When John Pares recently posted on facebook – I had an emotional moment at the beginning of yesterday's race. Like most runners in the cold, I took an old t-shirt to keep me warm and then throw away at the start. Yesterday's t-shirt was my 2003 2 bridges t-shirt, my first ever ultra. There was a small tear in my eye as I threw it. Then, joy of joy, it was still there at the end. Re-united to renew our 10 year relationship after just a few hours apart. Next time I will take more care which t-shirt I choose. - It sent me down memory lane, the Two Bridges Road Race was a classic and local to me. I remember watching it in incomprehensible awe that runners could go so far. A few years later Pauline ran it. I think in all, thirteen times and in 1996 she was First Lady.
It's a shame that such an iconic race has disappeared but the history is still there. Well worth a read - Two Bridges Race History
In 1999 I ran it for the first time, it was my third ultra, (I’d ran Lairig Ghru in 1997 and the Speyside Way 50km in April 1999) and I did it every year from 1999 to 2004, I’ve knocked the dust off from my old running diary, here’s my scribblings for Saturday 28th August 1999
The Big One – Two Bridges
After feeling nervous all week I was ok this morning, just went through the routine of getting ready. It was bright clear day which turned out hot and sunny, ran with my sunglasses on.
Lynne, Pauline, Rabbit the Bruce and myself.
When the gun went off my stomach didn’t do the double flip like at Speyside 50km, I was prepared and ready to run.
Started nice and easy or so I thought, the first 2 miles was in 17 minutes. Quick panic and consciously tried to slow, 5 miles was in 45 minutes, a bit better but still too quick for my liking.
Going through Cairneyhill (Stan Milne just behind me)
I had a bit of pins and needles in my left leg (due to my niggly back) told myself it was only nerve pain and not muscle pain, I can run with that and it disappeared before Longannet.
Concentrated on running easy and keeping relaxed, bounced along to Kincardine Bridge, on the bridge I looked at the views around, felt good saying to myself “One down, one to go.”
It was a bit unsettling after the bridge on the long stretch before turning left along to Skinflats, I didn’t like the lorries scuffing my elbow. Stan Milne, his pal and the Devil’s Staircase guy pulled away from me. I was still feeling unsettled when I saw Ian Laird at a drink station, I smiled when he said I was looking good and I looked like I hadn’t even broke sweat yet, then he said Pauline and Lynne were only a couple of minutes ahead, that made me panic again, I must still be going too quick.
At the next drink station Russell joined me for the rest of the race. Just before Grangemouth caught up with Willie Mair then passed him. After Grangemouth I started to feel comfortable (it’s a bit of bugger that I had to run 18 miles before settling down) cruised along to Bo’ness. With the big hill in mind I wanted to get that bit over with. At the bottom I got my juice and Kendal Mint Cake, walked while I drank and munched. Then started to do wee shuffles so my legs wouldn’t be too stecky at the top, then I think the Kendal Mint Cake kicked in, I felt great, I wanted to run so I did, passing Stan and pal. Really enjoyed the next few miles, I got to the marathon point in 4hrs 25mins, and then the long long slow climb got me but I still caught Margaret from Dundee. I was beginning to tire but in my mind’s eye I was running with long strong legs and looked comfortable.
The Forth Road Bridge took a long time to come into view but I hauled it in. On the bridge I had a few emotional moments when I looked left to where I’ve been. On the slog up Ferry Toll Russell said Margaret was catching me and to pick it up. Pick it up!! I tried, but she got me at the top of Ferry Toll. Worked hard, puffing all the way just to maintain pace, got a lump in my throat when Carol Lisle gave me encouragement going passed her house. I thought I was going to finish with tears streaming down my face but when I got to the top of hill and I could see down to the finish with Erin, Mum and Pauline cheering I ‘sprinted’ in with a great big stoopid smile on my face, I was so elated I could've cartwheeled over the finish.