Sunday, 15 October 2017

Manor Water Hill Race 2017

A couple of miles outside Peebles, it's hard to ignore this run and within minutes I have arrived at the parking area in the smirry haze. It has been raining heavily for hours/days before so everything is soaked. David G and I meet in the glaur park and have a pre race chat.

It's a friendly, low-key run, set amidst the backdrop of the Manor Water Sheep Dog Trials. Registration, as always, is delivered from the back of a horse box, and surrounded by short sharp whistling, come bys and lie doons, I am uncertain whether to register under my own name or Cardinal Chaffinch of Cabernet Franc (aka -  Chaff), I realise that there will be very few V50 Border Collies, so decide against the idea.

Unlike last year, when the weather was conducive to record setting, this year's outing to the summit of The Scrape (719m/2359ft) is more likely to break an ankle than any previous bests.

Kits are soon check, numbers daubed and the off given. It soon becomes clear that, under foot conditions are poor and will only get worse. A trio of Carnethies can be seen leading the pack out from Glack Hope up to White Knowe.

Conditions are tough. It's mush and gloop interspersed with mossy rafts and reedy dips - there is very little let up from top to bottom. The prevailing clag makes visibility minimal on most of the journey and it is difficult to gauge just how much energy to gamble when you are unable to see what lies ahead.

The upward trek is demanding and David passes me on my climb to the summit. We exchange encouragement. The top is hard to see through the clag and horizontal rain. A sharp turn and time for the enjoyment of the down hill. I manage to make up 7 or 8 places from the turn. I finish slower than my previous time but oddly felt stronger - possibly the conditions?

David puts in a good shift and comes home in 19th position - one behind Craig W.


A cheeky bottle of IPA for each finisher...nice!

Certainly, one of the most manky, mawkit outings this year - David and I noting the knee-high glabber!

As they say...Manor's manketh the man...(ouch!)

Stewart Whiltie was first lad back in 1.19,

First lady was Kathy Henly in 1.48

Full Results Here

The outcome of the Sheepdog Trials?

At the end of the day - all the crooks were put away!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Darin third Vet at Dunbar 10 Mile

I spied Darin Dougal was in action at the Dunbar Doon Hill 10 mile race last Saturday and recorded a very creditable 11th place and 3rd M40 in what was a field with some real quality - GB and Scottish Senior International hill runners Murray Strain and Andy Fallas were 2nd and 4th respectively with the winner Eoin Lennon, a sponsored ultra runner from Carnethy over 4 mins clear of second! Full results here Well done Darin.

This is how the organisers Dunbar Running Club explain the race:

The EDF Energy Dunbar 10 Mile Race (a.k.a. the Doon Hill Race) is held partly on unclassified roads, and mainly on farm roads, trails and paths.  

After a flat 2 miles out of town, there is a steady climb up to the highest point on the course at around 5 and a half miles.  Enjoy some terrific views out over East Lothian and to sea, and then make your way back down again and onto the finish.

Further details (route, elevation, etc) can be found HERE.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Tweed Valley Tunnel Trail Run 2017

This is the second year of the Tweed Valley Tunnel Trail Run and it is proving to be a very popular race with runners travelling from far and wide.

It dishes up a little something for everyone - outstanding scenery, flat trails, tarmac, open hillside, challenging climbs, thrashable descents and a surreal dry-iced-disco-balled-tunnel-of-coiled-luminescence. 'And the big wheel keep on turning.... neon burning up above'....Shoulda worn the platform Hokas!

Although this clashes a bit with the sweat and glaur, it's certainly an unusual ending to a slog around a very handsome corner of the Tweed Valley.

The event offers 2 routes. A 10K and a 20K route - below. (Courtesy of Hillside Outside)

The 10K is much the same as the 2016 route but the 20K now takes a kick up around Cademuir Hill - probably to make up for the lap of Haylodge Park that was not included this year. A good move I feel!

All in all - a very enjoyable run - with good performances in the 40+ Ladies - won by Moorfoot's Ruth McKean and not far behind (soon-to-be-Moorfoot!?) partner Roger was first 40+ male.

Iain Roberts had a good run in the 10K for 7th in the M30 category

Alan and Pete duelled for the first V50 Moorfoot slot - and in doing do - managed overall 1st and 2nd V50s - Though setting off 25 minutes apart, and running very close splits ( 3 seconds at one point!) Alan managed to get to the line, a smidge before Pete.

Full results HERE

A really well organised event courtesy of Neil Dalgleish and the team at Hillside Outside.

Big thanks too to all the volunteer helpers and marshals who support the event and make it enjoyable for all the runners taking part.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Dave takes on Bennachie

Dave Gaffney was in Aberdeenshire doing the Bennachie Hill Race over the weekend. Here's his report:

I tend to look at the Scottish hill racing calendar with an eye for possible weekend trips that would offer something for all the family and Bennachie Hill Race offered great potential on that front because my cousin and her family live just a few miles from there. Knowing that both sets of kids would welcome the opportunity to spend a couple of days reacquainting themselves with each other, we invited ourselves to stay for the weekend and ventured north-east on Friday afternoon, across the new bridge over the Forth and beyond the Granite City to Garioch (pronounced “Geary”), the area which lies to the west of Inverurie.  

Bennachie is actually a range of seven hills, flanked on all sides by pine forests. Its name is a derivative of Beinn na Ciche - literally “hill of the breast” - and having not run for four weeks due to illness and injury I did think there was every chance it was going to make a tit out of me. The summit ridge extends for about 8km in total and the relatively low-lying flat land in the surrounding area means Bennachie is easily seen from miles around. Except, that is, when it is entirely obscured by cloud, which it was for several hours before, during and after the race on Sunday afternoon. Even high winds, which were forecast to be up to 50mph on the summit, couldn’t shift it in the hours before the race.

Entry numbers (all done in advance, no entries accepted on the day) were capped at 200 and despite the cold, wet and windy conditions most people who had registered did in fact turn up to accept the challenge posed by a 13km route which takes in four of the range’s tops and a total ascent of 1600ft (or 500m). That’s about double my ideal hill race distance, so I felt pretty sure I’d struggle for stamina towards the end, but figured it would be a good long Sunday run regardless.

The junior race got underway at 2pm to loud cheers from the seniors gathered at the start line. Then, after a quick briefing by the race organiser and a generous round of applause in memory of Chris Tomlin - a member of the Cosmic Hillbashers running club who had died suddenly last week - we were soon underway and headed up the fire road towards Watch Craig, the first top of the day.
Good going on a wide track soon dissolved into a sticky climb on a very muddy single track, first through trees then out onto the heathery open hillside. An abundance of rocks and tree stumps on the path made overtaking and/or looking upwards perilous in the extreme, but as it began to flatten out slightly towards the first top overtaking was possible again and I managed to gain a few places as we were blown up and over Watch Craig and down towards Oxen Craig. The wind on the summits was as bad as I’ve experienced in any race - with the exception of this year’s Carnethy 5, which will definitely take some beating. But somewhere between Oxen Craig and Craigshannoch the boggy path became a good gravelly track, the wind subsided a bit and the cloud even dispersed enough for us to have views down to the north and east of sun-kissed fields below.

A well-built path led us to the final rocky outcrop of Mither Tap, from where it was a very enjoyable run down the Maiden Causeway on a great path with just the occasional wet rocky section thrown in to keep us honest. With no GPS watch to remind me how many kilometres I’d covered and how many more there were therefore still to go, I got a bit carried away and probably ran too hard on this section as the remaining 5km through the woods to the finish were long, painful and slow, as my pre-race prediction came true and I lost some 5-10 places on this stretch.

But soon the finish line was in sight and I had enough in the tank to hold onto 37th place, out of 159 finishers, in just over 1hr17mins. Robbie Simpson of Deeside Runners (and Team GB!) was first finisher in 55:21 and Veronique Oldham of the Cosmics was first woman in 1:12:11. Full results

A very special mention to Garioch Road Runners for the quite incredible spread of sandwiches and home baking at the finish. I managed to force down some coffee, tablet and a piece of Rocky Road (very fitting) despite feeling like I might throw up at any minute. I’m already regretting not being able to stomach more of that home baking but that alone would be worth repeating the 360-mile round trip for this time next year.

Great Scottish Run - Magnus and Paul at Glasgow Half Marathon

Paul Nichol and Magnus Skea completed a rather damp half marathon in Glasgow on Sunday. Both had really good runs.

Paul commented:
As you get older and your race times head South (or is that North) you need to take solace in what achievements you can. Happy to report after much trawling on the Great Run website that I was 24th out of 401 in the quite but no very auld category (55-59). Big congrats to Magnus who's results are going in the opposite direction to mine and was on the telly too.
Paul's run track is here:

Magnus recorded his third consecutive personal best over the distance, recording 1:27:25 - a big improvement and a great effort having gone under 1:30 for the first time at Alloa in March

You can see Magnus on the Reporting Scotland report at about 5 mins in:

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Two Breweries Hill Race 2017

Like Colin, this is a bit of a favourite of mine. Partly due to the fact that it is one of the biggest and baddest hill races on the Scottish calendar and finishing it, within the cut-off times, without some body part exploding, losing your way or breaking down mid-Trahanna in cramp-induced tears, is a serious achievement.

My 4th round duel with the run saw me start well enough – keeping a comfortable pace on the road section until the short climb up over the initial steep field. I had invested in a pair of Hoka Challenger ATR 3s for the run – keeping in mind that these were road/trail shoes and they would suit the terrain – decent grip, broad footprint and 4 or 5 miles of the run being road or flat trail. On my initial trial of the shoes, they were a little tight on the right so I started out with loosened laces on that foot. Very comfortable shoe but no lateral 'give' - it would transpire.

I manage to keep steady rhythm up to the lower end of Orchard Rig and then, like those in front, knee-pump my way to the flatter section leading to the bottom of Birks Hill.

Heading up and over the steep climb to Birkscairn, my right foot is numbing up.

It improves on the downhill. It’s a misty fumble on the run down to Glensax - but local knowledge helps and I drop out of the mist near to the ‘grouse butt line’.

I have preloaded some floppy bottles with electrolyte power and drop one into the burn before heading up Glensax towards Hundleshope.

A decent ascent without stopping and I feel I am up on last years’ time. The going is rough underfoot and my ‘loose shoe strategy‘ begins to backfire. 

Before the sharp turn up on to the pulverised, peaty trod across to Stob Law, I decide to tighten up my laces. This takes time to undo and refasten but they feel more secure. The downside to this is that my right foot is being compressed and I start to develop a pain between my 3rd and 4th toes. It turns out to be Morton’s Neuroma type of thing – for interest...

Common for wearers of high heels apparently – honest – it was just the once!

I make my way across the trod to the yelps of other who fall foul of the mushy pitfalls. On the inside, I am grinning

Downhill from Stob Law to Glenrath and pain is jabbing until the flat farm section where it subsides a little. Up the firebreak to Whitelaw Hill and much of the same. Each upward step requires the use of the ball of the foot. Pain ensues. Interestingly, this is the first time I have ever overtaken a runner on the firebreak! He was looking a shade broken as I did so!

The long downhill and along the road to Stobo Home Farm is challenging. I am counted through at 79th here and decide it is time to hatch my masterplan. I had a packed a spare pair of ‘wider’ Inov8s – in the event that my chosen shoes underperformed. I stop to switch in to these – a crampy moment in doing so and also allowing 3 or 4 runners to pass – but the shoes are wider and I am off again, with hope of an improvement.

Image result for trahenna hill
Trahenna with Louden Hill on the left - Copyright  Richard Webb

Bad plan – the damage is done - so an onward hobblejog is employed and soon I am looking up the barrel of Trahenna Hill along with 6 other runners. I had reccied this twice the week before and was STILL uncertain on which route to take. With my foot, I could not consider the full frontal ascent so opted for a left hand tack on Louden Wood with a contour of Louden Hill. I also discovered that the track in the field beyond the wire fence is a pretty good option. I tackle this in rapid (ish) 50 step sections with a 10 second breather between each.

At last, the descent to Ratchill Farm. This is the most challenging section because, as my shoes grip the contour, my food slides inside my shoe creating a burning sensation. There is much grunting, and for all they greyness, the air is blue with mixed expletives that match my hobblejog cadence.

The road section to the finish is undertaken between a grimace and a smile – I know that soup, sandwich and ale will soon follow – easily pleased!

I wander back to the Village Hall and notice that 8 or 9 if the runners I parted with at the sheepfold along from Stobohope are still coming in – good line up Trahenna after all!

Colin (five ales) Williams and Andy (Podium placed King-of-the-Mountain and human carrot cake vacuum) Cox are relaxing over a brew when I arrived at the hall. They have both posted good times. We share stories and ales.

141 entered – 116 counted out – 100 counted in.

16 DNFs is approximately 14% of the total who started – perhaps testament to the brutal challenge this run poses.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Two Breweries Hill Race - Colin's report

The Two Breweries is a favourite of mine in a love-hate type of way. What's not to like:
  1. It starts and finishes at the breweries of some of my favourite ales, and you get to have a few beers at the end courtesy of Broughton Ales.
  2. It starts close enough for me to walk to the start (or jog if you are running late, which I was. Again!)
  3. It traverses through some really stunning landscape
  4. It is blimin' tough and a proper hill race - 19 miles long and over 5,000 feet of climb and descents in 4 distinct areas with sections of seriously rough and soggy moor. The sort of race that you start wondering how long you can keep it going far too early and feeling pretty broken by the time you finally get there.
All smiles at the start - not sure how long they lasted
113 started the 2017 edition and 100 completed including 3 Moorfoots Andy Cox, Alan Elder and me. I have done the race 8 times now and everytime I always end up in survival mode of merely trying to get over the last hill Trahenna with the sole objective of minimising the amount of cramp and Andy and Alan were no different. In fact Andy was having a great run on the back of his good form from the summer however a wrong turn at Stobo farm and lack of long runs led to a horrible last leg from Trahenna - I was being dropped too by those around me but comparing our relative splits from the last top shows I made up 5 mins in this final 20 minute leg so it clearly wasn't going well! Despite this Andy was first Moorfoot in 3:34:33 about 10 mins down on his PB. I feel like I took the perfect lines this year and seemed to catch up on those around me who were moving quicker especially on Hundleshope Heights where we were running in pretty thick cloud on top, and up Trahenna. I was rewarded by my second fastest time 3:36:56 - 1.5 mins down on my PB from 2010 so I am happy with that as my training has been focused on half marathon distances this year. Alan clocked 4:37:19 not far off his best but he was badly hampered with an ill fitting pair of new trainers which gave him serious grief in the latter part of the race otherwise a PB was on the cards. The race was won in 2:59:22 by Kenny Richmond of Shettleston - the slowest winning time in 12 years and probably a reflection of the challenging navigation and heavy ground - it rained at one point on every day in the fortnight leading up to race.
Race details:
Full results here: