Friday, 5 October 2012

Best run of the year (2012 edition)

Despite accusations by my Best Man during his speech that this blog is merely a conduit for my own self-aggrandisement (it is) among enquiries of ‘what is with all the running?’ (don’t know), I still managed to incorporate quite a lot of running into my own wedding. Which is entirely how I wanted it.

This blogpost is NOT about the wedding – one day I might write something down about what the day meant to me, but not today. No, this post is about The Third Traditional Pre-Wedding Run. I’ve already written about the first, and bypassed the second as it wasn’t my run to write about. So here goes with the third.

A glorious, crisp morning broke over St Andrews on Saturday 29th September, and with several hours still remaining before my 3pm appointment at the altar I invited guests to join me for a wee jog, leaving from the Martyr’s Monument at 10.30am.  I expected a couple of ushers, my brother/best man and maybe one or two other hardy souls to form a motley crew. I was not entirely prepared to find a group of a dozen enthusiastic runners ready for a few swift miles...

And so we took off. A bizarre cross-section of the social circles of my life cheerily jogging in a loose group, composed of my brother, some friends from University, others from school, my brother-in-law-to-be’s girlfriend, friends whose provenance is lost in the happy mists of time and probably a couple I’ve forgotten. We headed east along The Scores, running in the middle of the deserted road and taking in the sights and sounds of St Andrews. Unbeknownst to me, one of my non-running ushers had just moments before bundled my bride off the road to avoid us meeting on the morning of the wedding. Thinking she was still in her rented cottage at the corner of The Scores and North Castle Street, we sprinted past the front door and onwards, descending fast to the harbour. A small boy shouted out to me ‘be careful!’. We tried not to take it as an omen.

Rounding the medieval stone walls we joined the beach-side path, and the field spread out. At the front a couple of marathoners, a former international sprinter and a hardy triathlete, towards the back a few ground-pounders who apply less haste and more refinement to their technique. All running together, all smiling and chatting and enjoying the scenery. I couldn’t have been happier.

Reaching the end of East Sands we folded back on ourselves, taking the road into town and meeting what can only be described as a pirate en route – an older gent with an eyepatch, large beard and a stick. We tried not to take this as an omen either. I put an usher in charge of leading the pack as I dropped back to mingle with others, and he led us down a sharp left along Queen’s Terrace, a beautiful tree-lined road which transforms abruptly into the Lade Braes, a footpath which could take you on all kinds of adventures if you had the time. We didn't, and so instead headed through the western end of town, pointing out local landmarks to the out-of-towners as we headed gently towards West Sands.

We regathered the pack for a dash across Grannie Clark's Wynd - the perilous road which crosses the 1st and 18th fairways of the world famous Old Course. The faster amongst us summoned wild sprints under the pretext of minimising the risk of being taken out by low-flying golf balls, and before long the pack was spread out again, snaking along West Sands. My intentions to keep the team together were proving impossible, but no matter, it's hard to get lost on a giant empty beach... We remarked on our obligatory Chariots of Fire moment, and I smiled enormously and inwardly, watching 12 people whom I love dearly, gathered in a funny little corner of Fife, ran along the beach where I proposed to my Crew Chief. The sun peeked out from behind a tiny cloud and everything was well with the world. 

Imagine synth music...
As we reached the turnaround and slogged through a gap in the dunes, the field became irretrievably spread out as the faster runners jostled for supremacy – I chose to stick with the back marker rather than join in the ruckus at the front. By the time we got back to the Martyr’s Monument, where a receiving party of other wedding guests had assembled, we had clocked just over four miles. An impeccable start to the day.

The day got quite a lot better after that.

Happy running


2012 to date: miles run - 326, miles biked - 69.2, metres swum - 3350, races - 3

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