Harris Half Marathon 2017 - Race Report

posted 21 Jul 2017, 05:55 by Enquiries campbeltownrunningclub   [ updated 21 Jul 2017, 06:10 ]

By Stuart McGeachy

The Outer Hebrides….where better for Elaine and I to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary J


I’ll admit Barbados, Bahamas and Kilchousland are perceived as ‘sexier’ destinations, however a wee adventure aroon’ thon islands was just the ticket!  Clearly a race was factored into the  equation and so we signed up for the Harris Half Marathon on Saturday 8th July.


We boarded the Ferry from Uig, Skye on the morning of the race with the intention of eating a healthy breakfast on the trip across.  Porridge, scrambled eggs wholemeal toast....ah that kind of boring keech that runners eat before a race.  As usual, Elaine followed the healthy option, but as I approached the canteen area I could hear 'Fat Stuart' (mind him from aboot 8 years ago) bending my lug!  And here’s how it went:  


"Would you like the cooked breakfast Sir?  Choose from 6 pieces"

"No thanks, I’ve a race in 3 hou…….ah F*** it!   Square, two links, egg, black pudding and tattie scone big man”

"Good choice sir.  White or Brown Toast"

“Brown. I told you, I have a race!!”


Not going to lie, it was hoorah good...never again though!  


Anyway, eventually arrived in Harris and waddled straight to the school to register.  Weather was horrendous with strong windows and heavy rain.  Felt like home J 


We picked up the numbers and soon it was ready to take the bus journey to take us to the start.  The start was near Luskentyre beach, which is spectacular.  Unfortunately we couldn’t fully appreciate it as much with the weather, but still impressive in the rain.  We had a quick pee stop near the start where 3 buses just emptied out with nervous runners, into the pouring …men and women with no shame….hoot a sight!  Anyway, enough of that!


Start of the race and I decided to go with the leaders.  Decent pace but manageable.  I held the front two for 2 miles and backed off as I knew we had a big climb from 6-10 miles section, before we hit a downhill into Tarbert in Harris (not oor Tarbert!).  I regret holding off as I was in no man’s land and always harder on your own.


The ascent started in mile 6 and comfortably holding onto 3rd place, although I could see\feel a couple of runners on the chase.  I’m solid on the hills, but these guys had yon look aboot them!  I eased off a bit and let them catch up to conserve energy.  We had a good rhythm going and helping each up other up the hill.  The pace was fast, and if on my own I’d probably have given up, but as a group it was manageable…no idea how that works but it does. 


We approached the top of the hill at 9.5 miles and the front two are probably a 60-90 secs ahead.  No chance of catching up, especially with a 3 mile descent. At this stage I’m feeling strong and reckon I’ve got these two, as I sense I could take them on a flat.  Unfortunately it’s not a flat, and they hit the descent at a hoorah lick!  You’d have thought the finish line was in sight….the three of us are oot of control! It wasn’t a manageable pace for any of us…but still we batter on!


Heart, lungs and legs are up for this, but I start to tighten up at my shoulders and in my back.  It starts to impede my breathing and have to pull back, then a gap appears.  The tightness gets worse and I basically can’t breathe.  Back was in agony so stopped and lay down, which helped as felt I was cracking it back in.  Almost instant relief!


Unfortunately another runner overtakes, so scramble to my feet and start off again, but momentum is lost and still struggling with my breathing on the downhill.  Game over!  The last couple of miles are a struggle with my back.  I start to feel ok at mile 12, but too late so just try and hold my position.


So hoot hepenned?  Did I hit the hill too hard?  Or was the pace too fast on the doon hill?  Or did I just get a bloody stitch because of the full Scottish!!!!  Probably a combination of all three! 


Not going to lie, disappointed not to keep with the other two guys competing for third.  I might have still finished behind them, but confident I could have given them a race if I didn’t get that issue.  Anyway, positives to take are a decent 10 mile effort and time of 1:19 given the conditions and breathing issue.  Wind was 70% in our favour, especially at the start, so it wasn’t the worst.  Rain was tough though and completely saturated at the end.


As for Elaine, she treated the race like a slow training run (still managed it in 1:57!).  Elaine is still struggling with her tendonitis, but is able to run as long as not pushing too hard.  Really gutted for her at the moment, but I’m sure it will come good soon, as this has gone on for over 18 months.  I do feel guilty as I know it’s frustrating to have to take it easy when she knows she could knock at least 15 mins off the time fit. 


Anyway, if you’ve reached this far and not asleep then to sum up…thoroughly recommend the race and Outer Hebrides in general for a holiday.  I think we’re heading to Barra half next year (if we can get in) so looking forward to the journey back already!