Devils Burdens Relay – 2012

Jan 21st.

Weather: Sunny, mild but with stiff westerly wind. Warm in sheltered sunny corners.

We were lucky – race was sandwiched between heavy rain showers on the way to and back from Falkland (which is nice village by the way).



31 km, 1250m ascent.

Four leg relay. Details at this link:


Intrepid runners:

Leg 1 (6.5 km, 450m): Rob Wilson and Alasdair Hind

Leg 2 (6 km, 250m): Julian Hall

Leg 3 (10 km, 560m): Duncan Ball and Mike Brooks

Leg 4 (8.5 km, 100m): Kevin Anderson


Leg1: A quick start through the narrow streets of Falkland which quickly turns into an ever increasing gradient up the lower slopes of East Lomond zigzagging through a picturesque woodland (with much tree wind damage). On leaving the wood, the real sharp ascent starts up to the 1st check point on the peak. Although one’s calves burn, it is made easier knowing that it is pretty much all downhill on the other side. Bar an initial steep descent off the peak (which my [RW] knees complained about), the rest of the leg was a real pleasure of tracks and paths.

Alasdair is normally a little slower than me and although I took the chance to go a little slower than usual (aiding my preparation for the Glentress Duathlon the next day – see blog post by Susie Cool), he admirably kept up, although was a little resistant to running ALL the way back to Falkland afterwards [AH: walking is good for stretching worked muscles, honest!! ]. The real advantage to Leg 1 is that we were the first back to the village hall allowing us a nice relaxing time to stock up on cake, juice, tea and soup (the pea and spinach was delectable) from the many cauldrons that were bubbling away.  

Leg2: Felt great on the warm-up, but this was with the (cold) wind behind me! Running the first half of the leg was a different story! I felt really slow on the 2.5km of farm track, but there were almost no changes in the gaps, let alone the order. Into the shelter of the trees, the route started to climb more noticeably and was grassier. I warmed up a bit and started to close some gaps, although a couple of runners flew past me like whippets. The exit from the forest brought the end of the climb and after a few ups and downs over White Craigs, we began the descent to Scotlandwell. Although not in condition to go flat out, I overtook a few teams and re-took the place lost to the Bellahouston C runner with whom I’d had a sporting battle. Duncan’s brief words as he and Mike sped off were enough to find Rob’s car in Kinnesswood. After that the only challenge was to find reverse in Kevin’s Merc! Another vote for the quality of the DB soup. [JH]

Leg3: The logistics of getting runners to their respective starts and ensuring that finishing runners were not stranded are quite tricky. However, as we had two cars and Rob and Alasdair had been bullied – I mean had volunteered to jog back to the start at the end of their leg 1, things actually went pretty smoothly. Ten minutes before Rob and Alasdair were due to start at Falkland, I borrowed Rob’s car with Mike and Julian and drove the long way round (because of a road closure) to the start of leg 2 at Holl Reservoir. The sun was out and it wasn’t too cold, so Mike and I dumped Julian there and set off back to the start of leg 3. As parking was restricted at Scotlandwell, we had to park near Kinnesswood School and jog the mile down the road to the 2/3 changeover (a good warm up). Kevin with the second car was free to drive to the start of leg 4 in time for his start (and our finish).

With the help of Julian texting us just before he set off on leg 2, we could time our last minute warm-up and tree-watering to perfection. Hopefully no female runners were traumatised at this time. We eagerly kept watch for Julian coming down the precipice that was the start of our leg. On time he appeared looking remarkably fresh and we shouted where the car was, handed over the keys, collected the punch card and set off. It was really steep for an awfully long time, but eventually the gradient eased off and the landscape opened up with initially a track winding up towards the crags of Bishop Hill. A couple of orienteering checkpoints later, we could see West Lomond in the distance looking very inviting in the sunshine. Navigation was a doddle with the great visibility and the scores of other runners, and the carefully prepared map and compass stayed in the rucsac. Most of the terrain is very similar to the Pentlands with narrow paths, mud, bogs, loose rocks, grassy tussocks, steep climbs, etc. It was quite steep coming off the hill and took a lot of concentration until we hit the plantation where a path became forest track and then tarmac for the last km to the finish. We tried not to grin too much at the leg 4 runners just starting off. We could see Kevin straining on the leash and sprinted for the line. He was off so quick that I forgot to ask him where the car was. But of course Julian was there, caretaker of both cars. Both of us feeling elated and quite chuffed and not really noticing sore legs, we drove back to Falkland to await the arrival of last runner Kevin (and to queue for spinach soup).

Leg4: After being let of the leash I was off like a greyhound after a rabbit! A bit of a gradient to kick off, followed by some smaller hills. A few obstacles in the way turned this part of the race into an Olympic class hurdles course….great fun & I really enjoyed my Winalot for afters.

         Thanks to the boys for organising a fab race. Practising for next year already!



Leg 1: 46.57 (43rd)

Leg 2: 34.31 (43rd: 42nd overall)

Leg 3: 68.42 (40th: 37th overall)

Leg 4: 33.59 (59th: 38th overall)


Total: 3.04.09 (38/122)


A great race – all the better to run as a team. Next year we certainly can break the 3 hours. Now we have 12 months to persuade the girlies to put a team together. There are legs that will suit everybody. It’s a great day out, a good team experience and – in JH’s experience of 6/7 DB’s – the weather is always good.


Rob, Alasdair, Julian, Duncan, Mike and Kevin.

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3 comments on Devils Burdens Relay – 2012

  1. Rob says:

    Of course I will organise the ladies team – but with the caveat that I have the final say on your costume design.

  2. Susie says:

    Sounds like you all had a great time, it is so nice reading about your individual experiences. Maybe us ‘girlies’ should give it a go next year, as long as Rob would organise our team as well that would be great!

  3. bill bennet says:

    Congratulations to our lads on a very creditable performance in Penicuik Harriers first attempt at the Devil’s Burden Relay (38th out of 123 teams). I tried to get a few folk interested in the DB 10 or 15 years ago but failed miserably. It’s a geat bit of country, a wee bit hilly here and there, but great running. There are 3 hill races using the Fife Lomonds, Bishop Hill Race from Scotlandwell on 4 March (excellent soup), Falkland Hill Race up and down East Lomomd provisionally on 17 June, and the Lomonds of Fife in late August. I’m sure that our girls could get a team together for next year’s Devil’s Burden. Congrats to Kirsty who ran the 4th leg for the Carnethy girls this year.

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