Kelso 10 K

A lovely run around the grounds of Floors Castle, Amy got first lady (in the wrong vest!) and Ian got 3rd in his category.

17 00:41:23 Michael Greens
22 00:41:58 Allan Dunbar
23 00:42:05 Amy Kerr
51 00:46:15 Gordon Campbell
63 00:47:16 Ian Forrest
83 00:48:57 Sadie Kemp

Full Results : https://www.dropbox.com/s/01z4gn09wobvjhv/Overall%20Results%202017.pdf?dl=0

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Posted in Race Reports | 3 Comments

Lee Pen Hill Race 15-Jul-2017

Distance 4.8 km
Climb 350 m

This is a short and sweet race. As part of the St. Ronan’s Border Games there are lots of sprint races going on at the same time in Victoria park where the race starts and finishes. There is a great atmosphere and plenty of ice-cream on sale for after the race. I have taken part in this event before but still managed to miss the markers coming back down and ran too far along the hill so that when I did descend I had missed the path and had to make a very undignified gallop through the ferns. It was none the less very enjoyable and I will be back next year. Maybe we could put it in the hill grand prix as it is only 1 pound to enter and its a lovely drive down to Innerleithen.

Here is the ‘relive’ of my race: https://video.relive.cc/strava_1084454807_1500132166252.mp4?x-ref=og

10 Michael Greens 0:31:06 120.9%
20 Rachel Lees 0:39:14 152.6%
21 Daniel Greens 0:40:52 158.9%
22 Sadie Kemp 0:42:56 166.9%

Full results: http://www.scottishhillracing.co.uk/RaceResults.aspx?RaceID=RA-0149&RaceYear=2017
Thanks to Lauren Corbs for the race photos.

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Posted in Race Reports | 1 Comment

Great Glen Ultra

After missing out on a place in the ballot of the West Highland Way, I knew I had to get signed up for something else that I felt was going to push and challenge me. The Great Glen Ultra is billed as one of Scotland’s toughest running challenges so that’s the one I went for. I did the Maggie’s Monster Bike and Hike in 2010 which also followed the Great Glen so I felt like I sort of knew the route. Well that would come back and bite me!

The race begins Saturday at 1am, Neptunes Staircase at Fort William it was a completely new start time for me and it took a bit of a different approach and it did worry me a bit as I am a girl who needs her sleep! At 12.45 we made our way out to the canal for our briefing and with warnings of not falling in and keeping the Loch to your right we were off. The first 6 miles was along the canal and the miles ticked easily by, it was quiet and not much chatting was going on maybe it was the darkness, or the early hour. I just watched the moths fluttering around my headtorch. I had in my head that the first 30 miles were flat and you did not hit the hills until Fort Augustus when you already have an ultra in your legs so I was aware I needed to take it steady, which I did although it’s not flat, I think it just looks like that on the profile as the hills at the end are so big! The route follows canals, roads, trails and woods. The runners were pretty spread out from very early on and I was never around more than 3 or 4 runners, I managed to pass a few runners here and there and then was totally on my own for very long sections when you would see a runner ahead and you would either get closer and pass or they would peel away from you. I had a spooky experience running through one of the wood sections with a narrow trail snaking through which were quite overgrown when again I was running on my own, but kept hearing footsteps behind me. I would stop and look all around, but no, no one there so I would keep running and again – footsteps! Stop look around, no one to be seen so would start running again and still I could hear feet behind me. It was very unnerving. I don’t know if was echos or the way the trees were laid out or some pesky faeries but I did not stop or look round again, I just kept running!

The GGU is a self supported run and no support or pacers are allowed, Alan was only allowed to meet me at three points where there were public car parks and the first was checkpoint 3 at Fort Augustus (31 miles) There is a long 5 mile run along the canal which I know a lot of people find really tough, but I think the thought of seeing Alan helped me through this bit and I managed to pass a couple more people and arrived to his smiling face and a hug. I really did not know how long I was going to take to run this race but having looked at Fling and GGU times from the previous years I managed to get a window of times I thought was realistic for me to arrive in each CP. I had arrived within this window for CP 1 & 2 but I arrived in CP 3 about 10 mins ahead of schedule, now this made me a bit worried, I was feeling good but was I pushing too much? Would I blow up further on? Oh well just run to feel and see how I get on. After leaving Fort Augustus we took the high road. Now I had heard about the high road but if I am honest I did not pay much attention. I thought I knew the route and we had gone pretty high on the Maggie’s event so I just kind of presumed I had already done the high route. Well no! They have built new paths in the last 17 years – who knew! The path out of Fort Augustus took a different path. A very steep path. A zig zagging path up, up and up! I think it has been built for mountain bikes but certainly there were lots of tyre tracks. As I was climbing I was chatting to another runner, Ross who had caught me on the incline and he said one of the runners I had passed had taken his pack off and just lay down. Hope he was just having a wee rest. We walked and chatted along the path at the top of the hill and you could see the path continue stretching off into the distance. I was wanting to push on so said goodbye to Ross, picked up my pace and headed back off on my own. As far as the eye could see there were no runners in front of me but slowly reaching the top of the hill there were a few behind me. After meandering up and down along the hillside the path takes a serious down hill and it was just as steep (if not steeper) than the uphill. It was so tough. I wanted to hammer it downhill but it was just so steep my quads were seizing up and my toes were bashing off the front of my shoes, it was hard to run at all so I sort of walk/jogged/gravity induced tumbled down. I hit the road and was at Invermoriston (40 miles) and checkpoint 4 to be greeted by Alan again. I was still ahead of my timings but feeling good, I caught my breath and headed off, back up to the top of the same darn hill side I had just come off!

Again it was another steep climb and again it was a new path. So much for me knowing the route! A couple of guys who had been in the checkpoint when I came in and out again passed me on the uphills but as it levelled out at the top we played a bit of leapfrog. I was so glad to have other runners around me at this point as we had strayed far from the Loch and it was no longer in sight at all, so much for keeping it on your RHS! I would have been really worried if I had been on my own that I had taken a serious wrong turn. The path climbed up and down the hills and I realised at this point that I really had not done enough hill training- it was showing. I was able to see a couple of runners who were running together and I worked hard to keep them in sight and not be left alone. As it turned out I would spend the rest of my race spotting them disappearing into the distance and then catching them up at checkpoints only for them to disappear again. Eventually this new high route came back onto the path I remembered from before there were some beautiful views up and down Loch Ness here and I managed to take a few more photos.

The path started heading back downhill and there was lots of model train tracks here. We had been told about these at the briefing – a model railway had been built the entire length of the GGW and was part of a documentary to be shown later in the year- http://womeninrail.org/news/channel-4-love-productions-biggest-little-railway-world/ – it certainly added another dimension to watching your footing. I managed to get some good strong continuous running in here and I was feeling good. The next checkpoint was just a water stop and it felt like it took ages to get there. Once I eventually arrived, I saw my 2 buddies, grabbed some water and took off again. I was a bit disheartened as I had a flashback to the Maggie’s event and remembered that this was a very long road section and about 5 miles to Drummadrochit. I alternated walking and running but it was tough, the landscape is pretty open with just fields and the odd farmhouse and a long road stretching ahead with no other runners. It was not long before my 2 buddies passed me and had a really good steady run. I tried to match them but their pace and endurance was better than mine and they disappeared into the distance and over a crest of a hill. I turned round and apart from one runner quite far back behind me there was no one else around. I was about 50 miles in at this point and I was remembering how I was feeling at the Fling earlier this year at this point. I was much more knackered and in a lot more pain than I had been at the same point and that worried me a bit. My feet were aching – the soles and arches of my feet. I have never felt that before and I think it was the amount of tarmac which totally tires me. My toes were also sore and I knew I was getting blisters. My quads were aching, my arms are sore and even my stomach hurt I think from tensing my core while pushing on the downhills. It was the most sore I had ever been and I had to work hard to keep negative thoughts from entering my head and keeping in the present. If I think how far I still have to go, or how many miles/hours I have already done then (for me anyway) you lose it, the head goes down and it all seems a bit much. I need to stay in the here and now. This is where I am and this is what I am doing. So that’s what I did dug deep, kept running and worked on my mantras. Eventually Drummadrochit (54.5 miles)comes into sight and you can see the main road and I know there is another checkpoint about to come into view. Alan is waiting for me again and after a few hugs and another top up I am off again. The marshalls are telling me that the two guys I am chasing are just about 4/5 mins ahead of me and to go and get them. I have been trying to do that for the last few hours I tell them! The road out of Drummadrochit goes on for ages, I knew it was a long road before the climb but god it lasted for miles! I was just walking and eating and having a bit of a breather before the hill which I knew was going to be tough. I kept looking behind me to see if anyone was catching me up but there was no one to be seen. My toe was really hurting and I was thinking I should really have had it seen to at the last checkpoint but I was so focused on getting moving I didn’t. As I was walking along I knew I would have to do something to it but not at the side of the busy road, I would wait til the woods. Eventually the pavement runs out and the arrow points up the hillside. I stopped at a gate and took my shoes and socks off and was putting a plaster on when 2 people went past me, they checked I was ok but I was really annoyed that I had let 2 places go. I got my feet sorted and shoes and socks on and marched up the hill to chase them down muttering to myself all the way. This was one hill I remembered from before and had not changed from my previous journey here, and it was a steep hill but I think I was so annoyed with myself and pushing so hard to catch up to the 2 runners who had passed me it went by really quickly and was not as bad as I remembered. There were also volunteers taking railway track down and I was thinking how many trips they would need to make and how many times they would need to climb this hill to do it. They must have been knackered! I managed to pass one of the runners and then we hit the top of the hill and a long undulating path and I got back into my stride and passed the other runner and just kept running- scared to look back in case they were close behind. The final checkpoint was not far now and I kept going until I reached it. My 2 runners that I had been chasing were here having a seat and refuelling but I did my usual, grabbed my bag and go. I was still ahead of target and there were now about 11 miles to the finish and I was told it was mostly downhill. Except we had another long road to contend with and it was not downhill! It was undulating gently along and I was sore and fed up with concrete. I was scanning the horizon trying to see where we turned off and eventually it arrived. Into a nature reserve we turn which is very overgrown and I ran along being whipped by all the plants and undergrowth. I could hear some footsteps behind me and as I stopped to let them passed, my 2 runners I had been chasing went passed me for the last time. There are loads of signs for hot chocolate and tea and coffee all along this bit as there is some little cafe that sits up here in the middle of nowhere – it’s a bit bizarre.

The road turns into a path which then turns into woods and I know it’s only about 5/6 miles to Inverness. I was pushing on but was really just wanting to be finished, there was a long gentle downhill with just the train tracks beside me and I was just willing the miles to pass quickly I kept running but was pretty tired as I ticked off the miles, I kept looking at my watch seeing what distance I was at, I don’t normally look at my watch and the more I looked at it, the grumpier I got! Where the bloody hell is Inverness was a frequent question. I would slow to a walk and then I would berate myself and start running again. I was just wondering if there was any chance I could get sub 16 hours, I had 16.40-18.40 as my finish time window and I was way ahead of that when this lady came powering past me telling me not far now we were nearly there. All I could think was OMG she is running so fast and strong! Where the hell did she come from? How is she still running like that? And then, Bugger! I had lost a place! I was adamant no one else would pass and I ran as hard as I could. The woman who just passed was totally out of sight – my god she was flying! I now just wanted to finish and was really sore but pushing as hard as I could. I let myself walk about 10 paces every half mile and then start running again. Eventually I could see Inverness – thank god! But the finish just would not come! More paths, I ran through housing estate, building sites, parks more canal and I was just looking trying to figure out where the end was, was it ever going to come, I knew now I would not get sub 16 and I was annoyed for not pushing harder earlier, I could see the swing bridge so I knew I was close but I still did not really know where I was going, I was desperately looking for the yellow arrows and then I saw them, and then the running track and then the finishing arch! I just had to cross the road, get round the roundabout and get there. I was so close – I just needed to keep running a bit further. I followed the arrows round and hit the track and I could see Alan and Vicky standing there shouting me on – I have never felt so emotional crossing a finish line and as Alan hugged me I was fighting back the tears and then I got a hug from Vicky and I was so pleased to be finished. Vicky then gave me a bottle of fizz and I nearly went again!

71.3 miles
8173ft elevation
16.03.42 finish time

The BAM team put on a great challenging race, with the usual wonderful encouraging marshalls and organisation. If you are looking for a challenging race to push your boundaries – then this is it!

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Posted in Race Reports | 20 Comments

St Cuthberts Way 100k

100k… Two and a half marathons. 10 x 10k. 20 x 5k. However you break it down, 100k is a LONG WAY. Not being satisfied with running a 50k, a 33 mile race and two marathons in 12 months, my mid-life crisis hit a high point when I signed up to the St Cuthberts Way 100k back in January! I was attracted to the race because of the route – I spent many happy weekends in the Borders and Northumberland as a kid and it really is outstandingly beautiful. I also liked the fact it was a well-known, allegedly well way-marked route (more on that later), like the John Muir Way. The latter part also goes through familiar territory if you’ve done any of the Eildons or Jedburgh races. So it was I found myself getting up at stupid o’clock on Saturday 8 July to drive down to Darnick to catch the event coach to Holy Island.

The evening before Holly and I had driven down to register at Darnick Village Hall, which is also the finish line of the race. After I’d picked up my stuff and deposited my drop bags (only two for this race, a lot less than ultras of lesser distance!) Holly and I ran the last mile of the course to Melrose Abbey and back. It felt good to run this part of the course so that when I hit it tired and broken the next day, it would feel familiar.

The weather on the morning of the race was outstanding. Clear blue skies and temperatures of around 12 degrees. The race starts at Lindisfarne on Holy Island and heads straight across the causeway towards Fenwick, crossing the A1 before heading off into the rambling countryside of Northumberland. As soon as we set off I got chatting to a lovely lady called Holly from London who was born in Alnwick, not far south of Holy Island. She was a fast marathoner taking on her first ultra, and also a mother of small kids so we had lots to chat about! It made the first 10k go nice and quick and also helped me not to sprint off too fast which I tend to do. Nice, easy 9-10 minute miles until we started to hit the first hills heading towards Wooler.

After a selfie with the man himself I headed past St Cuthberts Cave at around 11 miles. I ran alongside a guy called Steve from Lincolnshire for a while who I’d also sat next to on the coach. He had his map firmly gripped in his left hand and was ‘thumbing the route’ so he was very handy to stick beside! My map had stayed in my bag so far – with about eleventy billion other bits of mandatory kit which in this weather seemed ridiculous but I’m sure would be essential had it been mid-winter. But anything can happen on distance races such as this so my gripe is really a bit unfounded. I did get a nasty bit of chafing from my backpack due to the weight of it though. That was probably mostly due to the water I was carrying – I got through two litres of it before I reached the Hethpool checkpoint at 28 miles.

The descent into Wooler was a bit technical and overgrown after a nice runnable section over some heathery moorland. I picked up my drop bag and tried really hard to eat the peanut butter and jam sandwich in it but only managed half. I’d had a few jelly snakes and some Kendal mint cake by now and my water pack was filled with Tailwind so I wasn’t too worried. I did swig a cup of cola though, which I never usually drink but it tastes like nectar in ultras!

The next section out of Wooler skirts Humberton Hill and was quite boggy and waterlogged. The pack was really starting to thin out, and the 45 mile race which started from Wooler at 10:30 had long since departed. The route became a little harder to follow and the signposts sparser. I ran towards some cows who got jumpy and sent me scarpering off in the wrong direction for a bit. When I finally did find the route again I quickly got lost in some overgrown bracken (a machete should have been on the kit list) and I ended up crossing College Burn too soon. I wasn’t the only one who did this and a small gang of confused runners gathered together scrutinising maps and scratching heads. We followed the river south and soon spotted some other runners coming from the west and joined them on the correct trail up into Hethpool. I was feeling a bit tired by now but just as I started letting my mind focus on the pain the wonderful Yan Horsburgh appeared! He was originally going to run with me from Kirk Yetholm to Morebattle, but decided to keep running towards Melrose instead. He was such a sight for sore eye (and legs) and after a power hug I felt ready to crack on! We bounded out of Hethpool, up over the hills towards Kirk Yetholm and towards the famous halfway point which crosses the border. Mandatory selfie as we re-entered the homeland!

Just before we approached the high point of the course – Wideopen Hill – I reached my own milestone. 34 miles of running and the longest time out running I’d ever done. I felt amazingly good, despite the heat, which seemed to be rising as the day went on. We climbed up Wideopen Hill and spotted a photographer, resulting in my favourite running photo of all time. This pic sums up ultra running for me – never take it seriously and just keep laughing!

The chat was flowing nicely as we dropped down into Morebattle. No duct tape required! The views were incredible and you could see for miles. At the checkpoint I managed to force down a whole peanut butter and jam sandwich and caught up with Holly and Steve. Holly was struggling and thinking of pulling out. I suggested she have a wee rest and decide again after a bite to eat (she made it in the end, not far behind me). I was feeling pretty chipper, and was ready to get going. I’d been feeling the fatigue come in waves followed highs where I felt I could run forever. Don’t get me wrong, the fatigue was hard and the pain was setting in at the tops of my legs and my shoulders, but I didn’t need any paracetamol until nearly 50 miles in. My feet were fine despite wearing old trail shoes that were on their last legs and threatening to burst at the seams.

The next section took us out over farmland and past the impressive ruins of Cessford Castle. A bit too much tarmac here and high hedges which kept out any breeze. The heat was getting a bit oppressive so it was nice to finally get into some woodland for a break. The chat was flowing again, so much so that we went a bit off track and had to jump over a ditch to rejoin it… straight into a massive bunch of nettles. My left knee was covered in stings and was swelling up nicely. Yan also got a few stings so we grabbed some dock leaves and rubbed them on our legs. The pain from the stings took away the pain everywhere else, and I actually found the whole thing very funny! I was still laughing about it when we arrived at the Bonjedward checkpoint, 47 miles in. While I chugged back some cola Yan procured a Baileys coffee off one of the marshals. Put a wee spring in his step for the next few miles!

Just out of Bonjedward is the famous shoogly bridge – I love a shoogly bridge. I ran across it and laughed like a kid. Would have been even more fun if there had been more runners on it! The route joins Dere Street here, the Roman Road that heads all the way to Maxton, and which I’m familiar with from the Jedburgh ultra relay. It was incredible thinking that we’d been running along the same path as not only old St C himself, but legions of Romans too. It’s not as straightforward as it sounds though, and while its straight, it was very overgrown and muddy in parts. There are also about a hundred styles to clamber over, which is not easy 50 miles in! Just before Maxton the wonderful Sarah Burthe joined us, proffering San Pellegrino, snacks and words of encouragement. Another sight for sore eyes! I warned her about the smell before grabbing a big hug. We set off towards the final checkpoint, and the last 10 miles of the race. It felt like I could really do this now.

Both Yan and Sarah were suffering a bit with injuries, so shortly after we left Maxton they headed off towards St Boswells where Sarah’s car was parked. Yan had been an absolute legend and I don’t know if I’d have gotten so far without him. He really is the best support runner in the world! We all had a big hug and I set off on my own towards Melrose. I knew this part of the route from the 3 Eildons trail race, so felt pretty confident. Well, until I totally mixed up Whitelee with Bowden and spent about 5 minutes studying my map, scratching my head and wondering why the Eildons were in the wrong place! I was utterly exhausted by now and mistakes were easy to make. At least I hadn’t gone off track this time. As I approached the Eildons it was getting really dark and the long slog up through the woods onto the pass in between them was very, very tough. The moon was rising and it was full, which was so beautiful. I called Mark from the top, as he and the kids were waiting for me at the other side and I was aware I was a bit later than I’d estimated. I’d been aiming for a 13 hour finish, but it had passed 12 hours when I reached Maxton so that wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t want to make them wait much later though so I pushed on down the other side. As I descended my left knee started to complain badly. Every time I hit the ground a sharp pain shot through it. Half way down I noticed that the Abbey was getting further away, not closer, and realised that I’d taken the wrong path. I could have cried, but I didn’t! At the bottom I managed to run through a cow field surrounded by electric wire to rejoin the route. I didn’t get trampled by angry cows or electrocuted, but I had added an extra mile to an already extreme distance! It was pitch black when I reached the town and was over the moon to see my lovely family waiting for me just past Melrose Abbey.

After seeing Mark and the kids the last mile felt surprisingly good. I ran the whole way, and it seemed less far than when Holly and I had done it the previous day. I turned into the village hall and stopped my watch. 65.3 miles, 14 hours and 55 minutes of running, and I was still in one piece! To top it all, I was 4th lady and 2nd lady vet. The kids came in just behind me and quickly set upon the pizza and snacks that were meant for the runners, but no one seemed to mind! I collected my medal and chugged several cups of fizzy orange. Heaven!

If you fancy dipping your toe into the 100k+ ultra distance, I would highly recommend this race. Cracking route, brilliantly organised by Trail Outlaws and marshalled by some absolutely lovely people. My knee might never forgive me, but it was worth it!

Result:
14:55:01
14th overall
4th Female
2nd FV40

Full results here: http://www.trailoutlaws.com/saint-cuthbert-way-results-2017.php

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Posted in Club Members, Race Reports | 9 Comments

La Marseillaise á Dollar

A belated report by Andrea

This year’s Dollar hill race starts with a pre-race dialogue at the Wilson home: Andrea: “Rob, have you seen my compass?”  Rob: “Ah yes, I forgot, I lent it to XXX; she never gave it back. Here, take this one – it kind of works”.

[editorial: the needle points in the right direction, but the bearing adjustment (now stuck!) is about 10 degrees off – she had been warned! No excuse anyway!!]

Not long after, 5 happy Harriers (Des, Gillian, Gregor, Rob and me) set off in beautiful sunshine to brave the Dollar hill race. It’s one of my favourite races – nice mid-distance race in the Ochills at the perfect time of the year, 15km long with just under 1000m climb. It starts with a gentle warm-up through the park before you gain height pretty quickly (get the most strenuous part over and done with), cruise along several smallish peaks and finish off with a nice long and easy down-hill that makes your running heart sing.

This year’s race was marked by the guest appearance of the Montpellier running club. One couldn’t miss these ~25 extrovert Frenchies in their All-Black running outfits, face-painted with a French flag and a very strong French accent – oooh lálá! [editorial: down girl!]

Just before the race, Gregor warned us: “don’t follow the French”. As it turned out, he should have warned these innocent people “don’t follow the Germans”.

There is not much to report for the first half of the race.  It started to become exciting when the weather filled in about one hour after the start. Out of the blue, I could no longer see any runner in front of me, and the landscape had turned blurry and featureless.  I was relieved when I eventually heard some footsteps behind me – just to find out that it was one of the Frenchies. He was so “appy to ave find me”, because he had no idea about the race route – indeed, he hadn’t even bothered to look at the map – let alone take one.  Starting to feel a bit apprehensive, I got my map and compass out. My navigation skills are pretty rubbish at the best of times, but I soon realized that it’s even more difficult to determine exactly where you are when you can’t see what’s around you. Worse, the compass indeed only “kind of worked” with the needle dancing the Marseillaise between West and North West. Furthermore, the Frenchman had this gormless look on him – they don’t seem to do maps and compasses in France. So we plodded on as well as we could, constantly checking the map and compass bearings, and obviously loosing time. It didn’t take long until the next runner caught up – now we were 3 on a long path that felt suspiciously too much downhill. The cruel reality hit when we could eventually see 2 big lakes close by – these were not on the map! We were seriously lost and we didn’t have the faintest idea where we had gone wrong. All we could do was turn around and hope to get back on track. As we slogged back uphill, more runners came our way – each one had just faithfully followed the runner in front. Eventually, we met 10 errant but still happy compatriots of my new French running buddy – all “Perdue”. At some stage we were about 15 people having a “lost and found” party at God-knows-where-in-the-Ochills. By that stage my soggy paper map had almost disintegrated. Luckily one of the other lost locals got his laminated map and compass out, and could actually navigate. Hurray! Unfortunately he needed to work a bit more on his social attitude – he just plodded away through the thick fog, and didn’t give a damn if others could follow or not. So he, and my French buddy from before (the traitor abandoned me after he saw the guy with the laminated map) rushed on ahead, while the rest of us tried to stick together to make sure nobody got lost again in the mist. Coming to peace with the fact that I wouldn’t get a PB, I started to embrace the opportunity to get to know some fellow runners a bit better and share this unique experience. We had a good laugh about our mountain-wisdom. Eventually we ran into the sweeper who had been frantically looking for us, and he made sure that each one of us was back on route.

Dollar route plus Andrea’s diversion to the lochs to the north

The race took me almost 3 hours – almost 1 hour more than what I was aiming for. I won’t ever forget this race – but I’m grateful for this unique experience and very important navigation lesson: don’t venture into the hills without being able to properly navigate and get your map and compass out early, before you are seriously lost. Thanks to my 2 new running friends for making this a pleasant experience, and for the other Harriers who went out to look for me after finishing the race.

Congratulations to Des for a fabulous 7th place (and for finishing the race in almost ½ of my time!), to Gillian for coming 2nd F40, to Rob for finishing well in the top third after the Lairig Ghru the week before, and to Gregor for reaching the finish line fresh and easy under 2hours.

http://www.scottishhillracing.co.uk/RaceResults.aspx?RaceID=RA-0071&Year=2017

Andrea

PS: I did still win my tennis league match the next morning – in case anybody cares. It’s a bit easier to navigate around the tennis court. 🙂

Happy smiles before the start

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Posted in Race Reports | 6 Comments

Arrochar Alps 2017

After missing out on Slioch due to a dodgy ankle, I was looking for another long hill run having suitably recovered from Trotternish Ridge. However, this is one of the hardest in the Scottish Long Classics Series, 15.6 miles four munros, very steep and not much of it runnable. I did it in 4:48 in 2015, surely I could get that time down a bit.

The forecast was a bit naff with a westerly breeze and showers coming over around midday. But physically this time I had no excuse and duely set off for Arrochar at 08:10 on Saturday morning. Going via the M8, Erskine Bridge and Loch Lomond, it took only 1:45, even with a bit of holiday traffic. Arrochar lies at the north end of Loch Long and the scenery is great and a pleasant change to the east coast.

At the Arrochar Community Hall there was the usual sign-on, kit check and then the mile jog to the start at the southern end of Glen Loin. We couldn’t see any tops but the rain hadn’t appeared yet and it was actually quite warm. But with the thought of massive mountains and the forecast rain, I kept my long-sleeved top on.

After a short briefing and count-through we were off at 11:03. With such a long race in prospect, the start was quite leisurely and the first 4 or so miles were along a nice trail and then tarmac leading up to the Sloy Dam.
Just before the dam, we turned right up the steep slope towards our first munro, Ben Vorlich. The valley was sheltered and I was overheating badly, so I reluctantly removed my top, losing two places in the process.

Normally I am quite strong up steep slopes, but as Rob rightly observed, only nutters enter this race and I wasn’t able to pass anybody. It was a long slog – practically from sea-level, 2600 feet up to the ridge. At this point the mist was coming lower, the breeze had picked up and it was cold enough for the top to go back on! More time lost (well, a minute). Then a left turn and a nice ridge jog up to the summit. We now couldn’t see much at all and it was drizzling. One day I’ll do this race in good visibility.

Back-track south along the ridge and then the very steep plunge back down to the dam. It was very steep, tussocky with hidden holes and rocks. A lady runner asked me what the best line was down to the dam – did I look that competent? So I helpfully said no idea but probably just straight down! Ankles still intact, we said ‘hi’ to the first marshalls and ran across the top of the dam (very spectacular) to the foot of munro number 2.

I remembered this climb well from last time – again very steep, tussocky with soggy and slimy bits. Another lady runner asked me if I had done the race before and the best way up (was it my aftershave?). And again I said ‘just straight up’. Maybe it wasn’t my aftershave after all because she obviously wasn’t going to rely on my advice and got her map out! I had actually written down 220 degrees on my map and on the way up you can generally see the crags before you get to them and skirt around.

Eventually the near-vertical slope eased off and we arrived at a even soggier plateau with lochans and bogs. Very squelchy, but we soon came to the foot of the next steep climb up to the summit of Ben Vane. I had somehow managed to keep up with the lady navigator and imparted more impartial advice at the top and suggested we head due west to avoid some deadly crags. As she had already been looking at her map, she seemed to agree. The second descent was less steep but still slippy and technical. Down at the valley bottom were two cheery marshalls dishing out jelly babies (I declined, still remembering Stuc A Chroin of yesteryear).

Navigation so far had been quite straight-forward, but visibilty was getting steadily worse and the route up Munro number 3 wasn’t obvious, so I set my compass to 226. I could just about see the odd body both behind and in front and they appeared to be on the right line. We were heading towards a gully which lead up to the summit ridge. The problems began half way up this gully when my legs started to not work very well and it was getting very cold. I relented and stopped to put my jacket on. I should have put my hat on as well, but thought that this would be ridiculous in the middle of summer. Bad decision! As a result of this further pause, at the top of the gully the runner in front of me had vanished into the mist and the rocky landscape I was confronted with was missing a sign saying ‘This way to the summit’. I wasn’t going to stop again and assumed that going ‘up’ was probably OK. Fortunately The top of Beinn Ime appeared suddenly out of the gloom and seeing the lovely red and white checkpoint kite was a huge relief.

It was freezing at the cairn and scarily deserted, but I knew I had to find that blinking compass again and I set it to 140 which should get me down to the marshalls at the Bealach a’ Mhaim. I was now worrying about hyperthermia but after much stumbling and sliding I got to the bottom and almost ran into the marshall and tripped over his tent it was so misty. This was accompanied by a sort of whoop/scream from his companion. I am not sure if this was due to my appearance or she was just glad to see another runner arriving.

The marshalls showed me a convenient gap in the fence and then dived back into their tent. They must have been even colder than me. I couldn’t see any path at all and couldn’t even make out where the terrain went upwards – so again using the compass, I set off hopefully for Beinn Narnain, the last munro. Phew, there was the path (and another whoop from somewhere below).

The climb up Narnain is the most straightforward, not too steep and a reasonable path. I seemed to get to the top quite quickly despite very sore legs. My hands were very cold by now and I took ages to stamp my number on my running vest, now somewhere underneath my flapping jacket. I could hear some eery voices back down the mountain so set off quickly down the ridge and the last descent. In the confusing gloom, I didn’t recognise the ridge or path at all and spent more time faffing around with map and compass. I was so certain that I was somehow on the wrong path that I stopped for a minute to make sure that the eery voices were following me. Mistake! One gradually overhauled me and the second I just managaged to keep up with most of the way down.

The descent was very, very difficult, verging on treacherous in places with steep drops, slippery rock slabs, bogs and mud. Hardly anywhere to run down. However with stinging legs, we at last slid on to the forest track near the valley bottom. Only another mile and a half! My legs were so shot that I couldn’t keep up with the eerily-voiced runner and he pulled away. I kicked myself later when I learned that he was an M50.

At the finish I was quite disappointed that they were no cheering crowds after such an epic run, but was quite pleased to see the timekeeper nonetheless.

Back at the hall, my hands still hadn’t thawed out and I couldn’t even untie my laces and had to pull my shoes off! However, after getting changed into dry clothes I was surprised to be feeling quite sprightly and in need of food. We had all been given a voucher for the Cafe next door and I gulped down some interesting tomato soup and a superb bacon roll.

During the reminiscing and cups of tea that followed, it transpired that Walter had somehow strayed from the route and had ended up running an extra 10K!! Maybe losing time faffing around with the compass wasn’t so bad! It just shows that you must trust the thing absolutely and not any other instinct. (I am sure you have all heard about Flight 19 being lost in the Bermuda Triangle in 1945 – the flight leader for some reason thought that his compass was not working properly and mis-identified some islands. They subsequently got very lost, ran out of fuel and tragically ditched and drowned.)

And now for the Geology of the area – no I’ll spare you the details this time! (But it did look very like schist that I was skiting over.)

I am not sure how much I actually enjoyed the race, but it was certainly an experience! I will only do it again with guaranteed visibility! The bonus was to improve my time by 3 minutes and get two bottles of beer for 2nd
M50 (should have been 1st). Many thanks to the Organiser and marshalls – what a great effort!

Duncan.

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Posted in Race Reports | 4 Comments

The Fabulous FIVE

I would like to pay tribute to the Fabulous Five who turned up at Hillend this evening to run 7 times up and down our hill rep course in unremitting rain.   The FAB FIVE, in alphabetical order, were:

Gillian Cairns, Chris Downie, Julianne Friedrich, Rachael Lees and Susan McFarlane.

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Posted in 10k Road Race, Race Reports | 4 Comments

Lairig Ghru 2017 – Warts and All

I am not good at long races. I am simply never fit enough and it is only by October every year (i.e. The Pentland Skyline) when I normally have increased my fitness to a level worthy of the long races.

I have in fact quantified this problem. I teach multiple regression to my students using my Scottish Hill Racing profile metrics. The figure below shows the residuals from a linear modelling of the data – the details are not important (it’s all non-linear really) – but any dot above the zero line means that I have run that particular race slower than the model prediction. On average (the red dotted line) I am slower than predicted for ANY race < 6.5kms in length (I cannot sprint) and results again start slowing down at distances > ~25 kms. My racing distance sweet spot is between 8 and 22 kms – excluding other factors such as terrain etc.

Linear model residuals in minutes

 

OK – that was the preamble.

The Lairig Ghru is a stunning route through the Cairngorms providing some of the best views of, and tracks through, a glaciated landscape you’ll ever find in the UK. Most people walk it, taking 2 days, and camp somewhere in the middle. The race, goes south to north starting at the police station in Braemar and finishing at the police station in Aviemore. At 43 kms (~650 meters elevation gain), it is clearly outside “my norm” (in fact, this is the longest race I have ever done!). I only decided to do it as Duncan said last year after the Ochil 2000s (33.5kms, 1400m), that I would have no problem with the Lairig Ghru. However, from my simple linear model it was very likely that I would do MUCH worse than the model prediction of 4 hrs 12 mins. My aim therefore was 4 hrs 30 mins as it is around that time when my Garmin GPS watch’s battery normally dies.

Lairig Ghru route map with key locations mentioned in text below

Saturday gentle hike near Spittal of Glen Shee

So – on Saturday, Andrea and I drove up in the afternoon to stay the night at the Spittal of Glenshee. Although we could have blitzed up very early Sunday morning, I felt that this more leisurely approach would mean I would have plenty of time to eat loads for the 10am race start on Sunday. I was also so bloody anxious, I probably would have crashed the car anyway!

On race day, we got into Braemar for about 9am and, once registered, had a good 40 minutes to warm up and make a few pre-race piccies. There were over 200 runners so the village was pretty much gridlocked. Our plan was that Andrea would see me off and then drive around to Coylumbridge near Aviemore and then run backwards along the LG route, meet me on the way and then buddy me back for some of the way back towards the finish.

Race start – a few minutes of enjoying being in the leader pack. I’m like a child – cannot resist!

At about 10.10am, we were off and I could not resist having a little sprint to get to the lead pack. This works well for some fun cheeky shots, but did unfortunately mean that I spent most of the race being passed by runners.

The first 5 kms or so was on the road up the Dee valley where I briefly had a nice chat with Walter who clearly would beat me this day! The route then tracked NW across the river into the Mar Lodge estate. Not being a road runner, I tried to run at what I felt was a sensible pace (5-6 mins/km). Maybe in hindsight this was a tad too quick but it felt comfortable at the time. I arrived at the Red House in Glen Derry (dendro derived building date of 1808 :-)) at 1:08 – well inside the 1:30 cut-off and I felt good. In fact, once we crossed the river, the route finally transformed to a more normal trail and I did get a little carried away and passed a few people.

The first main climb out of Luibeg

Unfortunately, this overzealousness resulted in a slight tweak of my right calf. After a few kms, the first major climb started after we crossed Luibeg Burn, and I realised that my calf was really tight and was threatening to go. I spent the climb (walking mostly) trying to stretch it in the hope that it would loosen.

At the top of the rise the route shifted more to the NNW and for the first time we had our first view of the Lairig Ghru in the distance. The next 5 kms were rather tortuous. I had been so hung up on running ‘sensibly’ to Derry and then worrying about my calf, I had forgotten to

Looking back down the way we had come into Luibeg and Derry

eat anything – only having had one gel. The path was steadily getting more and more technical and I realised that my stomach was growling. Bugger – I had left it too late and was feeling rather fatigued. You would have thought I would know better! I now focused on trying to stuff as much food and energy gels into me as my stomach would take, washed down with plenty of electrolyte. This was easier said than done and I kept getting muesli stuck in my throat and spent quite a bit of time retching. Oh – and it was also raining a little at this point and getting rather cold. So – you can see – I was loving every minute of it!

The final climb up into Lairig Ghru in the distance – still some way to go and the path just got rougher and rougher!!!

On the final climb towards the high of point of the Lairig Ghru, the route enters a cobbly boulder field where there is essentially no path. This technical section is infamous and running is not really possible. Despite the rain making the rocks damp and slippy, I managed to finally get a semblance of strength back into my legs and passed a few individuals. Maybe my luck was final turning and on the other side, I could sprint down to glory. My pace had been drastically slowing since the first climb out of Luibeg and I really need to increase it on the run down. Surely this was my time.

Aviemore in the distance – only 16kms away!!!

835 m.a.s.l: Lairig Ghru pass summit: 27 kms done, 16 kms to go and all downhill! I was looking forward to this – I knew Rothiemurchus well. Unfortunately, I had only been up to treeline from the Rothiemurchus side and the 4 kms between the Lairig Ghru and tree-line was rather technical. Instead of flying down and gaining pace and places, I lost control of my legs and they constantly cramped the whole way along the very technical track. It was a nightmare. I luckily did not fall, but my hoped-for pace gain was lost in the wind.

Lairig Ghru race profile and my rather inconsistent pace

 

To top the misery cake with further “brown” cream, on entering the forest, all the gels and muesli bars I had forced down earlier decided that they would now like to leave me. At this point, I saw Andrea, who in her typical hyperactive jovial style was shouting, “well done, well done, you’re doing great” with me thinking, “arrrgh…..I’m gonna xxxx myself, I’m gonna xxxx myself”. The path at this point was less technical, so I managed to squeeze my buttocks together, shout to Andrea that I needed toilet paper and after digging through her bag she soon easily caught me up with my needed “relief”. After a “brief” diversion, I was back on the road – 7 kms to go. Andrea buddied me and fed my salted crisps while I steadily choked on them. The 3 kms through Rothiemurchus forest seemed to go on forever. I could feel my speed slowly decrease. There was nothing I could do. I was not cramping now, but the muscles in my groins were complaining and I could barely raise my legs.

On hitting the road at Coylumbridge, Andrea left me and sped off in the car to get to the finish to see me cross the line. Just a few kms to go and I just kept focussing on putting one foot in front of the other, ticking of known points along the road: the Hilton, the visitor centre, the larch stump, the turning to Loch an Eilein, the tennis club, the river, the underpass below the railway and then suddenly I was on the main street in Aviemore. Literally only 500 metres to go. No matter how hard I tried, I could not increase the pace. I must have looked like a stumbling wreck.

FINISH!!! You have no idea the relief I felt at crossing that line!

I crossed the line in 04:49:44, 125th from 221 runners. Not my best race at all. I have never been so exhausted in my life and to be honest, I felt a little emotional at the end. I gave Andrea a massive hug as she had been fabulous, not only supporting me the whole day, but keeping me going through the Rothiemurchus pine woods which had seemed endless.

If you want to “live” the race as I did – here’s the route until Coylumbridge where I stopped my stopwatch just before it died. Just click the link:

https://www.relive.cc/view/g12507768941

Now reading this back to myself, it all sounds a bit of a nightmare. I guess it was – the 2nd half at least – but that mainly reflects my lack of appropriate training on long flattish trails. Give me a 3 hour hill race – no problem – but running 30 kms on the flat, I am obviously useless. Back in 2006, I failed to complete the Skyline on my first attempt and was determined to conquer that race – I have now ticked that box 8 times. So – the big question is – will I run the Lairig Ghru again? I certainly need to change my training plan/style. I need to run many more long trail races. The technical nature of the Lairig Ghru is really not the problem, but you do want functional legs for those tricky sections. I need to also learn to eat while running. The ascents on the Lairig Ghru are not that steep and with fit legs, are mostly runnable, so eating while moving is a crucial skill that I am sure the “ultra-types” are used to. Yes – I think I have no choice to try this again – but next time – I will train quite differently.

As a final word of context, the winner, Murray Strain, came in at 2:58:10 – running a technical rough trail race of 27 miles and 650 metres of ascent. That would be a good marathon time – let along the Lairig Ghru. Complete respect.

Rob

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Posted in Race Reports | 6 Comments

Eildon Three Hill Race 24-Jun-2017

It was a sunny day for the race this year, but pretty windy which meant you were blown about on the hill tops. It was especially bad when it hit you from the side and nearly blew you off your feet. The views were as always lovely up there and the ferns and purple heather on the hills so pretty. Well worth the drive down to Melrose.

Pos. Hour/Min/Sec Name
22 47/8 Michael Greens
35 48/48 Mike Brooks
53 54/49 Juliane Friedrich
62 59/24 Sadie Kemp
72 1/2/42 Scott McIntosh

Full results here: http://galaharriers.co.uk/results/eildon-three-hill-race-24th-june-2017/

Michael got 2nd in his category and I got third in mine. Unfortunately we didn’t hang round for the prize giving.

http://galaharriers.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Eildon-Hill-Race-24th-June-2017-Prize-winners.pdf

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Red Moss Kips Race 21-Jun-2017

We started the race in clammy weather, not long in the thunder and lightnening started so that by the time we were on the kips we were in a storm. A marshal diverted the later runners off the second peak so we skirted East Kip and headed down out of the downpour. I really enjoyed the torrent that followed, it was very exhilarating to run through such a deluge and it wasn’t that cold. We didn’t hang around long at the finish as we were soaked to the skin and as the rain eased the midges came out in abundance. A great turnout from the harriers and some very competitive times.


23 Des Crowe M50 0:50:07
24 Billy Colvin M40 0:50:13
35 Stuart Sanderson M50 0:52:22
36 Duncan Ball M50 0:52:46
46 Michael Greens M 0:54:20
54 Mike Brooks M50 0:56:21
55 Alan Dunbar M40 0:58:11
74 Gregor Gorjanc M 1:02:09
81 Chris Downie M50 1:04:21
84 Juliane Friedrich F 1:04:48
88 Andrea Wilson F40 1:06:09
91 Sadie Kemp F40 1:07:07
105 Romana Gorjanc F40 1:35:17

Full results here: http://www.scottishhillracing.co.uk/RaceResults.aspx?RaceID=RA-0318&Year=2017

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Magnificent 7 at the Seven hills of Edinburgh

It was a hot and clammy day for the race this year. With many of us struggling in the heat. Allan, Michael and Tracy were new to the event but all managed to successfully navigate the unmarked course. I got a minature of whisky for doing the double (Edinburgh marathon as well). It was my fifth time doing the challenge and I will without doubt be back again. This is such a special race unlike any other.

Racers:
102 2:26:18 Allan Dunbar
152 2:40:12 Kevin Anderson
171 2:47:37 Michael Greens

Challengers:
42 2:44:14 Sadie Kemp
94 2:56:56 Tracy Philp
114 3:02:06 Gilly Marshall
123 3:04:29 Melanie Dunbar

Full results here: http://www.seven-hills.org.uk/results.asp

David Cairns’ pics:

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Strathearn Marathon 11th June 2017

We arrived in plenty of time after Gilly kindly drove us up to Cultybraggan Camp. Michael and Tracy had spent the night in their van so were already settled and made us all cuppas while we waited for the race start. The pipers were there to set us off as we did a loop of the camp. They reappeared at various points around the route to give us a tune which I found very motivational. Yan was also out cycling on the course with his drum and bags of encouragement. The weather was good, quite breezy with the odd shower to cool you down. At times the sun came out and I was wishing it away as I don’t run well in the heat.

After the race I went for a shower, then into one of the Nissen huts for some grub. It was then a lady approached me and asked me my name and handed me an envelope. It seems I had got the first vet 40 prize (I was very surprised indeed). Looking at the results it seems they have awarded the first 3 winners (2 of them FV40) and then made me first FV40. I do feel a bit of a fraud but I am not complaining as I got enough to get a chinese for my dinner. 🙂

My relive : https://www.relive.cc/view/1031311436

42 Sadie Kemp FV40 03:47:03
62 Tracy Philp FV40 03:59:59
74 Mark Dawson MV40 04:11:56
80 Gilly Marshall FV40 04:15:17

Full results here: http://www.strathearnharriers.org.uk/media/1625/strathearn-marathon-2017-results.pdf

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Traprain Law Race 10 June 2017

Distance 9.7 km
Climb 190 m

This is a great race that has a bit of everything. Cross country in woodland, through a river, over a hill and tarmac. There is a lovely vibe to this event as it is part of the East Linton Gala day celebrations, so there are stalls and bands and even a beer tent. We opted for the ice-cream after the race.

My race on relive : https://www.relive.cc/view/1029814439

Results:

31 Michael Greens M 00:50:59
33 Mike Brooks M50 00:51:28
57 Julian Friedrich F 00:57:41
59 Chris Downie M50 00:58:02
64 Sadie Kemp F40 00:59:59

Full results here: http://carnethy.com/

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Drama at Durisdeer Hill Race

This post describes Gregor’s and Rob’s experience of running Durisdeer hill race on the 10th of June 2017.

 

Gregor’s bit

I was contemplating running the Durisdeer hill race for the last few weeks. While the distance (14.7 km) seemed fine, I hesitated due to elevation gain with several sharp ascents and descents (see Figure 1). I decided to give it a try with a mindset that this would be a very good hill training session. Practically at the same time Rob announced his swapping from Slioch for this race (due to some lurgy). While a group of Penicuik harriers headed to sunny Traprain Law race, we headed into something quite different. Namely, the forecast did not look promising; rain all morning and mild showers during the race. Quite different to last time harriers run this race (http://penicuikharriers.org.uk/2013/06/09/damsel-domination-at-durisdeer/). It turned out the forecast was spot on.

Figure 1: Durisdeer race profile

Upon arrival in the small village of Durisdeer (with surprisingly large and nice old church) we registered and readied our kit. It was soon obvious that turnout was small (40 max), which is still more than about a dozen of runners a couple of years ago (according to the local organiser). Albeit most of the rain stopped by race start, clouds and light wind did not go away. Few runners, poor visibility, and my first time being in the area were clear signs that navigation would be crucial. I have done a navigation course this spring and kind of really looked forward to this test, albeit with quite some dread. We set our compasses and were ready to go. Given the weather and temperature of 13C we decided to start with jackets and hats on. I even opted for gloves to make sure I fully warm up.

Figure 2: Durisdeer race route

Start was at the field behind the settlement with a short plunge down to the burn and long climb to Black Hill (see Figure 2). The climb involved quite a bit of walking interspersed with bouts of running where possible. I soon had to take both hat and gloves off due to generated heat. Virtually within minutes the runners were completely spread out. Occasionally it felt like running in twilight with occasional glimpses of a runner on left or right. Already at the Black Hill summit navigation proved crucial – we could only see a few meters ahead and wind was howling (poor Marshalls!). I caught a small group immediately after the top, but soon realised that they were straying off left (west) of my compass course. Should I follow them or my compass? It would be a bit embarrassing to get lost so early into the race. I mustered courage, trusted my compass, and pulled away from the group. (While writing this and looking at the map I realise that I pulled away from them at the last possible moment. Namely, I had hit top of the burn just south of Pettylung hill, which means that I was already slightly off the race route, but the group had to be off even more). The descent was steep with lots of blueberries and some heather that provided friction even in very wet conditions. I was encouraged after I saw a couple of runners ahead on my compass course and dashed down the hill.

After crossing the marshalled main road, we ran on a gravel road past Dalveen farm to a narrow glen with Enterkin burn. (This must be a nice hiking route on a sunny day!). I joined a group of runners and we were overtaking each other depending on whether they were uphill or downhill sections. I got so warm I had to take my jacket off. Soon we reached a marshal and turned right up a narrow pass/col towards Upper Dalveen. Throughout this pass, I kept wondering if I was on the right course as it seemed to narrow. I tried to corroborate my position according to incoming burns on the map, but there were so many flowing from all directions due to recent rain that I abandoned this idea. I put faith in my compass and the fact that marshal pointed us in this direction and there really were no side paths that a runner could stray away. The pass ended with a sharp descent – I admit I was chickening out on running on hilly grassy sections full of water. We finally hit some tracks along the hills where I could run more intensively.

Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle just before reaching the Upper Dalveen house. I think I was too eager to balance the lost time on descent and dashed down the muddy track too quickly. I was contemplating to pull out as there was a steep ascent to the Well Hill ahead of me and the position was just about right for pulling out as marshals were stationed a couple of hundred meters ahead at the main road crossing. While crossing a couple of swelled burns I paused in them for a while, which proved to be very good for my ankle. I retied my shoelaces and gently jogged towards the marshals. When I reached them, the pain was largely gone and I decided to continue with the race.

I took a bearing, powered my mojo, and bit into the diagonal ascent up the Well Hill. Visibility was again getting very bad with each meter of height gained. I could barely see down into the valley (perhaps it was better this way – that hill is very steep). I also could not see the Well Hill ahead. Ankle sprain and adrenalin rush took away quite a bit of my concentration and I was mentally struggling with reading the map. I took faith in having runners both on my left and right and focused on pacing and making sure I took steps that would not take too much energy or even increased my injury. It turned out that this mental focus put me back into the game. I soon gained back the lost positions and even gained some – all while climbing up the hill. I guess the Thursday hill reps are paying off! At the point of Lavern burn split I was ahead of the group and followed the compass up into the cloud. After reaching the top of Well Hill I carefully dashed towards the Black Hill with a new group. Here the rain and wind really took up and visibility was very bad. I focused on where my feet landed and overtook the group with each small climb.

Just before reaching Black Hill, I was about to take the final bearing, when the wind swept away my map. Bummer! Luckily, I met a runner and we took a bearing together and dashed down to Durisdeer. The descent was tricky as there was water everywhere and the grass was wet and I was not sure if there was enough friction. With small fast steps I battled with two runners all the way to the starting burn. There I gathered all my strength and sprinted to the finish. I believe I finished 20th (2h, 24min), while Rob finished 11th (2h, 12min).

What an experience!

Gregor

 

Rob’s bit

Having picked up a bad cold while down in the SW earlier in the week, I had to decide on Friday whether to drive up to Slioch with Duncan, not knowing if I was fit enough to race, or stay at home one extra night and then deciding the Saturday morning whether to do Durisdeer. Even this latter race is not easy and although it is shorter than Slioch (14.7 vs 20 kms), there is more height gain (1240m vs 1180 m). In the end, I chose an extra night at home in the hope that the medicinal wine and whiskey would help.

I woke up Saturday morning with stomach ache and after eating breakfast I decided it was more related the whiskey/wine mix and nerves about not feeling 100%, so texted Gregor at 8.30am that I would run Durisdeer. At only a 75 mins drive away, I felt that I would not lose much if I felt too poorly to run and could pull out. The forecast however was not good, so I was a little more apprehensive than normal and did wonder if I was being a tad foolish between coughing fits.

Gregor has laudably described the race in detail above, so will not go into detail. What I will say however, is that this is by far not an easy race in good conditions. The ascent/descents are steep and in fact, the descent off Blackhill is probably one of the steepest and longest you will find. To add to all of that, the fact that from the 200m contour we were in thick cloud meant that this was quite a serious navigation race, especially as the windy wet conditions really were quite foul on the summits. In fact, there indeed was navigation chaos at the front with many normally faster runners going way off course coming off Black Hill and also from the saddle below Steygail to Upper Valveen. This meant that at quite a few points, much better runners than I kept overtaking me as they had been lost in the mist somewhere behind. My final fairly good place reflects other people’s cock ups rather than my prowess at running.

I must say, hats off to Gregor (and to Steve Fallon’s navigation course he did). These were sordid conditions and having the patience to stop, make bearings and constantly check the map was the secret to a happy race.

I have now done this race twice in rather different weather extremes – hyper hot and clear (2013) and misty, windy and rainy (2017). It would be nice to have average cool conditions with good visibility.

Rob

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Posted in Race Reports | 4 Comments

Corstophine 5

Being one of the road race grand prix we had a nice turnout of harriers. The weather was a bit breezy but stayed dry and sunny. This is a fast race with lots of club runners and a really nice blast on a wednesday night. Here is how it went for me:

https://www.relive.cc/view/1025767407

52 30:59:00 Derek Newport
73 32:14:00 Michael Greens
100 33:54:00 Allan Dunbar
104 34:12:00 Amy Kerr
117 35:08:00 Rachel Dummond
149 37:02:00 Gordon Campbell
159 37:47:00 Ian Forrest
164 38:06:00 Cameron Newport
166 38:14:00 Sadie Kemp

full results here: http://www.caac.org.uk/sites/all/_files/_publicdocuments/caac52017.pdf

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Posted in Race Reports | 1 Comment