Rat racing again

This is the 6th year of the rat race. It's incredible to think it's been 6 years since I did the first one. I remember being hugely nervous and the preparations and build up, searching out every bit of kit and reading on the web about sports nutrition, pacing, how to kayak and everything else seemed to last for months.

This time we decided to enter on Thursday morning and were sorting out gear and race strategies just two hours before the start. It's amazing how disorganised a bit of confidence can make you as we realised with only 20min to go that we didn't have a survival blanket between us. Once we'd managed to borrow one of them, we were ready to start.

Philip couldn't make the Saturday night so we were only signed up for the Sunday race. It was a really novel experience not to be starting the day with heavy legs and tight muscles. I felt slightly guilty as you could plainly see that so many people weren't capable of running. Funnily enough, one of the first challenges was the same as that in the first rat race - count the benches in Princes St Gardens. That first year, it seemed to take forever to drag my legs round the park and we got it wrong twice so had to go round again and again. This time it was a quick 10 minute blast round (the answer is 178) then we got our bikes out the compound and followed a now-familiar route through the city, down some steps (yes, I still have to run them - Dan rode them though) and then up Arthurs seat. There, we had an orienteering task to collect some letters and rearrange the anagram - T-F-R-A-Y-I - How did it take us so long to solve it? We must have been suffering brawn over brain syndrome!!!

The rest of the race was two loops round the city, with options to cut it short or miss stages to make the 5pm cut off. In all the rat races I've done I've always had to short-course, the full route seems to be only for the really good. But with our fresh legs we were determined not to miss out this time. The next few hours saw us visit the beach (where Dan got thrown in the water), jumping over an inflatable course, juggling oranges in a juice bar, pushing Dan round a car park in a shopping trolley, kayaking along the canal, more orienteering then a brutal climb in the Pentlands up to Bonaly.

Only one person had to do the reservoir swim and, given that the boys had already been in the water at the beach, I thought it was probably my turn to take one for the team! It was actually nowhere near as cold as I imagined, it was really just my ears that were cold, though I swam really fast just to get it over with. I had my own kayaker paddling beside me giving encouragement which was really nice. Then it was a lovely downhill and some bramble/nettle hacking to get to Napier Uni where they'd set up an abseil inside the building. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a queue here. We'd got separated on the canal and me and Philip went the wrong way which had made us a bit later getting to the ropes and we hit them at the same time as people who were missing out the reservoir. Still, it wouldn't be a rat race without some queuing and a good chat at the same time! A lot of the marshalls come back year after year so there's always someone to talk to!

We finished the race in 7hr40. Not only is it the first time I've finished the whole course but we came second in our category. Just to be clear (because this has never happened before) we didn't come second by default, like in some other races - there was actually 20 teams doing the Sunday-only race! Woohoo!!! (Can you tell I'm excited??). I'll always have a soft spot for the rat race as it's the thing that got me started with biking, kayaking and all the other sports I do. I think it's great that it's so accessible and people can do as much or as little as they want and still feel like it's a huge achievement. I had a fantastic race, with two really lovely team mates, which makes all the difference.


John Donnelly said…
well done Elizabeth! I did the RR a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. Is Gary Thompsett still organising? he is a Westies as well! Catch up soon,

Elizabeth A said…
I think other people plan the routes these days but Gary is still the creative force behind them. Will maybe see you next week at Narnain boulders.

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