Nairn Highland Games HM – 19/08/2017

Nairn Highland Games Half Marathon. 19AUG17 Many months ago I saw an advert for this race. I knew it was not long after my return from operations in Africa and thus saw it as a good opportunity to test my speed after sweating off a few kilograms out there.
Parking a mile or so away from the venue in any available spaces we could find provided us with eyes on the first and last section of the course, which we then walked along to the registration tent, guided by the lights of the fun-fair ahead. Helpful volunteers told us where to register and where to change, conveniently right next to the start line. We quickly retrieved our numbers and thus prepared ourself for the beginning of the race. Approximately 265 runners began the race (if I heard correctly due to two people talking on different tannoys at once!). The starting gun went off and we began the race with a parading lap around the race track within the playing field then headed off along the coast heading towards Brodie.
On an initial map assessment I surmised that the route would be fairly flat but I was slightly off, with the route quickly climbing out of Nairn and continued to have long, slight climbs throughout. The weather held out until about 45mins into the race with a heady downpour giving a bit of relief from the wind matching our pace from behind and humidity making it a little uncomfortable. After the 7 mile turn-around point the 15kph wind was now in our face but we were heading to the finish, powering through it. With 4 water stops, hydration was not an issue and the whole route was well marked and marshalled . Although the public roads remained open, traffic was light and drove at a considerate speed. Quiet countryside just a couple miles north of the A96 aided this. Returning back into Nairn on what felt like the only downhill segment was short respite for my, now very weary, legs. I was trying to maintain a 1hr30 pace throughout and those last few miles were extremely tough. Constantly glancing at my watch I remained steadfast in my attempt to hit that time. By now I was beginning to overtake a lot of people who were starting to slow, a few of those were were from the Nairn club so that was a nice little morale boost. Talking of morale, this morning I told my wife, “meet me at this point of the course”, where I pointed out the 7 mile point on the map. “and make sure you have some banana for me!” she agreed, I even reminded her as I left the house. Of course, I’m running along prior to the seven mile point looking forward to this little energy fix. When I finally arrive she tells me she forgot it! Morale took a heavy dive, it might have just given me a placebo affect but, damn was I looking forward to it! Anyway, back to the race.
Back in Nairn people were offering their support, with the harbour and Maggot quite busy. Although appreciated, lots of people were very ignorant of the race and did not bother to create space on the path from the Maggot, back to the finish. This resulted in me and the majority of others doing what felt like a slalom for the last mile. I even had a chap on a mobility scooter overtaking people on the footbridge practically blocking it up. Somewhat aggravating! This is something that should be managed better in the future as I feel someone could easily take a tumble and get hurt, either racer or pedestrian. On arrival at the arena, marshals once again guided us the route back into the finish. My heart rate was now hitting 190bpm, it had creeped over 180 around 2 miles from the finish. I was sapped, doing the final lap of honour felt like an eternity, people’s cheers and claps were hardly breaking through the physical torment I was currently in. I eventually crossed the line to only find it was not the finish line and had to double back and go to the correct race exit, Hopefully they don’t add to my official time! I staggered across the line, my body was spent. I collapsed on the floor in a pathetic, panting heap. I was kindly handed a bag of treats and my medal.
Offering congratulations to others crossing the line including several others wearing MRR tops (I believe there was 6 of us racing in total), I gorged on a couple of bananas given to me as I got my soul back (least someone gave me a banana!). Looking at my watch, it tripped the half marathon point at 1hr 30mins and 2 seconds perhaps 200m prior to the finish line. I’d got my PB and got my 1hr30 so I was pretty damn chuffed. Hard work training with MRR has really paid off, so thank you all those who have trained with me and cheered me on at races throughout the season. Roll on the cross-country season!
Report by:  Jason James

Comments

  1. John Rushforth says:

    On behalf of the Nairn Road Runners thank you for the race report and on the whole positive comments.

    Nairn Half over the years has been a nightmare to marshal. We cannot close the footpaths and trying to get pedestrians out of the way of runners is worse than herding cats. We use Revolution – Nairn Cycling club to provide some support by putting a cyclist warning pedestrians in front of groups of runners but this has its hazards.

    In the arena we have numerous races, Highland Dancers, Massed Pipe Band, spectators either on the race route or crossing it. It’s great fun for the marshalls to try and thread half Marathon Runners through, look at race numbers to try and see if they are Half runners or 800 metre runners. We have tried over the years to find ways to deal with it but if you have a way to control 100 pipers and drummers we would welcome them with open arms. We have considered dressing a Marshal in a kilt and give them a big stick but cannot find a volunteer.

    Taking all the above and your experiences these are what make Nairn Half a unique and fun experience. I doubt there is an another race in the area where every year it could be different and you have no idea what will happen. 🙂

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