My participation in the Crombie 10K was certainly not planned. My legs were still stiff from the Dundee Half DRAM when the Crombie 10K happened across my newsfeed, but I’m always game for a good local race so I thought I’d investigate it further, only to discover that the event was taking place the very next evening. After my performance at the Dundee Half DRAM, I was eager to get my training back up to scratch again and figured it would be a fine training run if nothing else.
The Crombie 10K was my first midweek race, and I knew very little about it when I put my name down other than it was a charity event mostly on trail surfaces. Despite it being right next door to Monikie Park where I regularly race, this was the first I’d ever heard of the Crombie 10K, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going in.
I managed to convince my dad to come along as it was a 10K, and because we weren’t sure of the layout of the park we left early. Far too early, as it was even more local than we thought. We arrived before 6 pm with a starting time of 7 pm, but it took asking some directions and a good walk before we were able to locate the ranger station and the registration tent, so we were glad for the extra time and were able to chat with the other early birds on our way to pick up our race numbers.
Registration was a no fuss affair and we learned that there were around 90 people registered for the event that evening, about the size of my local parkrun. We took our time to examine the route map provided, discovering it would be two laps winding around the park, but the route was far too bendy for me to possibly memorise so I trusted the marshals would keep me right.
It was a beautiful summer evening and so we relaxed by the pond before we were called for the race briefing. This was when I finally learned more about the charity we were raising funds for: the Tayside Special Olympics. It was clear at the race briefing that a lot of thought had been put into the event: the medal design, the marshals, even the prizes were following the same spirit of the Special Olympics. Every eighth runner received a special prize, just like in the Special Olympics since the eighth finisher is just as important as the first. It was a lovely concept and I was glad I had signed up to support them. And it wasn’t just the runners who were doing the supporting: the race bibs and the equipment had been loaned out by Eventfull and other local businesses.
As we lined up at the start, I noticed there was a lot of club runners there. In fact, the majority of the field consisted of Forfar Road Runners, Perth Road Runners, Dundee Road Runners and Arbroath Footers, as well as some other vests I couldn’t identify. This made me a little nervous, as I realised it was going to be quite a fast field.
I hadn’t paid attention to my starting position, so I quickly discovered I was correct about the speed when I was almost run over at the very start. I was accidentally in the middle of the pack, and very quickly ended up toward the back after a very fast stampede. When the field thinned enough for a safe overtake, I ran ahead of dad and tried not to worry too much about him catching me later in the race. We’re unreasonably competitive and this year I’ve got a winning streak to maintain!
The course was quite flat, but it was a slight slope downhill from the ranger station to begin with, and then a little loop around some lovely grassy scenery until we were back up at the ranger station to start the first lap for real. The trail was hard and compacted due to the recent sunny weather, and with the dappled evening sun flitting between the trees, some of the course felt like it was the scene from an epic fantasy tale. The swans on the ponds and the pretty pink flowers floating on the water made me wish for a camera, but there was a race to run so I tried to admire the scenery on the go.
I quickly realised there was no kilometre or mile markers, but I didn’t mind that one bit. It let me enjoy the course without my usual mental arithmetic, trying to work out how fast I’m going and what time I might hope to finish in. My legs were still tired from the half marathon the weekend before, so I figured I would get there when I get there.
However, I was quickly overtaken by another runner and he told me it was his first 10K and the lack of markers was throwing off his pacing, so I gave him an estimate based on how long we’d been running. He thanked me and sped off through the trees. The route was well marked as we went around, with lovely cheerful marshals keeping us right and hazard tape had helpfully been liberally used over any potential hazards, from low branches to oddly placed trees. Any tree roots and trip hazards had also been sprayed with bright paint so there was little chance of getting lost or tripping.
I saw the sign post stating ‘second lap’ after 31 minutes or so, and I was feeling quite fresh and eager to go again. Up by the ranger station again they had helpfully provided cups of water due to the evening heat, and I walked for a few seconds while I sipped. It wasn’t as hot as the Dundee Half DRAM, but many runners I met along the way were very verbal about the heat. I lost a few places at the water station but I was glad to let the runners by and act as my pacers for the next part of the course.
And this was the point that my stomach decided to rebel again. It was my first evening race and I usually run in the morning a couple of hours after breakfast, which is also my usual fuel strategy for a 10K. I’d eaten two hours before, but due to the time of the day I had attempted a light meal of soup and bread. It seems I should have eaten it earlier, or perhaps had a bowl of cereal for dinner, because I suddenly felt very queasy very quickly.
I lost a few more places while I was trying to work out what my stomach was doing, but figured I was over half way and would be finishing soon so I might as well just soldier on. With tiring legs and a queasy stomach, the second lap didn’t feel quite as magical as the first, and seemed to go on and on, weaving through the trees. Despite having already ran it once, I kept getting surprised as I suddenly happened upon the next part of the course, and then the next, and the next, always sure the finish line was right there.
I’m pretty sure if not for my terrible short-term memory, I’d have remembered how far it was to the finish and as a result would have walked. But being constantly convinced that the finish was just around the corner, I kept running on and on, until I was back on the road toward the ranger station and found the speedier runners with their medals telling me just how close I was to the end.
So then I just had to keep running and sure enough the ranger station was in sight. Up the slope and following the cones until I hit the finish line in a respectable 1:06:19. I was delighted with myself, especially since I was barely recovered from the half marathon.
I barely had time to get my bearings before I spotted my dad running up the finishing straight just two and a half minutes after me. He’d been close, but victory was mine and my winning streak this year was maintained for another race. Once he’d finished we got a chance to have a good look around, and sure enough, every eighth person had either a bottle of wine or an adorable little boxed cake, since eighth place is just as important as the first.
Which brings me to the medals. Each of them features the Special Olympics motto, which reads:
“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
It’s a lovely motto and one I think applies to every sport. I’ll try and keep it in mind next time I fail to hit my targets during a race.
The Crombie 10K is a lovely gem of a race, and why I’ve never heard of it before and why it wasn’t sold out is a complete mystery to me. It was amazingly well organised and I’ve never had a race start go so smoothly, which is made even more amazing by the fact that it was all organised by a charity using volunteers and equipment that’s not even their own. They all did an amazing job and I was incredibly impressed.
The course was well maintained and had some wonderful scenery, and I suspect I’ll be back very soon for a long run or two. It did fall a little bit short of a 10K according to the GPS, but the organisers have acknowledged that and promised to learn from it for next year, which I will most definitely be attending. I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening.
Of the 86 or so people running I came in 70th place, and while I may not have come home with any prizes, I’d like to think I was brave in the attempt.