Ann said : I’ve seen reports that this has been popular in the past with ladies from ERN attending the Smokies 10 mile race, but this year it appeared to be just Fiona and myself.
It was a long drive to Arbroath, but with an 11 o’clock start time it wasn’t too onerous a task to get there by 10ish and I found parking in the sports centre which wasn’t busy at that point. Registration was quick and there was plenty of space for changing. Deciding what to wear in terms of layers was the tricky question, as it was sunny but with a biting wind. Some people of the speedier type decided on short sleeves and shorts, but I assumed I’d be taking longer to get round, so I settled on my usual waterproof (and hopefully windproof) jacket. I had my Omm rucksack with camelback water which I found very useful as the hilly route and sheltered mid section meant I was glad to keep hydrated whenever I wanted rather than relying on the water stations (at ~ 2, 4 and 7 miles).
I hadn’t researched the route in great detail, struggled to find the route map on the Internet, but there were plenty of race reports commenting on the hilly section between 2.5 and 4 miles so I was prepared. The roads at the start were cleared for our use and it made an impressive sight to see such a group (300+) of like minded women streaming out along the road. The start and finish is along the same stretch of road, mainly flat. After the first water station the route loops off to the right and the start of the hilly section. This was no problem for me as it wasn’t as steep as say Arthur’s Seat, so I was able to just keep plodding along without having to resort to walking. There were roller coaster sections where you got a breather and were able to pick up some speed before the next section of hill.
As well as the mile markers there were little signs with such important information as “undulations”, “silvery tay”, “snowdrops” and “more undulations” which brought a smile to my face. Although all on the road the view is very scenic and we had good weather for the views albeit still with the biting wind. Except for a sheltered section in the middle I was glad of my jacket to keep me warm.
The “half way” marker was a good sight to see. There were long stretches where I could see runners in front of me making me think they were quite close, only for them to turn a corner out of sight and I realised the gap between us was fairly significant. I was offered grapes and sweets by a kindly onlooker at about the 7 mile marker which reminded me that I had packed a gel which unfortunately hadn’t made it out of the car. Doh!
I found the last couple of miles quite tough as I’ve only been up to 8 miles recently and the hills were behind us and it was mostly flat again (which is not my favourite). There were just enough Marshals to be sure you were on the right route. Not much in the way of onlookers, but the few that I saw were cheering us on. Back into Arbroath and the 9 mile marker was a good sight to see, but it was difficult to pass the start and know we had a bit further to get to the finish which is actually at the leisure centre. There was a section where I couldn’t see any Marshals and feared that I was off in the wrong direction in some random part of Arbroath and wondered how much beyond 16km I would give up and admit defeat, but just then I caught sight of the last Marshal indicating the turn off to the leisure centre and the last ~300m round the back to the finish line and the funnel (like a parkrun, but not much needed in this part of the race where there was a couple of minutes between me and the next straggler behind me).
Goody bag contained water, banana, snickers bar, t-shirt and woolly Smokies hat.
Back in the hall there was a fine spread of sandwiches and cakes, although I could have done with a sit down before standing in the queue.
Spotted Fiona after I’d sat down, but by that point I was unable to move due to stiff legs.
I stayed for the presentations. I forgot briefly that it was a Ladies only race, and caught myself in surprise that the first person in was a woman, although very impressed that she’d done it in 64 minutes to compare with my 123. Other than the usual prizes for placings there were various spot prizes were chosen by raffle tickets of race numbers. No luck for me, but was glad not to win the final offering which was a huge sack of potatoes!
It was a very well organised and marshalled race. I came 203 out of 305 finishers so I still had a bit of company towards the rear.
I found the drive back tiring and it didn’t help my stiffening body, but I’d certainly consider it for future racing. If only to get under that 2 hours time.