It seemed a good idea at the time and definitely a big challenge.
This is a competition concocted in about 2002 by some sadistical Carnethy
person (allegedly) and combines the Manor Water (10 miles) and Pentland Skyline
(16 miles) hill races on consecutive days. Mark, Carl and Chris have all tried
this in the past and they are still running effectively, so it can’t be that bad.
My ‘practice’ for this self-inflicted pain was running Largo Law and the Seven
Hills of Edinburgh over a weekend in June (sheer coincidence actually). In fact
the best preparation was probably the Two Breweries 2 weeks beforehand.
Manor water on Saturday was incredibly pleasant for a change with ideal weather
and a slightly throttled-back pace to save the legs for the Sunday. Of course,
the slower pace increased a bit in the heat of competition, but a piffling 10
miles, what damage could that do? A time of 1:21:51 was 4 minutes off my PB so
probably judged OK. The many bonuses of the race included watching the sheep dog
trials, standing in lots of sheep poo, entering a raffle for a black face lamb
and winning a bottle of wine for 2nd M50 (not forgetting the bottle of
Broughton Ale for just turning up)!
The downside of approaching the Man or Mouse in a serious manner was having to
watch my family tuck into huge platefuls of fish suppers and swigging beer
(hopefully not all my family quite yet) whilst I modestly sooked my spaghetti.
The forecast for Sunday was promising and Rob very kindly gave the Harriers
contingent (Rob, Chris, Sadie, Andrea and me) a lift to Hillend. Chris admitted
to some butterflies and I was also getting a bit nervous when my legs began to
feel quite stiff climbing up to the start.
When the Organiser announced at 11:00 that there would be a kit check, we thought
that the start could be delayed for ages, but fortunately they just did a few
random spot checks – hooray.
On the dot of 11:11 we were off up the steep climb beside the ski slope – our
hill reps route. Rob and I ran together for the first few minutes until my legs
started to feel OK and I pulled away a bit. In fact, he wasn’t far behind even
going up Turnhouse (racing girlies no doubt).
The first half of the race is pretty straightforward with good (and very
familiar) paths, although the temptation to go too quickly was high, especially
when loads of girls seemed to be passing me as well. The legs felt good and I
downed my first gel going up Carnethy. The joy of coming off the Kips and turning
on to the Drove Road without being pelted by mist and drizzle was immense. Things
started to go downhill though trying to negotiate the horrible heather and soggy
tussocks down to the valley from Hare Hill. At least this route avoids the deep
bog at the bottom. Then the traverse and steady climb up Black Hill. There was
the usual half-hearted competing with other runners, but I don’t think I lost
or gained any places. I remembered that horrible steep climb up the Bells Hill
(?) gully from last year, but kept telling myself that it was a breeze compared
to the last hill in the Breweries.
Although not particularly big or steep, the last few hills seem to drag on for
hours and become increasingly huge and painful. There were a horrble few minutes
somewhere on Capelaw Hill when my legs quite suddenly ran out of fuel. Phew,
I still had a gel left. Euch, unfortunately it was a reduced-price one from
Run and Become very close to its best before date and it was exceedingly
sticky and disgusting. However, it did the job and the legs picked up somewhat.
I think it was near the top of Allermuir that I was greeted by very loud whoops
from some Penicuik Harriers (mostly Amy I think). Deafening and probably heard
on West Lomond, but very encouraging! In fact the support along the route was
great – lots of Harriers – apologies if I haven’t put names to faces whilst
wincing in pain, but I think we saw Gill, Julian, Amy, Jan. (Rob will no doubt
put me right.) Anyway, whoever you are, thanks, much appreciated!
Last bump on Caerketton and then the wobbly descent down to the ski slope and
the finish. Wow, not bad, only 5 minutes off my PB. Ah, there was Susie! I was
still feeling a bit queasy from the squidgy gel and had to wait 10 minutes before
I could start eating the flap jacks. And of course Susie’s marsh mallow cake,
yum. (next time, bring a flask of tea will you? Sorry, just joking – must be
catching from Rob!!).
Rob came in 10 minutes later, followed by Sadie, Chris and Andrea. Well done
Harriers Team. (Sorry we had to hang around a bit to collect my Man or Mouse
bottle of beer, but these things are important!) Provisional results are:
Duncan 38th 3:07:55
Rob 75th 3:30:16
Sadie 161 4:15:33
Chris 175 4:27:01
Andrea 178 4:31:27
Thanks to Shane and the Carnethy team and of course Broughton Ales (again).