Glentress Half Marathon – Race Report

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So I have finally got around to writing my review of the Glentress Trail Half Marathon which I ran almost a month ago! Not a good blogger!

The Glentress race was on Saturday 25th February and it was my first trail half marathon as I have recently started to transition from running continuously on roads to more and more on trails and hills.  It’s an interesting transition as I am seeing my longed for 7 odd minute miles disappear and become 10 and 11 minute miles at times as I traipse through mud, dirt, hills and try to keep my balance, but it is a transition I am loving none the less.  My step dad Johnnie has also recently taken up trail running and as he decided to enter this race, I decided to go along with him. We put in some good miles on the trails in the lead up to the race, and I had managed two 13 mile long runs in the month prior to the race.  I was aiming for around 2 hours-2:15, which is a little slower than my usual half marathon time of around 1:50 at the moment, but I was trying to factor in hills, mud and nerves!

Johnnie and I got up early on the Saturday morning and I fuelled up with porridge before we left.  I was feeling excited and ready for the race and to be honest, the day out!  I always get nervous when I packing for something incase I have left anything behind, so after packing and re-packing my bag, we set off for Peebles.

On arrival at the race, the grounds were fairly busy with people getting ready to go sign in or people warming up.  I’ve not competed in too many races and when I arrived, I started to remember why.  I get really anxious with all the people around and the build up of the pressure to well.  I started telling myself that I didn’t need to worry about time and that I was just there to experience the run, but my brain didn’t listen.

Johnnie and I queued up to sign in, and I would say this was the only bit of the race I didn’t like.  There were three distancs that day – 10k, 21k and 42k, but all competitors had to sign in at the same set of tables, which meant a gigantic queue – not ideal.  However, after waiting for aroun 20-30 minutes, we got signed in, got our t-shirts and headed back to the car to get ready.

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JJ and I ready to go

We arrived back at the sign in area ready for the pre race talk and then headed up to the starting line.  I was really nervous – worried about pacing, setting off to fast and to be honest, I hadn’t researched the course enough so I was really heading out into the unknown!

We set off at a pretty slow pace as there were lots of runners which meant there was a bit of a back log, but once the race got going (although this was around 1.5 miles in), everyone spread out a bit and I was able to get up to a pretty good rhythm.  So much so that my third mile was completed in 7:43.  But there ended the fast miles and the course got very tricky, steep and technical from there.

Around mile three I met a man running from Glasgow, we talked for a while about some different races we had entered and he chatted about his son and how he can’t wait to get out running with him.  I passed him quite a few times through the race and got talking to him again at the end, along with a few other people throughout the race and it was so nice to actually meet and talk to runners.  Everyone was very friendly, courteous if you wanted to speed ahead a little and was really just there to have a good laugh and a good time.

As the race continued the path got steeper and at points running was simply impossible.  But with these steep inclines came rewards – the views.  There was a moment just around mile 5, where the view was so spectacular that I had to stop and take it in.  I didn’t take a photo of it as I felt like I just wanted to be there in that moment – proud of what I was achieving and happy to be there.

There were more amazing views as the race continued and this one was my absolute favourite around mile 10(ish).

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Simply stunning – what it’s all about!

As the run climbed up and up, the weather became less favourable.  What started as a relatively mild, cloudy Scottish day cooled quickly and began to get wetter and windier.  At points you were running uphill through burns of ice water and melting snow (Storm Doris having played a part in this just a couple of days previously).  My dreams of finishing in around 2 hours or even around 2:15 slowly were slipping away from me.  But, I was surprised at how ‘not bothered’ about this I was at all.  I was having so much fun and really felt like I was pushing myself to achieve something difficult.  That was what was really keeping me going.  That and the thought of peanut butter snadwiches waiting for me at the end (I had taken a nakd bar with me as fuel, but didn’t delve in!).

As the run started to slowly descend (and by slowly I mean, tiny bits of descent followed by more steep uphills – how we ended up back at the bottom I’ll never fathom…) the trail started to become more technical and was very soggy from the rain and snow.  I fell right on my bum more than once but got back up and kept going, the only thing bruised being my pride.

Just as I thought it couldn’t get any longer, steeper or (by this point) sorer on my legs, I approached the finish line, which being true to the rest of the race was at the top of a small hill.  I ran through it glad to be finished and stopped my Garmin – final time of 2:28:21, which given the type of run it was, I was pretty pleased with.  I got a drink (dying of thirst as during my falls I dropped my water bottle into lots of mud meaning I couldn’t take a drink from it) and chatted to some of the people I had been running with at points and who had finished around 5-10 minutes before me.  They were so nice and it made me feel even better about my time as I realised that these people were proper runners, more seasoned than me to races like this and even they found it particularly difficult.  After around 10 minutes chatting I went back to the finish line to wait on Johnnie coming through.  He finished around 20 minutes behind me and I couldn’t have been prouder of him!

We headed back to the car, got changed, laughed about how sore we were and I went to get us both a hot cup of tea and coffee, which I enjoyed along with my peanut butter sandwiches.

Overall, I would say that this was an excellent event.  It was fairly well organised, well sign posted throughout the race and full of wonderful runners.  The course itself was hard, technical and stunning and it alone would make me go back and do it again.

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