This race has a bit of a reputation and I had experienced it in full last year along
with a large dose of cramp. I was determined to avoid cramp at all costs this year
and was meticulous in my preparation, wearing a camel-back filled with carbo-drink
and several squirts of concentrated electrolyte.
Lorna had very helpfully agreed to drive the Harriers ‘team'(Stuart, Mike, Rob and
myself) down to Traquair directly. Great, a lie-in and no long nervous trip in the
shuttle bus from Broughton. On the way down, the Two Breweries ‘veterans’ kept Stuart
fully informed of the numerous hazards and really painful parts of the run, and by
the time we reached Traquair, he was looking a wee bit shoogly. We tried to sneak
past the entrance hut, but the wifey was obviously alert and shot out and almost got
run over. Stuart in his best brusque manner said “I’m a runner!”. Undaunted, she
replied “well, I didn’t know that” and even with a “well, you do now!” from Stuart
we were allowed to continue.
We had arrived in good time and marvelled at the really nice weather (yet again).
The wind had even died down and it was slightly cooler than last year. Negotiation
for a shortcut between Trahenna and Broughton was eventually rebuffed along with a
long list of improper behaviour which would certainly result in embarrassing
disqualification. Also at the briefing, we were told not to provoke the large bull
Not much point in a long warmup as the energy needed to be saved, and promptly at
12:00, almost 200 runners were off! Up the Traquair drive and then right along the
quiet road towards Peebles. After a mile, we turned left up a short farm track which
led up to quite a runnable path towards the first hill. I thought better of trying
to keep up with Stuart and let him go. Rob and Mike were a little way behind. In
fact, it was a nice steady climb, mostly on a path all the way up to Birkscairn Hill
(2168′). Little time to enjoy the view before starting the heathery gallop down to
It was a long way down and now a long way up to Hundleshope (2237′). Gasp. Another
splendid view and then the long traverse to Stob Law with a mixture of heather and
peaty paths. It seemed a bit drier than last year but we still had to concentrate
on finding the best route and planting feet. My legs were still feeling OK and I
even passed some runners on the descent to Glenrath and the Manor Water (unheard of).
At the water station, I drank a full cup of water and then regretted it a few
minutes later with stiffening legs and the first signs of cramp. Oh no! Amazingly
a few sooks from the camelback spectacularly got rid of the twinges and I started
the arduous climb through the forest up to Whitelaw Hill with renewed confidence.
The confidence did subside quite quickly, especially when two lithe women zoomed
past. I could still see Stuart some way above but the gap seemed impossible to close.
No sign of Mike or Rob.
Phew, the top. Sharp left and a very decent path, but the legs were starting to
hurt quite a bit on even slight inclines. Right turn and a hugely enjoyable long
descent down towards Dawyck and Stobo. Across the Rio Tweed and on to the B road.
Yuck, horrible painful tarmac. Fortunately it was only half a mile and then we turned
off up a farm track and the second water station. I took it easier on the water
this time and scoffed down a jelly baby, but could have done with some crisps.
Never mind, still plenty of salt in the camelback.
Now for the track. I had bad memories of that track from last year – you could
hardly call it uphill, but I actually had to walk quite a lot of it. This year,
though I ran most of it, almost gleefully. Left down to the dam and then it was the
dreaded tussocks and heather up to Trahenna Hill. The twinges had come back so I
dug out my second gel whilst deciding the best route towards the hill. As there
didn’t seem to be a best route, I dug in and dug in some more up the horrendous,
steep, heathery slope. Some strange yell came from somewhere above me and I saw
Stuart actually sitting down, obviously a bit worse for wear. A glimmer of hope,
could I catch him? Nope, he saw me crawling relentlessly upwards and took off again.
I say ‘took off’ more like ‘grope’.
After a very long and painful time, the top appeared. This time there was no cramp
and I joyfully sprinted past where last year I had sprawled for several minutes.
Stuart seemed to have gained some super-human strength from somewhere and was now
pretty much un-catchable. The slog along the tarmac to the Brewery is not worthy
of any mention at all, and at last, the finish! And of course, the bottle of
Stuart and I waited for Rob and Mike to arrive and we all limped slowly back to the
hall. Lorna had also arrived by that time (phew). The food and drink was as usual
excellent and we spent a pleasant hour reminiscing on our achievements (although
Stuart spent a lot of it on the floor and Mike may not want to refer to it as an
Again, many thanks to the Organisers, Broughton Ales, Traquair House and Moffat
Mountain Rescue. And of course, our driver. Results are:
37th Stuart 3:29:00
40th Duncan 3:29:36 (PB)
72nd Rob 3:47:59 (PB)
98th Mike 4:02:19 (yes, he had a bad day!)