a few on the single track path and continued my effort to start my races more assertively and try and place higher up from the early stages in small races like this. After a mile the field had spread out a little and I could no longer see the person in front, nor hear footsteps from behind. The path I was on broke free from the forest and I was running on a narrow path through heather and after a moment or two I realised there was not another runner in sight ahead or behind me. Having studied the course map before I knew roughly the direction to head in so I kept on going along the path, hoping to see someone else at some point and then rejoin the race. I caught a glimpse of a neon disappearing behind some trees about 300m below me, so I started galumphing (there is no other word suitable) over the heather to follow them. Unfortunately there was a fence to climb over, and some rocks that I tripped over, and the heather and bracken was up to hip height at times so my legs were being scratched and torn at. I eventually saw a piece of tape tied to some heather which showed me I had rejoined the route, but when I paused to catch my breath I heard or saw absolutely no-one near me.
Well, shit. Dead last it is then. I had been pleased to have got ahead of the other Stonehaven girls at the start and was hoping to be the first Stoney lady home for the maximum championship points available, but the opportunity for that had clearly come and gone. I jogged on pretty annoyed about the situation, and baffled as to how I’d managed to get off course just over a mile in to a 4 mile race! I cringed with embarrassment of the thought of finishing in last place and having to run in with everyone waiting for me, but still; a dead last finish finish trumps did not finish, which greatly trumps did not start…
I tried to run as hard as I could, but I assumed I had run a lot extra so I didn’t know how long my race would be. At about 3.5 miles I caught a glimpse of someone ahead of me and that spurred me on to sprint and try and get past them – anything to not be last! Not long after I came across Vikki and Geri from the club who had also had a bad race and were very surprised to see me coming past them from behind as they thought I would have long finished. I wasn’t in the mood for hanging about so blasted on and managed to overtake two more people to vaguely salvage my race, but I couldn’t quite catch Rebecca who finished one place and 59 seconds ahead of me to be first Stonehaven lady.
All the lads in the club had wondered what had happened to us and why we’d taken so long. Unfortunately we’d set ourselves up nicely for some terribly sexist jokes about female navigation and our ability to read a map. My only defense is that I hadn’t ran the course before and some of the course markings weren’t particularly visible due to thick summer vegetation, but in the end it’s my fault I took a wrong turning.
I finished in 44m 45s and 4th of 6 Senior ladies. Having ran my maximum of 5 club championship races to count towards the competition I’m now in 2nd place behind Vikki (who has also run 5). I can’t do the next two so I’m hoping I can finish higher than 7th place at the final race in the Championships, the Fraserburgh Half, so I can use that to replace my poorest scoring race, the Aberdeen Beach 10k, and improve my points a little more. I very much doubt I will place in the Championships by the end of the year, but I’d like to finish with as many points as I’m capable of.
No pictures to share unfortunately, as we were all so cross at getting lost and so scratched and covered in mud that we all wanted to get straight home to a bath and a beer! I really liked the course though and will return to recce it in more detail soon. Thanks to the Cosmic Hillbashers for putting on a great, friendly race to break up the working week!