A Call to Arms… in a Kilt

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Posing with Prize

G’day friends and fellow competitors. I’m here to tell you all the tale of my race at the Perth Kilt Run held last weekend. This is a Guinness World Records-setting event that I’ve been interested in trying out since it’s inception a few years back. It was the third annual, and located close enough to home that Deanna and I both wanted to take part. It also gave us a chance to do a little motorbike tour, and hit Merrickville and Smith’s Falls. I was also onsite to cover the event for Get Out There Magazine, and accordingly, put together my standard video race review. While wandering around and taking the sights in, I also managed to snap a few pictures to commemorate the day. While the Kilt Run is mainly a 5-mile road race, they also had a separate event called the Warrior Class division, which is what I registered myself in. For full details on the race and how I did, read on!

Pictures from Race

As most of you know, I’m a big fan of trying new events. Running a short course on pavement around a town isn’t, strictly speaking, my idea of ‘new’. I crave the off-road, and the quirky, and challening. With the Kilt run, I would at least have the chance to run in a kilt, which is pretty cool. But when I looked further into this event, I uncovered the so-called ‘warrior-class’ division, new for this year. Details were rather sparse (right up to race day), but it implied that you would not only wear a kilt, but be required to carry a sword and shield as well as tackle certain obstacles. Whether this was on the same course or not was not clear, but just that little twist was definitely enough to pique my curiosity and send me to the registration page. Deanna also liked the idea of a race close to home, and signed up for the regular course. It’s always fun to both do a race together, so we’ve been looking forward to this for a couple months.

Rather than drive straight down, run, and drive back, we made a day of it, and decided to take in the day on the saddles of our new motorized steeds. We left around noon, with a nice trip out to Merrickville for some wandering, learning, and tasty ice cream. From there, we followed a route out through Smith’s Falls and finishing off at Perth. We had to arrive some time around 4, as that is when registration was supposed to close. We ended up a bit late, and parking was a bit tough, but with over 2 hours to the actual race, it ended up being alright, and we got our stuff sorted pretty quick. The biggest challenge for me was that for some reason, they gave me a 34” kilt, even though I had requested a 31”. What’s more, I’ve lost a couple more inches, and in the end, had to negotiate with a race director to get a 28” kilt from a racer that was a no-show. Thank goodness, otherwise I’d of have to carry a sword, shield AND hold up my kilt the whole way otherwise.

The race itself started at 6:30, and with over 1700 racers, the procession and lining up at the start itself was a sight to behold. The 40 or so group of ‘warriors’ that I was in had a separate briefing and met together at a pub near the main race area. We were briefed on how our race would unfold, then marched up to the corner in ‘formation’, making lots of noise as the warriors. We waited at the corner for the pipe band that was leading the main field along the same parade route. Once they got to us, we lead the entire race up to the starting line. That was a pretty cool start to the race on a beautiful Saturday evening. As we had extra gear and weight, we were asked to split and stand a bit to the side to let the ‘fast’ runners by at the sound of the starting cannon. Fair enough.

Race Stats

Well, as soon as that cannon was fired, the race took off in earnest. I tried to be polite and stand a bit aside, but it was abundantly clear early on that I was being held back quite a bit, so I started weaving my way through the crowd. Believe me, this is helped tremendously when you are carrying a sword and shield. Were it not a giant pain in the ass in the long run, I think I’d always carry those things with me during races! I found that my pace was almost as fast as if I didn’t have the extra weight. The difficult part was just figuring out how to carry them comfortably. Generally, when running, my arms are slightly bent. This becomes very difficult after a little while when carrying a few pounds in each arm. As a result, after the first 2km or so, my arms were pretty much just hanging straight down. It probably looked a little funny, but my speed was good.

Along the main race route, there was plenty of aid in the form of water stations spaced at least every kilometer, as well as friendly residents putting out hoses to cool off warm runners. The small-town vibe in Perth translated very well to this event, and really made me happy to be racing in a smaller area. Not a whole lot of pretension here, just good local people watching a race unfold in their town. Even after the race, as we were walking back to the bikes, Deanna and I were walking by a house party, with some younger folks, whom I expected to be indignant, but they were actually interested in the race and congratulated us on the run. Faith in humanity: partially restored!

Obviously, the story would basically be done were it not for warrior class. So here is how that played itself out for me. At about the 3.5km mark, we turned into a golf course, and that is where the warriors were split off from the pack. By now, I was leading this division comfortably, so I was the first to get re-directed to the first obstacle. And what was that obstacle? Well, how about a nice shot of Famous Grouse blended scotch! Yup, a drink. Very cool. I barely broke pace while deftly grabbing a plastic tumbler, shooting the contents, and continuing on. From there, it was off into the woods for about 500m of warrior obstacles.

The actual obstacles reminded me a lot of a Spartan Race, but just a little more fun as there were no massive crowds or the over-arching sense of a testosterone overdose! First up was a simple home-made a-frame of branches to run up and over. There was also a spear throw into a hay bale, as well as a log drag. The log was about 6 feet long and probably weighed 60 pounds. This was meant to represent dragging a wounded clansmen off the battlefield. Next was an archery station. This posed the greatest challenge for me. First off, I couldn’t seem to use the bow right, and with a shaky hand, had a tough time getting the arrow on the bow properly. However, I managed to stick my shot on the first try, and was off again. The final obstacle involved hoisting another log up about 15-20 feet, then lowering it down.

I made it through all those very quickly, and my prowess at trail running was clearly paying off, as there were no other warriors anywhere in sight when I pulled back out of the woods to join the main pack of runners. All in all, it was about 500m in length, parallel to the main path on the local golf course. Once back on the regular road, I focused on maintaining a strong pace out of fear that another warrior may catch up. It is so rare that I get to be 1st overall that I really wanted this. Passing by the 5k mark, I knew things should work out, as I still felt strong and the pace hadn’t waned. In fact, I was pretty busy passing lots of other normal course racers, which gave me a boost everytime.

As we got back closer to the finish, the crowds got a little thicker on the sidelines, which meant even more crowd support. The sight of the first warrior coming through prompted quite a bit of cheering and yelling out my name, which was clearly printed on each competitor’s race bib. I started hamming things up a bit more the closer to the finish I got, wielding my sword in mock battle as I ran. I threw it up in the air and caught it many times. It’s a miracle that I never once dropped it. Upon finally crossing the finish line, victorious in a time of around 37 minutes total, I got down on one knee and rested my head on the hilt of the sword as though accepting a knighthood or something. It just seemed like a fun thing to do 🙂

After the race, there was still lots to do in the race area, as there was live music, food for sale, and a beer gardens. Each competitor was entitled to one free half pint of Beau’s beer, which I gladly accepted, knowing I wouldn’t be on the motorbike for another hour or more. Kevin and I enjoyed our beers as we awaited Deanna’s return. Kev managed to get 1st place for the male 37 year old category, and got a sweet towel. For my efforts, I recieved a full bottle of Famous Grouse Scotch, and a Sgian Dubh (that’s a knife for those not in the know of Scottish culture). Deanna also had a great run, and really liked the course. I think it’s a safe bet that we’ll make a return trip next year for this race. It made for a really great ‘local’ adventure. With this event out of the way, I now have only 1 week before I head off for Epic Dartmouth, one of my bigger events for the year, but I feel strong, healthy, and great, so I’m really looking forward to it. Stay tuned for a full report from that race once I’m back! Till then, may the cool breezes always blow up your kilts when you need it this summer!

Video Review

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