Dumfries Half Marathon, 22nd September 2013

84     1:36:03     Graham Leslie   1st V60   PB

There can’t be much more of a contrast between this year’s Great North Run and the Dumfries half marathon a week later. 40,000 runners, wind and rain, the Red Arrows, the Tyne Bridge, the endless John Reid Road in one; 300 runners, blue skies, a piper, Caerlaverock Castle and quiet country roads in the other. Both races are great experiences in their different ways.

I hadn’t run a half marathon for two years and am keen to try new races so thought I’d give this one a go. It’s quite a way to drive but it’s mostly a scenic route and roads are quiet on a Sunday morning. I was there before I knew it, the first runner to arrive. The race HQ and start are in the grounds of Dumfries and Galloway College, a very attractive place in beautiful surrounding. I spent some of the time chatting to other runners. A couple of people recognised me from other races. Maybe the yellow Run Geordie Run T-shirt helped. It’s the last race I’ll be wearing it for and also the last as a V60.

The route’s a U-shaped one and is mostly flat or gently undulating, the only real hill to contend with coming after about 4 miles. I was going well up to that point, doing just over 7-minute miles. I knew that wasn’t sustainable and certainly running a mile up the hill into the wind put me behind that sort of schedule. I only run over 10 miles two or three times a year at most so was expecting to fade in the last three or four miles, and so it turned out. I passed through the 10-mile marker in 1:12:20 but my legs were getting really tired and the race from there was an exhausting struggle to maintain any sort of decent pace.

The scenery throughout had been very pleasant and the return leg is mostly on a road alongside the River Nith. The last half-mile takes a cycle path by the river and, like Jedburgh, the finish is hidden until you’re nearly there. What a relief to finally see it. I crossed the line feeling really spent and sat on the grass for a few minutes to recover before collecting the goody bag and T-shirt. I’d given it everything and couldn’t have run a second quicker.

My time was 1:36:03, a PB by over two minutes. It was good enough to be first Over 60 and after a very welcome cup of tea and cake from the café, we were presented with our trophies by a rather glamorous young lady from one of the sponsors. I don’t think I’ve done a race with a friendlier atmosphere, both from fellow runners and officials. Marshalling and organisation were faultless and it’s a race I can really recommend.