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Smokies 10 race report by Hannah Barnet

One of the earlier races in the year, Smokies is a ladies-only 10 mile road race that just continues to grow in popularity each year! Having missed the brief sign up window to get in two years running, I was certainly determined to not let being 18.5 weeks pregnant stop me. Luckily I was feeling great at this stage, and so I lined up among a large field of female runners, ready to go on this chilly but bright and sunny Sunday morning in Arbroath. 

The race quickly headed west out of Arbroath and we were soon out on a long stretch of road that gently undulated upward towards a small village called Arbirlot. I knew this part of the race formed part of the out and back section, and relished in those uphills that would provide some relief on the return journey on tired legs. 

Prior to the race I had also been made aware that this stage is where the hilliest part of the course begins, starting with a short and sharp winding climb out of the village which quickly levelled out as we progressed further into the countryside. The climbing then continued for a total of just under 2.5 miles. With a stepped but runnable ascent, we gradually made our way westward through the beautifully scenic country lanes to find relief in seeing the marshals at the turning point in the loop section of the race. Turning left, we faced one final push upwards before being rewarded with a lovely runnable downhill section over the next 1.5 miles.

Convinced the hills were done at this point, the gentle undulations that were to come before reaching the return leg of the out and back section felt pretty tough on tired legs. The scenic views across the Arbroath countryside and coastline helped to lessen the sting though, and this felt like a good point to take on a gel to help get the legs through these final miles. Winding our way down the short, sharp hill through the small village of Arbirlot was a sure sign we were headed for the return leg of the out and back section in the route. 

The long straight section felt longer than before and what had felt like a gradual gentle incline during the early stages of the race, didn’t quite have the downhill effect as hoped. As a result runners would have to dig a bit deeper to maintain pace and so reap the rewards of their efforts so far. I was thankful as the outskirts of Arbroath came into view and the finish line grew closer. An unexpected twist to this race was that the final sprint to the finish line involved crossing a slightly damp and boggy grass pitch, with its own little bump in the road to boot. This certainly made for a tough finish and a lot of relieved faces as they crossed that line!

The DRR ladies contingent had another successful year at this race, with myself, Jackie Heilbronn and Laura McMahon winning the first team prize, with Laura clocking an impressive 3 and a half minute PB. We also had category prizes with Jackie Heilbronn taking first V60 and Gill Hanlon taking first V70. Well done DRR ladies!!! 

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