Similar in length and elevation to the Ochil 2000s (30km, 1500m), this was race two of the 3 ‘biggies’ I am trying to stumble my way around. Pentland Skyline next.
More info on race can be found here:
Conditions were almost perfect, sunny with a head wind that helped keep the flies off but possibly could have slowed the pace down a little.
The race goes east to west from Traquair House to Broughton. Driving from one to the other is a bad idea as it seems to take forever and you cannot help thinking, “ ****, I cannot run that”. Luckily the race route is more direct than the road.
Resisting my normal urge to sprint at the beginning, I took it fairly slow and easy at the beginning as I did not want my troublesome left calf to go ‘ping’ in the first few miles. By the end, my calf was the least of my worries.
Compared to the Ochils last month, this is an immensely runnable race. Albeit a tad soggy in places (but after this summer, this is no surprise), the Breweries does not really have anything like the latter nightmarish half of the Ochils. The first 8kms is fairly straightforward until you come to the big plunge down into Glensax. I have run in this area before (up slope of Fairy Glen) and there is a perfectly nice horseshoe to the south which would be much more enjoyable than the steep descent and ascent in and out of this valley.
I was feeling pretty good up to Stob Law, but the descent down to Glenrath seemed to take something out of me. When I hit the road at the bottom of the valley, I really felt the tiredness setting in. Although I was sucking on the hydration drinks to help with cramp, I wonder if I need to eat more energy bars as well. Difficult when you constantly feel a little nauseous. The drink stations at Glenrath and Stobo are well placed and help to minimise the amount of fluid one needs to carry I think.
The second half of the race is well marked which is nice as navigation gets harder when you’re tired. The run through the wood up to Whitelaw hill was a lot of fun somehow and I managed to overtake a few people going up. However, my first bout of cramp (back of the thigh) set in just off the summit which probably reflected my push up the hill. From Whitelaw hill to the base of Trahenna, I would normally say that the route was gorgeous, potentially fast, pleasurable and would make a great cross country route. However, by the time I hit the drink station at Stobo, I had really hit the wall. No amount of Hula Hoops, sweets and water seemed to get my energy levels up. The next 2 kms were along a gently rising forest road which normally I would cruise along. Yesterday, it was endless and all my legs wanted was for me to walk. I battled on, but probably would have been quicker if I walked on my hands.
At km 25, the final ascent begins – up Trahenna Hill. This hill broke me (physically!!). On the Scottish Hill Racing website, it states, “This is where all the runners appear to be hung out to dry, and is a good place to make or lose places! The final descent to Broughton is generally accompanied with various degrees of cramp. Well – indeed – it was tough – I lost places. I am pretty sure it is the steepest ascent of the whole race and after having run for 26 kms, there aint a lot left in the reserves. Going up, the muscles around my shins cramped up and going down, my calves wanted to cramp. To top it all off, my inner right groin starting hurting quite badly. By the time I hit the road in Broughton (the one we are more used to in the Green Mile Dash), I was probably a wretched site – trying to run so I would not cramp up, and also trying to run in a way that would not hurt my groin. A losing battle.
Anyway, I stumbled across the line in 4.06.57. (62nd from 111 runners). Alasdair Hind also ran (4:39:45)
I had really wanted to do it under 4 hrs, but my fitness was just not up to it in the 4th hour. At least I did not cramp up too badly and my left calf, albeit stiff, did not snap. My relative place was much better than Ochils and I would not be surprised if the Breweries was just a tad longer and higher than the Ochils. Unfortunately, my Garmin died on the finish line when I pressed stop and lost all the data. I’ll just have to find out next year.
See you at Skyline.