May the Forth be with you!
Emma said: “Having finally decided to stop using “I don’t have the right shoes” as an excuse not to go running off road I invested my birthday money in a pair of Brooks Cadence trail shoes. With marathon training in full swing I didn’t get chance to test them out straight away other than a few minutes on the treadmill at the gym to check the fit was OK. The May the Forth Fun Run organised by the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative (IFLI) and The Friends of Kinneil seemed like an ideal place to test them out properly and with free entry there was little to lose. Hence, I found myself on a Wednesday evening standing in a windy field wearing thermals which I hoped would be back in winter storage by now.
The event was advertised as “The first ever Bo’ness May the Forth Fun Run! With fantastic views over the inner Forth estuary, this run takes in woodlands, meadows, coast, part of the John Muir Way and the historic town of Bo’ness, near Falkirk. An ideal entry-level trail run for runners of all ages and abilities. The May the Forth Fun Run is a 4-mile trail run along the Bo’ness foreshore. It starts and finishes beside Bo’ness Harbour and follows a relatively flat off-road circular route taking in a mix of grass and compacted stone paths. Ground conditions vary from boggy to hard-packed.” ……..it pretty much did what it said on the tin too although I didn’t find the boggy bit but I’m not complaining about that!
The start was easy to get to, even in rush hour traffic it only took about 20minutes from picking Ellie up at Ingliston Park & Ride tram station, including a “we should have paid more attention to the map” scenic tour of Bo’ness. Plenty of free parking was available at 3 car parks just minutes from the start area. We’d entered online then collected race numbers on the evening so there was a bit of hanging around before the start and took shelter from the wind in the car. They’d put some portaloos on the car park nearest the start and finish area which win a prize for the cleanest, poshest portaloos ever seen at a running event – they had toilet roll, running water in the sinks, soap AND hand towels!!
Just over 100 runners took part and the start / finish funnel was so wide we could almost all have lined up width ways in it. From the start we headed across the field with the wind behind us then joined the track past the Bo’ness and Kinneil railway…..thought “ooh diesel train” to myself at this point and then remembered I was no longer in the company of my 20 month old nephew who’d spent the previous weekend making sure I knew my steam train from my diesel train! The route followed this track round then we turned into the wind and back towards the field where we’d started. By this time I’d slipped into a comfortable pace just behind a couple of ladies and a man who seemed to be pacing one of them. I hadn’t really expected to be running quite this fast so soon after London but it felt OK even into a brisk headwind and it was nice to have a few people rather than thousands nearby. After crossing the start/finish field we had to cross the railway line (no trains running!) at the crossing gate which temporarily slowed the pace then headed into the Kinneil Nature Reserve. Along this stretch the path was quite narrow so a group of us fell into line and went with the flow. Once it opened up I remember passing the guy who’d seemed to be pacing and I think he held back a bit to wait for her. As we crossed back over the railway there was short incline ahead of us and at the top of here I realised the people that had been around me earlier had mysteriously vanished backwards – for all we moan about Edinburgh’s hills, every so often I thank them! We then picked up the coastline of the Forth Estuary and thankfully had the wind behind our backs for the last couple of km towards the finish. I was trying not to get too over-excited about nearly being back at the finish so soon after the start (marathons do that to you!) but kept ploughing on and managed to overtake a couple of blokes who’d been some distance ahead of me and I didn’t think I could catch. To be fair, one of them had run the Highland Fling 4 days earlier so it probably wasn’t much of a benchmark! After I’d passed them there wasn’t anyone in sight ahead of me although I could glimpse the finish round the coastline. My watch was saying I still had a fair distance to go so held myself back to avoid striking for home too early. In the end the course was more like 3.8miles than the advertised 4 and I was soon running back across the field to the finish line. It’s the first (and possibly last) time I’ve been to a run with a bloke dressed as Princess Leia providing the finish line commentary! I jogged back across the field to wait for my fellow ERNies coming into the finish and found Ellie and Fi not far behind me. Not long after Jules appeared at the finish, surprised to find that Wendy wasn’t hot on her heels……we’re not sure who she’d been talking for the last few km but it sure wasn’t Wendy!! Luckily she wasn’t far behind sporting some mud coverage after a tumble that made her look like a hardened trail runner.
The run wasn’t chip timed (what do you expect for free!) but they were using the stopwatch and race numbers to provide results. I didn’t expect a medal or anything like that but we got a lovely memento made by a local potter as Bo’ness once had a thriving pottery industry….education AND exercise, what more can you ask for?! Water was provided for runners at the finish and there was tea, coffee and snacks available to buy. This made for a great evening out to blow away the office cobwebs (quite literally!) and a good introduction to running off road. It was a real mixed ability field and whilst I was happy with my time I was even happier when the results came out and I realised I was third lady!
If you’re a trail novice or starting to build up race distances then this would be a great event.”