The last Wednesday in July and I ventured down the M77 to the eighth Kilmaurs Gala 5k. This would be my fifth time of running the increasingly popular Ayrshire event, which has grown from around 50 participants to some 250, including 25+ Bellahouston Harriers.
I checked my course PB and was surprised to see that it was 21:10, set in 2010. The last time that I had run it, in 2013, it had taken me 23:35. I’m much fitter now, than I was two years ago, so I was guaranteed to improve on my last outing, however that PB would be more challenging. Although I’ve been running consistently at sub 21 pace recently, the Kilmaurs’ course is somewhat harder than the parkruns and the Great Run Local which I’ve been doing.
We arrived at a boggy Morton Park to be greeted by not only hordes of Bellahouston Harriers but many friends from the Ayrshire clubs including Kilmarnock Harriers; Ayr Seaforth; Irvine AAC; Killie Striders; Ron’s Runners; Toni’s Tigers and others as well as a few running buddies from Kilbarchan AAC and various parkruns. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to catch up with as many friends as I would have liked to but it was great to see everyone.
I collected my race number, had my warm-up, checked the course, which had been slightly changed since 2013 and, with the race start time of 7pm approaching, I joined in with the other 250 or so runners on the track, all, unfortunately, facing in the wrong direction.
After Race Director, David Mitchell, had turned us round and made the necessary announcement he set us on our way, starting with two laps of, what was once, a track. It was less than 100m when we encountered our first obstacle of the course, a huge puddle, whilst many scrambled along the soggy grass to miss it, including club mate, Alastair Sinclair, who took a tumble, I joined the minority who ran straight through the middle. Unfortunately the path I chose was somewhat deeper than I had expected. Straight after this was the muddy section and I skidded a few times before regaining my composure. Another lap and we headed out of the park and adopted single file as we ran down the steps and narrow path, traversed the Carmel Water bridge and ran up a gravel chipped temporary surface before turning right onto the Fenwick Road, past the 1k marker and then another right turn took us onto Mill Avenue and back towards Morton Park.
I could feel that my right shoe had loosened, presumably the water had slackened the lace, but I was running well and didn’t want to stop. Despite the tricky underfoot conditions, I had ran the first mile in around 6:20. I continued along Mill Avenue and turned left onto the main Kilmarnock Road. I could see the other runners spread out along the pavement, with the faster ones already well in the distance.
It was hot but I’ve run in much hotter conditions and I was running strong, catching up with a few runners along this section, including club mate Neil Nairn, Garscube’s Craig Brown and Kilbarchan’s Steven Hill, all of whom are running well. However I was still concerned about my right shoe.
We turned left into the, undulating, old Stewarton Road and I was still doing OK, although Steven was now in front of me. I knew that there was a hard uphill section ahead, followed by a fast downhill one. I didn’t think that I’d be able to keep my shoe on over the hill. I noticed a wall on the other side of the road and crossed over and re-tied my lace. It had only taken a few seconds but it was long enough for a handful of runners to pass me, including Beth Macrae and Neil Nairn.
I now set off up the track towards the farm and the highest point on the route, with renewed confidence. It wasn’t long until I caught them and started concentrating again on those in front, which included Steven. The second mile had taken around 7 minutes and I was confident of a fast finish. Down the farm road I sped and as I joined the Kilmarnock Road, I could see Steven and another runner turning into Mill Avenue.
I chased after both of them catching one before entering Morton Park and the ‘track’.
Steven was now just in front of me and sub 20 min club mate, Gordon Gallacher, not too far in front of him.
I caught Steven as we ran through the large puddle and tried my hardest to build a lead on him, as we rounded the track. However as I chased after Gordon down the final strait, Steven out sprinted me and crossed the line in 20:39. There was a bit of de’ja vous about the finish as he had did the same at a recent Victoria parkrun to me. However we were both delighted with our performances and, after I got my breath back, I cheered on the many running buddies still completing the race.
It was great to be back racing in Ayrshire, I had run a course PB by some 30 seconds and every marshal, supporter and photographer along the route seemed to cheer me on and call my name as I ran passed them. The support really is appreciated and helps to keep me working hard.
It was a hugely successful night for Bellahouston Harriers, with Jack Arnold taking second place, to Cambuslang’s Gordon Robertson, ‘we’ won both the men’s and the women’s team prizes as well as various age graded prizes.
Full Results to Follow.
Many thanks to all associated with the race, for another great night.
Pics by Kenny Phillips, Iain Burke, Darren Murray and Kirsten Cowling.