30th March 2013
This was my first go at this race, which starts from the pretty wee village of Luthrie in Fife. 16 year-old Logan Rees of Fife AC (who recently earned a Scottish vest at the Home Schools Cross-Country International in Wales) led from the start with Adam Harris in close pursuit. My pre-race tactics had been to try to stick to Chris Russell but after the initial mile or so of gradual climbing along road and then narrower track I found myself in 3rd place and making ground on the leading pair. I caught Adam on the rougher ground just after we left the track and by the snowy summit of Norman’s Law was about 10 seconds or so behind Logan. This is where the interesting part of the race starts. The return route is unmarked and there are a number of choices, the two main ones being down the track and back along the road (faster running but longer) or back over Emily Hill (more direct but rougher underfoot with a bit more climbing). I’d had a quick recce prior to the race before deciding on my usual tactics when in Fife: follow a Fifer. Unfortunately, by the time I’d cleared the summit and had a quick glance up to take in the views over the Tay, Logan had already disappeared. Luckily, Adam caught me at this point and I stuck close to him as he took a slightly different route from Logan taking us over the higher ground towards Emily Hill. On the final pull up the back of the hill Logan reappeared not too far ahead and I managed to pass Adam as we began the final grassy descent to the finish. Logan finished about 30 seconds clear while Adam passed me again in the last few yards to take a well-deserved 2nd place, but I was well pleased with my best run since the Burdens. Adam’s Dad (and race organiser) Mark wasn’t far behind us, as was first v50 Alan Smith (running his 2nd race of the day midway through a weekend of 5 races!). By this time the first of the runners who took the road route were coming back in, led by last year’s winner Chris Russell – it’s the only race I’ve seen where runners cross the finish line from opposite directions, which must make for some interesting marshalling. In fact, it turned out it was the first time the race had been won by anyone taking the hill route back. Thanking Adam for his excellent route choice he admitted it was the first time he’d been that way. All in all an excellent race, well organised by Mark Harris and with the usual high standards of Fifer hospitality.