Keen readers of this website may have noticed there’s been hardly any running content any more, and this has been down to a persistent knee injury sustained way back; although I do still run, I need to keep it low-intensity to avoid flare-ups, which precludes running ‘epics’ worthy of a post.
A summer of friends doing well in post-pandemic races gave the odd twinge of jealousy. Autumn saw the announcement of the return of the illuminator, at their last event in 2019 I had kicked ass, but unable to compete this time I was resigned to letting it pass. Some hash house harrier buddies were entering as a “fun run” as part of the HHH “non-competitive” ethos, I wondered whether I could maybe sociably amble round with them: I dug out the headtorch, did a few 5-10k blasts round the Gramps at night, and with the knee not giving me any cause for concern, got my last-second entry in to the middle distance 15k (the main distance being 25 and there also being a shorter walk/run 8k).
The day of the race saw an afternoon stroll around the Falls of Feugh before heading on to Aboyne. Most of the group were doing the 25k and they headed off first. The 15k was busier, and after the warm-up stretches to blaring music we were off. No rush this time to beat the ‘funnel’ into the singletrack.
As we headed uphill I stopped a few times to allow our small group to coalesce, although relatively “untrained” nowadays running-wise, my daily bike commute and weekend hikes keep me reasonably fit; I’m pretty sure I could have put the hammer down and accelerated away towards the front, but it was nice to chat and stop and take the odd photo.
Out of the woods there was the odd streak of rain in the headtorch beam and a cold wind, but lucky again with weather: some year it’ll either rain or snow and make it a real trial.
In amongst the pack there weren’t the long dark spells that had been part of “front running” and the time went by quickly having the odd blether. Me stopping to take a photo led to repeatedly falling back then sprinting forward past people, they must have thought I was a right numpty.
The lightzone came into view and we strolled in, and not noticing the photographer, cheekily went back out to run past again as a group, before getting a helping of hot chocolate and cake: last time I’d whipped through without stopping, but I made up for it this time, yum!
After the rest at the zone though comes the effort up the hill: gradually steepening and relentless, with almost everybody walking it, except the odd 25k front-runner as the routes had now converged (that’d been me last time). On the other side, the descent was horribly slippy with mud, and figuring my friends would take some time on this I decided to do the last couple km at more of a “race” pace and whirled and teetered in and around those more cautiously getting downhill.
Although only 15k, and the evening having proceeded at a sedate pace, I
was now beginning to ache on the last km on the tarmac, without the bodily adaption that regular training provides; you can have oodles of cardio from cycling but you need the tendons, joints and bits to be used to pounding ground. I waited for my friends to finish and we headed inside to see the prizegiving and have a beer – hash house harriers always make sure there’s refreshments.