Sunday, 18 November 2012

Race Report - Glasgow MoRun 2012

Having registered for the Glasgow MoRun 10k on a whim, in a hurry and unimpeded by the Crew Chief’s appeals for logic and sanity when designing my calendar, I approached the whole business with a certain reckless enthusiasm and revelling in the timeless ‘ignorance is bliss’ maxim. So much so that I had overlooked the need for a disastrously early start, the unimaginative two-lap course design or that most heinous of race-organisers’ crimes: a finishers’ T-shirt that you have to pay for separately…

But we had paid up and made a plan, and so it was that the Crew Chief and I left our lovely warm flat in Edinburgh at 8am to hit the motorway, picking up the usual troublemakers Neil ‘4:33’ Gray and his own Crew Chief Karlie. With absolutely no mishaps to do with multi-storey car parks, green buttons, slip roads or traffic lights, we made it to Glasgow with an embarrassingly large amount of time to spare, luxurious Mo’s adorning our faces as we wandered around the chilly Saturday morning bustle of the city.

Arriving at Glasgow Green and spotting the event village not far off, a marshall asked us if we were here for the race. Dressed in our running gear and with large painted moustaches smeared on our faces, I decided to humorously say ‘no’, which went down like a lead balloon. After a brief lecture we were pointed to the fairly obvious event village, and meandered over to register.
Ready for the off.

Being achingly early, we had plenty of time to pin on our race numbers (which had a space to write your ‘Mo Name’ – we chose Dave and Neil because we are boring), watch other runners arrive in a variety of ill-thought-out costumes, and above all, get very cold. When the time at last came for the ubiquitous mass warm-up, a fairly sizable crowd of runners and supporters had assembled and the mood was buoyant and light-hearted, but this did nothing to warm the morning's bitter temperatures. Neil and I participated in the mass warm-up with our hands firmly wedged in our pockets.

The 5k race took off ten  minutes before our 10k – a ragtag bunch of runners in lycras mixed in with people dressed as Mario, Scooby Doo and dozens of others. Almost everyone sported a Mo – real or otherwise – and this includes the large number of women and children in the race. It was an impressive sight.

Ten minutes later it was our own turn, and we finally relinquished our tracksuit bottoms to reveal running shorts and freezing knees underneath… We were a little slow off the mark to get lined up, meaning that we found ourselves some way down the pack, which proved a significant issue with early bottlenecking. Although we had no loftier aspirations than to trot round in under 50 minutes, Neil and I are terrible together when it comes to competition, and we gleefully picked off swathes of runners as we worked our way towards the front of the race. Just as with my Edinburgh Christmas Run in 2010, I had a feeling that this was closer to a fun run than a race, and we risked doing embarrassingly well in terms of rankings for our quite average pace.

So the goal was upgraded – we would aim for steady kilometres between 4:30 and 4:45. Which, as with most of our goals, failed miserably.

Our first k was the slowest at five minutes dead - we spent the entirety of it jostling for position and squeezing through tiny gaps on a narrow course. Shortly after clocking such a disappointing opener we overtook some of the Crew Chief's colleagues - a pair of female ultramarathoners whose running CVs were a bit intimidating. We were genuinely worried that they might beat us over the course, and spent the rest of the race nervously looking over our shoulders in case they were catching us... But otherwise we got our heads down and ploughed on, overtaking most of the costumed fundraisers as we found a comfortable pace towards the front of the pack. 

The course winds its way around the roads and footpaths in Glasgow Green, including a lengthy out-and-back along the Clyde, where various rowing clubs were preparing for what looked like a large scale race. In Glasgow of all places. Our own racing instincts were hampered and confused, however, as we fairly swiftly caught the back of the 5k race and found ourselves mixed in with slower fun runners, once again restarting our overtaking mission. Nonetheless we managed to crank out some faster kilometres, gradually speeding up  until we were regularly producing km's between 4:30 and 4:40.

We saw the leaders ahead of us as they switched back after 3k. Two club runners jostled for position, though third place was a good minute or so behind them. We are not talking about a serious race here - more a fun run that a few decent runners had rocked up to for a laugh. As frustrating as it was for us to weave between Mario and Luigi, it must have been incredibly annoying for them.

5km rolled around in a flash as we looped the event village. Despite the ten minute lead afforded to the shorter race, Neil and I would probably have placed quite well in the 5k, as a steady stream of funrunners were still finishing around this point. We peeled off to the right and looped an enormous obelisk to start our second lap, grimly realising that we only had three miles left in which to make something of this race.

The second lap was a change of tone. Due to some dodgy marshalling we overshot one of the turns early on which threw us a little, and when we did find the right path we found ourselves now running against the flow of most runners - 5 and 10k alike. Though this was a sign that we were placing reasonably well, it was a major hindrance to finding a rhythm... 

Sprinting to stay ahead of the woman
overtaking on Neil's right shoulder...
After the second out-and-back our conversation waned entirely. We were accelerating with every passing km, playing cat and mouse with a few individuals who had dared to overtake us. When our respective wives came into view with 2k to go, toting cameras and waving, we could summon little but a grimaced smile. I am sparing you from reproducing that photo. Things were starting to fall apart in that exciting way they do at the end of a short race. Neil told me to go on ahead if I felt like it. I did not feel like it.

Amazingly, we were still overtaking slow 5k runners.

With less than a km to go we grunted an agreement that there would be no competitive sprint finish. We were too tired and feeling too rough for that kind of nonsense. As we entered the final straight, however, a preened and comfortable-looking woman made to overtake us, and like chauvinistic idiots, we cranked up an inevitable sprint for the line. Thinking we may as well go for it, we overtook a couple of other runners too, almost knocking one chap down as we crossed the line. Feel a bit bad about that. 

I had forgotten to stop my watch at the finish, so we queued to get our result from a tent full of timing equipment. When our turn eventually rolled around, we were delighted to discover a self-service computer with a keypad - just key in your race number and it prints a receipt showing your time and position. What a great idea. It wasn't until some days later, however, that we realised that it printed gun time and not chip time, which means we were pleased to upgrade our results from 47:24 to 46:49, and our positions improved by one each. The final results gave us exactly the same time, but for some reason assigned me 49th place and Neil 50th. Can't complain...

A cool idea. Shame it doesn't specify that this is gun time, though.
Now I've said this before, but that probably is it for me in terms of racing in 2012. This was fun - and after some much lengthier goals have been accomplished in 2013 I think I'll revisit the 10k and try to train for it specifically . It would be nice to get a sub-40 run on my PB list...

Happy running


2012 to date: miles run - 417.5, miles biked - 79.2, metres swum - 3950, races - 5

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