It’s been a long, long time since I last ran around the streets ‘up the hill’ in Stewarton but the local academy’s decision to stage a 3 and a 5k race gave me the opportunity to turn back time and return to the place of my youth. Although I couldn’t resist taking a slight detour so that I could grab a selfie beside the sign for Ayrshire’s village ‘Moscow’.
The Robertland housing estate has expanded somewhat since I left the Bonnet Town, with more private housing being built on the south east edge of the ancient burgh. Although I’d never been in the Academy, which was built after my time at school, it still felt like home to me as I entered the gym hall to see a number of well kent faces. Most of these were from the running community and the warmth of their welcome was appreciated.
After much deliberation, I decided to run without Jack. ‘Hey it’s not all about the dog! One local lad taking pat was my nephew, Lewis, so that was challenge number one. After catching up with everyone and warming up, I lined up beside Cat Stewart of Kilbarchan A.A.C. My tactics were easy. Try to stick as close to her as possible, which would be easier said than done, as she ran a 19:09 5k earlier this year.
Both the 3k and 5k races started together at 7pm and we did one lap of the school before going down a lane and on to Pokelly Place. A left turn took us down Cutsburn Road and then a right took us through Fairways (this was the site of the local golf course) a left took us along Mccardle Way (named after Phil, a local church minister?) and down an abrupt path, with a number of steps to overcome, before joining the path along the Annick Water. As soon as I saw the steps, I though ‘Oh sh*t’ fearing for my injured hamstring. I managed to avoid the steps by running down the adjoining grass. Surprisingly, I overtook Cat at this point but not for long as she breezed past me a few seconds later. This part was of the course was relatively flat but it wasn’t too long until we reached the pedestrian bridge and turned right ‘up the hill’. Around the swing park, and up Annick Cresent and Gameshill View. A sharp left took us on to Netherlands Road. I was amazed to see that the prefabricated houses on the right hand side were still there after all this time. At the end of the road, we turned right and up the steep Robertland Road before joining Cutsburn Road and starting lap two.
Having been out for a year, the hills were taking their toll on me but it wasn’t long until we reached the downhill section. My head was telling me to stop and have a rest, even just for a few seconds but I’ve heard that cry before and I struggled on. Back up the hill and along the lane towards the school and the welcome Finish line. I looked at my Garmin, which was displaying 20:03. One of my best ever times for a 5k.. I congratulated those around me before having a good lie down and getting my breath back. A bottle of water and a banana helped the recovery process as I joined in with the post race banter. Of course I beat my nephew but the boy ran well.
Irvine’s Paul Lafferty was first overall and Cat took Gold in the women’s event. Full results below..
Good to see my old mate Peter Miller at the end and locals Sandra Hunter and Kenny Phillips on photo duty. Well done to Race Director David Mitchell and all the marshals and other volunteers on the night, including the enthusiastic, flame haired PE teacher.
pics by Kenny Phillips
See you all next year but before then I’ve got my 200th parkrun on Saturday 17th September at Pollok Park to look forward to. Feel free to join me.