Antonine Trail Race 2018 (Andrew)

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Two bumblebees get out of the car. One of them adjusts his wings and his trainers and then starts to run.

Death stands beside an angel and both start to stretch.

This is the Antonine Trail Race. A half marathon up, over, around and back over Croy Hill between Kilsyth and Cumbernauld. Every year it’s held on the last of Sunday in October and the organisers encourage runners to take part in Halloween costume. At the start line you see a lot of photos, high fives and people not realising that they’re about to start swearing when they hit the first hill and realise how hot it is to dress like a bee while trying to run a mile up a trail.

It was a fantastic day for the race. It was cold but with an almost cloudless sky it was just the right temperature for running.

It starts with one mile on a narrow path so try and get near the front if you don’t want to be blocked in. After the first mile, the hill climbing starts with a mile and half of trail runs and climbing to the top of Croy Hill. After that it’s undulating before a mile long descent down to the canal and Kilsyth marsh. A few miles of flat trails are broken up by an environmentally friendly water spot – there was no plastic cups.

The organisers had warned in advance that the only cups would be “sharing cups” – and they warned that there might be more than just water in the cups after twenty sweaty runners had swigged from it. So, they recommended bringing your own bottle. I ran with a trail belt with a couple of small water bottles. I didn’t fancy sharing anything!

After the water stop it’s a steady climb through the forest around Barr Hill. A few sharp inclines near the top make it a challenging run before another long drop down to the base of Croy Hill and another lap up it – this time from the opposite side.

The good news at that point is that you finish with a final mile back on the narrow paths and with a gentle descent (apart from one sharp shock) and a cracking photo opportunity at the finish as you beat a red devil to the line.

And if that wasn’t enough to recommend it – the organisers lay on a bumper food stall at the finish with cakes, biscuits, bananas, more cakes and selection of gels and liquids.

Roll on 2019!

More info: https://antoninetrailrace.com

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Antonine Trail Race 2017 (Andrew)

Normally you get a banana at the end of a run but, yesterday at the Antonine Trail Race, we got a big banana at the start – along with two skeletons, several witches and a Homer Simpson.

That’s what happens when you have a race on Halloween weekend.

We didn’t join in. It was tough race and the only fancy dress I wanted was a jet pack to help get up and over the two hills that made up most of the route. First up, Croy Hill, a long climb through muddy tracks and thick grass, then Bar Hill, another long climb along a forest track before, cruelly, the race finished with another climb up Croy Hill.

It was a fantastic day, sunny, bright, and with a slight chill that made it impossible to decide what to wear – assuming you were wearing running gear and not a large yellow fruit costume – as it was too cold for a t-shirt at the start but too warm to run in two t-shirts a mile after starting. I choose a single t-shirt and then stayed in the car with the heater on until the race was about to start. This is my version of warming up…!

The race was mostly off-road and on narrow tracks. While dry, the previous week’s rain had left much of it covered in thick mud. The first few miles were spent doing the bandy legged hop leap and jump of someone half runner/half frog.

The good news was that you could follow the runner in front of you and try and follow their footsteps on the basis that if they cleared a path then you would just be stepping into the hole they’ve already created in the mud. So, if you want to keep your trainers clean when running through mud just follow someone with big feet in front of you.

The race was tough, with a few steep climbs (which in this context means, ‘walks up hill’ rather than ‘gets out the rappelling gear’) but some great views across to the Trossachs and outwards Falkirk and the east coast.

You can see part of it on this short video: