Archive for September, 2008

Two Breweries race report – Tim Downie

The Two Breweries hill race is a race that I’ve long wanted to do but somehow, every year something either comes up or I go and enter the Loch Ness Marathon before remembering that the races are only a week apart.

Well, this year was no different but this time I decided that the LNM could play second fiddle and I’d do the Two Breweries as well and hang the consequences. ;D

I knew it was a long hill race at 18 miles but it’s not as hilly (in total) as the Pentland Skyline so how hard could it be? Surely just an easy romp over some rolling hills?

Well, I met up with Roddy Pugh from Kilmarnock at the start and made the mistake of asking him which was harder. Turns out the TBHR is tougher due largely to the lack of footpaths and large amount of heather bashing that you have to do and he wasn’t wrong!

I must have looked at some misleading pictures on the net of cheery runners running along clear paths because they just didn’t do justice to the amount of bounding/leaping/staggering/plodding through heather that ranges from ankle high to mid-thigh deep.

The race starts at Traquair house, a house steeped in history that anyone interested can read about here.


You run up the main avenue towards the gates (that won’t be opened until there’s a Stuart on the throne apparently)
[image] (2007 pictures)

The first ascent up Grieston hill and Orchard Rig doesn’t look too bad on the map ( but I perhaps foolishly followed a splinter group who looked as if they knew where they were going that headed more northerly and through lots of deep heather & bracken.

To be honest, that pretty much set the tone for the first half/two-thirds of the race and the descent off of Birkscairn hill just got tougher and tougher as the heather got deeper and deeper as we descended. Fortunately though, the weather was great (if windy) and there were clear views from all the tops and nearly always other runners in sight to follow.

This was followed by another heart bursting ascent of Hundleshope and another staggering descent down Stob Law.

We then has a short respite before plunging into a forestry plantation and heading straight up a fire break though the forest (again with bare a path and lots of heather) to Whitelaw hill. Yet again another heart pounding climb.

After that we had a good spell of some actual running! Of course the legs weren’t too fresh any more and when we reached Stobohope, the path disappeared into a trackless waste of tussocky bog followed by a “shortest route” straight up Trahenna hill. By now the runners around me were all going very slowly, pausing for breath and muttering “never again”. ;D

Once at the top the wind was very strong (it had been in our faces most of the way) but erratic and I briefly got shoved right off the path whilst traversing a slope at one point, fortunately not at a terribly steep but but an unnerving experience nonetheless.

The descent wasn’t quite as bad as some of the others but as ever, I’m pretty rubbish at it and lost a few places until I hit the road where I managed to claw back a few places again with a good strong run to the finish to pick up my free bottle of beer.

I finished in 4:29 which is well down the field (about 145 out of 185ish) but given my lack of preparation I was happy enough.

Back at the village hall there was a huge caldron of minestrone soup bubbling away with lots of bread, tea and cake on offer. There were also free pints of draught Broughtons beer but as I had to drive I couldn’t partake. I would have liked to stay for the prizegiving but had to make my way back to Glasgow asap but it looked like it was going to be a good affair with lots of spot prizes.

I’m really glad I did this race as I really like “A to B” races (they bus you from Broughton, the finish, to Traquair house at the start) but, I suspect I might not want to do it again in a hurry. There’s just so much heather bashing and not enough running for my liking and when you can run, it’s still tricky. I didn’t help myself by wearing the wrong shoes (my Inov8 flyrocs) which are a bit wide and not very snug. They’re fine for flatter trails but not good when you have to do a lot of running traversing slopes as my feet were sliding from side to side in them too much resulting in some blisters. Walshes would have been better.

Despite the downsides, it’s a great event with great organisation and I think one that everyone should do at least once. Hopefully there will be lots of pictures on the website soon as there were a lot of photographers around.

RAW reports – Alex Drain

What a race!

We started in good weather and even had a wind at our backs. Tim led out the 23 runners who’d gathered from as far south as Kent and as far north as Peterhead. Inside 50 yards I decided that a pace of 4mph was way below what I was comfortable with – so doubled it.

About a mile later I eased off when I realised that I was so far ahead I couldn’t recognise anyone in the following group. I was working to a game plan that meant reaching Kames in 35 minutes. OK, so far so good. I also realised that if I was to have any chance at all of finishing up the field, I had to put as much time into everyone else in the first 20 miles as possible – and didn’t I just!

I was first going through checkpoint 1, 2 and 3, by this time I was over ½ mile in the lead. First into Catrine. First at Haugh farm – before even the Raynet people. Through Failford and into the gorge. About 1½ miles on I was caught by Mark Hamilton and later found that Bobby had also got in front by taking a slightly different route through Barskimming (either that or he was running so fast I missed him).

30 miles in the lead now started to take it’s toll. My pace dropped along with my glycogen levels but being such a hero, I didn’t sit down and cry – I simply cried as I ran! Knowing exactly where I was and how far I had to go was worth everything. It meant that I could cross off landmarks and think of the next. When I reached Craigie Park I reckon I was down to 12 minute miles. Fortunately, I caught a glimpse of Roddy Pugh about 400 yards behind and this raised my pace considerably allowing me to come in on 6 hours 51 minutes.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so utterly exhausted but I had a great sense of achievement. To have led for 30 miles in a field of handy runners and come in 3rd overall, I was pleased.

RAW reports – Bobby Miller

a great day from start to finish!!!

every single one of us can be proud of ourselves that cometh the hour we stepped up to the plate.

I,ve got to admit i had been scratching at the doors for this one for a few weeks and all the things went in our favour on the day the weather etc.

felt sorry for young Andrew Crichton who had to pull out at Failford after going so well. even more ad miration for his dad for maintaining back up to me all the way to the line.

thats a few pints i owe ye wullie !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i went to Auchincruive yesterday to see some of the walkers and convey my thanks to the RAYNET service team who were top class people, very friendly and understanding .

thanked Louise and her team as well for getting this as a goer

had a good wee night at the end as well and a few pints into the bargain ;)

RAW reports – Tim Downie

I think because this was “home territory” we were all looking forward to this. You only have to look at the results to see what an advantage we had. This does of course highlight the problems with the route markings. Whilst it’s nice to have a home advantage it would be nice to think that we could do as well next year on a leveller playing field.

Like Alex, I was keen to get going at the start and was happy with the pace until Alex decided to fly off like a man possessed! I honestly thought it was a kamikaze pace so wasn’t fussed about giving chase. Bobby, Anne, Roddy and a few other settled into an easy pace and wondered when we’d see Alex again. Perhaps if we’d known he was going to fly quite so fast perhaps we’d have given chase a bit earlier!

I had to part company with Anne et. al. for an emergency pit stop and by the time I re-emerged, they were all long gone and I settled into a comfortable pace with Ellen & Stan & Ian. After a while I got itchy feet and pushed on a bit with Ian to Catrine where after a brief stop I pushed on, never to see another runner again until the end!
With hindsight I should have either pushed on harder or dropped back to have a more sociable run with Stan & Ellen but I didn’t know that at the time.

I found the long hill from the Haugh rather trying but it did have some of the best blackberries growing along it so it wasn’t all bad. I wasn’t enjoying running on tarmac at this point and I afraid I ignored most of the “Keep off the verges” signs in Barskimming. 😉

My diet of jelly babies & malt loaf seemed to be working okay until I got near Gadgirth bridge when I had a weird reaction to a mouthful of maltloaf. I had barely taken into my mouth when I found myself gagging and spitting, almost as if I was reacting to something poisonous! I hadn’t even swallowed any but right at that moment it seemed the vilest thing imaginable. (I’m fine with malt loaf today though).

I’m not sure if this had any impact on my running but I was glad I had taken some money with me as I developed a craving for an ice lolly from Braefoot stores which I duly purchased along with a bag of crisps. I can say from experience now that racing and eating a bag of crisps isn’t too easy.

From Annbank onwards I started to have trouble with that switch in your head that keeps wanting to flip to “walk, don’t run” and on a few occasions I found myself walking for no very good reason. A quick mental boot up the backside seemed to work each time though but I think my energy levels were definitely running a bit low by then.

I don’t know what my pace had slowed to by the time I reached the A77 but I was able to ick it up a bit knowing that it wasn’t far to go and I still harboured hopes of perhaps catching someone (ever the optimist!). When I got within sight of New Bridge I thought I spotted a runner on the bridge and picked the pace right up to something almost respectable.

Obviously, it wasn’t a runner as Anne finsihed a good 10 minutes ahead of me but it was nice to feel like I was running again and not plodding.

I must be honest and say I was surprised and pleased (for Anne) at how far ahead of me she had got. I would rather have finished ahead of her but I don’t think I ran badly, I think she just ran better!

It was great to get together after the race and Anne’s generous offer to drive was much appreciated.

Lets hope that East Ayrshire think that it’s worth making a regular event and that they will do something about the signposting as that caused quite a lot of trouble for some of the other runners. All in all though, well done to Louise Kyle & her department and the Raynet guys who were great.

RAW reports – Anne Noble

Yes, I agree it was a great day :). Right from the start the weather was perfect (even though as we approached Glenbuck it looked as though it was going to be a repeat of last year’s horrendous rain).
It felt a bit surreal to be standing beside the loch with about 80 other people at 9am on a Sat morning while the formal opening speech was given.
Was pleased to finally get started and to make our way along the first few miles. Have to take my hat off to Tim, though, who was the only one of us who took time to stop and rescue a sheep with it’s head stuck in a fence – gaining our admiration (the rest of us ploughed on) but also a bruised thumb from the ungrateful animal.
Anyway, shortly after that we were taking bets as to when some of us might catch up with Alex but he was determined to prove that his injury wouldn’t stop him from doing well. And didn’t he do well!
I managed to (just) keep up with Bobby, Mark and Roddy for much of the time to Catrine where Alan was waiting with much needed food and, of course, the camera. Bobby was away and I didn’t see him again until the Citadel, but I was passed by Mark and then Rod who both gave welcome words of encouragement. Another surreal episode going through Barskimming where the manicured driveway (before Tim charged through ;D) and grand woodlands contrasted with the previous wild moorlands, rushing river and small villages and towns. Was struggling by this time and relieved to reach Failford as I know this section much better. As I left the cool woods of Failford and passed a couple out walking, the woman asked if I was training for the Glasgow Half marathon the next day (clearly pleased that she could share her knowledge of the running calendar) but her jaw dropped when I told her how far all the race members were running that day and conceded that I wouldn’t be at Glasgow on Sunday.
Struggled pretty much all the way to Annbank and then, as I gradually realised that I wasn’t being passed by anyone else, decided that I should just go for it and try to keep running into Ayr.
Was surprised and delighted to find Alan waiting and cheering me on not far past Ayr College and found the energy to keep going to the end. What a relief to see everyone waiting outside the Citadel :).
Yes, well done to Louise and her team for a great race. Also to Alex who kept us up-to-date with the plans and kept Louise right, I’m sure, with the details of race planning.
Sorry that Andrew didn’t manage to complete it – but that’s hardly surprising when he ran it only 6 weeks ago! And pleased to hear that Ian finished – well done the RAW Recruits team 8-).
Thanks for organising the night out, Bobby – it was good to have the chance to meet some of the runners, too. Not going to forget this day in a hurry.