Simonside Cairn race ….

What a day , It was amazing ……

It all started months before when my friend Ironman Kenny Short asked me if I wanted to try a hill race to spice up my training , sure I said, sounds good to me !! ….

Unfortunately the weather came in hard , Snow and Ice postponed the race and it never happened but these hill runners are a hardy breed and as soon as the route became runnable it was back on .

Now however my Ultrathon fitness program is in full swing and on top of this Im training with Louise and Ross for the Barcelona marathon , Im also busy doing twice a day runs to build up my recovery time for the MDS , so after a week of twice a day 8+5s , a 13 mile friday and a 17 mile Saturday run over Earlside moor road in gale force winds courtesy of Louise’ fetish for suffering I arrive in Rothbury car park on a cold Sunday morning with Kenny and my ever eager companion Darren “hillmeister” Murphy , K.J. a top runner from Hawick is also here to race.

The beauty of this hill running is that you turn up in the morning  , pay your fiver and your racing 20 minutes later … magic .. lets do it..

Looking around I realized that we were registering for a hill race amongst the best hill racers in the North , runners from Yorkshire , the lakes and even Fort William were here to race , and myself  !!!  , hmmm … this might be embarrassing I thought ??

So 100 of us lined up in the car park and bang!! a little gun goes off !!!  and all of a sudden were off !!  Everyone running down a little vennel , single file and out over a bridge , less than 50 meters and we hit a super steep hill , the hill climbs steeply for what seems like forever then we leave the road for some farm tracks , up and over another hill , a real one this time , super steep and climbing , climbing and more climbing , my legs are on fire by now .. the top boys are away , leaping and bounding up the hill , I watch them go as I slip into my steady ultra pace , nearly 70 miles into my legs already this week , I hope I can make it to the finish without too much trouble but I needn’t worry as my ultra training is really paying off now and I seem to recover like superman basking in the yellow sun .

No more climbing , Im on the top of the fell now , I run across some heather laden moors , every footstep is 3″ deep in cold mud , running along sheep trails , over stiles and through forest tracks following white and red tape where the trail becomes non existent , this is amazing and I’m having the time of my life , my legs don’t hurt any more , I’m having too much fun for that .. I’m over halfway and the path starts to drop , the pace quickens and I’m running past crags that I visited years ago , I climbed routes on them back then , now I’m climbing up the side racing, frantically I’m trying to get to the next path so I can keep my pace up for the finish line .. next the path starts dropping steeply , I’m nearing the finish , now I can freewheel down through the hills and country lanes , closer to the finish , I turn the corner and the end is in sight , Kenny and Murph waiting to give me a cheer , what a day !! , I cant wait for the next one.

Murph and I certainly had a ball on this one , so much so that I reckon were going to do a lot more of them and after all my ultras are finished I can certainly see me enjoying more Hill running .

I have started to try to do as many of my runs off road now as I can , I am presently logging so many miles a week that I need to minimize my potential injuries and off road running certainly helps the knees , ligaments and feet , its more physical on the heart and muscles but easier on the wear and tear … Minto Hills have become my morning loop and its really helping both my fitness and my mental strength , motivation is now becoming harder and mentally I am working hard to keep up with my mileage program  , I still enjoy it but the volume I am doing is hard to maintain, when I get slack I tell myself over and over that it is only 8 weeks to go and these are the most important weeks , get out you lazy bastard !!!   …

Races like Simonside are so important in keeping it all alive .. when you love what you do it requires no motivation , I must keep pushing because there can only be 1 result in the Desert and for that I must cross the finish line ….

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