So much about running is gradual. For me, just starting to actually enjoy it took a while. But on that journey runners take, there are usually some memorable moments that we look back on to mark our progress. It might be a parkrun PB, meeting up with a club for the first time, or something like that.
For me, The Antonine Trial Race 10k (ATRX) was my first trail race and the event inspired me to get into running on the trails and hills. So it was fun to return to the race, everything familiar and different at the same time. In 2016 I didn’t know anybody, standing around like Nigel-no-mates, but still enjoying the craic. On Wednesday, I knew so many people, a bunch from the Carron Valley Trail Runners crew as well as a handful Springburn parkrunners. Oddly, the weather was almost the same as it was last year — that’s to say, perfect. I don’t know how James and the race crew have managed this two years in a row — spooky.
Last year, the hills near killed me. This year, they were tough but felt more runnable. Last year, I was timid on the decent. This year, I confidently stormed down the hills with my arms flailing like a total eejit. I passed people on the downs, they passed me on the ups. All in all, my strategy of recognising that I’m a slow climber but quick controlled-faller worked. I leapfrogged competitors for the first 8k, but only got passed once on the final 2k. Last year, I ran the course in 59:18, this year 53:06. A course PB by over 6 minutes!
The race itself has a great vibe, the marshals were all so encouraging (especially the team on the final hill!) and it’s a beautiful place to run with fascinating Roman ruins all over the place. I’d say it’s an underappreciated bit of central Scotland and I’m pleased this race gives it the attention it deserves. There are so many great views — there’s a class panorama over the Campsies from the top of Croy Hill, but I really love the old gnarled trees and almost terraced grassy descent at the 7.5km point.
The race links up with local charities (this year, PALS) and everybody arrives with tins for the local foodbank. In the goody bag there’s a garish pink buff. The medal is a rock with the ATRX logo. Seriously, what’s not to love about this race? It’s no surprise it sells out so quickly.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the (honestly) unexpected PB was a bonus. Looking forward to the full Antonine Trail Race half marathon+ come autumn.
Now, off to run 50k tomorrow morning!