A Duck, A loon & a Quine

Today was the day of the Metro Aberdeen Hare & Hounds Relay race, which was in place of the usual Dyce Half Marathon. I was really chuffed to be recruited by my friend Naomi in the early days of talking about this race as I knew just how fast our third member would be. I was even more chuffed when I realised that the entry fee was intended as part of my birthday present. The format of the race would be teams of three with 4k legs each.

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The quine (Naomi), a duck (Stu) in the middle and the loon (Ronnie) on the right.

At the very reasonable time of 9:30, I rocked up to what is probably the nicest park in Aberdeen – Hazelhead. Here, I would find my teammates had already picked up my race number and was waiting to inform me that I was now going first. No pressure then…

At 10am, I headed to the start line and after a very quick “GO” I headed off… stupidly at the same speed as all of the extremely fast Metro Aberdeen runners. My legs within a few seconds told me that this was a bad idea and I slowed down to pace which was merely too fast, instead of stupidly fast. The course started up a gentle hill, past the golf course and into the woods. As my legs were reasonably fresh at this point, I pushed on as quick as I could. As we came round the corner into the woods, I was greeted with a lovely fast section. Downhill, but not so steep that you were fighting against gravity and through some really nice trails with some twists and turns that made the running a lot of fun.

Following the section in the woods, I felt that I was running by myself. The next runner in front of me was far enough away to keep disappearing out of sight and I could hear no runner behind me. I came out of the woods and immediately recognised exactly where I was and knew how far I had to go. You see, this is a part of the park where I often start my training runs – but in the opposite direction. I did not realise how much of a hill this last stretch was on (usually running downhill will do that) and it really drained the legs. Feeling the need to walk I reminded myself that firstly, my team were awaiting my return and secondly that I was very near the finish. If this was not enough I looked over my shoulder and saw Rachel crossing the road and heading to the path. For some reason, I thought that the hill would be no problem at all for Rachel and she would be passing me any second. I pushed on to cheers from my team and randomly started whacking Naomi as the signal to run away.

As Naomi headed off round her leg of the course, I caught up with our third member of the team – our team duck – and had a chat with him about what to expect.

A very fun and well thought out route. We had a bit of everything in there, a “nice” leg drainer at the finish, a bit of a hill to start with to get the heart pumping, a long fast section in the middle, and varied terrain to keep things entertaining. The signage was good and the marshals were friendly and helpful. We also received a medal and refreshments at the end of the race. Not bad for a fiver per person!

I am also very pleased with the results. I ran my 4k (ish) leg in 18:48 which was just over 8 minute miles. Naomi came in with a very solid 19:49. As expected, Stu destroyed the course and came in at 14:03. The team finished in 12th place overall with a total time of 52:40. Full results can be found here.

Following the race, I joined my friends Susan and Rachel and we headed out to Westhill to complete our Sunday running with an LSR. Running a fast 4k race was probably not the best way to prepare, but we pushed on and managed over 13 miles before returning to Hazelhead to find out that the kiosk had no mango ice cream left. Disaster!

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