Lanark Moor – horsing around

Belated Merry Christmas everyone. Hope yule had a great time and that Santa Paws was good to you.

No Christmas Day parkrun for me or, indeed, a parkrun last weekend so it’s good to be back. To be fair though I did get two early morning runs last week so I can’t complain too much. That’s the one upside of the human doing Marcothon whilst being off work. When I first heard Jim was planning a month-long streak my heart sank. Fortunately it wasn’t that kind of streak. We all know he can be a bit of an exhibitionist at times so you never quite know what’s next.

This week we decided to hit the road again and head to Lanark Moor. It’s always nice to try a parkrun that neither of us have done before. It looked like a toughie and looking at the results for the last few weeks it was probably going to be our slowest parkrun for some time. Always good to get the excuses in nice and early…more of a 27 minute course than the benchmark 25 minutes. Jim even had his trail shoes on for the first time in about a year so that set off the alarm bells.

Lanark is a good hour’s drive from North West Glasgow so quite the adventure. We think it’s currently (or was until very recently) our NENDY. What sort of lunatic gets up at 7:15am during their Christmas holidays to go for a run? Dad said it’s one of those places that always takes longer to get to than you think it should so I guess I just had to go along with that though we did arrive ridiculously early. The human says he’s been meaning to go since it started last summer. Today was a tropical 11° so it felt like summer but with that wind it was anything but on the more exposed parts.

Lanark Moor parkrun is held adjacent to Lanark racecourse which was a horse racing venue until it closed in 1977 (factoid number 1). What are the odds on this week’s blog being full of off the hoof horse racing puns then? That would be a complete mare. This week the only prize filly was Crumble. The course includes a loop of Lanark Loch plus a loop of the Lanark Moor Cycle Trail. Varied, scenic and with very manageable numbers (an average of 55 each week) this sounded ideal for us.

We hit the road just around 8. We had the music up loud listening, of course, to the Runner by Foals (who else). We drove through the Clyde Tunnel, headed for the M74 then turned off to pretty much follow the path of the Clyde towards its source through places that sounded like they were school house names from an Enid Blyton novel – Dalserf, Rosebank, Crossford and Hazelbank. The human had done cross country at Lanark once but it felt like the middle of nowhere. It probably was the middle of nowhere. Deepest South Lanarkshire.

We arrived in plenty time and got to check out the surroundings and the conditions. I went to say hello to the horses and the swans and dad said hi to the organisers. It certainly looked like the going was heavy or soft at best. We then met my friends Toby and Terlan (and their humans Zander and Alison) who I had met before at Drumchapel and Levengrove. I think there were 5 or 6 dogs today. About one dog for even ten humans. Quite a canine collection.

On to the start line, the briefing was done and the blinkers were on. The countdown starts and then off we trot. A nice little downhill slalom towards the loch putting the brakes on just in time to avoid the water. It turned out this downhill lulled us into a false sense of security. One mini loop back round to the start area and then a full loop round the loch. Very picturesque and flat then back up hill again towards the car park near the start area.

That’s when the real fun started. The woodland trail half was an absolute thrill. Pulling the human down the muddy hills, zigzagging through the fir trees, up and down, in and out and round about. To the seasoned trail runner I think they’re called technical sections. To me it was all just good fun. I was in my element. It really was a run of two halves. Both very different but both equally enjoyable.

We eventually emerged for the final 500m along the loch and back up the hill towards the finish line in a time of just under 27 minutes (26:55) and in position 15, unusually high up the field for us. We hung around at the end speaking to a nice man called Chris from Tinto Hill runners as well as most of the other dogs, some of whom looked like canicross regulars with more impressive gear than me.

This was a very challenging but very enjoyable parkrun and all the reviews were spot on. It reminded us a little of Plean and Eglinton. Part tarmac, part woodland trail, part lochside, a little bit muddy, nice tree-lined stretches and ever so slightly undulating. It’s certainly up there with Drumchapel and Queen’s Park when it comes to Scotland’s toughest parkruns but without laps which was a real bonus. Neigh bother for me though. Sorry I’ll rein in the horse puns.

We loved how spread out the field of 48 runners got after a few kilometres. There was over two minutes between the person before us and the person after us. Lots of room for me! Mum says that’s because I’ve got a bad rep and everyone was steering well clear. Cheek!

It’s a pretty unique and interesting venue too and we would definitely recommend a visit. Given a lot of the old racecourse buildings and route are still visible it’s a bit like stepping back in time to a ghost race course. The site also has fascinating history and (brace yourself for factoid number 2) the racecourse hosted Scotland’s first international Air Show in 1910, an event that attracted over 250,000 people. During the war period it was used as an aerodrome.

Big kudos to the very friendly core team and volunteers led by Iain and Reg for a huge welcome, enthusiastic shout-outs and fantastic support. And for making sure we didn’t end up in the loch at that first tight turn! A very warm atmosphere today. I’ve even forgiven the marshal who asked if I was a cockapoo 😉

The big question for the week ahead is whether I’ll be back in the saddle for the New Year’s Day Double. Stay tuned. Meantime I’m off to hit the hay. But not furlong.

See you all next decade!

Crumble out x

The “ghost” racecourse with the old odds board in the background
Saying hello to the horses
Enjoying the loch view – dad loves his wide angle setting on his new phone
Morning swans!
He’s just teasing me now to get a good picture
Cycle trail map
The moors
Raring to go with Toby and Terlan photobombing
Embarrassing dad selfie!
Throwback to the 1910 aviation show – “The Spirit of Flight” statue
Sharing a post run bacon roll – I’m just looking after his diet

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