Posted by: Bruce Duncan | July 20, 2010

Edinburgh Rat Race 2010 – Team adidas TERREX Take to the Streets

This past weekend saw the Edinburgh Rat Race take to the streets once again. The 7th edition of the Edinburgh race, and 29th worldwide!!

Nick, Nicola and Bruce had journeyed up the country to take on the city again. Nick and Bruce have both won in the past, but the Rat Race had always been a bit of a jinx for Nicola, so she was really hoping that would come to an end.

Sadly not many top teams had made it up due to other commitments, and a lot of people training hard for the big adidas TERREX adventure race at the end of the summer. But as with any Rat Race there is often some tough local competition, and so many hidden surprises you never know what you might come up against.

The Mean Streets on the Saturday night was as usual fast a furious, with 25 controls spread out from the Innocent Tunnel in the south, to the Forth Canoe club in the west, and Ocean Terminal in the north. With about 400 people setting off into the city, we knew it was important to get a clean route, where there would be minimal queuing too.

Arriving first at the Virgin Active gym in the Omni centre we each had to do 3 minutes on the rowing machine, as expected a huge queue quickly built up and by sprinting to get there first we were then ahead of a large volume of people. We continued down into Leith, with a sumo roll down a bank, a bit of beer mat flipping and then some bmx in Ocean Terminal. Nick kindly took the hair cut, with no hair it wasn’t too much of an issue for him!! Then a long run out to the Edinburgh Boxing Accademy before heading back into Princess St. gardens to do some Wii skiing and bouncy castle fun.

We were 90minutes into our 2 ½ hrs of time, so were on a good schedule. A bit of shocking karaoke was followed by a wee beasting by Urban Gym Instructor Gary Valance. Some micro orienteering in Dumbie Dykes was then followed by slacklining in the meadows, and then it was off to the final checkpoint for us, a task of lacing a pair of shoes in Run4it.

We finished in a time of 2:28, so just inside the allotted time, having amased 340 points out of a possible 400. We had run 26km, and completed 20 of the 25 controls, so we were very happy with our performance. We had no idea how anyone else had got on though, so as we headed home to bed, we had no clue as to what would await us the next morning.

Map of the Mean Streets Run - 25km around Edinburgh

We were up early for day 2, and having eaten and slept well we were feeling good to go. On arriving in the gardens, we got our maps for day 2, it looked like an ok course, but on closer inspection it included a LOT of climb. It was looking to be a warm day too, so we knew it might be tough.

The results however were very good, we had managed to score 48more points than our nearest rivals, and with a point equating for a minute, this was a very healthy lead, but we knew it could go in a flash with any mechanical issue with the bikes, or a route error on the course.

We were led out from the start by Nigel from the Channel 4 TV programme on the event, then had to complete 6 questions relating to various monuments and items in the gardens, once we had these and summed them, we whispered them to a marshal and we were allowed to get on the bike.

We got out of the gardens in about 10th place, this start is always a good leveller for all teams. Happy with our place we set off at a steady pace, and it wasn’t long till we had caught up with the bulk of the teams.

The hills started almost straight away, with a climb up to George IV bridge, and then out up to Bruntsfield, before getting off the bikes for the first time at the Craiglockhart campus of Napier University. We were handed an orienteering map and told to go to the 8 controls, sum the numbers up and return to get out checkpoint. We went well, and Bruce navigated well through the area, he used to train around here when at uni, so there was no excuses. It was all going well until Nick informed Bruce that we had missed a control, a quick glance at the map showed that it was right at the far end, so with the odd curse being uttered, the team raced to get it, overtaking a number of other teams who had done the same thing!

Leaving Craiglockhart, we headed up to the dry ski slope for some dry tubing, and then along the north side of the Pentlands, before having to cross them by means of the red track that cuts up by Howden Burn next to Allermuir and Castlelaw Hills. This is a super tough climb, and to make matters worse the track was really washed out and rutted, so line choice was critical. Nick and Nicola were going steady, while Bruce tried to climb the whole thing, but annoyingly dabbed twice.

Once over the top it was a great decent, and we all managed to stay on the bikes, despite the tv cameras all hoping for a fall! It was then onto some cycle paths and out to Roslin Chapel and a large viaduct. This was a haunting place for Nicola and Bruce as this is where there race went horribly wrong 5 years ago.

After a short traverse under the viaduct and a wee barrel run at the Stewarts Brewery, we continued up and down the valleys to Dalkeith Country Park, the main entrance gate was locked, so we had to do a quick bit of nav to get around it. Once into the park, Nick and Nicola completed a short abseil, before exiting by carrying our bikes across the river.

The climbs seemed to keep coming in the race, and once more we had a huge climb which had all of us struggling in the heat and humidity, before we dropped back to sea level via some urban orienteering in Tranent. As it was so hot, we were all getting through lots of fluid, so decided to stop and try and get some more, we saw a wee pub and nipped in, and the not overly friendly landlady finally filled our bottles!

There was a cruel head wind to ride into all the way to the promenade in Portobello, and we managed to get some drafting behind a road cyclist! However there was no drafting to be done on the kayaking, a stiff wind made paddling in a straight direction pretty tricky, and any weak paddlers were sure to suffer a lot on this leg.

Once out of the sea, and covered in salt, we had the ride back to the centre of Edinburgh, via the steps onto Guthrie St, and the Cowgate. Once back into Princess St. Gardens we had to ditch the bikes and then complete the final challenge of the slippery wall. Bruce managed to run straight up it, and then helped pull Nicola and Nick up to the top.

It had been a long day, 6 ½ hrs of racing in hot humid conditions, and with over 1500m of climb, it had taken its toll on our bodies. The total distance covered was about 90km, so it really had been a good day out, visiting and riding past some stunning places that are just a short ride away from the hustling bustling city centre.

The long hot route for Sunday - 90km around Edinburgh

Our plan for the weekend was to race a very solid race, and not have any mechanical issues. We knew that if we did this we had a great chance of winning. This was the case, and in the end we managed to win pretty comfortably ahead of the all male team of ‘Top Bananas in the Buff’.

It was great to race in Edinburgh again, we all really enjoy racing in and around Edinburgh as it is such a beautiful and varied place. Nicola was very pleased to have finally exorcised her Rat Race demons to win, and our new sponsors were very happy to see us start off our sponsorship with a great victory.

Thank you to all the staff at the Rat Race for making it a great weekend.

A wee report here by 2nd placed team – Top Bananas in the Buff, a great report by Marty,Top Bananas Race Report

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