Troon Tortoises 10K, Ayrshire, Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Jane Baillie

Troon, not many people know where it is.

If you are a golf fan, you will have undoubtedly heard of Royal Troon, one of the venues of the Open Championship.

Jane on the Ayrshire coast.

I’m relatively new to the purple posse, despite being in Durham for almost 6 years, but Troon is where I was born and bred and the place I call home. Beautiful coastal town on the Ayrshire coast, with stunning views of the Isle of Arran, Ailsa Craig, and sometimes Ireland (on a very clear day!)

Troon Tortoises are the local running club, and they organise an annual 10k every May. It is a very popular race, only 1100 spaces, and they tend to fill up very quickly. Runners from afar as field as Glasgow (and now Durham!) head down the coast to compete. This year was the 29th running of the race. It was one I had always wanted to do – Troon has lots of great running routes, beaches, woods, golf courses, with some stunning scenery as well. Plus with it being my home race, and also getting the chance to represent the Striders, it wasn’t one I wanted to miss. Entries came out in January, and I immediately got signed up, the fact I was doing the Sunderland Half Marathon 3 days before was irrelevant, nothing was going to stop me running in my home town (with a lack of hills, its perfect!) My brother and his fiancée had also signed up. Bargain at the price of £12.00 for entry as well, although my England Athletics Number did nothing to get me a discount! Maybe Scottish Athletics are independent already!!!

Driving up from Durham on the afternoon of the race, the weather looked grim – rained pretty much all the way from Carlisle up the M74 (not an unusual occurrence to be fair!) Troon is usually blessed with nice weather, but it was not to be when I arrived. More rain and bit of a coastal breeze as well, just to add to the forthcoming fun of the evening! But spirits were not dampened and after quick carb/protein dinner (thanks Mum!) we set off for the town hall and the race start. Was a 7.30pm start, with race numbers and timing chips being collected prior to the race in the town hall. After much speculation about the weather (‘it’s definitely brightening up over there’) we were blessed when the rain did actually stop just before 7pm.

We all headed along to the start, where there were various people stood with markers showing estimated finishing times, we all erred on the side of caution and headed to the one hour plus section!

After a bit of mulling about, we started moving, maybe I was talking too much, but didn’t hear a gun or anything resembling an official start!! After a few minutes we passed over the timing mat and we were off. First kilometre is along the esplanade with great views along the beach and out over the Firth of Clyde, but we were racing – no time to take in the vistas!!

Troon, unlike Durham, is fairly flat so we only had to tackle a grand of 3 ‘hills’ on the route. To be fair, these were just bridges over roads/railways – no Redhills Bank or anything like that!

The course then took us past no less than 5 golf courses, including Royal Troon, up past the rugby club, down through Fullarton Woods (hazardous for potholes!), past my Mum, marshalling at the 3 mile mark, then looped back into town, and after a long straight and the longest ‘hill’ of the evening, we headed back along the esplanade, into a lovely head wind for the last kilometre of the race.

Despite being bit tired from my Half Marathon efforts a few days before, I felt strong through the race, even managing a 09:10 time on mile 6!! I was aiming to get in about the hour mark and was delighted when I came in at 58:57. True to form, my younger brother (who has previously done this race with no training) came home in 50:07!! Always opportunity to get one over his big sister!

No medal on offer for this race, but we got memento technical t-shirt, bottle of water and the best prize of all Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer!! For those who are unfamiliar with these delights, please ask me or any other Scottish Striders.

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