From Hel ‘N Back: Race Recap

Last Sunday, I ran in an event organised by Helensburgh AAC. I came to be running this event in place of a colleague of Billy’s who was unable to run on the day and I am really glad to have found out about this one.It is a hill race described as:

A challenging but beautiful off road run taking in views over The Clyde, Arrochar Alps, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

The race starts from the outskirts of Helensburgh at Hermitage Academy. The school is a new build so it was quite good to get a wee nosey! The changing and toilet facilities were in the school’s P.E. department and were more than adequate.

The course uses the 3 Lochs Way and John Muir Way. Although technically off-road, it is mainly a level path for most sections of the run. A total of  1253ft of elevation is packed into the 12.5km.

Start line – I am about 4 lines from the back:


There is about half a mile to run before reaching the path that leads the race up the hills. Most of the first part of the run felt like a steady climb rather than a steep ascent. My recent hill work certainly seemed to help.

Weather conditions were good, if a little breezy at times:bhil

I enjoyed having fellow racers to compete with and motivate me round the course. The older fellow behind me in the white vest was eachy peachy with me most of the way round, till we hit the downhill and he blew me away! He advised me that I need to “lose the fear” and shorten my stride a bit. While I was in the midst of all the uphill, I was longing for the downhill.


The hardest section was just before the downhill, through a wooded area where it felt very steep. It was kind of big steps and my legs felt like jelly. After this it was downhill pretty much to the finish and as good as this seems I found it uncomfortable. I felt as though I had to hold myself back for safety reasons and my back felt as though it was being jarred. This picture of me going downhill barely looks as if I am moving. In the photos of the other runners, you can tell they are going fast! Going down hill is possibly something I am going to have to train for if I intend to do any more of these types of events.


I didn’t feel great throughout the race. There were some moments where I wanted to quit and the redness of my face is testament to my exertion. I did feel rather over-heated by the time I finished and my face was beelin’ for a good hour afterward!

The stats: 7.54 min/mile average pace flatters me a bit when you see the speed up to mile 5. Green shows elevation, and blue shows my pace:


Mile splits – Things speed up a little at mile 5… Mile 4-5 was a real struggle and I am a bit disappointed to see my speed dropped so much.hel-n-back-splits

The race is very well marshalled with friendly encouraging words as you pass. Definitely a good vibe and an edible memento is given to all finishers:


Free soup is also on offer for runners and a delicious array of homebaking is for sale at very reasonable prices. Prizes are awarded for 1st, 2nd, 3rd male and female as well as veteran and a local runner prize. I was pleasantly surprised to learn I was 2nd female home.


And picked up some race winnings for the 1st time:


Life in the old dog yet!


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