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Report by Nicole Jackson

Club GP event number four, the Red Moss Kips Hill Race, took place on the evening of 5th June. Conditions were set to be challenging, with high winds and rain forecast but we were lucky with more of a breeze and a small shower.

We were advised to park in Balerno and make our way to the start line, near the Threipmuir reservoir – that was a hill of it’s own! Already out of puff by the time I collected my number, I enjoyed a very steady jog to the reservoir as a warm up. I was grateful for having an extra layer at this stage for sure. Time for the race. I am in no way a hill runner and can’t say I was looking forward to the 10km ahead. I do enjoy something different mind you, and don’t like to say no to a new challenge. I had decided to wear trail shoes seeing as the weather had been fairly dry – my first mistake…

We set off on a gradual downhill on tarmac (my kind of race!!) but very quickly hit a steep ascent. I knew this was coming so slowed right down, knowing I still had a lot of climbing to go. It wasn’t as brutal as I was expecting and I enjoyed the next couple of kms – a long, gradual climb on a manageable trail. Round a corner and there it was, the West Kip. Gawd. It looked high and I could see the front runners at the top already. Anyway – I was looking forward to the opportunity to walk up the incline so powered on, using the guy in front as a wind shield. Getting to the top of the kip wasn’t too bad – it’s always reassuring when everyone around is walking up too. My literal downfall came next as I began the descent. Slipped immediately, elbow taking the brunt of the fall, then my backside. Trail shoes were a rookie mistake. Anyway, after a second or two on the ground, I jumped up, checked there was nothing seriously wrong, and then off I went. I find the steep downhills quite difficult and I am definitely in need of practice. The speed some of the other runners get down the hill is a true spectacle.

Anyway, I started to get back into the swing of things again and really enjoyed the gradual downhill as we approached the East Kip. I took some time to soak up the scenery at this stage and it was so nice to see a rainbow over the hills. Took my mind off the pain for a second… The East Kip was barely noticeable in comparison to the first one, and then I knew it was mostly downhill from here. Perhaps a little too tentatively, I managed my way downhill, a bit nervous after the fall but keen to enjoy the ‘down’ as much as possible. We were then in a valley, with a stream through the middle and it was actually really nice to get my feet wet. It’s always hotter than you think whilst racing. At 8km, I knew the finish was in sight and not long afterwards, I got to enjoy the steep tarmac hill again, but on the way down this time. Back in my comfort zone, on the road, I was able to race right to the finish line, with a smile on my face – believe it or not.

I am definitely not a hill runner – however, the change of scene was wonderful and such a great way to challenge myself. It wasn’t my first hill race and it won’t be my last (although I definitely said that last night.)