The title isn’t an exaggeration – the Alexis Rose Trail Race in Perth has the steepest of climbs, the sharpest of corners, the thinnest of paths and the fastest of downhill sections you could possibly imagine.
This is not a PB course.
It is not for the faint hearted.
If you think you’re in for an easy 10k then think again my friend. The fact that it is such a tough course is quite poignant when you learn the story behind it. Alan and Ruth Glynn lost their little girl, Alexis Rose, to meningitis when she was just 19 months old. Since then they have done nothing but campaign for awareness and fundraise for the Meningitis Research Foundation along with Alexis siblings – her brother, her twin sister and her younger sister. The trail race came about as a fundraiser last year and gained such a reputation that it is now a must on the race calendar.
My husband and I both ran it last year so we knew it was hard. This year we volunteered to help out too so it was a very early start on the day. It was very windy and very cold on the hill, but, it’s a hill. It’s in Scotland. What do you expect? I must have had about 4 cups of tea before the warm up but there were portaloos there and guess what? They were brand new ones! As in never been peed in ever! I didn’t want to leave!
Clubs were out in force for this race – it’s been added to the championship for my local town and whilst I still don’t know what that means I have interpreted it as ‘everyone does it and does it fast’. Well, as fast as you can on this route. There were quite a few other clubs there, all very friendly and chatting away. Not going to lie, I did smile a little when I overheard someone ask just how hard is it? The reply – add at least another 10/15 minutes to your best 10k time.
My aim was to beat last years time. Out loud I wanted under the hour but in my head I wanted 55mins. I also wanted to beat my position from last year but as this was quickly becoming a popular race the competition was heating up. Joe was aiming for top 10 in his category.
The start is basically a zig zag up. A steep zig zag up. From my position in the pack there was a couple of people walking before the first bit levelled out. I managed to keep a steady momentum myself though and focused on using the brief flatter sections as recovery. Keep moving, that’s what was in my head. Joe as usual was out of sight as soon as the horn went but I had expected that. My watch buzzed at 1 mile and I was happy with what it said. Slowest first mile ever but again, another expectation. I was also no longer cold. Funny that.
It’s a very marshalled course which I find fantastic. Not so sure that they do as I know I for one pulled a face followed with a comment of ‘what am I doing to myself?!?’ at every one of them. In fact, pretty sure I even asked one of them for vodka and I don’t drink! They were very good though and you could hear the water station before you could see it which I absolutely loved. It was straight after a down section and then you go straight back up. And when I say straight back up, I mean practically vertical!
Lucy’s Lane is the most challenging part of the course. Named after a survivor of meningitis it’s another part that is just a true reflection of the difficulties caused by the disease. It broke me, I won’t lie. I tried to run up it but when a women walked past me faster I gave up and walked as well. Damn her long legs.
Just a little bit on at the top of Lucy’s Lane is one of the most stunning views. It took an awful lot of self control not to stop and take a selfie. Shocking I know but it’s truly gorgeous (and by the way I didn’t but I might next year).
By 8km I was running beside a gentleman who I ended up having the odd joke with. When one of the marshalls said ‘almost there’ I replied ‘Are you sure??’. 2km on this course was beginning to feel like 4! The guy beside me remarked how he’d been on the marshalling side of things and you should never believe a word they say. He said this in fun but there’s an element of truth in there ha ha.
If it’s a steep uphill start you know it’s a steep downhill finish. At last somewhere I can at least try and make up some time! I checked my watch. I would have to really push to hit my sub 1 hour target (55mins? Who was I kidding!). The thought of doing all of this and not getting in in under the hour was enough to make me keep going. There was a photographer just as you enter the gate for the zig zags but my eyes were focused! I was not going to fall but I was not going to take more than an hour! I was also not going to think how horrendous the photo he had just taken was going to be.
Down the hill and through the zig zags and there was the finish line. Oh thank god. I couldn’t do much more. Across I went quickly glanced at my watch. It said 59mins. I was happy! I collected my medal/badge of honour and got my goodie bag too before collapsing on the grass. Joe had come in 10 minutes earlier and just 3 seconds behind the first women – she over took him right at the end. How does a female run that fast?!? Impressive!
The Perth Road Runners dominated the race this year, winning all 4 trophies. First across the line was the guy who was also first last year. He retained his title and beat his time too. I still managed same placing as last year – sixth in my category – and I’m pleased with that. Unless they get a trophy for first mum of 3 across the line I doubt I will win one but you never know.
There were 3 places where photos were taken. That’s a lot for a 10k race but who doesn’t love a race photo? Turns out the photo taken at the gate actually caught me with my eyes open too – that man deserves a reward!
The event isn’t ‘perfect’ – I don’t think any event is. This is only it’s second year running and because I got involved I may be biased but I loved it. I met a woman who runs ultras and had brought the biggest flask of hot water I have ever seen. That cup of tea she gave me after the race was the best I’ve ever had. She’s also got me thinking about ultras but that’s a whole other story.
If you want to do something that’s going to challenge you then do this race next year. No one finds it easy. It’s just not. It’s meant to be hard. It’s not about getting a pb or clocking up another race for the year. It’s a challenge.
It’s the toughest 10km in Scotland.