Devils Burden 2017

The DB relay is becoming a bit of annual fest of many many hill runners now. With a 148 teams of 6 runners each, that was a lot of runners this year – especially when they invade Falkland. Honestly, I am not sure where we all fit. For those who have not done this race, it is split into 4 sections. Something for everyone.


Leg 1: Falkland to Strathmiglo (single runner) 7.5km, 220m climb

Leg 2: Strathmiglo to Kinnesswood (paired runners) 10km, 680m climb

Leg 3: Kinnesswood to Maspie Den (paired runners) 11.5km, 420m climb

Leg 4: Maspie Den to Falkland (single runner) 5.5km, 390m climb


The Penicuik Harriers put in 4 teams this year. I tried where possible to create a fast team and 3 roughly equal teams so that hopefully they would come in at about the same time therefore hopefully creating a bit of competition out there in the hills. It honestly was not that stressful organising 4 teams. Imagine organising the whole race……shudder!

Below is a series of short individual reports from some of the runners. Feel free to add in my comments below.

From my point of view, all I will say is that we were blessed by one of the strongest temperature inversions I have experienced in a long time. Below about 200m, the fog and mist was thick, cold and it was all rather dreich and dreary. However, up on the hills, the sun was shining and it felt like a spring day. There was no wind, and ultimately, it was perfect running conditions, albeit a little muddy underfoot from the meting frost. For Duncan and I, once the initial climb was out of the way, it was very fast and the final descent to the last checkpoint seemed a little mad! Great fun.

PH team results

Not sure if this image can be seen (you might need to zoom in) so final results are from 148 teams:

24th: Penny Panthers: 3:23:26

96th: Penny 69ers: 4:18:15

101st: Penny Giants: 4:23.57

102nd: Penny All Stars: 4:29:02

Fabulous results for everyone – With Team 1 starting at 10.30, and the other teams starting at 9.30, I was pretty chuffed to see them all cross the finish line within 11 minutes of each other. A fluke really as some individuals had to run two legs (respect to Des and Tim) which would have affected the times. I really have no idea how Sandra could not understand my timing logistics schematic!!


and what is wrong with this – clear as mud I think!!! Red is car shuttles with numbers of people and black are running times for each leg based on previous years. Sheesh!

Full results here:

Lots of pictures here


Michael Philp – Leg 1 – Penny All Stars

A Blur, or was it fog.


Yan Horsburgh – Leg 2 – Penny Panthers

Alarm goes off at 5.30 and my mind gets up as my body lies there going “no chance in hell am I getting up”. Friday was a very busy day on the estate and my body was hurting.

Anyway up, coffee, portage water [RW – I don’t know what this is?], shower, dressed, kit bag, then off to catch up with the club mates. We all have a gander and then off we go the DB race.

Registration was a nightmare – the hall was a mass of sweaty bodies and that was just registration. Them the pain staking part was trying to find everyone (next time I suggest that one person from each team picks up their team’s numbers and meet outside – hasslefree [RW – yes – I should have volunteered captains!!]). Anyway we all get sorted and discuss what were supposed to be doing and where we’re supposed to be and what time to be at each location [RW – some didn’t listen!!]!

Strathmiglo: Myself and Des are waiting on Michael to come in and I run to the hall shouting to Rob to take Haggis NOW [RW – Haggis is Des’ dog!], ran back and within seconds Michael is in and we’re off. All is good and we quickly pass a team but then we met with three horses so we had to walk past and lost 40 valuable seconds. Off again and I’m feeling good – also Des. We both constantly communicated with each other. The first hill – rocky and slippery in bits. Bye god I had to dig deep like never before. Then the descent we were on fire and we took a few more places. Then it was the big hard climb and that is when my team mate and friend surpassed himself physically by pushing me behind at sections of the hill to get me to the top. I swear to Almighty I had nothing left but he persisted in telling me I had it in me and by God I had a little something left in reserves.

On the descent Des and myself took off to the left whereas the other runners went right. Des new the hill and we gained 6 to 7 more places. I ran my heart out on that descent and I sure as hell left nothing on that hill. On the home straight Des shouted long strides big man come on then it was the descent to the finish and we piped a few other runners then passed the honours to Rob and Duncan. I can truly say I kept up with a true legend in Des. Hopefully we can get a team together for next year for V50. Inspired I was with all my team mates and all clubs and organisers. Lastly thank you Robstur for your patience. We did it a small club with the biggest heart.


Dec Crowe – Leg 2 – Penny Panthers

I was with Yan, I only touched his bum twice….

Yan response: 4 times and you held my hand. ????


Allan Dunbar – Leg 2 – Penny Giants

I met my running partner, Julian, for the first time at registration then we made our way to Strathmiglo for the first changeover. We had not long found the change point when the first leg runners Michael P, then Ngeme, arrived and the other leg 2 teams headed off. A few minutes later we spotted Julie coming down the hill and we got in position. She handed the check sheet to Julian then said in mild panic “I’ve missed the checkpoint, you need to go back and get it!”. We hoped that we would be able to reel in the other Harrier teams and set off at a decent pace for the first couple of miles. The long climb up West Lomond began and that slowed us down a bit, but we were still catching people as we went, including Chris and Kate. By this stage Julian was pulling me along a bit, looking like he was finding it easy while I was blowing hard, wondering why I had signed up for this, but hopefully not holding him back too much. As we broke through the clouds into glorious sunshine I took a brief moment to admire the view and remembered exactly why we all do this. A little further up the hill we spotted Al and Gregor and I figured we were about a minute behind them. With a bit of extra spring in my step we made it up to the top and a fantastic panorama. I fished my phone out to take a photo [RW – tut tut!] but before I had a chance we were off again, tearing down the hill. A slightly wrong turn left us having to cross a deep field of heather to get back on the right track but otherwise the going was good. A bit of nice running and the knowledge that the biggest climb was done kept me happy and loving catching up and overtaking those in front. On the flatter gradients and downhills I was able to catch up any distance that Julian had got ahead of me and was often able to take on the pace a bit. We were just about keeping Al and Gregor in sight but not really closing the gap much. Another steady climb for a mile or so up Bishop Hill was a test but mostly runnable, then some good flattish stuff to reel in a few more teams. Julian noted that no teams had passed us, but we certainly caught a fair few. Last little blast up a small hill to the last checkpoint and then a crazy descent at full speed down to the changeover. At this stage we overtook loads of teams who were edging their way down carefully as we threw ourselves down the hill. We passed the first of the leg 3 runners, Gill and Charlie, starting their climb just as we approached the changeover and finished about half a minute behind Al and Gregor, tired but absolutely buzzing with the adrenaline of the descent. It was so good to be part of an event which had such a brilliant and supportive atmosphere and was great to run as a team instead of just as an individual.


Tracy Philp – Leg 3 – Penny All Stars

This was my 1st relay team event for the harriers and delighted to be running leg 3 with Sadie.

Leg 3 started at the bottom of a hill with the fog was still hanging but it started to lift just as we were waiting for Kate and Chris to come down the hill for the changeover.

I was a bit excited at this point, so much so that I forgot to switch my garmin on!!(Slave to the watch). It was a hell of a climb but we were rewarded with stunning views above the clouds beautiful blue sky and the sun was shining.

Didn’t need to use the map thankfully as there were lots of runners going in same direction. I think it would have been a different story to tell if it was foggy up there!!

A nice gentle descent which for me was great as I’m getting worse at running downhill for some reason.

Then a fast finish through some trails into the woods. It got cold, really cold, as this point and the fog was back!!

Handed the card to Helen then she was off!!!

Loved my 1st team event running for the Harriers. Can I do leg 3 again please as there no way I could run that last section downhill of leg 2!!!

Thank you to Rob Wilson for organising this event it must have been a logistical nightmare!!!


Gilly Cairns– Leg 3 – Penny 69ers

I was a late addition to the team, taking the place of one of the many poor injured Harriers. Charlie and I ran leg three – Rob, I assure you there was plenty of running along the way ;-). [RW – the photo says otherwise!!]

When we arrived at our start point, we had thick mist, which added to the general fear. We were all studying the map in the hope of answers but could see pretty much nowt. Thankfully the mist cleared just before we set off when Al and Gregor arrived, and we could see the top of the hill – the very steep hill.

What followed was a painful climb, but made worthwhile by the amazing view when we got above the clouds. Then we had some good running and later some tricky and very uneven ground through heather etc. Next time I’ll take my stilts.

We were running much of the way near Tim and Andy. Thankfully Charlie and Tim were on the ball with navigation – the checkpoints were ever so slightly confusing a couple of times and clearly navigation ain’t my strong point. The final part of the leg was a great downhill track run, watching some leg 4 runners coming up the way. Ellie then took off to do our final leg.

Loved being part of this, though I’m sorry for those who had to pull out. Great company and a fab day out!

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2 comments on Devils Burden 2017

  1. Sadie Kemp says:

    I absolutely love this event, I have ran 3 of the 4 different legs now and always enjoy it. Plenty of time for a blether with my fellow harriers and fantastic soup back at the hall afterwards. I hope we have lots of teams again next year.

  2. Michael Philp says:

    Fab, fab, fab, well done everyone

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