Race Report: CowalFest 5K Trail Run

Race Report: CowalFest 5K Trail Run

Date: 12th October 2013

Profile: Hilly

Terrain: Trail

Weather: Cloudy, and cool

Website: CowalFest

Positives: relaxed event, well organised, good & supportive marshalls, fab goody bag

Negatives: I missed hearing the pre-race instructions

This race was the first ever CowalFest running event held as part of CowalFest, which is held every October celebrating walking and the great outdoors! This was our first ever, proper trail race, and so we opted to sign up for the 5K rather than the 10K event.

@TheWelshWookie and I left in plenty of time, as we had an hour and a half’s drive ahead of us, and we wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time before hand. as the traffic can be slow.

We managed to get there with plenty of time to spare, so we registered and collected our bibs, and then soaked up the atmosphere while debating whether to wear jackets or not!

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It was a cold, fresh day, but we knew that we’d warm up when the run started. As I was wearing my brand-new birthday jacket 😉 I opted to keep it on.

Here’s my pre-race gear check pic:

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The facilities at the start/finish were great. Benmore Gardens, the location of the race, has a lovely coffee shop, and so toilet facilities were better than the usual portaloo! The staff had set up an outdoor sales area, with tea, coffee and snacks available for runners and supporters. It was great!

The race was due to start at 1.30pm, and about five minutes before, we all walked towards the start area. The 10K runners were asked to keep to the front of the group, with the 5K runners further back, which made sense. There wasn’t a loud speaker, and in the beginning, I could hear what was being said. Then, after about 30 seconds or so, the people to my left started talking and laughing, which meant that @TheWelshWookie and I couldn’t hear a thing. Nice one – so thoughtful!

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Not only did I miss the briefing, but I actually missed the start of the race! 😮 People headed off, and so I was playing catch-up early on. I pressed the button on my Sport+ watch, and ran!

After we settled into the run, we decided to increase our pace slightly, as we were running well. That was until we reached THE HILL. Never having run here before, I had overheard other runners talking about The Hill, but I thought I’d wait and see it for myself. It was a long, winding monster of a hill! I managed to run for the first third of it or so, and then I power walked the best I could to the top of it. I was pretty out of breath!

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The downhill was amazing, though, the view was great (sorry about the finger in the pic!):

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I did take it easy, as I was a little worried about slipping on the shale. But I didn’t. 😉

Next, in the middle part of the race, was an out and back section, which was great: I saw that there weren’t many runners ahead of me who were running the 5K, and so my confidence grew a little. I ran a little faster (having recovered from the hill) and began picking off other runners.

In the final part of the race, I just ran. It felt great, I was really enjoying myself, and I picked off another three or four girls heading into the final stretch.

I had a couple of false finishes, though! I came around one corner, and saw a large group cheering, including my sister and three nephews. I assumed that was the finish line, and slowed down! People then started shouting ‘keep going’ and, literally, ‘this isn’t the finish line!’ lol!

I then reached the start area, and thought that I must have missed the actual finish, so again I slowed, and jogged over to the goody bags (priorities, and all that!) when I realised that I hadn’t quite reached the finish line for a second time! Doh!

I had a quick chat with the race officials, told them how much I had enjoyed the race, and then @TheWelshWookie finished.

The whole event was very relaxed, well run, and I loved it, even the big hill. I’d love to do this one again!

The gardens were beautiful:

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Here’s the map of the race:

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The goody bag was really great: I love the reusable bag. Here’s the contents of it:

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As the 5K was a fun run, it was untimed. BUT- I placed! I was the third female home! Yay! I’ve never placed before, and will probably never place again, so I’m going to enjoy this for a long time!

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It was a great run!

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My Stats:

Time: 30:02, but I came up a little short on distance.

The Medal: I was glad to have one, and it was engraved

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Goody Bag: reusable tote bag with a lovely logo, 9bar, water, an orange, jelly beans and some great money off vouchers from local businesses including Portavadie Marina and Loch Fyne Oyster Bar.

T-shirt: no t shirt, but we didn’t expect one, given the entry fee.

I’m hoping that this run will be a regular feature!

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Race Report: Great Scottish Run

Race Report: Great Scottish Run

Date: 6th October 2013

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Cloudy, cool, dry

Website: http://www.greatscottishrun.com/

Positives: well organised, goody bags, well supported

Negatives: narrow route in places; poor water station placing

After the excitement of the Family Mile, we had spent the evening before the race at my sister’s house, celebrating two of my nephew’s birthdays, Ryan and Aidan, who’s birthdays were on Monday and Wednesday. We had a great family party; but @TheWelshWookie and I were very good and only had a couple of beers to celebrate 😉 We carb loaded with fish n’ chips and birthday cake!

I had my gear all prepared and ready:

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We drove to Glasgow Green, and parked the car near to the finish line, for a quick get away later and walked along with lots of other runners to the start line in George Square.

Well, when I say George Square, we didn’t get near the square itself today, as the green muster area was just along Cochrane Street, back towards Merchant City. We had a long wait of about 20 minutes for the portaloos, but fortunately we had left plenty of time for this. We then headed into the corral, and it wasn’t too long until we heard the elite runners start, and we could see the big hill facing us to start the race, heading up St. Vincent Street. Here’s my view from the start:

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Very quickly, we were moved to the start line, and we were off!

We headed up the dreaded hill, and this year there seemed to be far fewer walkers here than there were last year; or maybe we were just more prepared for it? Who knows, but it was much better. The hill finishes just at the 1K mark, and by then @TheWelshWookie and I had settled into a comfortable pace.

We ran along, past the slip road we used to use, to head over the Kingston Bridge. This year, we ran along the Clydeside Expressway instead, past a few highlights of the Glasgow Skyline: the SECC, the Armadillo, the Hydro (which is a brand new venue, opened earlier this week).

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As we came off the expressway, we ran around the amazing Transport Museum, which is a fantastic building.

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But, here’s my biggest criticism: the running width narrowed substantially here, at around the 3K mark, and it stayed quite narrow for the out-and-back to the ‘Squinty Bridge’ at 6K. This definitely affected my time, and that of many other runners, who had to dodge and weave, and run on the soft verge to get past.

Fortunately, a lot of runners followed race etiquette, and walked to the right, but not all did this.

As @TheWelshWookie and I carry water, we didn’t need to pause at the water stop which was at the 5.5K mark; it was a crazy place for a water station, as it was far too narrow, the rod as still open to traffic along our left hand side, and runners were tossing bottles right into the way of traffic! That’ll need to be thought out again!

We then ran over the Squinty Bridge, and I was feeling great!

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We headed past Pacific Quay, and could see the Glasgow Science Centre, before we turned around, headed back over the bridge and ran along the Broomielaw alongside the River Clyde, towards Glasgow Green.

At around the 8K mark, @TheWelshWookie was slowing, but only ever so slightly. We had a half kilometre of a slightly slower pace, and with one mile to go, he told me to run on. I set off, still feeling really good, buoyed by the fantastic support along this stretch.

The final kilometre took me though Glasgow Green, to the finish point: again, the road narrowed, which I remembered from last year; but it was difficult to weave in and out; so my finish wasn’t as strong as I would have liked. But, all in all, I was pretty happy with my whole run!

Here’s the map of the race:

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As I crossed the finish line (and remembered to stop my SportWatch this time), there were a lot of runners  taking sick bags, and using them. A LOT. Yuk. I kept walking, and had to de-tag my trainer myself, with no scissors. I’ve bruised my leg, accidentally punching it as I pulled it off. Oh, well.

Shortly after, I saw that @TheWelshWookie had finished, so we queued to collect our goodie bags, which contained our medals and finisher T shirts. Here’s the contents:

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And we posed for a couple of photos:

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There was then another bottle neck, trying to get out of the finisher’s area, which was crazy. Then, we weren’t able to get out because so many spectators were standing about waiting to met finishers: hello, people- that’s what the meeting area is for?? Hmmm.

Other than that, it was a great, well organised event, which we thoroughly enjoyed!

My Stats:

Time: 57:45 19 seconds short of my PB, but given the issues, that’s OK. I finished 3331st out of over 8000; 484th in my age group, and the 960th female to finish. @TheWelshWookie PB’d with 58:32

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The Medal: pretty simple; the same medal was given out for a events this weekend.

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Goody Bag: draw string bag, discount leaflet, chocolate bar, power gel, gel shots, Eat Natural bar

T-shirt: A grey marl T shirt, with ‘Finisher 2013’ on it. I already had the technical shirt.

Now, do I register for my third GSR 10K in a row, or for the half next year?

Race Report: Tarbert TT10K

Race Report: Tarbert TT10K

Date: 17th August 2013

Profile: Hilly

Terrain: Road and Trail

Weather: Cloudy, but warm

Website: TT10K

Positives: great course, well organised, good & supportive marshalls, fab t-shirt

Negatives: unpredictable weather!

This race was the first ever Tarbert 5k & 10k event, and given that it is my local village run, I was really looking forward to it, as well as being a little anxious as I knew the course would be a challenge!

@TheWelshWookie headed out early, to open the school grounds as a car park for visitors, and to check that the tape was still intact, marking out the running route around the area he was marshaling- part of the first trail run, behind Stonefield Farm & Coffee Shop. I had my gear all laid out and ready:

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That meant that I had plenty of time to get ready, and pose…

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I planned to head into the village to support the 5k runners, but I do not know what happened- I lost track of time. And so I ended up running out of the door, quite literally!

As I walked past the Village Hall, I saw that it was bedecked in bunting, ready for the barbeque and party later in the day:

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As I made my way along to Garvel Road, ready for the start of the race, the 5k runners were still milling about at the finish line. At this point, I was pretty envious: their race was over, and the party had begun!

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I took a couple of snaps, just to capture the views, and because the weather had taken me by surprise- it was almost sunny! The rain seemed to have vanished: it had surprised a lot of runners, who were wearing long running pants and jackets!

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My nervous walk along Garvel Road:

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The facilities not far from the start were great: runners could use the Harbour facilities before and after the race: toilets, showers, etc. The start itself was at the end of Garvel Road. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was that this was Serious. With a Capital S. There were loads of club runners, and runners who looked like they meant business! But I could see that there were quite a few ‘normal’ runners like me!

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With about 5 minutes to go, Councillor Anne Horn gave the safety briefing- reminding us to take care on the trail parts of the course, as they would be slippery and soft underfoot. And then, almost suddenly, we were off!

As there were only 200 runners, everyone started at once. I tried to hang to the left hand side of the road, and let the faster runners past me…. there were plenty! I tried to remind myself to just go at my own pace.

Here’s the map of the race:

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At the end of Garvel Road, we headed up the main road, and uphill again, over the High Road. Remember I posted a pic from up here, when I was out checking the route?

The view from the High Road
The view from the High Road

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We then ran down the other side of the High Road, and headed off along Campbeltown Road towards Stonefield Farm & Coffee Shop. I knew that @TheWelshWookie was at the highest part of this section, so I was looking forward to reaching there! The route took us past the shop on the left hand side, and past the wigwams, which are available as holiday accommodation. Then, we were greeted with a sign saying: Welcome to Jurassic Park with a cartoon runner being chased by a dinosaur- that made me laugh!

The trail climbed steadily, and at this point, the faster runners were heading back down. Us slowbies were walking, or run/walking because I was knackered to let the faster runners by. We reached a cottage ruin, known locally as Maggie’s Cottage, which I thought was the turning point. How wrong I was! We still had a good distance, all uphill, to go!

Eventually, I caught sight of a fluorescent jacket, and I saw that it was @TheWelshWookie! Yay! We’d reached the top! He managed to take a snap, with me actually smiling- maybe it’s a grimace!

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We then turned around, and ran back down, around the opposite side of the coffee shop. I must admit, I took it easy running downhill, as it was pretty slippy underfoot, and I have terrible balance at the best of times! At the bottom of the hill was a water stop, but I was all good, and kept going.

As we left Stonefield, we headed back down Campbeltown Road back into the village. For me, this was the part I was looking forward to – my regular run along the harbour out to the end of Pier Road, where I’m used to views like this:

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At this stage, the sun really broke through, and it was pretty warm. I managed to pick off a few runners along the road. The 5K mark was just at the fish quay, which was great. I’m pretty sure that there were lots of people thinking ‘Is that all we’ve done?’

I really enjoyed my run all the way to the turning point at the end of the road, where there was a second water point. I filled up my bottle, and headed back. Why I didn’t take one of the jelly babies on offer, I will never know!

All along the route, the support was fantastic. People were out, cheering and clapping us on. The marshals, in particular, were very, very encouraging, giving me that extra boost to push on. They also had a tough job because none of the roads were closed to traffic, so they managed to cheer us by, while keeping an eye on safety.

I then reached Big Brae, which leads onto the Castle loop. After the experience at Stonefield, I knew that the fast runners would be trying to run down while us slower runners were heading up. So, I decided to play safe, and walk to the left, to let them pass more easily. But as soon as I arrived at the Castle loop, I was determined to run this part of the trail. I managed most of it- only walking a short distance up the hill on the loop. My GPS ticked off the 5th mile, and that really boosted me- I was on the final mile!

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I finished off the Castle loop, headed back down Big Brae, and made my way back along the harbour to the Harbour Office. This was it- the home straight!

The support along this final part was tremendous- loads of cheering and clapping. @TheWelshWookie was waiting at the finish line, ready to take my pic:

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I was so excited to finish that I forgot to switch off my SportWatch GPS! Doh! @TheWelshWookie handed me a bag of jelly beans, which I scoffed right away. I then collected my goodie bag.

Here’rs the contents of it:

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I collected my medal, and headed back to cheer on the rest of the finishers across the finish line.

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But, yet again, I was distracted. By some deliciously amazing home baking for the finishers- including home made tablet- pure bliss!

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There was even some entertainment for the kids:

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And just to prove that the sun came out:

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We waited for the prize giving: well done to the winnersl! Each trophy winner received a voucher for The Gallery- lucky folks! 😀

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We then headed home for a very quick change, and headed back out to the Village Hall to join in the rest of the Tarbert Harbour Authority Centenary celebrations. When we arrived, we received our ‘wages’, a copy of a salary cheque issued by the Harbour Authority 100 years ago:

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That entitled us to a free drink at the bar, and free food from the barbeque! Result! Why does free beer taste so good?

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i wore my new t-shirt, of course 😉

The Village Hall was really busy, with some people dressed as they would have 100 years ago:

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It was a real party atmosphere, with stalls and entertainment.

It was a great day!

My Stats:

Time: 1:06:55 I finished 85th out of about 140 or so runners.

The Medal: A hand made, pottery medal, made locally:

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Goody Bag: draw string bag, leaflets, lip balm, wet wipes, doggy-do bags, button badge

T-shirt: A black & red technical shirt, with the logo embroidered on the front

I’m hoping that I’ll be better prepared for next year!

Race Report: The Perth Kilt Run 5k

Race Report: The Perth Kilt Run 5k

Date: 10th August 2013

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Cloudy, not too hot

Website: Perth Kilt Run

Positives: family friendly, relaxed atmosphere, tasty treats in the goody bags

Negatives: they ran out of engraved medals and goody bags

This race was the second Perth Kilt Run, and the reason why all runners work kilts was tartan is just brilliant to try to take the World Record for the highest number of kilted runners participating in a run. You can find out more about this on the website. I was pretty exciting!

@TheWelshWookie and I travelled to the parentals the night before this run, to cut out part of the drive, as we live about 2 hours, 20 mins away from Perth. On the morning of the run, we packed up and drove the hour and a half to Perth, in plenty of time to pick up our race packs, and have a short wander around the city before the run. We arranged to meet my bro, sis-in-law and nephew at the pack pick up, which was held in the newly refurbished Bells Sports Centre.

As we left super early, we were able to bag a parking space in the car park right at the sports centre. Result!

As we arrived at the sports centre, the staff were really friendly, and helpful in ensuring that everyone knew what they had to do, and where they had to go. We collected our bibs and tags, and had time to bag a locker for using later. We then headed into Perth in search of a coffee. I was really impressed with the shops- I think another visit will be on the cards! We did get some funny looks, since we were wandering around in trainers and kilts!

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The race was starting at 1pm, so at around 11.30am @TheWelshWookie and I headed back to the sports centre, and it was certainly much busier than it was earlier!  It felt great to be surrounded by so many TartanJoggers!

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The facilities at the start were great: loads of portaloos, and runners could use the sport centre facilities, which was brilliant. We then met up with the rest of the family, and were were good to go!

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We made our way over to the starting area, and soaked up the atmosphere. There was the standard pre-race warm up, but we couldn’t see the stage from where we were standing. Instead, we watched the Chinese Dragons snake their way  towards the start line, along with the pipe band.

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With about 15 minutes to go, we were advised by the MC to arrange ourselves in the corrals, according to time, with the sub-20s in the first corral, sub-30s in the second one, and so on. Well, that was wishful thinking. The first corral had a lot of families with young kids in it, so I realised pretty quickly that this wasn’t going to go as planned, but that was OK. Today was about taking part, and having fun. I knew that this wouldn’t be a PB run, if I was going to have to dodge small kids, walkers, etc early on 😉  We all entered the second corral, and waited for the start.

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Here’s the map of the race:

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It was pretty much a circular course around North Inch park.

The race got off on time, and as the corrals were quite small, we were across the start line quickly. The support was great- with supporters right around the park, which was lovely. The race was along the path that runs around and through the park, with only one small hill mid way. The path was quite narrow in places, which meant that I ran for periods on the grass, to avoid walkers and kids, but there were some parts where this wasn’t possible, so I had to just hang back and wait.

@TheWelshWookie and I ran the first two miles together, until his dodgy knee started to play up. My nephew, RJ, was so good that he kept running back and forwards, just keeping in touch- he must have run much more than 5k!

There was one water stop at round the second mile, which was perfect. I was glad we were given bottles, not cups of water 🙂

The run was lovely- I was pleasantly surprised by all of the sporting facilities around the area, from kiddies play parks to a rugby pitch, tennis courts, petanque area, golf course, bowling green- I think most sports has some facilities available!

For the final 1k, the support was great. The added bonus of so many kids running was the extra motivation- lots of parents were encouraging their kid on with shouts of ‘just give it everything you’ve got’ , ‘you’re doing so well’ and ‘we’re almost there’. I’ll happily admit that I benefited from this, too!

The support across the finish line was brilliant- a young boy completely tore past me in an amazing sprint finish!

I almost forgot to de-tag my trainer, and had to go back to do this. I then headed to the marquee, where they were handing out the goody bags, water and bananas.

Here’rs the contents of the goody bag:

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The highlight (and one reason for running) was the Irn Bru flavoured tablet- two of the sweetest things in the world, combined! Tablet is like super-sweet fudge, but instead of being chewy, it’s crumbly. Irn Bru is the best selling fizzy drink in Scotland- about the only place in the world where Coca Cola is relegated to second!

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I collected my medal, and headed back to cheer on the rest of my family across the finish line.

My brother Joe was next across the line, followed closely by @TheWelshWookie, Stacey crossed next, after a shoelace failure earlier in her run, and RJ followed close behind, but I reckon he ran about 7k, with his back-and-forwarding!

The goodybags had run out, so the staff were doing their best, giving the rest of the runners whatever they had left. The medals, which had been engraved with ‘Perth Kilt Run 2013’ also ran out, but were replaced with un-engraved ones, so at least everyone received a medal.

We headed back to the sports centre, to grab our gear, then wandered back to the activities, for a bite to eat, and to enjoy the entertainment, which was good.

While @TheWelshWookie, Joe,Stacey & RJ enjoyed hot dogs, venison & black pudding pies, and haggis, neeps & tatties, I headed to the marquee of a local farm, which was selling the most amazing burgers!

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Now, doesn’t that make you feel hungry?

It was then time for us to head home 😦 Unfortunately, we had to leave before the Red Hot Chilli Pipers came on stage, which was a shame, as they are fab!

As we were heading out, I heard the MC announce that we hadn’t beaten the world record. Boo. BUT, when we arrived home, we saw that this wasn’t the case, and we can now claim to be World Record Holders! Hurrah!

My Stats:

Time: 28:06, which I’m pleased with, given the type of run this was. I finished 430th out of over 1,300 runners, and 46th in my category.

The Medal: Basic, but having it engraved is a lovely touch!

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Goody Bag: water, tablet, Tunnock’s wafer, ABF wrist band, money off run4it, leaflets

T-shirt: No T-shirt, which is fine 😉

We’re looking forward to retaining our title next year! 😀

TartanJoggers Unite!

TartanJoggers Unite!

There were lots of TartanJoggers about today, as it was the Perth Kilt Run today!

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The weather was perfect, the company was sublime. The run itself was great fun!

The course was really busy, with lots of families and kids, and a narrow path, but despite those odds, I’m happy with my respectable 28:06 😀

The goody bags were worth running for. They contained a bar of Irn Bru flavoured tablet! Wow- amazing!

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There were even Chinese dragons!

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I’ll fill you all in with a race report soon, but for now the hot tub is calling!
Today’s life lesson: remember to have your chip removed before leaving the finishers area…
Have you ever tried tablet? Or Irn Bru?

Tartan Mascots!

Tartan Mascots!

This picture, from The Perth Kilt Run’s Facebook page, are of two tartan-clad mascots meeting for the first time :

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The handsome mascot dressed in red is the brilliantly named Hairy MacKilty, he is the mascot for www.perthkiltrun.co.uk/  I’ve signed up for this 5k race and can’t wait to join many others in breaking the world record for the number of kilted runners! This event is open to all, with a day full of fun and entertainment planned- including music from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers!

The mascot on the left  is the über-cute Baxterbear. He is an adventurous bear indeed, whose mission is to provide positive support to various good causes. He started off his adventures as a WWII reconnaissance co-pilot, and he continues to provide support to people who need it today. You can read more about his many adventures at worldofbaxterbear.com

Baxterbear was on-hand with Hairy MacKilty to support ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, who are one of the main fundraising partners of the Perth Kilt Run.

Tartan rocks! 😀

picture courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/thekiltrun