528 miles might seem quite a way to travel for a half marathon, but the Mull of Kintyre Run is well worth the trip! It’s a race that is close to my heart as Kintyre is where my family comes from and where several of them still live – and run too.
This year, myself and a couple of friends flew into Glasgow (one of them coming all the way from Boston to do it!), and headed down the road to Campbeltown, Argyll where the race is held.
I’d describe the race weekend as more of a running festival. The weekend begins on the Saturday with age-categorised kids races, this year a screening of ‘Chariots of Fire’ at the local cinema (they have a different event or speaker each year), a pasta party and a free warm-up swim in the local pool. The adult’s race is on the Sunday morning. This was the first donning of my CRC yellow shirt- exciting!! Despite the weather being glorious up until then, the heavens opened on race day and it was almightily windy and ‘dreich’. But you can’t let the weather stop you while on the West Coast of Scotland- when in Rome… So off we went.
The race starts in the centre of town with the 10k and Half Marathon routes starting together before splitting off after about a mile. The 10k heads around the Loch, while the foolish like me head off toward the coast for the Half Marathon. The Half route heads toward the beach through farm roads, before a mile loop along the beach before taking a different route back into town. Last year was a pretty horrendous race where I shot off at the beginning with the wind behind me, feeling great and then hit a wall at mile 7 with what felt like (and probably was) gale force winds in my face the whole way back. This year, I’d decided to pace in negative splits if I could. This worked well due to the wind (and truly Scottish horizonal rain) being in our faces going out this time. This was the first year I’d run without headphones which was completely liberating. It was the first year I truly appreciated the kilted piper on the beach, the crashing of the waves, and shouts of support from friends and fellow runners as we crossed each other on the beach. It can be a lonely road back but I was feeling pretty good- particularly as there was great support from the marshals as well as local people giving out jelly babies in front of their houses. At mile 9, I had a little wobble as I’d acquired a decent stitch in my side which persisted for the rest of the race, but the voice of Shane seemed to be echoing in my head as I approached the final miles- ‘Pick it up!’… Somehow, I was able to hold the pace. At the final stretch, those sprint finishes we’d trained at the track came into their own and I was able to take it up to the finish. Chip time 1:40- not too shabby- especially considering the conditions, and I was super surprised to finish 3rd female!
Finishing the race is particularly brilliant due to the locally-made pottery medals, a sports massage tent to take care of those post-race twinges, and a marquee giving out locally made sandwiches and Danish pastries (which taste better than you can ever imagine) and the most awesome cup of hot tea/coffee.
This is not the end- you’ve a few hours to shower and chill before it’s time to ceilidh! A brilliant ceilidh band gets all those runners and company up on their feet (it works surprisingly well for recovery). The local pipe band (which is amazing) plays and it’s a brilliant, fun celebration. The Monday is always a bank holiday so you can relax a bit more before heading back up the road. Overall another fantastic weekend and I’ll definitely be back again. I’d highly recommend it to all