Dunking in Dunfermline

Working VERY hard now

If you thought that all road race Championship races were flat, fast affairs – think again! Although most certainly not in the league of the Skye half the day before, the Dunfermline race had its fair share of hills, twists & turns. Add in over 5 miles of cycle paths devoid of anyone but racers & a few folks manning a water station & it becomes clear that the revised Scottish Championship course is suited best to the mentally strong & internally motivated runner!

Here are accounts from Niamh Devlin & Jenny MacLean, plus results for your delectation.
Niamh Devlin

Today it was off to Dunfermline for the Scottish half marathon championships. Although it was an 11am race start, it was a 6.45 alarm call that ended my peaceful sleep. Up and out by 7.30am, 2 buses and a short walk later, I was there – at Pittencrieff park. On hearing the course had been changed from previous years I was anxious to find out where exactly we were being brought and more importantly the terrain the route would follow. Hearing we were to follow a cycle path for numerous miles I was reassured that perhaps the course may be a flatter faster course than ever before!

The race started with a short climb up and around Pittencrieff park before being let loose on the open road. It wasn’t long until we hit the cycle path which was just as I imagined – long and flat with a few enthused supporters sparsely scattered cheering us on. At this point I was still optimistic that the course officials had somehow managed to dodge the hills of Dunfermline to create this super fast course. It wasn’t long however until I realised I was very wrong. From that point on until the time we returned onto the 2 mile stretch of cycle paths every corner we turned we faced a climb. And not just a soft undulating climb but a long steep one which hurt nearly as much to come down as it did to go up!

On a positive note the company I had throughout the race was fantastic and never was I left to battle on by myself. With all the humps and bumps and twists and turns on route, it was only at mile 12 did I realise how close to Issy I was. Together we worked hard to the finish to claim 8th and 9th spot respectively. On finding Jenny and hearing about her fantastic run to finish 2nd for Scotland and 4th overall we were convinced we had won the team prize. With aching legs all round we endured the wait for the official results and soon were awarded with gold medals for our efforts. Another great race day and another gold for Team EAC.

Jenny MacLean

For me, this was the big event at the end of a spring training block made even more exciting by being asked to race for Scotland in the Home Countries International match. This had raised the profile of the race and attracted a deeper quality field (particularly for the women) – “fantastic” I thought, “I’ll get people to run with for a change”. The novelty of running with a group may have had something to do with going off a little too hard again & paying for it in the later stages of the race…

On a mild, damp (or should that be properly wet?) Sunday morning a large group of runners gathered in Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline & tried to determine from the cryptic route map & cones just exactly where did that initial lap around the park go? Reassured that Niamh & Issy were looking in good form, I settled behind the start line amongst the other Scottish & English team runners & concentrated on getting a sensible start.

After a slightly twisty lap of the park we headed out through the impressive gates over slippy cobbles, headed up hill towards the west of the town & turned onto the newly resurfaced cycle path for a couple of miles, settling into regular, rhythmic running. As we turned hard left onto a country lane after 4 miles I felt the first bite on my right ankle – more of that later…

Between miles 4 & 8 the new route is on empty country lanes which go down & up, up & down, with some twists & turns around Cairneyhill (the only place big enough to have any crowd support). This broke up the group of 6 I’d been running with. On turning back onto the cycle path at Oakley, Fiona Mathieson was looking strong & starting to pull away. Try as I might I couldn’t reel her back in and wasn’t best pleased when Englands Sue Harrison breezed past at the 10 mile point to put me back into 4th place. Martin Ferguson also passed me shortly afterwards looking pretty fresh & I willed him onwards.

It became a case of gritting my teeth, getting my head down & surviving the remainder of the race. There were plenty of downhills after we came off the cycle path, but also loads of corners & a very dull circuit behind some pubs & a car park before we tiptoed back over the cobbles into the park & I managed to pull out a fast finish to hold off Englands Louise Gardner and the all important 4th place & Scottish Champs silver medal. The womens race was won be a late entering Rebecca Robinson in an impressive 74:48, with first male Tsegezeab Woldemichael in a course record 64:47.

Only when I finished did I dare to look properly at my right ankle & found that the velcro strap had munched large holes all the way around which resulted in a visit to the first aid tent for an antisceptic wipe & a Winnie the Pooh plaster!

I was much more pleased to discover that Niamh & Issy had both run well to finish in 8th & 9th place to easily secure the female team gold medal. Add in Martin Fergusons M40 bronze & you have a pretty impressive medal haul from only five EAC runners! Shame it took them almost an hour & a half to start the presentations, so that it was 2:30 before the dazzed & extremely hungry athletes stumbled from the Glen Pavillion in search of substantial sustainance.

The Good

  • Great base in the Glen Pavillion – plenty of changing, toilets & baggage
  • Efficient handing out of race numbers & chips
  • Start & finish areas were good
  • Ample water stations
  • Choice of yellow or black t-shirts
  • Mars bars & mini Haribo sweets in goodie bags
  • Scenic base in Pittencrieff Park – definitely a lovely part of Dunfermline

The Less Good

  • Route maps confusing for the start loop around the park
  • The route was very lonely – there were only really supporters in the Park and at the water stations. Not for those who crave the ‘big race’ atmosphere
  • Those ankle chips – huge & ankle hungry (it wasn’t just me)
  • Painfully slow start to presentations (why? It’s all chipped & on the computer?)

Team EAC Results

Martin Ferguson – 1:18:08 (3rd M40 & 17th overall)

Jenny MacLean – 1:18:30 (4th F & 20th overall)

Niamh Devlin – 1:22:49 (8th F & 34th overall)

Issy Menzies – 1:23:15 (9th F & 38th overall)

Lyndsey Fraser – 1:32:49 (17th F & 97th overall)

3 thoughts on ““Dunking in Dunfermline”

  • Martin Ferguson

    Well Done Jenny, Niamh, Issy and Lyndsey. It’s a pity the Scottish Championship wasn’t four to count as l am sure you would have won it also. Two great write up’s Niamh and Jenny(thanks for the name check). That was a great run Jenny and the main motivation for me overtaking you was what the boys would say and what you would say on our website if you managed to stay in front of me! You gave me the fright of my life! I kept thinking you will start coming back to me but it never happened so l had to speed up. Did you have to make me work so hard, anyway thanks.
    Just shows you folks what you can do when you have a training plan and focus on the one big race at the end of your Spring training block.
    I felt the course was not as bad as Jenny and Niamh made out but as they said it might just be because some athlete’s are ‘mentally strong and internally motivated’. Well done again Girls, Scottish Team Half Marathon Champions, Edinburgh Athletic Club!!!
    Martin Ferguson

  • alex macewen

    I see nick dickson is down as unattached in 1.22?

    and I hear he is training with seamus keelay.. so good

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