The Hartley Cup Relays 2013 – RACE REPORT

The Hartley Cup is an event held annually by small(ish) running clubs around Scotland and is made up of relay teams of 5 or 6 people – either male, female or mixed teams. Each year a different club get the chance to host the event and this year it was the turn of the Forfar Road Runners.

It was an early start to the day as I had to drop Craig off at work for 5am (??!), but then got to retreat back to the warmth of my bed for another few hours before my hungry and whining dog woke me up again. The drive over to Forfar was beautiful. It was a rather frosty start to the day so plenty of layers were applied before I left the house and I thought what I had chosen to wear to run would be fine. After all, it was only 2x 1.3 mile loops I was doing. No time to get cold! Or so I thought…

I arrived in Forfar with plenty of time to spare and made my way to Strathmore Rugby Club to meet up with my running club buddies. We had a good 20 strong team for the event, consisting of three mixed teams and a ladies team. There was a bit of hanging about outside while final decisions on teams were made and I found myself on a team with the super, super speedy runners so the pressure was well and truly on. Between marathon/ultra training and swanning off to America for weeks, my speed work has been pretty non-existent since about May this year. I tried to keep a calm exterior, but underneath I felt like jelly – could I pull some fast out the bag for a couple of mile loops? Well, I’d try my hardest!

Go speedy runners...
Go speedy runners…

Just after 11am we all assembled on the rugby pitch as the first lot of runners lined up and before long they were off. I was running second for the team so I thought I couldn’t have long to get warmed up and over the start before speedy John whizzed back around. And I was right – just over 7 minutes later I heard some shout “Wee County!” as the race leaders of John and two other guys came bounding around the corner. At least we had got a good start, but there was no way I’d be able to maintain it! The route followed a dirt path along beside a river and then looped back onto itself before cutting off across the grass and back to the rugby pitch. Not long after I had set off, two guys hurtled past me and then coming up to the corner another one whizzed by. Not fair, I wish I had longer legs!! I was pushing really hard and I felt like I’d set off too fast. There was a cold wind chilling my lungs and chest and I found it hard to take a deep breath and fill them, but I pushed on and tried to lengthen my stride. Just as I came round the loop to head back again, a lady overtook me and I knew I wasn’t the first lady back anymore. And then another. Oh well… I really need to work on my speed next year! I handed over the baton to Graeme and went to collapse in our tent and recover for round 2…

Come on little legs...Go faster!!!!
Come on little legs…Go faster!!!!
Concentrating on not dropping that baton!!
Concentrating on not dropping that baton!!

Graeme went off like the wind and flew back in just over 8 minutes to pass the baton on to Eilidh. She also had a speedy lap of just over 9 minutes and then it was onto coach Gordon to finish the first leg with speed – which of course he did! Now we just had to do it all over again!

Round 2 was just as fast with John once again flying off and me anxiously watching the clock waiting for him to fly back round what felt like seconds later! The second lap wasn’t as bad (which means I could have gone faster) and I managed to overtake a few people this time round, which gave me the little boost I needed to dig deep and keep going strong. After passing the baton on for the second time I went to try and warm up by putting on as many layers as I could and then stood on the finish line to shout in all of our club teams.

Not impressed with that time...
Not impressed with that time…

Once all the teams had finished we went up to the club house for post race sandwiches, cakes and tea and coffee. All lovely and very appreciated. At the presentation we discovered our mixed team had placed 3rd over all, coming in just 2 and bit minutes behind second place and 5 minutes behind first place over all. Not bad!! The competitive side of me now wanting to do it again and go faster. Along with all my other goals for next year of course…

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Oh, and Karen made this chocolate Guinness cake. It was glorious!

I run for cake....
I run for cake….

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