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Gina said : I’d been hearing “Ladies Smokies” bandied about in conversation since I moved to Scotland however kept missing the entry as it’s super popular. This year however a prompt on the ERN Facebook site (thanks guys) made me get my a**e into gear and enter the 2016 race. 10 miles is my favourite race distance so I was looking forward to it lots. For those who don’t know, the race is run in Arbroath and ‘Smokies’ is a reference to Arbroath Smokies (stinky kippers – which, incidentally are one of the raffle prizes – I wouldn’t want to be travelling back in that car!) It’s also a women only race…I won’t get embroiled in gender equality issues in this post though…
So, I was up scoffing porridge at the crack of dawn before meeting Wendy and Jules to car share to Arbroath, I hadn’t realised quite how far it is but, thanks to Wendy’s good planning, we got to the sports centre nice and early leaving plenty of time for toilet queuing 😀 . Registration was very quick and efficient and there was a chap in the corner of the hall doing loss leader mini physio sessions who confirmed that my hip flexors are still nice and tight 🙁 . We caught up with Elly and Ann for a wee chat too before it was time to get going.
It was a very chilly day and although I normally race in a vest only I has been warned that some ares of the course are pretty exposed so I went Sassenach for the day and donned a base layer. We all filed down the road to the start line and the sun came out and I panicked that I was going to overheat, oh well, too late to change now and there’s no way my fave Helly Hansen top is getting left at the start line!
Off we go, starting with a flat section out of the town but soon came a hill, and another, and another! Wendy and Jules had warned me about the hills so, for a change, I didn’t do what I normally do and go out too fast. The being sensible strategy seemed to work for my poor old Fen-legs as there was only one really steep bit that I walked up and that was only for about 20sec. After about 4.5 miles there was a lovely long downhill section which I flew down (by my standards anyway) thinking that there couldn’t possibly be any more uphill but, of course, I was mistaken. Fortunately they were nowhere near as bad as the ones at the beginning of the race and I even managed a smile for the photographer whilst running up one! After a nice flat section back into the town the route took us back into the sports centre playing field and to the cheers of the finish line. I’d raced pretty hard so was completely zoned out and nearly missed getting my goody bag but fortunately a kindly marshal took pity on me and came after me with one. No medal but a fabulously neon green fishy technical t-shirt, a mini bottle of fake champagne (‘Charlamagne’- hahaha!), a packet of crisps, wee choccy bar, mini Haribos and 20% off at Sweatshop voucher so all in all a pretty decent haul of swag.
Jules had spent most of the journey up raving about the buffet and she wasn’t wrong! There was a mass of food! Trays upon trays of yummy sausage rolls, sammiches, tray bakes etc etc, I definitely consumed more calories than I burnt off during the race! Prize giving consisted of the usual winners trophies plus some spot prizes and quite a number of raffle prizes with some Smokies as the final prize. None of us won anything but we were too busy enjoying hot tea and gratuitous carbs to worry.
In summary, I really enjoyed the race, it was fairly challenging so although no PB for me, my 10m PB had been set on an incredibly flat course so I was happy with only 4 1/2 mins more. As I’ve mentioned it’s quite a long journey and writes off most of the day but it’s certainly a fun day out with a nice course, great atmosphere and tons of grub!
Wendy said: Woke up this morning and tentatively peeped out from the curtains to assess the weather. Fingers crossed that it was in our favour and not a repeat of the wind and yet more wind like last year. Thankfully doing the weather dance the year before worked as it was dry but cold.
Off we set for the ERN road trip journey to Arbroath. 1hr 45mins later we arrived and collected our number-chip attached this year!
After the prerequisite photos, we lined up on the start line and on the stroke of 11am we were off. Jules and I were working on our pacing as we knew that there were a few hills ahead-once we were up we had to come down, working our way along the country roads (not closed to cars) and farm tracks winding our way back to the finish line where we were met by lots of noise from a small but enthusiastic crowd. Finishing times recorded and goody bags collected (including wine!!) then it was inside to enjoy the offerings of a fabulous spread of cakes, filled rolls and sausage rolls along with tea or coffee.
Definitely a race which was much more enjoyable than last year-but still a challenge!!
Ann said: This was my third time of doing Smokies and things had changed in just that short time, as the entry system for the first was by post and required me to find my cheque book! Whereas this year’s entry was online and sold out within hours.
A journey time of just under two hours, a run time of just over two hours does make for a full day, but it’s an easy journey and I got there in plenty of time. Decided the weather was much more clement than last year’s biting wind and possible rain, so I ditched the jacket and made do with long sleeve top plus race vest. Met up with the others for the pre-race photo, and we made our way to the start. Gave my niggly knees a talking too and set off. Wasn’t aiming for a particular time, as I was just pleased the knees were holding
me up. It was a lovely day, cold but bright with blue sky – I was glad not to be in any more layers. It’s flat for the first two miles until the first water stop where the hills begin. It’s not too steep though, and I just dug in and kept going as I like to run my races even if uphill is sometimes slower than the run/walkers in walk mode. Because I wasn’t fussed about my time I was able to get my iPhone out for some photos along the route.
Although there’s a fair amount of up it’s undulating a lot of the way, and the occasional downs allow you to pick up a bit of speed. Spectators with jelly babies were gratefully received on the last section of undulations before coming down the hill to the original water stop and the last two miles of flat. This is where I’ve flagged in the past having gone out too fast, but I was pleased to find I could keep up the tempo and ended up finishing less than a minute behind last year’s time.
Back in the hall there was a fine spread of sandwiches and cakes, tea and soft drinks. I decided to remain standing, as I knew that sitting down on the floor would render me immobile. I was giving a friend a lift back to Dundee so didn’t stay for the prizes, so no risk of winning a sack of potatoes or a Smokie (aka kipper). A fun race, although I’m still amused at someone’s comment on Facebook stating ‘As long as it’s not hilly’.
Photos courtesy of Craig Beattie, Juliana Forest and Ann Rautenbach