Although races come thick and fast at this time of year, a busy upcoming few months means that my racing opportunities will be limited for a while so I’ve instead been on the lookout for a few midweek events. I was a little hesitant about entering the Rigg Race because I’d heard that the first two miles were an all uphill affair and having recently got over a spell on the sidelines with a dodgy Achilles, the last thing I wanted to do was upset it again. Being one of the most indecisive folk on the planet, I spent the day at work on Monday tussling with the decision. On my walk home I decided it wasn’t worth risking the injury in a small scale race that wasn’t of huge importance, so I resolved with myself to leave it. Ten minutes later I was walking to the car with my EAC vest on.
I arrived at Malleny park nice and early so I decided to drive over the first two miles of the course to check the severity of the ascent. It certainly seemed a long drawn out affair up and out of Balerno village but on the whole it was quite a gradual gradient with only a few nasty steep parts towards the end. As I trundled back down I recalled Alex’s advice and figured that I would take it nice and easy early on and ensure I kept something in the tank for later in the race.
As the start time approached it was becoming quite cool and the wind increasingly gusty. There was the usual bunch of Boggies and other club vests scattered about but as the 150 of us assembled at the start, it looked like I would be the lone flyer of the EAC flag. The gun went, and 50 yards in to the race there was instant drama. One of the quick off the mark Boggies dropped his glasses or something so turned back into the rushing melee of runners to retrieve them! Some serious bumper cars ensued before we were all safely on our way out of the car park to begin the long climb out the village.
I had tried to make a point of being nice and warmed up before the start as I knew the muscles wouldn’t have long to get accustomed to running before hitting the immediate incline. I let a whole load of folk go by who I knew I would see again and tried to settle into a smooth climbing rhythm. I went through mile 1 in 7 minutes which seemed reasonable enough given my tactics. The incline then increased and I began to go past folk who were puffing and panting quite rapidly while my own breathing remained controlled.
A piper stationed at the steepest part about a mile and half in was a lovely touch by the organisers and provided welcome relief from the ascent. I was beginning to tighten a little bit by now and was looking forward to the right turn onto the more gradual gradient of the third mile of the course. The 2 mile marker soon came and although I knew I had been working hard, I still felt full of running and ready to do battle over the coming 4 miles.
I instantly locked on to a couple of Harmeny AC guys up front and planned to reel them in over the third mile. The climb continued but was far kinder than the initial two miles. I soon overtook them and was steadily closing in on my next victim by the time we approached the right turn which I knew signalled the start of the downhill section. The mile 3 marker was just after the turn and I could see a long descent ahead of me. Feeling good, I decided to really try and open up my stride and fly down the hill as fast as I could by making a conscious effort not to apply the breaks at all. I went past two more folk in what was probably the quickest mile I have ever ran.
Coming down the hill the course began to twist and turn which made it difficult to see up ahead, but then at the 4 mile marker it flattened out once more onto a long straight. I could see 2 runners in the distance about 200m or so ahead and suddenly felt very alone, but I figured the best thing to do would be to lock on and try to run them down. As the 5 mile marker approached one guy had dropped back a little and I was definitely gaining on him. We were by now heading off the country lane and back into the village and I could hear clapping and cheering in the distance. As houses started coming into view, so too did the faces of supporters out on the path cheering. The amount of support was fantastic. Running on my own it was awesome to know that their cheers were directed solely at me, and shouts of ‘Go on Edinburgh’ really made me knuckle down and push hard to put in the best performance I could for the club.
I was still gaining ground on the guy in front and was beginning to think it could go down to the wire when suddenly out of nowhere a police car pulled out of a driveway right in front of me. I slammed on the breaks and shouted the kind of obscenities normally only heard from the likes of Rich and Bryan on a Sunday run (so I’ve heard…) and certainly not what you would normally shout at a policeman. The car pulled away and I quickly tried to forget about it and re-find my rhythm for the closing stages.
A quick skip around the roundabout and I was back in the car park and heading up to the supporter lined finishing stretch, the police car situation having ended any hopes of a sprint-off with the guy in front. I stopped the clock at 38.19 for 18th place.
After cheering in the remaining runners, I was asked by a few folk where the rest of ‘my lot’ were and after explaining they were mostly busy climbing down off podiums from the weekend, I promised EAC would be out in force next year. It was then into the clubhouse bar for the presentations and a superb selection of cakes including the finest carrot cake I have ever tasted.
All in all it was a fantastic race and I would recommend it to anyone who has not done it before. Both the individual and the team prizes are there for the taking and the whole atmosphere and organisation of the race was fantastic. I will certainly be returning.