The Great Scotland Escape (Cross Border Challenge)

I awoke on the day of the inaugural Cross Border Challenge run from Gretna to Carlisle (http://www.crossborderchallenge.gbevents.net) a little apprehensive. I’m always nervous when I haven’t run a route before but then I’m a pretty nervous runner when I think about it. Breakfast consisted of scrambled egg followed by some Weetabix and then a wait of about an hour until my dad came to pick me up.

We arrived at The Capita Building to pick up my registration pack and from there you could get on a bus which would shuttle you to the start line at The Garden House Hotel in Gretna. My dad said, however, that he would take me up in the car ( I think he’d worked out how nervous I was and wanted to keep me relaxed ).

I’ve never understood why I get so nervous before a 10k run. I run these distances week in and week out but as soon as you add other runners to the mix I go to pieces a little.

Anyway, we arrived at The Garden House Hotel an hour before the run was due to start so the next 30 minutes were spent stretching  and trying to work out how to put my bandana around my wrist (my wife does this perfectly every time, my dad seems to want to cut off my circulation). After the bleeding nipples issues of the last three runs I’d resolved that it was now time to nip this problem in the bud so I had purchased some nipple plasters, the only problem I foresaw now was that some of my chest hair was going to be coming off later when I tried to remove them. After a couple of trips to the toilet I made my way to the start area and found myself right at the front, as it got nearer to the start time I noticed all these club runners appear next to me and realised that if I stayed where I was I was indeed going to be trampled on, I hastily retreated to the middle of the pack which is probably where I belong.

At 10am on the dot we were off, it was now time to escape Scotland and return to England. A friends piece of advice was to pretend that I was one of the English invaders sent up to steal The Stone of Scone as that would maybe make me run a bit faster (the thought of being chased by hundreds of angry Scotsmen certainly does quicken the pace a little).

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The run itself was pretty scenic as the vast majority of it was spent with the M6 on one side and fields on the other with a couple of inclines along the way. I’ll be honest when I say that I don’t remember much of the first 5k other than checking my watch and making sure I didn’t get run over by cars or bikes. Towards the last 3k there was a photographer taking photos and for some reason he’d decided that the best  place to take photos was right at the top of a steep hill in my opinion you are not going to get a runner at their best on the way up a hill but everyone is different I suppose.

With 2k to go I heard a voice shouting at me to keep going. At first I thought it was just a general onlooker but when a bike pulled up next to me and the rider said “Keep going Steve, not long to go now” I realised that it was a friend and it was a much needed gee up at just the right time. Upon checking my watch I knew I was going to finish around 50 minutes and as I entered the final stretch it was looking like I may slip in just under 50.

On the approach to the finish line the runners had to do a lap of the capita building the only downside to this was that there were people trying to walk in front of the path of the runners. This happened to me as I entered the road to the entrance as a guy crossed the road and then stopped dead right in my path. As I rounded the building yet again I was faced by another person trying to get to the other side who stopped in my path as they crossed and then just as the finish line was in a sight a girl started to cross just as I picked up my pace. Realising we were about to collide I had to adjust my course and almost dive out of her way. I crossed the line at 50:55 which I was pretty happy with as I knew a sub 50 minute finish was definitely a possibility my chip time was posted on the night and I’d managed to finish in 50:34.

Bib 294 Name STEVEN CLARINGBOLD         Pos: 144 Gun Time: 0:50:55 Chip Time: 50:34

Overall I fully enjoyed the run and had posted a personal best for this distance. If the event returns for a second year I’d definitely try to take part again. Maybe that elusive sub 50 minute finish may come before the end of 2012 but I’m not going to sweat it if it doesn’t.

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Next up is Total Warrior on Saturday 4th August followed by Jane Tomlinson Run York on Sunday 5th August.

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