What better weekend to head up to Shetland than the weekend of the summer solstice? As it turns out, any weekend would have been better. Don’t get me wrong, it was lovely looking out the ferry window at 2am and still in broad daylight, but the weather was certainly not “simmer” weather.
After having a daft idea a couple of weeks ago, my friend and I booked ferry tickets and race entries for the Shetland ‘Simmer Dim’ half Marathon. So, on Friday after work I headed home with very little time to pack and catch the boat. Packing went along the lines of ‘need it, need it, don’t need it’ with most of my winter running gear going into the don’t need it pile. Big mistake!
Arriving at 7am on the Saturday morning, we had a whole day to ourselves. This was spend registering for the race, visiting the various events on during the day and checking out Shetland’s lovely wee shops and a fantastic museum. Evening was spent watching the festival parade, meeting friends from Shetland and drinking far too much. Oops!
On Sunday morning, I got up and feeling slightly grumpy from drinking the night before I headed down for breakfast. Looking at the weather I wished I had the pile of winter running gear that I had discarded a couple of days before. The wind was blowing a gale, but it was dry. So far so good.
We arrived at the sports centre in plenty time for the bus to take us out to the race start and this gave the weather time to truly do everything it could to put us off of the idea of running 13.1 miles. The wind was blowing against us and quite hard too and the rain was torrential.
Sitting in the hall before the start, feeling absolutely miserable, very cold and not in the mood for running at all. The pre-race announcement full of jokes about the weather did very little to cheer me up.
Nothing else for it, off went the field of over 60 runners – their biggest entry yet. The rain stopped just in time for us to start and we got 2 lovely, dry miles with the wind in our back. The start of the race headed around a 4 mile loop which took us back to the start. I was suddenly feeling great. I was happy to be running. At mile three, the torrential rain started again, but by now I was warm and didn’t care.
The next 9 miles did not see the weather get any better and they are unfortunately among the most miserable race miles of my running career in what should have been one of the nicest runs I have done. I could not see either the runner in front of me or behind me due to fog and rain. The marshals, organisers and kids at the water stops did a fantastic job of trying to keep my spirits up, but sore and wet feet with blisters did not help.
On finishing the race cold and wet, I could not really appreciate the fantastic finish area the organisers had put on for us. Finishing with one and half laps of the track and plenty support, free massage in the lovely Clickimin sports centre and huge spread of cakes and sandwiches did little to make me feel any better. Discovering clean and dry socks inside the goody bag did make me smile however.
Overall, I had a fantastic weekend (and I can’t emphasise that enough. Well, maybe I can if I put it in bold.) Overall, I had a fantastic weekend. Super-friendly race organisers and marshals, great freebies (tech T-Shirt, three pairs of running socks, Adidas keyring, loads of food, massage oils and bath salts, decent medals) and a great atmosphere was unfortunately spoiled by the weather of Shetland.
Shall I return? Who knows?! I certainly do not want to leave it at that, but it will take a lot of will to make me run it again. Oh, and this post cannot go without a quick mention of the weekend’s mascot. Meet Simmy: