The 6th race of the week and the last race of the tour, today had a whole different feel for me. Whether I was still buoyed up by doing a bit better last night or what I don't know, but I felt like a different runner. Instead of having sore tummies and worrying about stitches and dreading the race ( by yesterday I had convinced myself I had pancreatitis), today I was relaxed and excited and I had this Joy Division song that I've never particularly liked or listened to buzzing round my brain for the whole race.
I thought Brian Cruickshank was being particularly evil setting the course as he did today, with loads of uphill - but I liked it! And there was far less road than I feared there was going to be.
Ruth started with me and we were together for the first wee while and then I had the sense (I never looked) that she'd fallen back a bit. Given that she didn't relish the uphill race last night this wasn't that much of a surprise and I thought no more about it. Nothing for me to do but try and maximise my gains and build up a bit of distance before the dreaded flat road section.
Why was I racing against Ruth? You might well ask. We're in a different age group and she had me beat for sure on overall points - but the thing is she's put up such a performance all week on all kinds of terrain it gets interesting to see just what the hell she can do! I passed a few people on the ups, including Helena Sim of Carnegie, who's been beating me all week, except for last night, so when I heard breathing at my shoulder on the gravelly path (still going uphill) I really thought that this would be Helena. I turned my head a quarter inch and what should I see but a Porty vest! Flipping Heck! (or Holy Fucko as Peter and I occasionally say). Up ahead I could see Davy Burgess (who BC likes to call Fishheid) pointing us down an off-road section. All good as far as I was concerned and glad I wore my trail rather than road shoes. I made a little bit of distance on Ruth coming down here until I heard an almighty shout and turned to see Ruth do a full Commando Roll and spring back onto her feet. The game was still on!
I was running on my own for a while down this section and it was lovely and I felt relaxed. Sandy surface underfoot and Pine Trees on either side - and then the turn back left onto the dreaded road. I'd told myself that we might have a following wind for this section but we patently did not. And who should be coming steaming along behind me?
Holy McMoly. What is a girl to do? I fought my way forward and onto the back of a male runner in black who's tail I blatantly sat on getting maximum cover from the wind. It wasn't nice but I was desperate. Very soon Ruth was breathing on my shoulder and we were all breathing together trying to out-live this stretch of road. The trees provided some much needed cover and I relinquished my hold on the man in black's back and belatedly thought it would be nice for him if Ruth and I provided some cover for him so he could get some rest, but I fear we had broken him and he fell off behind.
So it was between Ruth and I, neck and neck all the way. I started off strong on the downhill on the tarmac but then I hit a low ebb and really didn't have the energy to stay with her. She pulled away pretty quickly. There was another hill to come which I thought might be to my advantage but I was no longer feeling so gung-ho about hills being my friends. Truth be told I was f"*ked and I wanted it to end! Still Joy Division was thrashing on in my tired brain at the same hectic tempo "Day in, day out, I feel it closing in, I feel it closing in, DAY IN, DAY OUT, DAY IN, DAY OUT!"
I caught up a little on the hill and then Ruth took off downhill like a bat out of hell and I tried my best to catch her and we both ran full tilt down the hill and round the corner and FINISH! What a glorious last race. I so, so enjoyed it.
Everyone hung around at the end for ages and there was such a nice atmosphere. I really enjoyed meeting so many runners this week and being a part of it all. The races were perfectly, flawlessly organised. I can't rate it highly enough. It is definitely the best running event that I've ever taken part in while being also among the very cheapest.
And then came the cake!
Congratulations to everyone who took part and to my friend Amanda for being the overall female winner and Peter for taking the O45 prize. To Gareth for showing that hill a thing or two last night and coming 3rd in that race. I've enjoyed our running chats in the car everyday! I will really miss the Tour of Fife. Brian Cruickshank (or Crooky as we secretly call him) is a genius for organising it..