Down to Berwick today for the sixth and (for me) final leg of the Borders XC (there's one more leg in the series - but I won't be doing it).
A fairly straightforward route - along the beach, up towards a cliff-top path, along the path, round a marked point near an old building ...then the same in reverse.
The start, through dunes. on soft sand was tough. Tough and crowded - as 145 runners jostled for position.
But pretty soon you go round a corner onto the "main" part of the beach and you can spread out a bit and get into a bit of a rhythm.
This year it was strange to see the field split into three distinct lines going along the beach. Some opted to head down to the waters edge and firmer sand. Some opted to stay on the shortest path between two points route (but I imagine the sand would be a bit soft at that point). While some, including me, opted for a middle route that gave firm(ish) sand but a slightly shorter line.
A bit of a sting awaited us this year as we came off the beach. Berwick had altered the route! The old way up the steps towards the path was obviously deemed too easy, and this year we were forced to walk/climb/clamber up a grassy bank. This really knocked the wind out of me and I found it tough getting back into a rhythm on the path...but I did...just.
Got along the path and round the turn fairly incident free and passed about the same amount of runners as overtook me.
The climb/clamber down the grassy bank cost me a few places as I hippity-hopped my big-girly way down. Though even my descent was slightly more dignified than the bloke who joined the descent behind me, tripped, then passed me sliding down the banking head first on his belly!
Back onto the sand and took more or less the same line as the way out and just tried to consolidate my place.
The final couple of hundred metres on soft sand are bloody tough going.
I'm aware that I don't have too long till my Spring mara' and, while I like the XC, I'm aware that it eats into my time that I should be using for long distance runs.
Didn't help that yesterday's run had to get cut short when a part of the route was inaccessible due to a shooting party!
Supposed to be going to Kilmarnock next weekend for another XC race (the masters) - so that's another opportunity for a long un' out the window. Weather permitting, I think I might fore go the "traditional" six miles bombing round the streets of Dunbar on Tuesday, don a head torch and head out for a few miles more.
Nicola gives conference delegates the pure boalk... -
2 hours ago