Altra Virtual West Highland Way Race 2020

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Harriers Day – Road Race Day

Our road race couldn’t go ahead this year so our club members turned Sat 9th May into……

Harriers Day –

They ran alone or with their kids, they also biked and walked wearing their club colours so that we could all be together – but apart!

Some ran the actual route and others ran closer to home or in the hills and the Penicuik Estate. But nearly all of us were out there being active and happy on what should have been our race day.

We are all really proud of our club coming together (but apart) to do this and hope we can all be running, training and racing together again soon ?

Thanks to Euan Maxwell for putting all of our photos together for us ?

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Glentress Trail Marathon 23 02 2020

Distance: 42K Ascent: 1500m

Driving down through the snow to Glentress early Sunday morning I was nervous and excited to see what the conditions would be like for the race. Some of our crowd had done the cross country the previous day in horrendous weather, Juliane has been injured and Gilly has been battling a cold and recovering from a cycling injury so we were all discussing the possibility of just doing one lap. Looking at the weather the previous day I was glad the marathon wasn’t then. Although the wind had dropped a bit the ground underfoot was waterlogged and there was quite a lot of snow on the ground. Running through the forest was like a winter wonderland in places with the snow topped pine trees. The exposed areas on the hills were a bit wilder and I was glad to get back to the shelter of the branches. I find the hardest bit of this race is getting yourself back out for the second lap, especially as it is uphill almost immediately. Once you are committed it’s more enjoyable in some ways than the first lap, although you are tired and achy the field is more spread out so you can settle to your own pace and take in the scenery. On finishing the race I got cold very quickly and dashed home to get a hot shower and eat. It wasn’t until I checked the results I realised I had come in first in my category. Damn, I should have stayed for the prize giving. It was a course PB for me which I am pleased with especially considering the conditions. I really enjoyed the race this year, High Terrain host some very testing events and they are always well organised and their volunteers are friendly and supportive, many thanks to them.

Some of Michael Philp’s super images from the day:

Full results

Sadie Kemp 05:07:57
Tim Doyle 06:02:39
Tracy Philp 06:02:45
Juliane Friedrich 06:07:52
Gilly Marshall 06:10:40

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Carnethy 5 Hill Race 50th Anniversary

This years race will remain etched in our memories and on our faces for a long time!  Storm Dennis was forecast and didn’t fail to disappoint. My excitement before the race turned to fear on top of West Kip where I thought I was going to be blown off, luckily there was a bent leg of a marshal trying to stay upright that I grabbed onto and pulled myself forward.

Lots of Harriers were doing this race for the first time and what conditions to be doing it in – it must surely be better weather next year, like it was……hmmmm 2015 I think was the last time I think it wasn’t a battle with weather!!

Here is the link to Olly’s report – he describes the race so well.

A huge thank you to the Harriers who came out to support us and especially to the marshals and officials who were all incredible.

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Strathearn Trail Festival 1st & 2nd Feb

This festival consists of four races split over two days. On the Saturday there is a Light 10k at 1pm then a Dark 10k at 5pm then on the Sunday there is a 5k at 11am and a Half Marathon on 12.30pm.  When I looked at this I thought I might enter the Dark 10k because the route was trail and in the dark which is what I like.  Then I noticed that there was an option to run all four races….. Hmmm, well that would certainly test to see if my injury could cope with upping my milage – so I entered all four!

The races were based in the grounds of Crieff Hydro and each race took you on a route over the Knock except the 5k. The trails were nuts! So muddy, technical and constantly undulating or climbing. There must have been downhill but I don’t remember much about them apart from the rocky paths one….

The results aren’t out yet but Strava tells me:
Race 1, Light 10k, Elevation 1,073ft – 1h11m
Race 2, Dark 10k, Elevation 1,085ft – 1h18m (went a bit wrong at one point)
Race 3, 5k in the snow, Elevation 514ft – 37m16s
Race 3, Half Marathon, Elevation 2,161ft – 2h54m27s

I completely loved all the races because of the route, the organisers and the atmosphere.  I met a bunch of nice people and came home with four medals and some really muddy, wet kit!

They might be doing the same kind of thing in the Summer and I totally recommend it to all of you – hopefully trails would be less muddy.

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Feel the Burns 19-Jan-2020

Distance 21.4 km
Climb 800 m

The weather was mild this year which gave us near perfect running conditions bar the mud. As always this is a much enjoyed race by the harriers, could that be something to do with the lentil soup and haggis pie at the finish? 😉

Full results:

87 Rob Wilson M40 2:04:09 146.0%
141 Yan Horsburgh M50 2:14:53 158.6%
176 Sadie Kemp F40 2:21:53 166.8%
194 Tracy Philp F40 2:30:23 176.8%
198 Gilly Marshall F40 2:31:11 177.8%
251 Mark Dawson M50 2:55:12 206.0%

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Greenmantle dash 2020

Distance 3.3 km
Climb 200 m

The hill racing year kicked off with a favourite of Penicuik harriers down at Broughton. With many harriers running the race plus Dave and Susie doing the timing along with lots of supporters too. A dip in the river and a mug of soup followed. 🙂

Provisional Results:

23rd Rob Wilson 00:20:56 M40
28th Céadach Morton 00:21:43
29th Mike Brooks 00:22:56 M50
58th Sadie Kemp 00:26:16 3rd F40
67th Kate Crowe 00:28:02 2nd F50
68th Scott Cairns 00:28:18
69th Gilly Marshall 00:28:34 F40
74th Fran Jones 00:30:27 3rd F50
80th Diane Harvey 00:31:50 2nd F60
84th Emma Baird 00:34:49

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Simonside Cairns Hill Race 2019

I have run this race a few times now and as it is the last mid-distance hill race (17.7kms, 460m) of the year it is a good race to keep one’s fitness on point for Feel the Burns in January.

Although one must cross into Brexit land (start/finish is in Rothbury) it is really worth the 1hr 45 min drive. I left Penicuik at 8am in a biblical rainstorm with the Temple road being more of a river. I hoped that the forecast of sunny skies with a stiff SW wind would be correct or it was gonna be an awful day. Luckily, the climate models were correct. The wind was not too helpful I will admit, especially when it was a cross wind.

Simonside Cairns Profile


Simonside Cairns Route – with terrain descriptors

Simonside is one of those annoyingly runnable races with the climb being slight but continuous for the first 11 kms, and then it is all downhill. What makes this race challenging (bar the weather which can be atrocious at this time of year) is that much of the mid-section is rather muddy – and today, it was uber muddy. The first few kms are on road and track, but then there are about 6kms of muscle sapping muddy tracks – all slightly uphill. As one passes Selby’s Cove and start the final climb up to Simonside itself, it is a good test for one’s fitness as to whether you bomb out at the point. Today my legs felt strong, and forewarned with prior knowledge, I wore my Salamon Speedcross trail shoes as the 4kms from Simonside back down to the car park is continuous stone flags and steps which are slippy as hell if you wear Mudclaws. I managed to pass a few runners here who appeared to be running on ice and were cursing the whole way.

Of ca. 90 runners, I came in 21st and 3rd V45 – I quite liked them creating new categories. Wine gums as a prize. My time was 1:42:46 which was only 2 mins slower than last year (much better conditions).

Overall – shoe choice is crucial for this race – Salamons are definitely the best for wet rock, but you still need profile for the mud. Finally – my first race since I turned 49. The number clearly was an omen for a good race. 🙂

lucky number 49

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Wooler Marathon, 16 November 2019

Mark persuaded me to run this race, spurred on by a notification in September from Trail Outlaws that there were only 30 places left for the full marathon, and that the half marathon (running the next day) had sold out. Mark had really enjoyed his run in 2017 – very cold, but with clear skies and good views over the Cheviots. It seemed like a great way to finish off an epic year of racing, so I signed up and booked a bed in the Youth Hostel (also the start and finish line and general HQ of the race) for the Friday night.

Looking through the entry list, I spied some well-known names from the Scottish ultra-running community. So it was that I found myself in the Tankerville Arms on the Friday night, a cosy 17th century coaching inn on the outskirts of Wooler town centre, supping Guinness with the likes of Daniel Kershaw, Jeni Rees-Jenkins, Sharon Hassan and Karen McInderwar. They are all runners I admire, and it was the first time I got to really talk to any of them, which was lovely. Turns out I was also room buddies with Karen, Jeni and Sharon that night, so we all walked home together and got our kits ready for the next day.

During the Friday evening, an email was sent out by Tim and Garry, RDs of Trail Outlaws, to say that due to the poor weather the conditions on The Cheviot were too treacherous to allow the marathon route to go ahead. It had been snowing earlier in the week on the hills, and pouring with rain for two days previous. Instead of cancelling, however, we were to run two laps of the lower-level half marathon route – same distance and elevation overall. I was not keen on the idea of running laps, but glad it hadn’t been cancelled. I hadn’t even looked at the half route and only had a print out of the full course in my kit, but was reassured that it was well flagged and that there would be enough runners and marshals around not to get lost. There was much muttering on social media about it, but as we tackled the half course the next day, it became apparent it was the right decision to make!

The next morning, after a very poor night’s sleep on a hard hostel mattress full of anxiety dreams about getting lost/missing the start/etc we gathered on the road up from the YH for the start. I’d met up with Tracy just before we set off, the only other harrier there, and on her fourth consecutive Wooler marathon. After a delayed start due to registration taking longer than usual (the race has grown from around 150 runners in the first year to over 300 this year) we were off.

It was already pretty damp and drizzly when we set off, and as soon as we turned off the road on to the St Cuthberts Way, it became apparent that this was going to be a tough gig. The trail was very muddy heading into the woods, and coming out onto the common it was also very waterlogged. I was wearing waterproof socks, but they were only ankle high. After only a few miles, I stepped into a large icy puddle that went up to my shins, filling my socks with water. Still, I had Injinjis on inside the waterproof ones, so even though they were wet my feet stayed relatively warm for the duration. I did start to worry about trench foot though…

Some very swift ladies passed me early on, and I couldn’t envisage catching them, so settled into survival mode. I focussed on staying upright and tried not to think too much about placing in this race, despite a great year of racing with podium finishes in most. It took me miles to settle into a rhythm, not helped by crowding in the early stages on narrow trails flanked by gorse and heather either side. There were also a lot of gates, styles and slippery bridges to negotiate. This was not going to be over quickly! I had a target of 6 hours in mind, but that was for the full route. I was hoping the low level route might buy me some time, so readjusted my goal to 5.5 hours and told myself that it really didn’t matter and finishing would be a satisfactory result in these conditions.

The rain was pelting down once we reached the turn off from the original route onto the half marathon course, which cuts across the moor to re-join the full route at Yeavering. The trail was very wet underfoot and I was already soaked through. Every time I squeezed my hands, water poured out of my gloves. A lad in front of me was filming with a Go-Pro, but probably should have been concentrating on the trail as he ended up thigh deep in a bog! He managed to drag himself out, Go-Pro intact, by the time I reached him.

I reached Yeavering CP after a satisfactory bit of downhill running, the first time I felt I’d actually run in miles, and quickly turned around and headed back out. I didn’t need my water re-filling so just grabbed a handful of cola bottles and headed back up the hill. What was a nice bit of downhill running was a total slog coming back out. The route has about two miles of out-and-back to Yeavering CP so I tried to spot as many runners I knew as possible and give them a wave, until the trail turns off along the St Cuthberts Way at the top of the hill. This was when things really got bad! The route was almost completely underwater, pretty much until we reached Wooler Common 4 miles on. I was not enjoying myself, particularly when thinking about having to tackle this section again in a couple of hours. I tried really hard to push all the negatives out of my mind, but it was tough. In the end, dreaming about taking off my wet socks, having a bath and eating some hot food was what kept me going. To illustrate the challenge, see the photo below taken by Daniel. The fact that the runner has decided to take the style despite the gate being open tells you how unpleasant the trail was!

I eventually hit Wooler Common and saw Michael, who was out with his camera and Stella in the rain. Soon after that I saw the red druid guy – a regular feature at Trail Outlaw races – and knew end of the first lap was near. A quick look at my watch at the CP revealed 12.5 miles had passed, so not quite a full lap of the ‘half’, which is usually 14 miles. Still, it had taken me 2:17 so was pleased that it looked like I’d be home and dry well under target. At least the pack had thinned out a bit too, so I was a bit more relaxed heading out into the second lap, fuelled by some Tizer from the CP and my trusty Kendal mint cake.

I’m not going to lie, the second lap wasn’t fun. It went by in a bit of a blur, and I got a bit of extra déjà vu when I passed Jeni at the exact same spot we did near Yeavering CP the first time round! The trails were even wetter and muddier now, having been churned up by 300+ runners and soaked by the constant rain. But I dug in and gave it my best. I had no idea where I was in the race, but not many ladies had passed me on the out and back so hoped I’d be somewhere within the top ten, and maybe in with a shot of a veteran prize. After swearing and stumbling my way through the waterlogged SCW section again, it was down into Wooler and a dash along the road to re-join the trail into the YH. I clocked 25 miles in 4:52:23. Not quite the 28 miles we’d been promised, but a tough day out in any case. I collected my medal and headed into the HQ for a cup of hot, sugary tea. The prize giving was just starting, and I’d just taken a few sips of tea when I heard Tim call my name. 1st F40 prize after all! A lovely surprise after what was a very challenging race.

I dashed off not too long after the race, so didn’t manage to catch Tracy at the finish, but she reassures me that this was her toughest Wooler yet. I’m glad it wasn’t just me! I’d love to come back next year and make it over the Cheviot. Fingers crossed for better weather.


Jan Dawson, 54th, 04:52:23 (5th female, 1st F40)
Tracy Philp, 128th, 05:50:07

Full results here:

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Tweed valley ultra 17 November 2019

Route details:
Route Stats:
65k:Ascent: 1574m/5164
50k:Ascent: 1145m/3757

I have done a couple of other High terrain events and they are always well organised with great support. They often also provide a collapsible reusable cup which I think is a great idea. The start/finish was at Glentress and Andy and I had a few moments to chat before we set off. We were treated to a wonderfully still day for the race, there was low cloud for much of the route so little scenery to be seen in the first half. Once up in the hills and out of the forest we enjoyed superb views and spectacular cloud inversion.

Once up at the Three Brethren there was a nice drop back down to Traquair forest. Followed by a welcome break of some flat by the river. Leaving a sting in the tail as we went back up along the start of the route through Glentress, where I bumped into Tim who was running with a friend. All in a very enjoyable and challenging route.

Sadie Kemp 07:25:32
Andy Briggs 09:17:18

Tim Doyle 06:59:25

Full results:

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Chicago Marathon

My fifth visit to Chicago – my first as a Marathoner!

Chicago was marathon number 3 for me this year and number 6 over the last two years that I’ve been doing this.  Last year around this time I was running around the streets of New York trying to run a qualifying time to run in Chicago this year – luckily enough I managed that ??????.  You see – it’s all happened a bit by accident this marathon thing.  My first marathon in London 2018 was for Multiple Sclerosis and on the run up to that I applied for the NY marathon ballot and was lucky enough to get in!  My plans to run in London quickly turned into London, NY and I threw Edinburgh in too!  My luck in 2018 hadn’t run out – I was then lucky enough to get the club place for London 2019 – and this led to me running a qualifying time to run in Boston 2020, my next foreign adventure!

Anyway, back to Chicago – I arrived a couple of days before to do the usual pre race things – pick up bib and take a few pics!  It was cold, wet and windy on the Friday before the race, however the forecast for the race was a wee bit better but still to be really cold for the 7:30 start!  I laid all my kit out on the Saturday and had a quiet day downtown on the tour bus with not much walking around.

I was up around 4am for race day.  That sounds early but I was still more or less on UK time so it felt more like 10am!  My usual porridge brekkie and a short bus and train ride had me down to the bag drop and changing in Grant Park for 6am! Only issue was it was really cold, around 2 or 3 degrees so difficult to keep warm!  I had every piece of clothing on that I had taken down and was still shivering.  I decided around 6:40 it was time to get ready and as it was a little warmer, but still cold.  At this point I’d decided to run with a base layer and my Harriers vest!  This all changed around 2 mins from the start when I decided to take my base layer off – all a bit of last minute panic!

The elites were off at 7:30 and my wave around 6 mins later.  I wasn’t quite sure how quickly I was going to aim to run, maybe aim for 3:15 which would be 3 mins inside my PB, however as the race started I set off well under my 4:40/km pace – more like 4:28!!!  Therein lies the story of what would unfold around mile 21…I had been injured for a few weeks over the summer and wasn’t quite sure where I was at with training and fitness.  Maybe the rest would have done me good?  Maybe my stamina would still be ok as I’ve been marathon training for the best part of 2 years?  Would marathon number three this year take its toll???

The race itself was going well for a couple of hours – it’s a relatively flat and fast course with great support all the way around.  Big wide streets and lots of space to move around.  I was through half way around 1:35!  This was looking more like 3:12/13 than 3:18!  Way too quick, but I was committed now, I still felt ok and there was only 90 mins to go!  Oops!   Around mile 16 there was a 3 mile stretch into the very strong breeze!  This wasn’t fun!  The turn out of this couldn’t come quick enough and as we approached the turn I knew I was in a bit of trouble – my legs began to feel sore and shoulders felt tight and heavy too.  I dug in and tried to adjust my pace and goal – maybe 3:15 was still possible?  As the miles ticked by it became clear that 3:15 was becoming 3:16, 17, 18…..

I could see downtown and Grant Park appear with a mile or so to go – I picked my pace up a little and as I turned into Grant Park I could see the finish, maybe 100 meters to go….I could see the finish as my PB ticked over on my watch … 19 seconds outside my PB!  Ahhhh – the feeling of disappointment was mixed with pain and elation!  Kind of weird!  19 seconds!!   I know I should have ran to my 3:15 plan but in the end, I’ve no regrets I went for a really quick time, maybe a little outside my current capability but I left everything out there and I’ve learned (again!) about the challenge of running 26.2!

Chicago is a fantastic city and the race was brilliantly organised and very well supported all the way around.  Ideally it would have been a little warmer and less windy on the day – but it’s rarely ever perfect running conditions.  A great piece of advice from Dave on my Facebook post – marathons are a 20 mile warm up run and a 10k race at the end!  This is advice I need ?

As I mentioned earlier, Boston Marathon in April is next for me.  I’m also running Berlin Marathon next September.  For those of you that follow this kind of thing that means I’ll only have the Tokyo marathon to run to complete the ‘Big 6’ (London, NY, Chicago, Boston, Berlin, Tokyo).  In the meantime, it’s winter training and more hills, trails and gym for me!  I’m sure I’ll see you around at the Grand Prix races through the winter and hopefully some training nights if I can fix my schedule and plans!!

Thanks for reading ??????



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Tinto Hill Race

This was one of my first hill races from back in 2013, so I was looking forward to doing it again six years on. We met up at the Penicuik Centre at 12:00 to see how many cars we’d need. Since there was just five of us it was fine to all go in Sadie’s car and the drive only took about half an hour. There were some new arrangements for parking this year, so once we had sorted that out there was about a ten minute walk to the hill from registration, where there was a kit check.

The race starts at 2:00, so we had plenty of time. It was very muddy but my inov-8s were fine for it, it was my legs that felt like they didn’t have much in them as I tried to keep some momentum up the hill. The forecast was for quite bad rain, so we were very pleased that it held off till after the race. There’s quite a few false summits, but I knew it was a four mile race so wasn’t taken in by any of them. There was good visibility for most of the way but got quite misty at the top. As the fast runners started careering back down the hill, it’s important to keep a good eye on them as I clambered on the way up, to avoid any collisions at full speed as they come down. At one point a guy slipped in heavy mud after leaping down above me and only just managed to correct himself as he veered out of control towards me just to the side of a lot of rocks. With a sigh of relief I headed onward and was quite aware I was not going very fast and would not be getting a PB on this run.


There’s a big trig point at the top which you run around the back of, just a bit below the top. There was some fantastic views on the way down, but could only glance up for a second to avoid tripping on the rocks. It’s an easy craggy path all the way up, so no chance of taking a wrong turning. It was very muddy towards the bottom section of the hill and we splashed on towards the end.


We headed from the finish to where registration was and got a free cup of very nice soup which warmed me up before going up to see Des get his prize for first over 50 runner.

A great race which I’d highly recommend to anybody of all levels of hill running.

Des Crowe: 00:36:56
Adam Gray: 00:40:11
Sadie Kemp: 00:53:04
Mark Dawson: 01:00:28
Gilly Marshall: 01:01:53


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Jedburgh 3 Peaks, Saturday 26th October 2019

2 relay teams and 8 solo runners took on this year’s Jedburgh 3 Peaks ultra and relay. Conditions were brilliant weather-wise, if a little muddy underfoot!

As ever, the race was full of well-kent faces, both runners and marshals alike. We set off after a YMCA warm-up, with all relay teams in compulsory fancy dress, and there was the usual detour over the children’s play park at Bowden. This was perhaps inadvisable in the conditions though and poor Susie took a tumble on the wooden bridge! But like a true harrier, she pushed on to finish with a smile on her face.

The relay runners did us proud, with the men’s team fighting hard for 2nd place over all. They looked very pretty too! The Peni-pandas, cosy in their hand-knittted panda hats, claimed 4th combined team. Penicuik always do well in the relay and 2019 was no exception. Well done all!

I just love this race. It’s a blast from start to finish. Make no mistake though, it’s a tough course with a lot of tree roots, boardwalks, steps, mud and rocks to negotiate, plus the small matter of the three Eildons 17 miles in! I felt really good this year though and gave it everything I had to get as close to my target of 6.5 hours as possible. Less time faffing about at checkpoints also helped! Except CP3, I had a wee go on the swing there. It would’ve been rude not to!


Peni-panthers: 04:52:27 (2nd place and 2nd male team)
Peni-pandas: 06:47:34 (10th place and 4th combined team)

Jan Dawson: 6:31:36 (3rd female)
Sadie Kemp: 07:08:13
Yan Horsburgh: 07:22:33
Tim Doyle: 07:59:05
Tracy Philp: 07:59:06 (and 02:01:09 in the half marathon the next day!)
Gilly Marshall: 08:40:46
Susie Maxwell: 08:40:46
Chris Burns: 10:27:59

Ultra results here:
Relay results here:

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Pentland skyline 2019

Another super skyline. So much support from our wonderful club members. Rob Wilson summed it up perfectly:

Can I just say, on behalf of all who ran today, thanks for the amazing support. Epic…. especially as you were mostly in the first half when we were all nice and fresh.
Gillian Cairns (and Lewis) , Mark Snodgrass, Gilly Marshall, Kirsty, Jan Dawson, Julian Hall, Juliane Friedrich, Kate Crowe, Alan Dunbar, Rachel Drummond and of course the beautiful Andrea.

30 Adam Gray M 3:02:32 125.5%
90 Rob Wilson M40 3:35:42 148.3%
175 Sadie Kemp F40 4:15:19 175.5%
228 Mark Dawson M50 4:46:26 196.9%
232 Tracy Philp F40 4:48:00 198.0%
233 Susie Maxwell F40 4:48:00 198.0%

Below are a selection of Michael Philp’s pictures:

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Tweed valley tunnel run 20K

I had been wanting to try this race as it looked a bit qwerky and different. The route was very scenic along by the Tweed then up into the hills behind Peebles. The second half was hillier than I expected and running through the tunnel with all the coloured lights on was fun.

Sadie Kemp 01:58:26
Tracy Philp 02:07:11

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