I had a bit of a debate what to do in November. The Runfurther series was over, but I still wanted one more event this year. I narrowed it down to the Tweed Valley 65k, the Pen Llyn 50 or the White Rose 60.
I've not done much in Scotland, and the Tweed valley is very south Scotland so I thought I'd give it a go.
My original plan had been to head up friday night after work, spend the saturday in the area doing... something, then run sunday and drive home after. I had some gnarly problems booking at the Glentress Peel campsite (if you don't get an answer to emails phone up, and keep phoning until you get hold of someone). Finally, I definitely had a booking for saturday night, so I drove up saturday daytime with a plan to visit Hermitage Castle on the way.
|Glentress Peel falafel burger.|
Hermitage Castle isn't open in winter. Arse. Because it's in the middle of nowhere I (wrongly) assumed it would be one of those unmanned EH sites.
Oh well. I rolled on to Glentress Peel, arriving around 4.30pm, and registered for Sunday's race, picking up race number, T-shirt, soft cup and a promo nine bar. I had a falafel burger and sweet potato chips (best falafel burger I've ever had, but the sweet potato was a mistake, I don't do well with sweet potatoes) in the Glentress Peel cafe.
A (very) wet saturday night followed, with torrential rain all evening. This was a shame for the people on the night run (a half marathon I think?) who must have had a crappy time. I was very glad to be settled in my camper with a glass of wine, a down duvet and a book (Anna Karenin as it happens, fantastic book).
|Breakfast time. Ugh.|
|Early morning people|
It was still sort of dark as we all started to mill around the start gate, but not quite dark enough for torches. After a short race briefing we were off at 7.30.
Climbing up through the woods of the mountain bike centre, we zigzagged around a little, before dropping straight back down to the main road on the edge of Peebles and crossing through a tunnel.
Nasty surprise number one: a very long way on tarmac. By my recollection (and I'd have to check my gps trace) it was upwards of 10km. The temptation was to ramp up the pace on this stretch to get the crappy stuff over and done with, and I did give in to that a little. After that the day settled into a bit of a routine. Climb up through woods, zigzag back down along forestry tracks, longish stretch of tarmac. Rinse and repeat.
I think the midpoint checkpoint was at the bottom of this descent. Unfortunately everything they had to eat was carb heavy so I just got water and kept going. I had enough peanut butter to keep me going anyway.
|Temperature inversions and spectacular views|
Shortly afterwards was another climb up through forestry land. I was criss-crossing with a friendly woman who was maintaining an amazingly consistent pace uphill and down. We ran along together for a while talking about barefoot shoes, then I got ahead coming into the cp. On the last couple of miles she just left me in her dust. More hill reps needed for me I think.
|pretty much how I felt|
|Horses, about a km from the last CP|
|Last sharp climb up to the campsite|
|A very large coffee|
The run down the A65 was easy enough though, and I was soon home and settled in with the cat.
Tweed Valley 65? It's a good race, well organised and well attended. But it's even less my kind of thing than the RRR. The 'flat tarmac, hard climb, foresty descent, flat tarmac' theme makes for a tough, demanding race (not least because the tarmac pushes the pace up), but the tarmac just bores me too much.
Next year I might do the Pen Llyn. That looks like more fun, and easier to get home from.