Red Wine Runner

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Tag: Fraserburgh half marathon (page 1 of 3)

Fraserburgh Half Marathon 2015 – RACE REPORT

Fraserburgh Half Marathon 2015
15th November
fraserburgh half marathon medal

2 hours 16 minutes 12 seconds
209th of 249 Finishers
90th of 122 Females
29th of 36 Female Seniors


The Fraserburgh Half Marathon has been one of my favourite local races for a long time now, and is a great way to round off the running season. In the past it has always been one last test for my legs as it is a mostly flat and fast course with great PB potential, and I reset my Half Marathon PB here last year when I recorded 1hr 53m 58s in truly awful conditions. This year was sadly never going to be about speed; I DNS’d my place at Glen Ogle 33 Ultra last weekend as I knew I wasn’t fit to complete the race happily, but I knew that I’d be able run (but not race) a half marathon distance without too much of a strain and would enjoy returning to the race for the fourth time.

I picked up Naomi at 8.30am from Aberdeen in the pouring rain. Since I had long resigned myself that the race was to be a run (and an uncomfortable one at that) I wasn’t too fussed about the grim weather and just accepted it as another added difficulty for the day. I had done myself no favours by prepping for the race by spending the afternoon in the pub in Edinburgh with some friends, eating a delicious curry, and then getting the last train back to Stonehaven. Naomi, on the other hand, had completed the Illuminator 15 mile run the previous night, so neither of us were in shape for anything other than a Long Slow Run with cake at the end.


After registering we headed back to the car to keep warm. It was mainly dry in the Broch but the sea breeze was brutal. Since a mild Autumn and two weeks in the States has completely broken my ability to be resilient to the Scottish winter, I took no chances with my attire and wore long tights, gloves, and a thermal top over my t-shirt. Rather than my Stonehaven Running Club top, I decided to wear my 2013 Paris Marathon finishers t-shirt to honour the horrific events of Friday night and observed that several others had done the same.

At about 10:45am we headed back to the Pavillion to meet up with others and complain about the cold. The Broch Half is always very wintery but at least it was nowhere near as wet as last year. At 11am sharp the gun went off and the crowd of runners made their way down the street and out of the town towards the countryside.

fraserburgh half marathon 2015

Image courtesy of Broch Photo House / Facebook


fraserburgh half marathon 2015

Image courtesy of Broch Photo House / Facebook


We ran steadily through the first two miles to the first water point and took a drink whilst walking. It was pleasant to run through the woods and appreciate the Autumnal surroundings without constantly worrying about pace or drinking water too quickly and getting a stitch. When we had talked about the race before the start we thought about executing a regulated run/walk strategy such as run 0.9/walk 0.1, but in the end we were running at such a steady pace that we didn’t feel the need to walk other than at one or two random points and just chatted our way around the course as the miles slipped by.

As ever the course was very well marshaled and although the roads are obviously open, there was very little traffic. The race had decided to trial an early start wave at 10am this year for those who thought they might take longer than 2:30, to allow them to enjoy the same support at the finish as the majority of racers. Several of the early start wave passed us on their return to town and it was great to cheer them on and give them a high five. I think in principal it worked well and it certainly seems that the runners who took the early start found it to be a benefit, but in future I think it should be an option you tick when you register. Runners had to request to join the early start when they registered and some had to really plead their case as they had completed a 10k quicker than the 1hr 15m benchmark which had been set to allow participation in that wave. There are plenty of reasons why someone might know they will take longer than usual in a run such as injury or accompanying a slower friend. I’m sure the organisers will come up with a slicker strategy for next year as in general it seems to have been well received.

We made our way around the ‘lollypop’ of the course and were buffeted by chilly winds and some rain in all directions, but in general the conditions were brilliant for racing. On the return to the finish, the last 1.5 miles of the route takes a looped circuit through a housing estate which brings you agonisingly close to the finish, but allows for spectators to see when their runner is approaching. Both Naomi and I’s competitive streak ignited when we saw a handful of runners up ahead and we unspeakingly picked up the pace to glide past them and finish strongly.

Fraserburgh half marathon 2015

Picture by Greg Bruce

Fraserburgh half marathon 2015

With the addition of chip timing and a headline sponsor, the finish line was a bit more lively than usual with a finishing arch, a PA system pumping out music and an announcement for each finisher. We finished together but Naomi’s chip must have been across the line before mine as she took the higher position!

After crossing the line we grabbed some water and just went straight to the car to put some warm dry clothes on. It hadn’t been raining but the drizzle had been enough to soak you through. We then headed with haste towards the South Church Hall for food and cakes…

Fraserburgh half marathon 2015

Photo by Monica Rennie


In addition to this there was tea, coffee and juice, six different types of soup, and trays of hot, fresh sausage rolls. They know how to do a fine piece in the Broch for sure. Thanks again to Fraserburgh Running Club for hosting another fantastic event; as ever – I will be back!

fraserburgh half marathon 2015


Did you race this weekend?
What’s the best post-race spread you’ve ever seen?
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Fraserburgh Half Marathon 2014 – RACE REPORT

Apologies for the dreadful lateness of this report –  University work has taken priority in the last month, but I have a little more time on my hands over the festive season thankfully!


Fraserburgh Half Marathon
16th November 2014

Fraserburgh Half Marathon Medal

1hr 53m 58s – New PB!
143rd/261 Finishers
29th/118 Females
10th/35 F Seniors


On a couple of occasions over the last few years the Fraserburgh Half Marathon has been my last race of the year, and where I have set a new half marathon PB. I can’t remember why I didn’t do the race last year, but this year I was glad to be returning to the Broch for a third spin around the flat and fast course.

The weather has always been stunning for this race; but unfortunately this year the forecast in the days before got grimmer and grimmer, with rain and moderate winds due to lurk over the North East all weekend. The rain got heavier on the Saturday evening, to the extent that the Stonehaven Flood Wardens received an alert to be on standby as further rain was due to fall over night. Unfortunately after the phone call came at 11.30pm that was my last chance at getting any quality rest that night; the sound of the rain fall and the Council deploying flood barriers echoed around the street as I lay in bed listening and unable to switch off. (For any new readers, you can read about why this is quite such a worry for us here: Stonehaven Floods 2012 .)

When 6.30am came and my alarm sounded, the last thing I wanted to do was to do drive for an hour and a half and run a half marathon. I was glad to have made arrangements with my friends Naomi and David to car share, and having friends to chat to on the way made the journey pass so much quicker! I left blue skies and sunshine in Stonehaven, but as we drove towards Fraserburgh the clouds got darker and heavier, and soon we were driving through rain.

On arrival in the Broch the temperature was much lower than in Stonehaven, and a brisk breeze coming off the sea made it even sharper. We collected our numbers and retreated to the car to put on more layers. I had intended running just my club vest and a t-shirt, but I added a long sleeve top which I had taken to wear after the race and some gloves.


Naomi has just joined Metro Aberdeen Running Club so was proudly running in her vest for the first time!

Just before 11 we made our way to the starting line which was right on the coast and the 261 runners huddled together for warmth and protection against the wind. Desperate to get moving, the crowd surged forward when the hooter went and we charged down one lane of the A90 straight out of the town. The route had been changed slightly this year and the loop of the playing fields which had previously been in the first mile of the race was now in the last. It’s an unfortunate but necessary alteration – the race is now attracting such numbers that it would not be safe to have them charging around the narrow route at the start.

Within the first two miles the rain had got heavier and seemed to be falling faster. The forest on private property through which the route goes offered a nominal amount of protection, but it was short-lived as at 2.5 miles it returns to open roads which were being battered by wind. Initially we ran straight into the wind, meaning the front half of my body was drenched in minutes. The route follows a lollipop shape so after every couple of miles a different side of my body was freshly soaked. I don’t have a lot of memories from the race, in part due to my eyes being screwed closed against the rain and also due to running as hard as I could to get it over with as quickly as possible.

I had set out knowing that a PB was possible, but that came with an asterix and subtext of  ” *if I can be arsed”, and after only 4ish hours sleep the ‘can’t be arsed’ was quite strong with me that morning. In any case, I was knocking out quite consistent splits despite the wind and was meeting my psuedo-goal of keeping my pace firmly under 9 minute miles:

1) 8:36(8:36/m) 116cal
2) 8:37(8:37/m) 119cal
3) 8:48(8:48/m) 118cal
4) 9:07(9:07/m) 118cal
5) 8:37(8:37/m) 118cal
6) 9:01(9:01/m) 118cal
7) 8:51(8:51/m) 118cal
8) 8:43(8:43/m) 117cal
9) 8:23(8:23/m) 119cal
10) 8:26(8:26/m) 118cal
11) 8:53(8:53/m) 120cal
12) 8:46(8:46/m) 118cal
13) 7:59(7:59/m) 118cal
14) 0.19m – 1:12(6:18/m) 22cal

I was able to keep a little in the bank for a quick final mile, especially when I saw there was about 8 runners in front of me, the majority of whom were female. I decided I wanted those places so sprinted hard to overtake them all and ran hard past the Sports Pavilion to the finish which seemed to be just out of sight. I was directed to the right where I could see the clock up a short hill which read 1:53:5X. I pumped my arms to pull myself up the slippery grass incline to the line, hoping that I had slipped under 1hr 54m.

Armed with a new PB but soaked to the skin, I didn’t hang around at the finish long as I quickly became vey cold. I rushed back to David’s car to put on some warm clothes and was able to get back to the finish to see Naomi come in with Ronnie. Everyone quickly headed off to the post-race feed which is always phenomenal and I’m glad to say this year was no different. The folk of the Broch certainly know how to make a fine piece! There was two types of soup, hot rice pudding and jam, tables groaning under the weight of trays of sandwiches, cakes and sweet treats, and freshly baked hot sausage rolls arriving in trays straight out of a local baker’s oven.

After eating our fill we headed straight back down the road to Aberdeen, and then onwards to Stonehaven where thankfully the river had continued to stay in its banks. I spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch catching up with lost sleep. It was a shame that the weather was so foul, but pleasing to end the year with yet another PB, even if it was an accidental one.

One month in

I can’t believe it’s now been a full month since my last post, where I was preparing to make one of the biggest changes of my adult life and quit my job to return to University. I always expected it to be a busy few weeks, but whilst I expected immersing myself in Postgraduate study would be hard work, I underestimated how time consuming the workload would be. I am enjoying the course (MSc in Digital Marketing) so much though which makes the work easy to do, and I’m learning so much about areas which have always held interest for me. Recently we’ve spent a lot of time working on Google Analytics and SEO which I am enjoying gradually implementing on my blog to cement my learning! I’ve had GA installed for years but never really understood how to work it and how best to use the data. SEO is a massive field and I have a lot to learn – it’s quite embarrassing seeing how poorly optimised this site is at present…

Google Analytics Wonka MemeI am still getting used to the concept of being a student. It has been a very weird transition from being in a relatively senior administrative position in a University Department to being a clueless student again, but I think I’ve avoided many of the more common pitfalls that used to plague some of the students who used to pass through my office.

Alongside student life comes the myth of all the ‘extra time’ I thought I would have at my disposal. I have a lot of work to do and *just* enough time to do it in, which has not left a great deal of time to meet my usual weekly fitness goals. I haven’t been to running club in weeks or gone for runs with friends, but I have been getting out for short runs and doing BodyPump/metafit/circuits classes which have been great. I am re-growing some muscle which is nice, and my body is slightly less soft. However I am missing my Saturday long runs, and long adventures in the hills. Come the Spring and my usual ultramarathon training cycle, I’m not quite sure how I’ll be able to work the usual 6+ hour Saturday runs into my University work schedule but I’ll hopefully have found a bit more balance by then.

Hoka Highland Fling 2014


After my last update, in line with my goals of losing a few inches I stuck religiously to a strict diet for two weeks before I cracked and ate/drank some carbs. The diet was supposed to last 4 weeks, but I was just getting so unhappy by not being able to eat the things I like! I was planning on writing a post solely about the diet, but I bored even myself writing it so I didn’t think it would be of any interest to my readers at all. In summary, it was a meal plan I found in Trail Running Magazine which was easily adaptable to a vegetarian diet. It was extremely vegetable heavy and involved a lot of snacking (good) but it seems that no matter how big I make a salad, it only keeps me full for about an hour which made for a very cranky Red Wine Runner (bad).

pulse salad vegan

However, two weeks did seem to re-start a healthier mindset when making food choices and whilst losing only 4lbs on the scale I lost a cumulative 4 inches off my bust, hips and stomach. I call that a win.

In terms of racing, I have signed up for the Monymusk Half Marathon next weekend, and then the Peterhead 10k and the Fraserburgh Half in November. That will see out the end of my racing year, which will segway nicely back into ultra training. The Monymusk Half is the final race in the Stonehaven Running Club championships, where my friend Vikki and I will be ‘battling’ it out for 2nd and 3rd places in the female championships. Rebecca has taken 1st place by a mile and is now unbeatable, but the order which Vikki and I finish in will decide who takes second and third place, as we are also unbeatable. I am just delighted to have a podium place and I think it reflects a year of very hard training so I don’t mind how it plays out in the end.

Hoka Highland Fling logo

Ultras next year will be the D33, Fling, potentially the Cateran (I’m not sure if that’s a good idea…) and then the West Highland Way race. Later in the year I’d like to do some of the other Scottish Ultras that I am yet to do, such as the Clyde Stride, Speyside, and maybe the River Ayr Way. Kynon is intending to do the D33, Fling and the Glenmore 12 hour race again; I think I will support/marshall at Glenmore this year with the view to getting a big PB in an Autumn marathon.

So that’s all I’ve got for now; I look forward to returning to racing next weekend and writing up the Monymusk Half. It’s a trail race so it’s hard to forecast a time goal, but I understand it’s good and hilly so it should be quite a fun challenge with my clubmates. I seem to be making some progress towards the elusive sub-50 10k goal as well, with all the short fast runs and strength training I’ve been doing. Tonight I did a 6 mile progression run in 49:54 so I can certainly call that progress!


Fraserburgh Half Marathon 2012 – RACE REPORT

Fraserburgh Half Marathon 2012

18th November 2012
Gun time: 1hr 56m 9s
Position: 162/242 finishers
Gender: 37/82 Ladies
Category: 16/34 Senior Ladies

Another end of season, and another great day out at the Fraserburgh Half Marathon, affectionately known around these parts as the Broch Half. Last year I finished up my racing year there with a brand new half marathon PB of 2:07.17, slicing 8 minutes off my first attempt at the distance 5 months previously at Stonehaven. This year I’ve somehow managed to carve a further 11 minutes off and my PB now rests firmly under 2 hours – a 19 minute improvement since my first half. It’s not just the time that is coming down though – last year at the Broch I placed 37th out of 67 in my gender and only 22nd out of 28 in my age category. There was a slight increase in numbers taking part this year but I am pleased to finally be worming my way out of the back of the pack to the middle in these smaller races.

The day started off with a complete catastrophe. A real, race-ending catastrophe. Kynon and I spent the night before the race in my now empty flat in Aberdeen (I have a week left on the lease) as it is 15 miles closer to the Broch, and when I was getting dressed I realised I had forgotten one crucial component of my kit. My sports bra. I was being picked up in 45 minutes and I was missing the one thing which would prevent me from running that day – it would have been less of an issue had I forgotten my running shoes.

Kynon, my knight in shining armour, leapt out of bed and threw on some clothes and jumped straight in the car back down the road to Stonehaven to get it for me whilst I sorted the rest of my kit and ate my breakfast. Thankfully Naomi was happy to wait a little bit and at that time of the morning on a Sunday there was no traffic on the roads at all so he was back within 40 minutes. My sweetheart, my saviour – thank you so much darling!

We were on the road with Naomi soon enough and enjoyed the sunny drive to the Broch. Sheri was supposed to be with us too, but unfortunately she succumbed to an ear infection and was unable to make it. Upon arrival we were greeted with brilliant sunshine but a bitter cold, finished off with a cutting wind.

Shivering, we quickly huddled into the sports pavilion to register and to pick up our race garments – another great quality long-sleeve top. Unbranded and in a choice of colours (bright orange for me!), I suspect I will get just as much use from this top as I have done with the one from last year. We also got our goody bags, which I found most odd; why on earth were we getting them at the START of the race?

It was SO cold! Ironically I knew it would be the kind of weather that would result in me being warm and possibly too hot within a mile of the start if I wore too much. In the end I went for calf sleeves and running skirt on bottom, long-sleeve top and fetch t-shirt on top, with arm warmers and gloves which could be easily tucked into my race belt when I got too warm.

Soon we were surrounded by plenty of familiar faces, all equally cold and wearing plenty of layers to retain the heat. The Fetch roll-call was: RedWineRunner, crooked-smile, Old Croc, mrsshanksi, weekatiepea, SillyFencer, HalfPint, MotherDuck, the Duckinator AberdeenDavid, Claudinaha and Corrah – a great turn out!

We only managed to herd a few of us together for a picture at the start – L-R – crooked-smile, Old Croc, RedWineRunner, WeeKatiePea and her baby runner in training, and mrs shanksi with her runner in training.

Mrs Shanksi (aka Vicki who I supported at the West Highland Way race this year) had originally been recruited to pace Sheri to a sub-2 half, but since she was now without her charge she was at a loss for what to do in the race. I quickly suggested that she could extend her pacing duties to run with me and see if we could get me firmly under 2:00. After a quick discussion of tactics we decided that we’d go for sub-9 miles with a view of coming in around 1:55. This seemed quite ambitious to me initially but I was happy to step up my game. WeeKatiePea was going to run with us as well and try and stick with us as long as possible – this was her first race back after having her baby 6(?) months ago.

11am came and we reluctantly shed our outer layers and lined up ready to go. A quick blast of an air horn and the 242 of us were off on the initial loops around the park which make up the first mile and a bit of the course.

This meant that the supporters were able to see us two times before we took off into the distance through the wooded private estates and exposed country roads of the rest of the course.

Photo by the Duckinator

The first few miles flew by because we were chatting away like mad. I was charged with leading the pace but I really had to pay attention as we were coasting in the low 8s when we needed to dial back to about 8:50s

Unfortunately I somehow did something to my garmin which caused the splits to go, for want to a better word, wonky. You can see in the above shot that I’d rolled my sleeves up already and in order to do that I’d had to loosen my garmin and I think I must have hit the lap button. I heard it make a noise but I assumed we’d just passed a mile marker – I don’t tend to look at the mile counter on my garmin in races. However the next time I looked I saw it was paused – how had I done that as well?!  Analysing the data later it had been paused for about 40 seconds and lapped at .3 of mile 2 which set the lap alerts (set for each mile) completely out of kilter. I didn’t let it bother me however as all I really needed to see was average pace, but I was annoyed that I’d completely buggered it up so early in the race.

The route leads out of Fraserburgh up a hill before turning off the main road into a private estate. There is a lovely wooded section to run through, but this year it was very muddy and icy which made conditions challenging. The sun was very low in the sky one we got out of the woods and I was glad to have my sunglasses on. Despite being familiar with the course from last year, it was hillier than I remembered and there were plenty of undulations to keep us on our toes.

Chatting away merrily; Vicki, Kate and I were sailing along at quite a pace and I kept on being confused at how easy it felt to be so comfortably under 9 minute miles. I was a bit scared in case I bonked later in the course but I was feeling so good that seemed impossible. We ran though a water station at about 7.5 miles and I took a few sips to wash my mouth out and then remembered I ought to take a gel. Normally I spend the whole first 5 miles of a half look forward to taking one at mile 5 and I’d completely forgotten!

Kate stopped for a proper drink and slipped behind me and that was the last I saw of her. Vicki ran behind me with her for a little while longer before speeding back up to join me at 8 miles, which I remember her saying we passed in 1hr 12 minutes which was excellent pace. I was still ignoring my accumulated race time on my garmin so I was pleased to hear our progress.

The reason I ignore the accumulated time these days is because after a couple of years of training, I seem to have embedded certain times as mile posts when I’m out for runs and depending on what side of them each individual run falls it can usually affect my mental outlook. As I get faster I need to stop doing this, as for example in a steady training run these days I usually hit 8 miles in around 1hr 15 so when I heard we’d done 8 in 1hr 12 my initial reaction was ‘Must slow down, don’t want to burn out’. Other mile posts are – 6 miles – slower than 55 mins? I’m having a bad day, and 10 miles – slower than 1:38? Having a very bad day.

Photo by Broch Photo House –

I digress. Vicki and I continued on, now faster than ever. We tackled the off-road section on the old railway line by her running in front of me and setting the pace, and then once we were back on the road and heading back to the finish I lead for a few miles. I had warned Vicki that I tend to do huge negative splits on Halfs and this course would be especially prone to it due to the easy downhill last 5k. It was all going exactly as I planned as we ran comfortably under 8:30 minute miles. At around 11.5 miles I was starting to get out of breath so the chat had to stop and Vicki pulled ahead with an aggressive pace to bring me in for a strong finish as I clung to her feet.

I remember last year I got a horrible and debilitating stitch at 12 miles and I was wary of pushing too hard too soon – I needed to keep a little bit left in my legs for a final explosive push across the park to the finish. I tried to remember a feeling I got last week in my sports conditioning class of all places, of feeling like I was flying when I was sprinting up and down the hall and around cones; I remembered how fast and graceful I felt and how the power exploded from my legs – I was able to focus on that feeling and enjoy the final mile, I’d never felt this strong in a half before.

When we turned off the main road and we could see the finish I finally felt that delicious and longed-for feeling of relief, knowing that it would all be over soon. Now was not the time for taking the foot off the gas, my lungs were burning and my vision started to blur as I diverted all energy to pumping my legs as fast as possible. I knew it would be a PB, but by how much?

Picture by Old Croc

Into the final couple of hundred meters and there was a tiny hill to descend on our way into the park. I used this as my launch pad to release the final reserves of energy I was saving for a champagne finish. “On you go Rhona, finish strong!” Vicki called out as I passed her and the girl in front of us, raising a hand in acknowledgment. Rounding a corner and seeing the small crowd waiting I heard Kynon’s bellow above all of the noise: “C’mon Rhona, GO FOR IT!!” and that was a further push I needed to pass three more runners in the last stretch. It lasted forever with an agonising gradual incline on grass, but I finally stomped my foot down on the spray-painted line on the grass and looked at the race clock.

Photo by the Duckinator

Photo by the Duckinator

1:56.09? A three minute PB – I’ll take that!

A stagger down the finish chute and moments later I was in Kynon’s arms with steam coming off me in the chilly midday air. My 9th Half marathon and another PB blagged – sooner or later this is going to stop happening and I’ll need to actually do some targeted training to make further progress, but we’ll let future RedWineRunner worry about that for now.

When I’d got my senses back, I realised that there was no water or food at the finish and I was gasping for a drink and some sugar. Of course – we’d already been given our goodie bags, which were back in the car along with the rest of our kit… After locating some fluids we waited for Naomi to come in and cheered her across the line with Claudia who she had ran with and pushed to a new PB in 2:17.

I saw a couple runners with medals, but most were not wearing one which is very odd for a race finish area. I had just assumed that sadly there was no medal this year, but on further investigation I was told that they were handing them out back at the Pavilion where we had registered. Again, most odd, but I headed over to investigate with Naomi. When we enquired politely about what the situation was with a member of race staff, they snapped at us telling us that they’d run out but that we’d got our tshirts and goody bags at the start, had we not? Were we not happy enough with that?! I was completely taken aback by the aggressive response and walked away slightly dazed – had that actually just happened?! It was completely unnecessary and not in the slightest bit apologetic. If they’d just said that there had been a tremendous entry and they simply didn’t have enough for everyone on the day then that would have been fine but to bite runners’ heads off as though we were asking for their first-born child was totally uncalled for. If you offer a race memento, a shirt and a goodie bag in your race entry then entrants have every right to query when for whatever reason your offerings cannot be met. We were not the only ones to be given such a discourteous response and we left with a really bitter taste in the mouth which is completely out of line with every other aspect of this great race.

None of the Fetch group received a finisher’s medal despite finishing between 1:35 and 2:17. No-one at the finish was telling people to collect a medal at the Pavilion and I find it most bizarre that they weren’t being given to finishers as they, well, finished. However, the race has redeemed itself by announcing via Facebook that since they had run out, all finishers who didn’t receive a medal would be sent one if they asked, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Despite the unfortunate ending to the day, I had yet another wonderful race in Fraserburgh and will be back next year to see if I can finish 2013 with another PB. Maybe next time I’ll stick to my training and really come up with something to write home about? I know there’s still a lot to come off and I hope that in joining Stonehaven Running Club and training regularly with my new running comrades for the next year will unleash my inner speed demon, which I know is just dying to get out.

I’ll finish with a huge vote of thanks to Vicki who was an amazing pacer – I couldn’t have got this PB without you!


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