Race Reports – Updated 19 September

RAW – Karen’s report

I had a good run, beating both Ian and Alex :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

Tim had made a very good effort at marking the course and the buses etc were all well organised.
As always I started at the back, last place again passing through the first stile. Just plodded, stomach held out… no problems here at all. Gave my bumbag to a complete stranger around the 30 mile mark as it was really hurting my back :( such a nice gent , he got it back to me no problem :) great when people are happy to help you out.

Passed folks almost all the way along the course finally catching Ian coming into Auchencruive, then letting him go again as I stopped to speak to Bryan & Munro :) caught up with him and Alex about a mile further on. I was really struggling at this point, but they were worse 8-) cool.

The gel I took at Auchencruive started to kick in and I got a wee boost. Stuggled on towards Ayr, met Paul along the side of the school which was a good boost as he ran with me for a bit before I went on into Craigie to meet George, Anne & Caroline hollaring like mad things at the bridge :)

Plodded on along the riverside met Tim crossing the last bridge before the finish. I was actually feeling pretty no bad here and managed to up my pace to almost a wee bit faster than a shuffle :)

As always it was tremendous to see the finish and Muriel waving like crazy…
Recieved my medal and water and a hug from Muriel, could barely stand up and my legs seized so quickly I was hobbling within minutes :) Bobby had finished 10 mins in front of me and we waited on Ian & Alex finishing.. did I mention they were behind me?? hehehehe

Thank you everyone for all the support…it is very much appreciated :P

The End.. of the SUMS series, but I have one more in Oct in Wales… yessss :)

Craigengower (Straiton) Hill Race

Well, the weather gods were kind to us yesterday and gave the runners near perfect conditions for this grand wee race. Four Tortoises were there for the run, Anne, Alex, Ian (wearing a dress) and myself. Ian was hoping for a spot “fancy dress” prize but it seems you have to try pretty hard to impress the judges at the Straiton gala. 😉 Maybe a tutu next year Ian?

As per usual, the start line was a slightly chaotic mix of kids and adults all looking for a clear stretch of road ahead of us in a bid to avoid “doing an Andy” and flattening some poor waif. 😉 [1] I set of at the front with Toni just to try an put a bit of distance between myself and the nearest anklebiters and once clear, I backed off having enjoyed, oh, maybe 5 seconds of being *ahead* of Toni!

Of course, having led the Tortoises, they then all charged past me long before we reached the primary school. As we entered the field I gradually began to recoup some of the distance and as the field levelled out and we entered the woods, I was able to regain my place as first Tortoise by the time we reached the stile.

Then it’s time for the calf burning haul up the hill. Not too bad to start with but by the time I hauled myself up to the summit I was crying out “ouch ouch ouch ouch” with every step. I staggered over to the marshal and received my “post-it” note and started my descent, constantly wondering at what point Alex was going to come charging past me.

Whilst I’m pretty good at running down long shallow slopes, the technique for steep hills still evades me and I came down like a girly. :-) (Apologies to all girlies in our club but you know what I mean). Despite this, there was no sign of Alex breathing down my neck when I reached the stile and I reckoned that if he hadn’t caught me by then, I could hold him off through the woods and field. I had a great gallop down the hill and once onto the road I still hadn’t been passed by anyone. As I neared the village hall a young lad I had been creeping up on suddenly realised I was behind and took off like a rocket only to slow down again after 100 yards clutching his side. Always one to take advantage of others’ misfortune 😆 , I quietened my breathing and starting sprinting quietly up behind him and flew by. He couldn’t respond again and for the first time ever, I actually moved up one position on the second half of a hill race!

I finished in about 22:31, Alex in 23:08, Ian 24:09 and Anne in 25:02. All times are approximate, not official. Congrats to Anne on what I believe was a big PB.

[1] Actually, this is a little unfair as if memory serves me right, I don’t think Andy knocked the kid over. I think he fell in front of Andy and Andy gallantly stopped to help the kid up and make sure he was okay.

Postscript from Alex

Actually, Andy did indeed trip the wee fella. I was just to Andy’s left when it happened. Unfortunately, I have to admit that it was an accident and not a ‘professional’ foul 😉 At the end of the race, the jammy sod got about 20 seconds knocked off his official finish time for his ‘sporting’ behaviour :roll: (wish I’d remembered that for this year)

Striding the Clyde

Weather man got it all wrong.. well bits of it :lol: it rained it was windy, the sun shone it was warm and the wind died down.. just another day of our good auld scottish weather :?

To the run, well.. confused is a word better known for car insurance, but on The Stride today there were a lot of bloody well frustrated and confused people as they tried, and most did suceed, to run along the newly opened Clyde Walkway. It was in no way the organisers fault who tried as hard as humanley possible to have the route signed, but when neds and.. ADULTS (who really don’t like PEOPLE passing there house on a public path) remove and vandalise signs what chance do you have???????

Personally I started of slow, by the first bridge across the Clyde, maybe 1 mile, I had stopped to remove my gloves, jacket and fleece :) and a nip into the bushes.. you gotta go and all that!! I was sitting in the proudest places of LAST… hehhe, I’m getting good at fighting for and winning the hounor.

My plan was 12.5 min miles all the way. Not much chance when I left my garmin at home and had to rely on.. a quick look at Stans map shortly before the start. 2 miles to the Kingston Bridge.. got there in 20 something so new I was going to fast, but I was catching folks and even RAN with & SPOKE to some… gawd I’m getting soft.
Anyway, quick version, I ran faster than I wanted to, felt like a bag of shit, planned on retiring at CP2 as I was having an evil day.
(Did I mention I got stung on the forehead by a bloody big bee.. and it hurt like blazes!!)

Then I met Stan, who had took a slightly different route than me, this happended a lot to a lot of people :) we gabbed I forgot how bad I was realy feeling and we plodded on. Got lost soon after, diversion to somewhere, found our way back, and met Tim coming out of another part of the route :) we tagged together till almost the Check Point. Tim however thought it much more fun to cross major motroway junctions, we took the other route :roll: All joined up again at Strathclyde Park CP2.
Me and Stan left first, Tim shortly after at our backs.
Onwards we plodded, it rained, the jackets went on, Tim caught us then fell behind. Stan was soon struggling with a long term injury to his toes. He stopped to stretch his foot, I pushed him real hard down an embankment (ok thats a lie) but ran on and left him struggle on his own anyway :twisted:

Plodded plodded plodded as you do in these runs, then low and behold, Bobby is joining me from the wrong path that he took… and added at least 4 miles to his run. Not a happy bunny!! We all run together, then Bobby and the I think Italian guy? he’s running with fall behind. So on I plod to CP3.

Quick as I can I eat and move on, why give them a chance to catch me ;) I have about 12 to go. On I plod, and soon I catch up with a couple of ex colleauges from London Rd… hehe, snigger,snigger, young whipper snappers are not getting to beat the auld crabbit one today…. much to my delight and thier disgust :lol:

By now I’m hinging in and struggling on.. walking bits, shuffling most but knowing if I don’t put one foot in front of the other I’m never going to finish, and all I wanted was to finish. So, on I plodded.

What a great finish, I had never been so glad to see the end of a run in my life!!! I’ll tell you’s about the bloody gawd damed awful loop that took you to 100m of the finish then made you run another mile up hill down hill before actually getting you to the finish, gggrrrrrrr, some other time as it is still too raw :(

2 bits of knowledge I wish to pass on,
if you don’t enter you’ll never finish ;)
never underestimate your ability to be motivated by sheer blind stupidness :lol:

Karen :P

Glenrosa Horseshoe Hill Race

The Glenrosa hill race is a long distance Scottish Hill Running Championship race set on Arran.

I met Ian on the boat going over.  He had brought his bike to as to have a quick gataway after the race to catch the 4:40 back to Ardrossan.  The likelihood was that it would take us around 4 hours to complete the course which is billed as 12 miles but probably closer to a ½ marathon when you take in twists and turns in a race that has very few paths and only one flagged section – and that’s simply to stop you plunging over cliffs in a lemming impression (quote race organiser).

There are three main climbs: Bienn a’ Chliabhain, Cir Mhor, Goatfell.  Sounds pretty straight forward.  Unfortunately, like a lot of hill races, the sting is in the tail.  The climb to Goatfell isn’t the simply drag up the tourist route, instead, it’s up North Goatfell and then across.  By the time that final climb comes along you’re exhausted, disorientated and dehydrated.  Not the best condition to having to negotiate grade 2 scrambles up rock faces as well as making sure you don’t take the wrong route in an area devoid of clear paths.

We started about 200 yards back from the usual start position but I think Paul simply wanted to make sure there was plenty of space for the field of 124 runners (only about 20 odd of us last year).  This meant extra distance so any failures on my part, I knew I could blame on that J.  Ian and I wished each other luck and off we went.  Iain Fraser and his wife were over on holiday and were there to cheer us on – really helps and makes a difference – thanks Iain.

The first couple of miles are over trail and I found the going tough.  That sort of ground I always like to have a clear view ahead.  Nothing worse than following someone’s footsteps too closely and clipping a tree root or rock.  I therefore did all I could to keep at least 10ft between me and the person ahead.  Ian was just behind at this point.

The climb to Bienn a’ Chliabhain is over pathless rough ground and there are two main routes.  I took what’s called the ‘alternate’ route.  It’s shorter but steeper (think Straiton, but much longer).  From the top the race is flagged.  A good idea because it would be really difficult to get 100 or so body bags up those cliffs.  However, the descent is probably the worst possible before it would become an abseiling job.  The steepness needs to be experienced to be believed.  I caught and passed Ian on the descent (which I was actually taking easy due to a dodgy ankle).  Ian had taken the different route to me and had arrived at the top first.  Once I had passed him I pushed on to Cir Mhor.

Cir Mhor is probably the easiest of the climbs – and that’s saying something!  It’s also the first of the checkpoints where slow runners are timed out.  I had loads of time and completed a rather unremarkable ascent and descent to take me onto the very difficult contouring stage to the Saddle.

This stage is difficult not because it’s steep (though there are parts you wouldn’t want to slip on), but because there’s no path and you’re contouring round Cir Mhor – ½ way down!  Take the wrong route here and you could be floundering around in waist height heather covering hidden gullies on a 1:4 hillside.

Amazingly enough, I took a near perfect route from the col to the saddle.  Final time check point and up North Goatfell.

North Goat fell is a brute of a climb.  It’s hard to get grip due to the steep gritty ground.  It’s completely un-uniform so it’s impossible to get into a rhythm.  Parts are very steep, parts have precipitous drops and parts require climbing skills.

Eventually you’re rewarded with the top of Goatfell and all downhill to the finish.  It’s a long, long descent that needs to be taken far more carefully than in the Goatfell Hill race where you’re nothing like as tired.  I had long since lost Ian and I finished in a time of 4 hours and 5 minutes.  1st time over the 4 hour mark.

As already said, Ian was on his bike so I didn’t hang around when I was told that there was a bus just leaving for the ferry.  I changed on the bus and got onto the boat.  Searching didn’t reveal Ian and I found out on Sunday that he’d missed the boat.

Winner was Andy Simonds followed by Brian Marshall and Prasad Prasad.

Tortoises Spotted on Hills

Ptarmigan, grouse or the occasional red deer but surely not tortoises??

Over the past couple of weeks they’ve been observed on two Ayrshire hills and appear to be fairly at home with the conditions.

The first sighting was on the Saugh Hill, just outside the picturesque seaside town of Girvan. First to appear was the larger of the species, Ianus McNeeus followed by the lesser Drainus. Finally, the female of the genus Nobela was spotted. They seemed to be comfortable in this new habitat and socialised with other hill fauna before disappearing to who knows where.

The second sighting was on the hill, Cairn Table, a few miles from the Village of Muirkirk. This is a fundamentally different hill to the previous and it was heartening to find Tortoises expanding their habitat.

The genus of the species spotted on Saugh Hill were also spotted on Cairn Table. This time they were joined by the shy Timus Downieus.

Timus wasn’t around long and rapidly departed from the hill at speeds amazing for a Tortoise. He was followed by the quickly disappearing McNeeus and then the Nobela. Fortunately for wildlife enthusiasts, the extremely wild Drainus had clearly been injured, possibly from tripping over a blade of grass.

It is believed that Tortoises are becoming far more comfortable and confident on hills and this adoption of a new habitat could herald an expansion of this rare and lovable little creature.

Hazel’s London Report

Hazel has written a report on the London marathon which she would like everyone to share. It is, in fact, a tribute to everyone in Troon Tortoises who has supported her since she first joined us two years ago. There are many of you who have encouraged her and run with her but special thanks to George McGregor who looks after all of us but was always determined that Hazel be a full member of our Club.

London Marathon 2010
I was very fortunate to travel to London for the Marathon with two experienced marathon runners, Anne as guide runner and Anita. They both knew the ropes in terms of the expo, getting around London and importantly encouraged me to drink water for two days beforehand – and lots of it!

When we walked into the expo and the marathon theme music was playing, it just made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end , you can’t help but feel part of something big. The people at the expo were incredibly welcoming and helpful. The advice given by two sports psychologists (part of the Virgin stage) stuck with me; the crowd will get you through the first third of the marathon, your training will get you through the second third and your mind will get you through the final third.

I had felt nervous, verging on petrified about running the marathon, actually I was petrified that I wouldn’t make it! That unknown quantity beyond 22 miles had been freaking me out! However, I woke on the day of the marathon feeling surprisingly calm, I just kept telling myself this is what we have trained for and if it’s your mind that gets you through the final third – I’m hardy!

As we walked into the start area there was a real party atmosphere, Bruce Springstein blasting Baby we were born to run – totally upstaged by Anne singing at the top of her voice. Can you believe this woman’s talents, guide runner extrordinaire and she can sing and even did both while going round the marathon!

Although within the start area there were about a million portaloos, we nonetheless queued behind another 50 people for a last wee before actually going to the start. Such a long que for the loo we got to the start with just minutes to spare – which meant I didn’t have time for any last minute nerves. The pace was nice and slow to start with, utterly packed and soon we were into cheers from the crowds. The pace picked up a little bit, the comfortable pace and massive crowds meant the first 8 miles went by in a flash. We were in good company – spiderman, scoobydoo and men wearing curly wigs and dresses with running shoes of course. At Cutty Sark we were almost bulldozed by a running ice-cream cone. At this stage the course was still utterly jammed packed, but we thought just a few more miles and it will open up.

I had joked with Anne that no matter where we were on the course , when we passed Sir Richard Branson she was to get her phone out and take a photo of me with him. If only we had known we were right behind him and passed him at around 12 miles, cleverly disguised by his butterfly wings. By the half way point we realised that the field was not going to open up at all, this was really positive as we just relaxed, soaked up the atmosphere and enjoyed ourselves.

We had our names on our vests and people from the crowd were shouting to us as if they knew us. Loads of people thought we were either twins or sisters! I think the catch phrase from London has to be looking good girl – shouted with a really strong London accent. The crowds were just incredible, it was a very emotional experience to turn a corner to be met with a welcoming wall of noise, cheers, horns blowing, people shouting your name. I just kept thinking I can’t believe these people who don’t know me have come out to provide this tremendous support. I have never experienced anything like it in my life. It was amazing and just carried you around the course.

One of my concerns about the marathon was whether I would be able to hear Anne above the crowds, which on the day was absolutely fine. The course was so packed Anne had to give me an almost constant stream of instructions and had to invent a new instruction ‘pause’ when runners had slowed down to get around someone walking or everyone had jammed up because the route had narrowed. In these circumstances we found ourselves putting the brakes on, something we were not accustomed to and it was sore on the legs within the first ten miles.

The distance began to kick in for me at 23 miles, my legs felt heavy and tired. At this point I kept thinking that I have to go to Ciaran’s school on the 10th of May to tell them all about the marathon. I just kept thinking, I have to tell them I finished, I want to be able to tell them I ran the whole way – and the thought of not letting Ciaran and his schoolfriends down and all the people who had given sponsorship and sent messages of support really kept me going until I felt a bit better at 25 miles. I actually found myself gritting my teeth a few times. Throughout Anne was describing what was going on, people we were passing who were in fancy dress – we passed a donkey, giraffe and four fat controllers carrying Thomas the Tank. We met another blind runner, whom we had met a couple of times at other races, as much as I felt sure he must have sustained an injury or was having a bad day, he gave us loads of encouragement as we passed him.

With 800 meters to go to the finish another runner clipped me as we turned right. The next thing I knew I was sliding along the road surface on my front. I heard a first aider ask Anne if I needed oxygen. I realised they thought I had collapsed and got up and shouted to them that I’d been tripped up, but was ok to continue. During this time there seemed to be silence. Anne told me later that the crowd were completely silent. When Anne came up to me and handed me the running rope the crowd started to chant Go go go! When we started to run the place erupted, it was an intensely emotional moment, the wave of support from the crowd just carried us to the finish. With 200 meters to go to the finish Anne asked me if I wanted to sprint to the line! I honestly wasn’t sure if I had it in me to sprint, I did try to speed up, but I don’t think you could call it a sprint!

The sense of achievement when I realised we had actually finished the marathon was just amazing. It had been such a strong personal goal to run the London Marathon, it was just fantastic to achieve it.

The magnitude of what we had achieved started to hit me on the way home the next day. All the way round the marathon I was just in awe of Anne, her ability to instruct and direct me round the course, describe what was happening around us, runners fancy dress costumes, bands, singers, banners, mile markers – all details that meant I felt fully included all the way round. If Anne felt tired at any point, she didn’t show it. Her concentration, enthusiasm and good humour did not falter once. The marathon was a really special experience for me and much of that was down to Anne and her willingness to take on the challenge of guide running round a marathon course.

Another aspect of the weekend was having the opportunity to travel with and get to know Anita, Stephen and his friend John. Anita had a bad fall during the marathon, resulting in her requiring 11 stitches in her mouth. It is a real testament to Anita’s strength of character and determination that she completed the marathon with such a severe injury.

All in all an amazing experience, I loved running the marathon and now would like to look towards a quieter event to see if I could run it closer to four hours.

A huge thank you to everyone in the club for your encouragement, support and text messages of support over the marathon weekend.

Training on Kaim

This all came about following a comment from a club member (Sooze) that she’d like to try running Kaim Hill – not in the race, just as a training run.  I took her up on this and we agreed on a Thursday night.

To mix my metaphors, the best laid plans grow arms and legs and take to the wing (howzat).  Before we could say, use your arms to sprint, 7 others had declared an interest.

We all met in Fairlie at just after 7pm.  The 9 were depleted to 7 but enhanced by 1 extra and 2 old pals from another club.  To name them, there was: me, her, Ian, Iain, Gordon, Nats, Mags, and Elaine.  Also there were Superhero McKendrick and Lightfoot himself.

Before we started, I explained all safety aspects and the potential difficulties and dangers on this particular hill.  Sooze declared that she had her photo of her little treasures (age 6 & 1) so that her final action could be to kiss her wee sweeties goodby.

It was never very likely that SM and Lightfoot would hang around at the pace we were setting and so it proved.  When we reached the top of the track, prior to getting onto the hill, the gruesome twosome were so far ahead it’d have taken a ride on the jetstream to catch them.

Everyone concurred that the run up the path to the gate was a bit of a slog.  I did mention that if the ladies were to use their legs more than their jaws it might be slightly easier but considering that Mags wittered on for the rest of the run, I reckon I was politely ignored.

The first obstacle was the burn.  I helped the girlies over so as to keep their little tootsies dry (not that they’d stay dry for long – har har)

The hill itself is tough work.  Whilst it’s not particularly steep, there’s a constant incline over very rough ground.  What would be a difficult walk is a really hard run.  However, the girls stuck in and never looked like giving up.  Gordon and Elaine worked extremely hard, Sooze seemed to take it in her stride whilst I think that Mags and Nats simply talked the hill into submission.

Once up, we got onto the boggy part.  Like many Scottish hills, the tops are pretty flat and often very wet.  I counselled everyone to be careful and recounted the tale of me virtually disappearing into a deepish bog during one Kaim hill race.  My demise was witnessed by big Ian who found the situation highly amusing but not amusing enough to help me out (he reckoned it would be better to take advantage and put extra time between us since it was a race).  Anyway, Mags discovered for herself that the ground could suddenly become less dense, more liquid and could suck up a leg exceedingly well.  I have to admit that rather than help her out, I too considered the situation to be highly amusing.  Fortunately she only disappeared up to the knee and was soon out and running again.

Having bagged the bog we all reached the top and the trig point where congratulations and gulps of water were the order of the day.  We met a hill walker who was hoping to see a spectacular sunset (Iceland volcano, dust cloud, planes grounded, etc).  The sunset was certainly spectacular but I’m not sure if it was due to Iceland or if it was simply, Scotland.  We all grouped together and the hillwalker took some photos – aw.

The return down the hill was equally eventful though a bit quicker.  There was more caution as we went through the bog and when we reached the heather, the benefit of long running tights was clear as they slashed at our legs and made speed generally difficult.  Gordon took a dramatic tumble and was very fortunate that the ground was soft and forgiving though it could have easily had a bad outcome. 

The burn was much easier to cross on the way back due to feet that were already soaked (hence my suggestion to bring a pair of dry shoes to change into).  We all gathered at the top of the track for the final downhill to the cars.  I reminded everyone of the dangers of running downhill and potentially losing control then off we set.

There were a couple of instances where Gordon & Sooze looked like they were going too fast but they kept it together and everyone got down safely.

What I found most entertaining about our run were the squeals coming out of (I presume) Mags.  They seemed to begin when we begun and ended only when she was removing her wet socks in preparation for the chips that would employ her jaws for a different purpose.

I think that everyone enjoyed the run.  It was different and there was a sense of achievement at the finish.  I was pleasantly surprised that no one gave up, no one moaned (in a serious way) and no one wanted to lynch Sooze for suggesting it.

Hardmoors 55 (or rather, 42)

Well, I survived, but it wasn’t pretty. ;-)

The Hardmoors 55 is run around the edge of the North Yorkshire moors, rarely
much over 300 to 400 metres above sea level but very exposed to the
elements. No trees, just millions of acres of peat bog & heather.

On the morning of the race as we were being bused out to the start we could
see that all the tops of the hills were hidden by low cloud and there was a
cold north wind blowing.

Conditions at the start were benign enough, a light drizzling rain that if
you were poetic you’d just call it “soft”. I was relatively overdressed
though and felt hot all the way to the first checkpoint at about 8 miles
where I was determined I was going to take off my hooded jacket and stow it
in my bag. However, once we got there and turned into the wind, it was
clear that my jacket wasn’t coming off!

There were two drop bag points at 22 and 42 miles where hot drinks and
shelter were available but other than that, the check points were in the
open. As I worked my way towards the first checkpoint, the conditions
didn’t so much deteriorate as just persist. There was virtually no
respite from the wind and rain and combined with slippery muddy conditions
on much of the path, it made it very hard work. I seriously considered
calling it a day at 22 miles but once we dropped out of the cloud and down
to the checkpoint, conditions were a lot nicer and after a hot cup of tea I
was feeling much better.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I was back up on the moor struggling
with the elements once more. The route has, by all accounts, spectacular
views over the surrounding countryside but we rarely saw more than about
200yds in any direction. In my case less as I’d stupidly decided to stick
with my glasses rather than put my contacts in. It’s often a tough call
deciding between being able to see around clearly or being able to read
maps! I can’t do the latter with my lenses in unless I take reading glasses
as well. In “ordinary” rain, a peaked cap keeps most of the rain off of my
glasses and if it gets heavy, the drops coalesce on my glasses and don’t
seem to be a problem. “Low cloud” type rain though just produced lots of
refracting beads of water on my glasses that needed constant wiping to

Fortunately the route is pretty well signposted and I only had to resort to
looking at a map once, fortunately someone else’s map as I was by now too
cold to struggle to get a map out of my own bag.

This was seriously “not fun” by now and I definitely decided that I was
going to call it a day at 42 miles but that next drop bag point was a very
long time coming in those conditions. It wasn’t helped by my not knowing
the route and having no “feel” for the distances from one landmark to the
next. I think If I had spent more time studying the map pre-race I might
have coped mentally a bit better.

The remoteness of the route was also getting to me and I realised that it
really was a case of “keep moving or seriously risk dying”. Access points
to the moor were few and far between but eventually, I did reach the
checkpoint slightly hypothermic and with frozen hands. Even though I was
wearing gloves, they weren’t waterproof and the wetting and windchill has
left me with numb fingertips 3 days after the event.

Naturally I’m disappointed not to have finished but I know that I was in no
condition to continued, it was getting dark and another 12 miles was just
too far for me on that day. I’m just happy to have done it without apparent
injury (apart from my fingertips) and will count it as a “tough training
run”. As an indication of the severity of the conditions, about a third of
the competitors dropped out with hypothermia on the day.

I think I learnt a lot about “respecting the elements” on that day and
whilst the experience might not make me a faster runner, hopefully it will
make me a wiser and safer runner. As per usual, I was swearing “never ever
ever again” on the day. Now I want to go back and have another go. ;-)


Circumstances often conspire to provide unexpected outcomes.  I was in Edinburgh with Lesley on Friday and Saturday, Sarah was home but going back to university on Sunday afternoon and I was late for the Criffel Hill Race.

The journey down saw my wee Panda passing Beemers, Mercs and other over hyped panzer wagons.  I reached New Abbey just in time for the pre-race briefing (which I promptly ignored to give myself a few extra minutes getting ready).  The last time I was late for a race it became a total disaster as I sprinted to catch folk up and just about killed myself into the bargain.  So, not this time.  This time I would enjoy myself.  This time I’d take it easy.  This time I’d go totally against my instincts.

From the start I allowed myself to drop down the field which was composed of around 30 of the usual suspects.  Whilst there are always new folk coming along to see what the fuss is about hill running, there’s also the old hands; Ian from Girvan, Tom from Seaforth and of course, Ian from Irvine.  By the time we’d reached the hill proper, we’d pretty much sorted ourselves out.

The hardest climb is the first up to the cairn at Knockendoch.  A tough slog through some incredibly difficult terrain with mud ‘traps’ that are thigh deep and a slope that is walking only.  The walking part allows for views over the Solway and down to Loch Kindar.  As I took in the view I noticed that Loch Kindar had two islands, one large and one tiny.  I wondered what this could be and discovered when I got home that this was one of Scotland’s crannogs.  As Schwartenthingummyjigger said, “I’ll be back.”

The view was lost on the way up to Criffel as we climbed into the mist.  This was itself a welcome occurrence.  It was cooling and refreshing unlike last year when the hill was covered in snow and ice.

There’s another cairn at the top and once round, it’s all downhill.  As usual, I picked up a few places on the way down.  I even caught a guy from Carnethy but couldn’t put enough of a gap on him and he passed and ran away from me on the final road section.

I finished in 1:20:24 which was about 3 minutes faster than last year.

And the unexpected outcome?  Well, there have been many races where I’ve PB’ed and many races where I’ve given absolutely everything I could have but at this race I got to the end and thought, “I haven’t enjoyed a race quite so much for a long, long time.”  I felt quite emotional – I really must be getting old!

Strathaven in the Rain

Well done to all the Troon ducks who enjoyed the good quack at the “Run with the Wind”.

If runners are mad then you must be even madder to turn out to shout encouragement, Tim providing ample evidence of this.