Since 2012 Dumfries Devorgilla Rotary Club has organised a 5km family fun run on a looping course round the Crichton Campus in Dumfries. With a strong emphasis on participation and fundraising rather than racing, but as all us runners know, a race is a race!
Having logged 19 miles on the rugged trails of Mabie Forest the day before and with participation rather than competition the main aim, I felt I should show face at the event.
Being a serious (ha ha) runner I warmed up by running the 2 miles from home to the start, parted with my £8, all going to local good causes and pinned on my number along with all the other runners; walkers; pram pushers and an odd cyclist.
Disdaining the official warm up principally because I lack any form of rhythmic upper and lower body co-ordination, those who witnessed my attempt at a Meta-fit class at Tyndrum will back me up here, I chatted to Harrier’s Lesley, who was racing, Neil who was supporting; Mark Johnson from DRC and Steve Carroll who was handing out leaflets for our club’s upcoming inaugural Doonhamer 10K on 31st August.
Managing to contain myself to only one pre-race pee, I was soon lining up behind the start arch with around 800 fellow participants with ages ranging from 8 to 80. Since it wasn't a race I was unconcerned that I was 20 metres from the line jammed behind several salad dodgers; a plethora of kids and a guy wearing jeans and a long sleeved check shirt.
Yeh, who was I kidding, as soon as the hooter went it was obvious that apart from the kids, who all shot off like the hounds of hell were chasing them, that the bulk of the crowd was out for a leisurely waddle round the route.
It took about 250m, some balletic side stepping and a quick jaunt onto the grass verge to eventually get some clear running space in front of me. I could see Lesley in front of me along with Mark and in-between an enthusiastic bunch of 8 to 14 year olds. As a sage and seasoned club runner, oh listen to me! I knew the kids would blow up fairly quickly and they mostly did through to the 1 mile point, all except four who were neither dying nor slowing, nor was I closing the gap.
Oh the potential indignity, I run marathons and Ultras, I’m a proper runner, I've completed the West Highland Way race and here on a sunny Sunday in Dumfries I’m being beaten by four 12 year olds. Thankfully for me at the 1.5 mile point, kid number 1 came to a complete stop and with the right hand turn uphill, kid number 2 promptly followed suit. Pushing on to save my running pride I overtook number 3 just before 2 miles and my final target detonated just after 2 miles. Lesley was around 70 metres ahead of me and Mark was even closer. Mark and I are pretty evenly matched on shorter races with race honours just about even, but I was closing him down and as I passed him at 2.5 miles we exchanged a very breathless high 5. A quick loop round the magnificent Crichton church and turn on the burners for the glory leg past the crowds on the finish straight, through the finish arch in 19:59; 6:55 minute miles, not bad for an old guy.
Okay the distance wasn't quite the full 5 km, registering 2.9 miles on the Garmin, but at least I’d only been chicked by Lesley (again) and I’d avoided the indignity of being beaten by school kids, and after all it wasn't a race….was it?