Monday, 21 September 2015

River Ayr Way Challenge

I had decide to enter the River Ayr Way Challenge only 2 days before entries closed, looking down the list of entries there was some decent names that i recognised immediately, Robert Turner, Grant Jeans, Jonny Pritchard, Mark Caldwell James Murray and Andrew Crichton,Glen Gemmell and Willie Robertson.

I had received a Facebook message from my friend James Stewart asking if i could give Jonny Pritchard a lift as he was travelling down from Stornoway and staying over in Glasgow. I picked up Jonny at 6am outside his hotel and we headed for Ayr, we arrived first in the car park i could see Anneke at the back of the van so we went over and i introduced Jonny as we got our numbers, shortly after Glen arrived and then Willie Robertson.

We got on the bus and started taking to a group of runners from Dumbarton AC, the jokes make the journey seem quick despite the ram shackle of a bus we were travelling in, as we arrived at Glenbuck, the first person i met was Greg Beattie who joked about offering me a 200 mtr lift to the meeting point, aye right, Mark, Andrew and James appeared and we had a few quick hellos before we got called to the start, after a quick photo shoot we were off.

As in previous years i set off at a steady pace, average 6:30, i happened to look on my shoulder and could see Willie Robertson, followed by Jonny, after the first checkpoint (Kames Carpark) at 5 miles we settled down and it did not feel like a race as we all started to chat, i happened to look back and saw Mark Caldwell closing in, Mark i know well from previous races and our 2011 West Highland Way Race anyway he came through and went to the front of the group until Checkpoint 2 Limmerhaugh (10 miles). on leaving the checkpoint both Willie and Jonny set off and opened up a gap of a few minutes on us, i continued to work away with Mark close by, i remember saying to Mark just to do our own race as i felt they could still take a wrong turn with not knowing the route, this turned out to be the case as i came through 19 miles after putting in a sub 7,  i saw Jonny and Willie running along a road, i shouted at them to say they were off course at this point i was back in front and decided to try and open a gap, knowing that if i could the possibility of them not knowing the course would be to my advantage, this turned out to be correct as i later found out it was one wrong turn was one too many for Willie and he pulled out leaving Jonny in second place for a long time, as i arrived at Failford (25 Miles) i picked up my juice and was greeted by Greg Beattie on Marshalling duties sporting his camera, a quick wave and i was back into the trail,  

I passed through Marathon distance in 3:21:46 and still feeling fresh i continued along through the detour down to Tarholm Bridge (i went wrong here last year) and i was not doing the same this time around, i continued to work away through Annbank, and along a road that Andrew Crichton calls Tomato Lane, again another tough spot as it twists climbs and turns until you reach the main A77 road, once here and over the bridge,i knew that my time was looking close for the record but just not sure how close, the last stretch is a small undulation before dropping down and then crossing  over the bridge knowing that Dam Park Stadium is under 3/4 mile away, on approach to the track the place was empty, one person was sitting in the stand and Anneke working away under the finish line tent, i crossed the line to be told that i had now recorded the fastest time, Richard Cooper who had finished 3rd at the Clyde Stride was 2nd to cross the line in 5:18:48 followed by Jonny in 5:22:32.

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