Friday, 16 June 2017

Summer Solstice Social - Tues 20-June

Next week sees the longest day of the year, so the Moorfoot Tuesday training group (auld yins) are planning a slightly extended evening run, followed by refreshments back at the Bridge Inn.

Meet at Kingsmeadows car park in Peebles for 6:30pm as usual

Route - up river towards Lyne, before the 'ups and downs' of Black Meldon, White Meldon and Hamilton Hill before returning to the Bridge Inn.

It's about 10 miles (16Km), slow/steady pace and will be punctuated with frequent stops; should be back at the pub by 8:30pm. Would probably suggest that you bring a windproof jacket as it can be a bit blowy on the tops. All welcome...

A few options:

The full social - 6:30pm start, full route and pub

The half social - 6:30pm start - if you need to be back early, join us until Lyne and then run back via the Tweed path

The sneeky wee social - see you in the pub at 8:30pm

Tues 20-June is the Children's Beltane Sports
There will be no dancing around bonfires during this event

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Durisdeer Hill Race 2017

I had hoped to run the Slioch Horseshoe on June 10th but I had already driven a lang whang the weekend before – and had to be at Grangemouth for just after 4.00 p.m. So with a 12.00 kick off, I decided to run at Durisdeer instead. It’s just over 4000 feet of climb and just over 9 miles in distance (for those who are still in Europe – Bonjour tout le monde - 1240m et 14.7km)

It’s a kind of in-the-middle-of-nowhere place on the map but has ancient origins and a really interesting old church dating from before 1394 – with Roman camps before then.

It’s in the church where registration takes place. The weather on the way though is miserable – but still around 12 degrees – so comfortably foul.

Around the start line, spirits are high and I catch up with Andy C. He tells me he has run the race in 1 hour 45 minutes in the past. I am impressed – I am confident we won’t be sharing a post-race cup of potato soup!

With the under clemency of the weather, most are in their wet suits – gore-texed up and ready to roll. Some are in vests. An ADAC runner gives us the non-nonsense pre-race chat – explaining the severity of getting lost on the hills ahead.

There is a restrained charge to the first burn crossing and Andy C is up in the lead group. On the climb up to Black Hill (531m) groups split as some contour and others take a direct route over the summit. I contour with another 8 or 10 runners.  Around 200m, visibility really starts to deteriorate. The mist is some of the thickest I have been in. It is a long, soggy climb to the summit and by this time the wind is howling around the trig point and marshals are struggling to stay upright. One is wrestling with a survival tent – the wind had them in a Half Nelson when I passed!

On the top, twin tracks run in all directions merging, diverging and generally making choices difficult to make. With visibility down to 5-10 meters it is a challenging situation.

I have been very fortunate and spotted a ‘Solway’ vest on the way up through the clag – not too distant from here….

‘You run this one before’? I ask. ‘ Aye’ it’s ma local run’, came the answer. And so a stalker I became.

The descent from Pettylung (463m) to the road is rough and steep but I am down in one piece and heading for the loop around Steygail (573m). This looked runnable on the map but features some major contouring, climb and – in my case – many burn crossings.

On the route up to the road past Upper Dalveen, I manage to overtake 3 or 4 runners and am soon on the steep climb/traverse up Well Hill. This is tough in the whiteness. I am still stalking my local guide. It is hard to keep in touch at times but the alternative is quite scary. I have no clue where I am.

There is a Trahenna-like clamber up to the top of Well Hill  (606m) and eventually we are at the top. I then mistake this for the last hill and decide that it is time for the downhill charge.

I take off following a never ending fence line – checking now and then that I can still see the blur of my guide behind me. Around this point we catch up with five runners who are all consulting maps and trying to figure the route down in the whistling haze. We pass them and are soon on the ‘actual’ last climb. Over this and I can remember the route back down Black Hill to the church.

I charge off in pursuit of a Westie but get my foot caught in a fence and miss the opportunity to catch him.

It’s a good run down through the mist over the burn and eventually to the church.

Andy C is back and changed by the time I get there. Dry clothes, soup, tea, numerous cakes and a bag of salty crisps and I am off to Grangemouth.

Andy went round in 2:07 – about 25 minutes down on his best. He did admit to getting lost 4 times! It turns out he ran an extra mile and climbed an extra 800 feet. Andy came in in 8th place - Around his best time – he would have been 3rd.

I managed round in 2.26 and 17th place. 36 ran – the limit is 40.

The race was won by Graham Gristwood – International orienteering champ. The conditions would present no problems, as these guys are taught to read a compass in one hand, dismantle an AK47 in the other, while reciting the Korean alphabet backwards.

Perhaps training for the summer!

Results here

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Gutsy showing at Scottish Schools and Silver for Ethan

A stiff breeze looked likely to negate fast times at Grangemouth  today at the Scottish Schools Champs but three of the four Moorfoots running produced PBs. The fourth, Charlotte Clare, ran her usual gutsy race but she is in a bit of a flat spot at the mo and was a fair bit off her best form in her U17W 800m heat. She is young in that age-group and will turn things round given time.

In the U20W 800m Ailsa Innes was just run out of an automatic qualifying spot in her heat, finishing a close 4th in 2.18 just outside her PB. That was a hard but highly commendable run given the windy conditions and it put her through to the final as a fastest loser. With a turn-round of only 90 minutes after the heats, the final was a race for the strong, and not only did Ailsa turn the tables convincingly on the girl who had kept her out of the top three in her heat, she put herself well and truly in the race for a medal. Down the back straight on lap two she latched on to her older Lasswade clubmate Lauren Dickson (Ailsa is Moorfoot trained but now races for Lasswade). With the front two clear, and a good gap back to fifth, it was a clear-cut match race between the two of them for bronze. With 150m to go Ailsa moved out to take over third spot and held a two metre advantage off the bend. But Lauren wasn't done for and with the crowd roaring the two of them down the home straight she eventually got back to Ailsa's shoulder and just, only just, sneaked it on the line. Gutting for Ailsa who had run such a superb race but she can be justly proud of a 2.16 PB on a windy day and with only 90 minutes recovery after a hard heat.

Charlotte Morrison's U15G 1500m went as a straight final and while not challenging for the podium she ran a faultless well-paced race for a three second 5.16 PB. Can't ask for any more.

Ethan Elder won the U14B 1500m last year but two separate 2-week lay-offs from training since mid-April due to an ankle injury meant he could not expect to be at his best in his attempt to repeat the feat in the U15 age-group. He had to work really hard in his heat to nab 4th on the line and sneak the final automatic qualifying place in a blanket finish, but his 4.33 time was a good nine seconds off his PB. Just one tenth of a second separated 2nd to 5th and with all four fastest losers coming from the other heat, Ethan made the final by the skin of his teeth. With some questionable timetabling by SSAA again meaning less than 90 minutes between heat and final, it was going to be a really tough task for him to be competitive in the final after a hard heat run and the four weeks of missed training. He looked goosed after his heat and it was as much a mental battle to get up for his final as it was physical. Thankfully someone had the sense to push back the final by 15 minutes to give the boys some additional recovery time (although no-one told the boys about that before they were due in the call room!). Thankfully too, the pace in what was the very last event of two full days competition, was sensible over the first two laps with Ethan able to sit comfortably mid-bunch. At the bell the expected kick came and spreadeagled the field. Although there was no instantaneous matching reaction from Ethan, he dug in to stay in touch with a possible medal position going down the back straight for the final time. With hot favourite Lewis Dow surging clear, Ethan showed incredible guts to haul in the others and push into second place round the final bend. Down the home straight his strength was evident for all to see as he made inroads into Dow's lead. Although clear, Dow was anxiously looking over his shoulder as the shouts for Ethan sent the message that he was not yet home and hosed. The gap proved to be too big for Ethan but it was an amazing turnaround and he so deserved his silver medal. On top of that it looks like he sneaked a PB of 4.23 although that is unofficial on the coach's watch, the official time TBC. Guts, pure guts, which was enough to elicit some  post-race "French" praise from his coach.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Trotternish Ridge 2017

When I think of Skye, I never imagine it is that far away. It’s up there on the north left of Scotland, romantically, little more than a Flora MacDonald - powered boat ride from the mainland.
Not so, it would seem – Portree it is in fact a five and a half hour trip from Peebles, covering 258 miles. With this in mind, drinks and snacks are stockpiled and the Ipod loaded up before the off.
It’s a fine afternoon and I am soon on the way through Perth and heading for Dalwhinne for my turn off on the A9. I make good time getting over to Spean Bridge, past Loch Lochy to Invergarry. Soon, I have Loch Cluanie on my left and then I drop in to Glen Shiel. I travelled this route many years ago but not on such a clear day and have no recollection of just how massive the hills are on either side. I imagine someone must have glued the boulders to the hillside, so that they don’t roll down and crush gobsmacked drivers on their way through the glen!

The Ipod has gone from AC/DC to Aerosmith and the Allman Brothers play me in to Kyle of Lochalsh. I realise now that I didn’t hit the ‘shuffle’ button!
It’s a fine night and the Cuillins are vast and menacing in the distance. 32 miles of island later and I am in Torvaig Campsite a mile out of Portree. Tent up, bed inflated, I head back to town to load up with the ‘Mallaig Fish and Chips Special’. Not completely as described, however, I have had some carbs and head back to my pitch. I watch a little of Gran Torino with lights out around midnight.
Ten minutes to five and the dawn chorus kicks off with versus one to six thrown in for good measure!
Registration is in Portrree High School between nine, and ten and after a form of porridge, I am there, numbered and kit checked. Kit includes additional food, a survival bag (Ta Pete H) and an extra running top. With that and the fluid, the rucksack (kindly borrowed from Andy C) is a bit weighty. As this is a Scottish Championship Long Classic counter, the limit has been raised to 150 runners. So, quite a buzz around check in.
Pre-race talk is at 9.45 and buses are thereafter loaded with runners and after a spell (some of it spent captivated by the scale of the ridge and some of it trying to recall what it was that I was doing here in the first place) we are all at Flodigarry for the start.
Harry Martin
The ridge resembles series of waves, frozen in motion. Geologically, a very long landslip of basalt lavas sitting on softer Jurassic shales – sliding slowly towards the sea. It is dark, wild and vastly foreboding – decidedly Tolkienesque. Here be Hobbitses!
Jasper Jansen (checkpoints on most prominences)

It’s 17 miles start to finish with 6000ft (1828 m) of ascent in between. Seven check points to be covered with seven tags to be dropped into seven little orienteering Bagginses. There’s a chill wind blowing and we all courie around an imaginary start line. A casual countdown and we are off.
Checkpoint 1 is a manageable run up onto Meall na Suiramach (531m). Findlay Wild and Andy Fallas are already heading away from the pack.
From this point, there is an exciting descent down to Checkpoint 2 (Quiraing car park) where I manage to make up a handful of places. Some water here and off on mainly moor for a 5 mile tussocky trek to Checkpoint 3 on Beinn Edra (611m). Good visibility here and it is possible to see the hills of the Outer Hebrides.
Walkhighlands - Beinn Edra

Checkpoint 4, at Beallach na Leacaich, is a 3 mile jaunt from 3 and another welcome water stop. I’m not feeling too bad at this point and munch an energy bar on the ascent. More featureless moor and Checkpoint 5, Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh Ruaidh, (593m) appears. Tag dropped and onwards.

Over the next two hills, I start to lose my drive and feel generally dehydrated. I have been taking in fluid from my rucksack but am losing much more in salt than the fluid contains.
Hartaval (668m) is a large wedge of hill but I manage to get up and over it. There is some tricky navigating down through some steep, rocky terrain – but following the experience runner in front, I manage to weave a way through. From the top of Hartaval, the climb to The Storr (719m) looks outrageous – but once at the base – the hill seems to shrink a little. I am passed here by an HBT lady who is gliding up the slope.
With some effort, I am over the Storr and heading down the steep hillside to the precarious Bealach Beag. Following some clambering there is a marked route down to the road. I can see the HBT lady and catch her on the road.
Within a mile, I am on the final dash across the bridge at Storr Lochs Dam.
I had set myself a target of 4.30 (don’t really know why) and managed to finish in 4.33. Not far off target! With this being a championship counter – all the big boys and girls were out to play so I finished a way down the pecking order – Interestingly, if I had run in 2013, I would have been 3rd !
Race over, Tent down and into the car for the 5 hour trip back to Peebles. A long drive but I return to some chilled Guinness.......My Preshuuuusssssss!

Quiraing behind, The Storr ahead,
And there are many paths to tread,
By the bealach, corrie and col,
Where glassy, snaking rillettes fall,
The horde is loose, the quarry known,
Remove the one upon the throne,
But to his heels, no one can cling,
And Wild is crowned the mountain king.

JRR Token

Brand new 'his and her' records set.

Results here

Monday, 5 June 2017

LAMM 2017 - An Teallach, Fisherfield and the Fannichs

This year's Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon (LAMM) location was announced on Thursday lunchtime - up near Ullapool, in the shadow of the popular Munro An Teallach - so a long drive up on Friday evening for the two days of mountain navigation, general bog bashing and rock hopping.

A new team this year, with daughter Mhairi giving it a go - sensibly, we chose the D-class (approx 20Km /1200m ascent each day), but remaining a full on mountain challenge in a fantastic location, with stunning scenery and varied terrain.

Day1 22Km/1200m
D-classers were bussed out past Braemore Junction and set loose in the Fannichs, at the eastern end of the event area. Six controls to navigate through between start and mid camp, and we were soon up above the 900m contour. The big decision was between controls 3 and 4; we chose the 'contouring' option rather than the more obvious 'over the tops' choice; not much in it...
35th out of 50 in our class at the mid camp; 6hrs46mins...some work to do on Mhairi's feet overnight...

Day2 22Km/1120m
Heading back towards Dundonnell now through the Fisherfield hills, and straight up 800m from the off. A bit of rain and some hill fog, forced waterproofs and compass out briefly, but was clear again within the hour. Relatively straight forward controls, but a few final tricky 'knolls' to locate as we contoured around the corries of An Teallach before a long descent back to the finish.
Mhairi's feet holding up, but obviously hurting on the descent - what a trooper though, full on run along the road/field final 800m. 32nd on day2 in 6hrs31mins

Early morning at mid camp
Full LAMM info/results here...


Monday, 29 May 2017

Scott is 1st Vet 50 at Edinburgh Half Marathon

Scott MacDonald continued his 100% winning streak as a Vet 50 making it 2 from 2 by winning the age group category at the Edinburgh Half Marathon on Sunday morning clocking the highly respectable time of 1:21:56, 87th overall. Scott was in great form prior to his pneumonia in his left lung that hit him on his birthday and made his loose 2 weeks of training in the month before this event, and Scott went off like a man on a mission going through 10km at 37:20, unfortunately his missed training caught up with him in the last 5km otherwise he would have surely been sub 80 mins.

Glentress 11km trail race report from Friday evening

Report from Alex:
No one could have predicted the soaring temperatures of the very first Tweedlove 11km trail race. As I left my car at 17..45pm the barometer shouted 28 degrees at me, yes that's 28 degrees in the late afternoon in the Scottish Borders, aka Costa Del Peebles.
Scorcio - Andy, Darin, Mike and Ruth line up at the front

The premier GT 11 was a well organised, friendly event, well attended with 128 racers and friendly marshals and much needed water stops on the climb up to the top.

It was great night for The Moorfoots who turned up and supported the local event with both enthusiasm and determination despite the unprecedented warmth. Andrew Cox stormed home second overall (50.07) with a super speedy effort on a course which encompassed a 375m climb up the beautiful trails of Glentress and back down some of the more technical rooty shared trails. The canopy from the trees was all the more inviting on Friday night as it provided some much needed shade for the 200 or so runners braving sub tropical temperatures Peebles had to offer, humidity being the most vivid memory most will be left with from the race (if not a touch of sunburn). Darin Douglas was second Moorfoot home (5th, 2nd MV) followed closely by Michael McGovern (6th, 3rd MV) and Iain Roberts put in a sterling effort and continued to improve with a solid 28th place.

The fabulous Ruth McKean ran brilliantly retaining her recent streak as First Lady overall and First female Moorfoot over the line and Alex Nisbet (me) came in 3rd Female Senior which I am delighted with as I am not ashamed to say that I struggled in the heat!

Pos No. Name Club Category Time Behind
2nd 30 Andrew Cox   M 00:50:07 +00:01:12
5th 36 Darin Dougal   M40 00:50:57 +00:02:02
6th 95 Michael McGovern   M40 00:51:21 +00:02:26
8th 96 Ruth McKean   F40 00:54:08 +00:05:13
28th 125 Iain Roberts   M 01:04:43 +00:15:48
30th 110 Alexandra Nisbet   F 01:05:08 +00:16:13

Full Race Results can be found here: