I had heard that this race was quite tough but nothing had prepared me for what was to come
on Saturday. I had hoped that either Rob or Mike might have been there to help with pacing
and navigation but they had other committments (or were possibly saving knees). So I drove
down to Broughton myself on a misty morning and parked at the Primary School. By the time
we boarded the shuttle bus to Traquair the sun had come out and it was feeling very pleasant.
It was quite a drive via Peebles and Innerleithen to Traquair and I was wondering whether
running all the way back was actually feasible.
We got to Traquair House with over an hour before the start and had plenty of time to check
water bottles and gels and enjoy the sunshine and even drink tea and eat scones! Ah, there
were some faces I recognised – it was Sarah and Hilary! Hilary had actually done the race
before in the dim and distant past and said that it wasn’t too bad and ‘just a few rolling
hills’. Oh yeah. Sarah on the other hand hadn’t and had a slightly dodgy knee (but had her
Mum standing by at Stobo in case she had to abort).
It was getting warmer and the second layer really had to come off – ridiculous weather for
this time of year. After a kit check we were off promptly at 12:00 and 140 or so runners
started back up the drive and turned right along the quiet Traquair to Peebles road. I was
feeling quite strong and confident despite having done hardly any endurance running for
yonks. After a mile or so we turned left up a track and then on to the hill towards Orchard
Rig and Birks Hill. By the time we got to Birkscairn Hill we had been climbing steadily on
quite good paths for over 3 miles and it was a relief to turn right and down into the valley
and the Glensax burn.
The descent was actually quite tricky with deep springy heather and it went down lots, which
meant that we had to go back up lots. The climb up to Hundleshope was long, pretty steep and
very hot, but it was worth it for the amazing view. There was a sort of path on and off
towards Stob Law but most of it was narrow, muddy and did lots of tricky traversing around
the hillsides. The descent down into the Manor Water valley was better, but by then my legs
were starting to complain and the lack of recent hill running was beginning to tell.
Right along a farm track and then left through the farm and across the burn and into the
forest. Oh, relief, lovely and cool. But not for long, a stupendous long and hot climb up
through a forest ride to the top of Whitelaw Hill. Fortunately I shared the experience with
four or five other runners and nobody was going particularly quickly. Left at the top and
then down some paths and tracks into another river valley. Across a bridge (that must be the
Tweed) and then right along a road in the direction of Stobo.
It’s amazing how naff running on tarmac is after running on hills, but it was only half a
mile before we turned left up another farm track. Hooray a water station and sweeties! No
jelly babies today though, thinking of Stuc a Chroin. Time to squirt down a gel and slosh
down some water, and on to the last leg. Only another five miles to go! The farm track
turned into a very pleasant forest track, well it would have been pleasant except that
my legs were greatly underperforming and it was slow going. I had heard Rob talk about the
last hill and a fellow runner had mentioned the sting in the tail, but how hard could it be?
After another mile we turned left back on to the hill and started a painful ascent of the
greatly-feared Trahenna Hill. I was going steadily until we hit some deep tussocky and
soggy stuff which didn’t agree with my legs at all and the first twinges of cramp appeared.
It got steeper and steeper and hotter and hotter and slower and slower. Dig in. After a
very long time it rounded off and I made some attempt to jog up to the bunch of Marshalls
and well-wishers at the top. Very tired and sweaty I wondered why they were clad in thick
jackets – were they expecting snow?
Now came the last descent. Unfortunately my left leg cramped up after only a couple of
hundred yards and I found myself spreadeagled across the path. Some remarkably fresh-
looking runner deftly nepotiated my legs and I began to work out how long it would take to
crawl the remaining two miles. Where were the Mountain Rescue bods? Remarkably one appeared
jogging up the path. “Cramp? Yeah, there’s a few like you!” and jogged on!
There was nothing for it and I wobbled to my feet and carried on. The view down to
Broughton was a huge relief and I started down the last steep grassy slope. Although the
cramp had mercifully gone, my legs were in bits and it was very slow going, but eventually
I was running on tarmac again. Left on to the main road and then right up to the Broughton
Brewery and the finish! Barely a minute or two later Hilary appeared looking remarkably
un-exhausted and pleased with a PB.
We wandered along to the Village Hall and began to think about cups of tea and venison
burgers. However, about 10 yards before the barbecue cramp struck again and it was over ten
minutes before a could stand up again. Unfortunately by that time I was feeling slightly
queasy and had to make do with soup with lots of added salt. I am still mourning the loss of
that venison burger. The compensation was a bottle of Broughton Ale we were handed at the
Well, that was some day out! And Sarah’s knee held out enough to get her to the finish as
well, and in a highly respectable time. Results have just been published and I came in at
3:49:11 with Hilary at 3:51:12 and Sarah 4:17:54. Many thanks to the Organisers, Broughton
Ales, Traquair House and Moffat Mountain Rescue.