Monday, 20 June 2011

Edinburgh Seven Hills

Yesterday was the Edinburgh Seven Hills Race. The idea of this race is to get to the top of all seven hills in Edinburgh in the correct order in the fastest time possible. There is no set route and there are no marshals. The only rule is you must run / walk between them, no bikes, buses, taxis allowed! The race starts at the top of Calton Hill…the order is then as follows: Castle Hill, Corstorphine, Craiglockart, Braid, Blackford, Arthur’s Seat and then back to the top of Calton Hill. I’d done this event a couple of years ago, but had taken part in ‘The Challenge’ which starts off half an hour before and is for those who don’t want to race it. This year, I went in for ‘The Race’, along with a few other CAACers. I was a bit unsure on how I would do fitness wise. I’d done a few reccies with the club, but I hadn’t done as many longer runs of late as I probably should. We set of at 10:15 and the mass of runners headed down Calton Hill and invaded North Bridge and the Royal Mile to head up to the Castle. It makes me smile when all the tourists stand in complete shock as a bunch of 200 odd runners stampede up the road. For once, runners are in the majority, and buses and cars have to stop in their tracks as we run up the road!

Getting to the top of the Royal Mile to the Castle is fairly easy – fresh legs, buzz of the start of the race etc… Then it’s off down through Princes Street Gardens. I noticed a few people heading off in the other direction, which perhaps might have been a better idea. I duly followed the mass heading down the middle of the gardens, sliding about in the mud, getting wet feet and getting stung by nettles. By the time I’d got to the path at the bottom I was a feeling a bit sore to say the least, but it was a good stretch now along the road to Corstorphine Hill, so I got into a rhythm. Neil and Susan were on their bikes and they picked me up in the West End. It was nice to have some support along this section.

I think I was in third at this point and, but heading up Corstorphine I was overtaken by a girl from Edinburgh AC and then back down Kaimes Road, a girl from Porty (the eventual 3rd place woman) came flying past. I picked up the pace to try and claw them both back. I managed to catch up with Edi AC on Craiglockart, but perhaps pushed it a bit too hard, as by the time I got to the top (pulled up by cheers from Dean, Gillian and Chris O’Brien) I definitely had jelly legs! Another girl overtook me on the way to Braids and I was in need of some energy. Definitely learnt a lesson in this race – always carry energy gels! The short cut through the Hermitage to Blackford was very muddy and slippery. I didn’t actually see any other runners go this way, but I think it worked out quite well as I gained a bit of time on my fellow female competitors (although had very muddy hands as a consequence!). I was pleased to get to the top of Blackford, but then the realisation hits you of what is left when you look across to Arthur’s Seat towering in the distance. My energy levels were pretty low at this point as I trundled my way to Holyrood Park. As I approached Arthur’s Seat I went off to the right, but later regretted this, as I think this was a longer route up to the top. I was relieved to have a guy at the top punch the clip into my number as contemplated the descent. I don’t really remember which way I came down, I just looked for the safest route. As I got to the bottom my left calf cramped up. I’ve never had cramp during a race before and it wasn’t pleasant. I had to stop and stretch, it just got worse! I tried to keep moving – this didn’t help either. As I hopped down the path I spotted Neil, Susan and Dean. Unfortunately they saw me at a rather low point, I was in considerable pain. I stopped, took an energy gel and pushed on for the last bit. Fortunately I managed to shake off the cramp for the last bit and I followed the other runners up the last section to Calton Hill. I looked at my watch as I crossed the line. 2:17:22. I’d beaten my time by almost 20 minutes – very happy. I was 7th woman overall which I was also pleased with. Perhaps next year with a bit more training I could push myself further up the field.

A traditional post race drink in the Guildford Arms with my fellow CAACers – a tough day, but always a lot of fun!

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