By David Devennie
Cumbrae is a small island on the west coast of Scotland located between the mainland and The Isle of Bute. It is probably the most accessible of the Scottish islands with the ferry a mere 10 minute journey from Largs. An ever popular outing for day trippers is a cycle or walk around the island along the flat coastal A846 road which measures exactly 10 miles around the island. This annual road race has been going for many years but information on it is pretty scant.
It is an event that I have wanted to do for several years now, but the date has always clashed with the GNR, and there could not have been more of a contrast to last Sunday. Compared to the razzmatazz of the millionth runner, here I was lining up with around 200 others. Unfortunately my England athletics number was not recognised by this event (even before the referendum!) and I had to pay the extra £2 on top of the £10 entry fee.
Starting and finishing at the town hall in the island’s only town of Millport, the road is pan-flat all the way round. The challenge however is the strong headwind which you always get on one side of the island or the other. A 2pm start also meant that it was pretty hot by the time we got going. Despite the overcast skies it was very warm and humid. The pace on the first mile was ferocious and it was clear there were some very serious club runners here. I eased off once we hit the headwind and settled into a comfortable pace after that.
Other than the four mile stretch between the ferry and the town of Millport, the road is mainly traffic free so Sara and William were able to cycle along side me most of the way – the first time I have ever had a ‘support’ vehicle in a race – even if it was just moral! Water stations were provided at miles four and seven.
Post-race was afternoon tea with home made cakes in the town hall – all provided by local volunteers. All in all, a small no frills race, but with stunning scenery (especially the views on the west coast over to Arran) and a very warm and friendly atmosphere. It takes a bit of a commitment to get there but well worth doing if you were in the area.
I finished in 71st place with a time of 01:14:29.