Posts Tagged ‘Roon the Watter’

Official results are yet to appear but before this race becomes a distant memory here are some thoughts.

rtw map

Jon, Bec and I headed back to Gatehouse of Fleet on Tuesday 30 July to run the Roon the Watter 6 mile race for the second year in a row. My second year at any rate – Jon’s fifth (?).  Teri, Jode and Abs accompanied us to provide moral support, cheerleading and photo-taking duties.

Having won the previous year (in 34:52) I was looking forward to trying to defend my title. A year is a long time and a lot of things have changed since this time last year, but I felt I was in as good or better shape. Fitness-wise at least the same, race sharpness was better having run more track races this season than last, and not insignificantly, being a few pounds lighter.

The weather was variable leading up to the 6:30pm start time. Nice and sunny most of the day, then the heavens opened about two hours before the start, and then all but stopped just as the starting horn sounded.

It was race organiser Mac McNamara’s final year of organising the race. After 30+ years in charge he was handing over the reins to Galloway Harriers, who are sure to do as fantastic a job with the race in years to come.

There were some brief announcements at the start, an emotional round of applause for Mac, a mention that the defending champions in both the men’s and women’s race were present, which was nice. And then we were off.

rtw profile

I tagged onto the back of the lead group over the first half mile or so, to see if there were any classy guys about to blast out of sight. I edged to the front of the group without really meaning to and found myself leading the pack of 4 through the first mile in 5:20. The second mile has a fair amount of climbing in it and I wasn’t surprised when we to see we had run a 5:47 to the second mile. At this point one of the 4 had been dropped and I started feeling more confident about the race. I figured if there was real class in the field he wouldn’t have let the second mile slow like that, even up the hill. I pushed on a bit in the next mile, putting my foot down in 10 or 15 second bursts and then easing up to see if anyone had come with me. Covering the mile in this way I dropped first one and then the other runner so that I reached halfway on my own, covering the third mile in 5:29 for a halfway split of 16:36. I realised at this point that I had a chance of breaking 34 minutes if I held it together, which was more than I thought possible at the start.

The fourth mile continued the up-and-down terrain. Running more evenly I managed a 5:31 for this mile. I couldn’t hear any footsteps behind me by now and knew I must have a reasonable lead. I still didn’t feel confident that someone wouldn’t come back to me though and kept a bit in reserve in case someone did catch me. The fifth mile was 5:44. Once I got into the final mile and was feeling more confident about my chances I cut loose a bit and stretched my legs. It felt great running the final mile which is down the high street with lots of support. This mile is also downhill and I savoured just putting whatever was left in the tank onto the road. I ran 5:12 for that mile and crossed the finish line in 33:12.


I was really happy to defend my title and was in equal part pleased and surprised with the time. More than I could have hoped for.

1 00:05:20
2 00:05:47
3 00:05:29
4 00:05:31
5 00:05:44
6 00:05:12

I’m not sure about the extra 9 seconds at the end. I guess my Garmin measured the course as a bit longer than 6.0 miles. Put that down to me not running the best racing line around the corners!

The local paper, the Galloway Gazette, covered the race with a headline article and a full report on the race including selected results.

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 It’s not often I get to talk about “that time I won a race”.


I suppose that is not strictly true as I can *talk* about it as many times as I want (collective sigh) but what I mean is that I don’t often win the damn things.


So going into last Tuesday evening’s Roon the Watter 6 miler in the lovely Gatehouse-of-Fleet in Scotland I was not expecting to come out on top. I had decided a top 5 was on the cards, given that I had finished 6th two years earlier. That was after a fairly poor performance with some asthma issues (excuses alert!). I knew I had to go back and race it properly. Cue 2012. We were in that part of Scotland on holiday, visiting Bec’s dad, Jon, himself an experienced runner.


Roon the Watter is Scottish speak for “Around the Water” I think. Scotland doesn’t bother with new-fangled metric nonsense, preferring to stick with the good old fashioned 6-mile races. Not conforming to current running society’s more favoured 10km. No complaints from this end, since it provided me a good opportunity to improve on my rather weak PB set two years earlier at the same race. Hey it’s the only other 6 mile race I have done.


The day was great, ideal conditions for running, possibly not spectating. It started raining about an hour before the evening start. The starting horn was sounded and off we charged. I had looked around on the start line for a few recognisable faces who I thought might be there for the win. I couldn’t see them and guessed they might be a few rows back or something. Once we got going however, it was very clear that no-one was going to take the pace out. It was never my intention to set off in the lead but it happened by default. About half a mile into the race I was a good 10 or 20 metres clear. The first mile marker went by in 5:44. A sensible start after all. I had been wondering if I was somehow sprinting like an idiot. Where was everyone? In the second mile I stopped hearing any other footsteps and started to think this might be a canter home. I lost concentration a bit as a result and slowed to a 6:12 for the second mile.


Then things started to get more interesting. During the third mile I heard someone gaining on me, and gaining pretty fast. Oh well, this is it, I thought. If they’re closing me down this quickly they’ll go straight past. I told myself second was still a good position and felt a bit silly for thinking I could win the thing. The guy caught up with me shortly before the third mile marker, which I’d run in 5:42. Halfway in 17:38. I decided that I owed it to myself to at least try and stick with him for a few minutes, so I latched on.


The route is pretty hilly throughout and I noticed that on every uphill he slowed a lot. So much so that I thought he might be trying to psyche me out and wondered if it was tactic. I didn’t push hard on the hills but I seemed to stretch away on each one before he caught up on the downhills. We yo-yo’ed like this for the next mile or so, on a very undulating section of the course. I came to realise he just wasn’t very strong on hills.


Having a memory like a sieve I did not remember much of the course from my run two years earlier, but luckily I had spoken to Jon earlier who was also running it that day. He told me that mile four to five is uphill and the final mile, five to six, is flat and downhill. I formulated a ropey plan. I would hit it hard as soon as we passed the 4 mile marker and would work my ass off for that mile, get a lead and run the final mile as hard as I could so (hopefully) the guy wouldn’t be able to close the gap on the downs of the final mile. I did it and it worked a treat, which I was thankful for, because the effort on the hills had floored me and I knew if he caught me now I’d be cashing in my chips.


Running the final mile back into town and down the high street was a very cool experience. I knew Bec, Jodie, Abby and Teri would be watching somewhere on this road and it felt awesome to be the one following the lead car through this part of the course. I turned into the final right hander up the road to the finish, crossed the line and that was that. J


At the prize giving I was awarded a floating trophy, a big shield with the race winner each year engraved onto it. They did nervously confirm that I would be able to return the following year to give the shield back, being that I was coming all the way from England (the deep south). I also got a mini version of the shield which I get to keep, and a voucher for the local pub in Gatehouse.


I may not get to experience this kind of thing again so I made sure to savour the moment.


Thanks to my able support crew, cheering in rain or shine. And well done to Jon who comfortably completed the race, using his “start sensible, finish strong” approach meaning he crosses the line looking like he hasn’t run yet.



My mile splits went 5:44, 6:12, 5:42, 5:56, 5:58, 5:20. Halves of 17:38 and 17:14  for a finishing time of 34:52.

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