Race report: Robbie Burns 8k 2017

Clearly my knowledge of Scottish history is lacking, as I had no idea that wearing a kilt could get you arrested in Scotland in 1746! According to the Robbie Burns 8k race website, “By decree of King George, Highland dress was outlawed by the passing of the Dress Act, with the intent of suppressing Highland culture. A first offence was a six-month in prison sentence; second offence was a seven-year exile to a work farm. The ban remained in effect for 35 years.” I have an excuse though – I married into a Scottish family.

I had low expectations for myself going into this race, given that I hadn’t run “fast” (for me!) in months, and instead, have been rehabbing multiple aches and pains through physiotherapy rather than pushing the pace. Last year, my goal time was 44 minutes and I beat that by 12 seconds. This year, I would have been happy finishing in 50 minutes.

We arrived at Burlington Central High School at about 8:30 AM for a 9:30 AM race start, with plenty of time to pick up our race bibs and small backpacks. Alasdair hadn’t even decided yet whether he was going to run or spectate (he’s also rehabbing aches and pains), but eventually made the decision to join in the fun.

Here we are in our kilts, all the way from Aberdeen, Scotland!


Alasdair and I pre-race. Our friend Kathleen took this photo, moving a chair out of the way so it didn’t appear in the picture. The chair’s former occupant had no idea, went to sit down, and, well, you can imagine what happened!

Prior to the race start, a band played some tunes in the gym.


During one of my pre-race bathroom visits, another racer asked me if I was wearing anything under my kilt – and then proceeded to lift it up to see! I didn’t even know this woman.

Alasdair and I headed for the start line, arriving with less than 2 minutes to go before the race started. The amazing 85 year old Ed Whitlock, who holds an incredible number of running records, and continues to earn more, counted us down to the race start.

It was quite congested at the beginning, but it didn’t take too long for things to space out. I did have to run around a couple of people as I went. I had no idea what pace I was running, but I wasn’t feeling any aches or pains, so I ran as hard as I could, knowing that I wanted to hold the pace for 8k. It felt hard, but when I saw a distance marker for the first time at 2k, I knew why! I was running a sub 5:45 min/k pace, which is much faster than I have run recently! I used a young girl as my pacer for a while, and hoped that I could keep up. I guessed that she was running with her dad and maybe her sister. Later I passed them.

I do like this race course, because it’s mostly flat or slightly downhill! One spectator yelled to me, “Nice kilt!” A runner caught up to me and said I was crazy to run with bare legs. They were cool, but not cold.

From about the half way point, I started doing mental math, estimating my finishing time and recalculating as I went. I knew that I would beat the 50 minute mark for sure, and wondered if I might finish under 48 minutes.

Somehow, I was managing to hold the sub 5:45 min/k pace. At around the 7k mark, the young girl I had been following passed me, and I told her that I had been using her as a pacer, but that I was sure she was going to beat me now, because I was fading. Her dad said “almost there!” There was a hill in the last 300-400m along Lakeshore Boulevard, but it’s not too steep.

I continued to push as hard as I could, and heard my swim coach Mat and Alasdair cheering for me in the last 100m or so. In the end, I finished in 45:31.2, less than 2 minutes slower than last year. I was pleasantly surprised with how the race went! Alasdair took it easy, but had a good race too.


Almost done! [Photo courtesy of race photographer.]



Afterwards, I enjoyed a bowl of oatmeal and a pita with jam, as well as a cup of hot chocolate! There were also cookies and bagels on offer. A big thank you to the awesome volunteers, from check in to those standing in the cold (around -2 degrees Celsius feeling like -8 with the windchill) to those doing food clean up! Two young girls were super star volunteers, pouring water before the race, setting out food afterwards, then sorting through the things that could go into the green bin. They were super friendly and cute! I asked Mikaelle’s mom for permission to post her picture here, and she said yes. (Hi Mikaelle and Avery! It’s so great that you are already volunteering! I try to volunteer at races too, because I know that races can’t happen without volunteers like you! I even wrote an article with 10 reasons to volunteer at a race. Thank you for spending your Sunday morning making our race experience great! And Mikaelle, I love your t-shirt: “I’m not strong for a girl. I’m just STRONG!”)


This is Mikaelle, one of the awesome volunteers!

We stayed for the awards and once again, participated in the kilt contest. We didn’t win!


Costume contest after the race. The runner who got the biggest applause (by far) was the man in blue 5th from the right. [Photo courtesy of race photographer.]

It was a fun, very well organized race. We’ll be back!!

Race stats

Time: 45:31.2 (pace 5:41 min/km)

Women aged 40-44: 27/69

Women: 122/410

All runners: 379/845

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One Response to Race report: Robbie Burns 8k 2017

  1. Neil says:

    Is that the official Gloster kilt or unofficial Paterson kilt

    Liked by 1 person

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