Devilla Forest 5k 2017 - 2 February
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Devilla Forest 15k 2017 - 2 February
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Last year’s event was a mud fest due to heavy rain in the days leading up to it. Someone on Running Friends of Scotland FB page recently asked if trail shoes were required and got the answer that yes, they’d be a good idea although wellies and a snorkel might be the safer bet!
Thankfully this year was looking more favourable weather wise.
I shared a lift with Rachel, David, Krista and Sorrel which got us there way early. The organisers had sent out an email requesting people arrive with plenty of time to register as they’d ended up starting 10 minutes late last year due to everyone turning up at the same time. We just took it to the extreme.
It did mean the double queues (once for race number, once for chip) were a breeze and I collected my bottle of beer as well before browsing the running gear on sale, dropping off baggage and queuing up for the loo.
Met various ERNies whilst milling around and got someone to take the obligatory group photo of those of doing the 15k when we met at the start – the 5k starting a bit behind to avoid congestion. There’s a great photo of me that looks like I’m pacing the lead 5k runners as they overtook me.
The 15k route has a 1 hour cutoff at the 7k water stop. I hoped this would be easy to achieve as I’d managed it last year even with the appalling muddy/puddly state of the course. I just wasn’t sure how my fitness was in comparison as a cold had caused some gaps in my training.
The first kilometre involved people behind me overtaking and then for a while I was actually tail end Charlie until some who had started out too fast slowed down and I managed to overtake a handful. Mostly the course was much better conditions than last year, with just one swamp that caused a queue of us who would rather pick our way carefully along the grass at the edge rather than gallop through ankle deep gloopy mud. I was amused to hear the woman in front of me ask if this counted as a trail run, as she’d never done one before. Uh that would be a yes. After this I followed another woman who offered to let me pass, but I said that would depend on my ability to catch her up first.
I have a running app that allows me to run a ghost run against a previous session. I wasn’t sure how well it would work when I knew my phone gps was dodgy (the 15k course came out as 16.4k last year). I now run with a TomTom watch as well to get an accurate distance. To start with it was showing I was running a few seconds behind my previous time and gradually I caught up a bit which cheered me up. I made it to the 7k cutoff point with 6 minutes to spare so could relax a bit from that point. I wasn’t quite as tempted as last year to divert to join the lead runners who were coming through the water stop in the opposite direction on their way back.
I remembered there was a bit of a hill coming and was pleased to run up it where the other runners around me were mostly walking. This was one of the gravelly road sections for a couple of km which was ok, but not as much fun as the earlier trails through the woods.
Then it was downhill to my favourite section around a small loch which was quite tricky with narrow paths with lumpy rocks that were slippy with a slick of mud on them from all the runners ahead of me. I overtook a man who warned me not to slip, but I found it fine as long as I kept my wits about me.
This year we actually got to run over the shuggly bridge. A single plank over the ditch/river at the end of the lake. I believe last year it got swept away in the storms and they made a diversion up a grassy slope which I found very tricky as it was just a clay slide. This year’s default route was still a climb, but the path wasn’t as slippy and I just kept plodding on.
My ghost run said I was about a minute or two ahead, but this year the 10k marker was more in line with what it was recording on both watches, so I wasn’t sure what my real comparison was. A woman caught up with me and we chatted for a while. She asked if it was flat from here on and I couldn’t remember (I was too exhausted at that stage last year to recall anything) and said I thought it undulated a bit. As it turned out there were still a couple of climbs to get past.
In the last few km I started getting the marshalls cycling past as the last runners had reached them. I was looking out for the 1km to go sign, but never saw it so I think it had been picked up by one of these returning marshalls. With my accurate TomTom I at least knew exactly how far I still had to go.
Finally I reached the tarmac road which I knew was the last stretch back into the Police college. Here I found a bunch of ERNies waited me for me and they gave me such a cheer it really was a boost, although possibly a premature one as I still had 50m or so to the finish where I could finally stop and get my chip removed.
I then stopped my watches and discovered the pleasing news that I’d chopped off more than 8 minutes on last year’s time, as the ghost run was comparing against the 16.4k distance it thought I was running rather than the 15.1 that my presumably more accurate gps recorded. I was also in better shape than last year as the walk back to the changing room was much easier.
Managed a quick shower (still hot water available, if requiring constant pressure on the button) and the crocs were a good choice for getting across the muddy floor afterwards. Glad to sit in the car and relax for my lift back home (thanks again Rachel) where my bottle of beer was a nice accompaniment to a well deserved supper later on.