David said : I missed out on the Tri-Trail Night Race last year as I was stuck in bed with the cold so I was looking forward to giving it a shot this year. I’ve not really done much running in the dark so this would be a new experience. It’s a bit different in a dark forest to running in the city when it’s dark. Even running around Arthur Seat in the dark isn’t actually completely dark as there are always lights visible in the distance.
My only concern was the blister on my foot that had developed during the Devilla Forest race on Sunday. I stopped by Boots on my way home from work and bought some Compeed blister plasters in the hope that they might be able to alleviate some of the pain. So with my foot plastered up I arrived in a very dark Dalkeith Country Park. Registration at the stable block was quick and easy, picking up my number and timing “dibber”, before heading back to the car to prepare.
As this was the 3rd of 4 races in two weeks, my first time running in the dark and I was wary of my blistered foot I planned to just take my time and enjoy myself. With my head-torch (including fresh batteries!) at the ready we all gathered in the courtyard of the stable block ready for the start. We all lined up, the hooter went and then we were off into the darkness. It was quite crowded and we were straight up a small muddy hill so it was quite slow going as I adjusted to running in the dark and tried to see what I was standing on. The trail was pretty muddy right from the start and this was to be a common theme throughout!
As everybody started to space out a bit I started overtaking and I realised that I was feeling good (including my blister) so decided to up the pace a bit. So much for taking it easy! As I was running along with a bit of a gap to the person in front of me I heard a rustling noise in the trees to my left. I assumed it was maybe a having a toilet stop so I got a bit of a surprise when a deer darted across the path, no more than 10 feet in front of me! I was about to get another surprise though. I was cruising along at a decent pace, ploughing through the mud, really enjoying myself when I rounded a corner only to see a mass of head-torches all stopped and pointing towards me. I then heard people saying that we had gone the wrong. Oh no not again, this is becoming a habit!
So everyone turned around and headed back the way we had come. It was very congested and got worse as we met more runners coming towards us. For a good few minutes I went back to thinking that I may as well just take my time again but once the runners started to spread out a bit again and we got back onto the correct route I decided to speed up and started overtaking people again.
The rest of the run was very enjoyable with lots more mud and there were no more detours. It was a bit strange when I looked at my watch and it was saying 6.5 miles, yet I had no idea how much further there was to go so I just kept on trying to maintain a decent pace. I was actually enjoying myself so much that when I realised I was almost at the finish I felt quite disappointed as I didn’t want the fun to end! I got to the finish, popped my “dibber” in the machine to record my time and that was it. I was caked in mud from my feet up to my thighs and I just wanted to do it all again!
There was a welcome coffee and cake to be had in the courtyard stables afterwards and everybody was discussing how far they had actually ran. The least I heard was 7 miles and the most was 7.8 miles. My watch was saying 7.5 miles so I think that would have been about right. I guess it made up for the 1.5 miles I missed out on at Devilla Forest on Sunday! Overall I thought the race great despite (or maybe even because!) of the extended route and would definitely recommend it as one to do next year. I loved the route, I loved running in the dark and most of all I loved all the mud. I think there might be something wrong with me!