Given there was no way that I was entering the Forfar Multi-Terrain Half Marathon again, it’s amazing what a little peer pressure and the stress of a quick closing but low cost race will do. The race has a nice, humane starting time of 11am so I left at 9am and headed down to Stonehaven to pick up Rhona.
Having ran this race last year, I knew what to expect. What to expect was a lot of mud, a lot of water and if it was last year then a lot of ice. Unfortunately, no ice simply meant more mud. Nice! I had two main goals this year. Firstly, not to get lost (again). Secondly to beat last year’s time. I decided early on in the race to pace myself and not to get carried away and go flying off. I just about managed that with the first two miles coming in at around the 9 minute mile mark. The first mile was around the loch and on wet/muddy but reasonably good condition tracks. Having been debating whether or not to wear my Sealskinz waterproof socks (through fear of them filling with water at the deeper parts of the course), I was glad at this point that I did. Wet feet in the first mile of 13 is not my idea of fun.
Mile 3 started off back on the road, but then continued along a very muddy and flooded land rover track. Here, I was really glad for the waterproof socks but wished I had worn trail shoes as I slid all over the place. It was at this point I lost sight of Rhona, as I girlied about on the 1.5 mile stretch of mud and water. Still managing to get some running done here though as I finished the next two miles at around the 9:20 minute mile pace.
Mile 4 was a treat as it was back on road, but unfortunately this pleasure was to be short lived as we turned off of the road and onto a thin strip of very muddy and slippery land going uphill. The only real option here was to walk up and try not to fall, so saw me with my slowest mile of the race so far with mile 5 coming in at 11:22.
The rest of the race would be quite similar. Short road sections, followed by wet/muddy sections. At around 7 miles in I approached the water section. About 100 metres of very cold, knee deep water. Yes – my socks filled up with water. No – there was no way for the water to drain out. As I continued to run, the water would slowly stop splashing about inside my socks and sock in. Lovely!
A couple of miles later and we were treated to a lovely steep climb. Everyone at this point was walking, so I took no shame in joining them. Up to the top of the hill by the monument/radio tower for some amazing views of Forfar and the loch that we started beside before a fast downhill section. Just as I thought the worst was passed though, we were back onto muddy farm tracks and then the delight that was a ploughed field. Heading down into the industrial estate, I was on new territory as this is where I went wrong last year. It reminds me of the Doctor Who episode ‘Turn Left’. Round the industrial estate, through a final forest track (more mud) and in to the finish.
Given this was the first half marathon distance I have ran since Fraserburgh Half in November, I was pleased to finish it without a struggle in any of the final miles. I managed not to get lost, but did I beat last year’s time of 2:12:23? Not quite, but not far off it (and give I went the slightly longer, but correct way then I am taking that as a win too).