As one of the newest events in Scotland, September’s outing sent me to one of the closer events to home.  The Tourist Tool helps dictate these things, though I almost wish I’d left this as easy pickings for December.  Anyway, on with the obligatory opening…

Route description
A short loop around the near side of the pond, then a trip all the way around it (all tarmac).  You then head into the woods for a well sign-posted trek that twists, turns, ups and downs in a loop of its own.  Back along the near side of Lanark loch and back up to the finish. [See below!]

Course profile
Lumpy.  Flat around the loch – obviously – but plenty of undulations across the rest of the course.

Underfoot
Paved at the start and around the loch, trail paths in the woods.  Pretty good quality.

Shoes
Road shoes will do most of the year, though the section through the woods might get interesting through the wet weather!

Difficulty
4/6.  Two things contribute to this.  The twisty, ‘keep your wits about you’ section in the woods, which is narrow into the bargain making overtaking really difficult.  The undulations sap the energy from you.  Then the uphill finish – it’s gradual, but mean!

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Fortunately for me, Lanark has a train station.  This meant the usual start out to Haymarket on a train destined for Ayr, only to jump out at Carluke.  The final leg is just ten minutes and the next stop.

I was cutting it fine, so just as well the trains were on time.  The 9.14 arrival for the 9.30am start didn’t include the one mile jog from the station, but make it I did.  Also making a reappearance was the energetic, excitable dog from Linwood!

The start was fairly cautious – it’s downhill with a sharp right turn at the bottom, and we’d been warned the course was a little slippy with it having been a wet night.  There was a well-bunched group towards the front, including above dog.

It stretched out as lap 2 got underway and we tackled the downhill for the second time, just over 1km in.  It’s a cracking setting that I was only half paying attention to; the majority of my energy was focused on attempting to make some headway through the field…not that it’s a race, of course.  Ahem.

Up the hill I went at the end of that second lap, and off into the woods for lap 3.  This is where the fun really began.

Despite my sense of direction failing me, I loved Plean earlier in the year and this course had a lot in common with it.  The lack of tree roots was a plus, though there’s still a knack to it that a road-runner like me hasn’t quite grasped in full yet.  It was nice being able to switch off and ignore the watch and just go with it.

That said, I was being held up a bit by now.  I was at the back of a group of four – five including the dog – and while I was being patient, the narrow course did make it tricky to pass.  Eventually as one of the guys made a move past, I snuck through and beyond the three of them in quick succession.  A burst of something approaching speed followed to open up a little daylight; I didn’t want to become the driver of the Trulli-train!

I caught a glimpse of the three in front of me.  What progress I was making!  Ah…wait, no…I’ve just got to the narrow bit in the woods, and those same three were heading in the opposite direction as I was just starting the far end of that loop.  Never Mind!  It was to be a lonely existence.

I swear I wondered a few times if I was going the right way through here, but just before the doubt would settle, I’d see the next arrow to reassure me.

On leaving the woods I thanked the cheery marshal – he’d travelled up from somewhere down south and given up part of his morning for this.  Got to love that parkrun spirit.

Now just that last section, which is pretty much the first lap in reverse.  So it starts with a welcome downhill…

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…left around the pond, and a sharp left back up the hill to the start.

That bit hurt.

And through the finish! In a meh 21:26.

*Turns out I was third so didn’t see three people ahead of me at all.  I’m leaving it in; a lesson to me to hurry up about getting this down after each event!

I’d say the only slower course I’ve ran all year was Drumchapel, though the variety along the route makes it a favourite for me.  Quite possibly second behind Alness, not that I’ve given it much thought.

Lanark Moor can be found here.  Do it!

Oh – the cafe is really really nice here.  I felt guilty coming in with my legs covered in mud… Bring cash if you can, there’s a minimum spend on card.  The cake was tasty.

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