It was a dark time and war was raging in the West, but all could be saved if the magical Harrier’s vest could be carried from the peaceful Vale of Tranquil Traquair to a battle torn Broughton.
Three Penicuik warriors were entrusted with the magical purple and white vest: Sadie “the Painted Lady”, Old “pensioner” Mick and the spritely youth Rob 🙂 . 31 kilometres and 1500 metres of soaring hills, deep bogs and thick humid woodland lay ahead for our intrepid heroes. As the horn of doom sounded, the warriors were off. Rob and Mick took the lead leaving Sadie as back-up in case they did not make it. Battling a marauding pack of more than a 100 Orcs, Rob took an initial lead but was soon passed by the old-timer as they headed up into the hills. Through head high bracken and ankle grabbing heather Rob kept Mick in sight but could never quite catch him.
After 8 kms, Rob was passed by the 1st Orc lady (damn!) which emboldened him to up his pace. On the steep never-ending plunge down into Glen Sax, Rob saw Old Mick struggling to fight through the deep heather, and again he upped his pace to finally pass the old man through the deep waters of the Sax Burn. Up, up, up did the track go for what seemed like an eternity, but from Hundleshope the route levelled out and Rob kept his lead and slowly knocked out one Orc after another. While climbing up Stob Law the Great Downie Chris was seen beating his chest shouting encouragement to all the weary Harriers passing by. Respite followed on the descent into the Manor Water Valley with kindly strangers offering strange chewy gifts which glued your teeth together. Resisting these temptations, Rob battled on and entered the dark forest of Whitelaw Hill.
All was still and the temperature rose to sticky humid heights. The only sound was the wheezing and sighing (and farts) of the Orcs climbing the hill. Trying not to gag in the noxious atmosphere, Rob plunged on, eating his Elven Cadbury’s muesli bars to provide sustenance for the trials ahead. On reaching the top, the canopy opened and the sudden fresh air cleared Rob’s foggy poisoned mind and with renewed energy, Rob started the descent back down into the Tweed Valley.
Great dangers prevail in the Valley. 600 meters of road must one initially travel. Easy I hear you say – but alas the Siren Masseuses of Stobo are awaiting weary runners with promises of spas and massages. If you enter, you will never be seen again! Rob focussed ahead ignoring their flaunts – thinking “I’ll see Melanie next week!”
And so our intrepid travellers entered the final stages of the journey. The track from Stobo is gentle, well paved and somehow impossible to run. What happened to my legs Rob thought? They have turned to lead. Struggling on, he consumed many mouthfuls of water and ate several Elven bars. Nothing seemed to work and after about 2 kms, the wheezing noise of Old Mick came up behind him followed by a few Orcs. Rob waved the old timer on his way but tried to keep up. Only one hurdle now lay ahead – Trahenna.
Trahenna, in ancient Middle Earth Gaelic means, “BeeeeeeeeeP Steep Hill” – placed here by the tyrants of Scottish Athletics as a final single finger salute to all travellers through this region. The lead up to the base of the hill is an area of deep rushes, grass and bog where unsuspecting individuals can get sucked down to the pits of hell. Rob picked his way well, and with the extra energy from his Elven bars, soon passed Mike and the Orcs. The hill seemed to get steeper and steeper with no end in sight. With each step, Rob’s legs got heavier, as if in a dream, the top never seemed to get nearer. Near the top, members of the enemy Clan Carnethy were taunting the travellers by taking pictures, laughing and shouting that it looked like a war zone! Rob swore revenge, but that would be for another day. He had to keep going. Finally, on reach the summit, there was only 3 kilometres to go – all downhill. Mike was not far behind, so Rob gritted his teeth, took the brakes off and plunged down. Over fences and skidding down steep slopes, Rob avoided cramps and somehow kept up right. At any minute he expected Old Mick to pass him. Rob hit the final road into Broughton and battled the final weary kilometre to cross the line and soak his vest in the Broughton Ale of peace.
The battle was over, but where was Mike? In the distance, Rob heard the tortured screams of a poor soul. Had Mike finally succumbed to the Orcs? In a Hollywood like ending, with swells of emotional music, Old Mick stumbled over the horizon, staggered the final few 100 meters and collapsed over the line with a grimace of pain. He been bitten by the Evil Crampus on Trahenna, but had battled on nevertheless.
Half an hour later, we see our heroes in yonder village hall partaking in merriment, food and beer. The Painted Lady enters the hall – a nervous silence falls – and then she smiles and says, “Want to run the Dunbar 10 mile next week?”
Total Battle: 118 Orcs and 3 Harriers
42nd: Spritely Rob – 3:52:12
48th: Old Mick – 3:55:40
94th: The Painted Lady – 4:40:20