Monday, 20 March 2017

Criffel Hill Race 2017

Hoping to join in with the Scottish Hill Running Championships (aiming more to ship myself there and back, trying to enjoy the bit in the middle, with no focus on the champion component) this year I ran Criffel Hill Race. This is one of six races on the calendar. Each runner, from 18 to 60, must finish four of the six races - one at each distance plus any other – to complete the series. Goatfell is more of a trek so I opted for Criffel as my ‘medium’.

SHR Championship 2017

19th March
Stuc a'Chroin
6th May
20th May
Trotternish Ridge
3rd June
Strathpeffer Games
12th August
Devil's Beeftub
9th September

It’s a dreich but enjoyable drive through Stobo to Broughton to The Devil’s Beeftub.

Once through Moffat, the trip is unremarkable (apart from a town called Ae and an area of forestry called Cushat Woods - perhaps a fertilization technique from ye olden days?) and I am soon in the quaint old village of New Abbey in Dumfriesshire. Parking is at a local sawmill and registration is simple. There are over 200 entries and the village is bursting with competitors and marshals. I meet some old faces and some young ones – one being Lucas C. He is a smidge nervous but raring to go! Tom H and I have a chat – Tom senses it won’t be too boggy once off the road section. Tom’s senses may need a flush.

Soon, kit checks are carried out and we are given the pre-race safety talk by Ranjit Thomas from Dumfries RC. He jokes that anyone under five feet tall may disappear in the peaty bogs. We laugh. We are foolish.

We are given the off and the battle commences. The first road section is a tad steep – thankfully short and soon the throng snakes up between Mid and West Glen on hard packed roads. This changes to rooty moss-mud through overhanging pine branches which then develops into an uphill footing lottery. It is almost entirely guesswork as to where to place a shoe. A tall tussock , initially, looks ‘friendly’ but then eats your leg and black broth that looks like it leads to Hades, is firm underfoot. It’s an exhausting lottery of stride or slide all the way up to Knockendoch.

Once over, there is a little respite in the form of a small downhill section (pic below). On the surface, this looks welcoming - but again - there are slices of peat that shift under feet, waterlogged, bogged and dangerous decomposing carpets of waist-deep man-eating mush. Yelps and groans are the order of the day as almost everyone takes a dive.

Courtesy Digby Maass
Between here and the cairn, the front runners pass me on their way down. Graham Gristwood is in the lead followed by an unflustered Finlay Wild who looks like he is out to pick up his Sunday paper. Lucas C passes me heading down here too – not long followed by Tom H.

I make the turn at Douglas’s Cairn on top of Criffel. I feel good and am looking forward to making up places on the downhill charge. The plan is going well and I start to pick off runners. It’s not long before I am in familiar company. I am passed by a good descender that I recognise and decide to ‘stay on his heels’ – perhaps get past him on the road section.

One moment, all is peachy, and then it goes pear-shaped. I misjudge the depth of peaty puddle and plunge knee first into a pool of black porridge. At one end of the pool is a wooden spike – almost impaled – however, a submerged boulder to the right kneecap soon draws my attention away from the potential impalement.

Painful…painful stuff - Teeth were gnashed and, weeping considered – nausea a close second!  Neither happened fortunately, as realising I was between marshals and therefore equidistant between stretcher bearers - I encourage myself onwards with some strong language – in a positive way of course! Between the blue air and groans, other runners pass me advising me of the nearest marshal position. Between gritted teeth, I say I am fine and bid them onwards. I am happy for them.

I don’t want to be stretchered and I have come this far - so onwards I limp and curse. Strangely, from utter agony, the pain begins to subside and I find myself picking up speed. I pass a couple -then another and finally charge in having passed nine runners on the way down.

Post-race, I meet Lucas, who says he was 3rd MJ at the top cairn but lost places on the descent and finished 5th MJ in an impressive 1.01.35.

A fresh looking Tom H  (1.05.56)  – who was hoping to do well in the MV50 category, thought he would, but Colin Donnelly, Bill Breckenridge and Adrian Davis showed up and dented his intentions (though Tom was 30 secs in front of Adrian at this year’s Carnethy 5)

I, 1.26.52, had hoped to be around 1.15.00 – 1.20.00…… but that was the target of a man with two kneecaps!
Sums it up...nearly!

First  Lad – Graham Gristwood in 50.51 - (7 secs in front of Finlay Wild)

First Lass - Georgia Tindle in 1.05.58

Results - here
Route - here

The record of 47:34 – was set by Mark Croasdale (1993) – with nearly 25 years of feet and natural erosion on the route, I doubt if this will be surpassed.

Call for ideas to improve Moorfoot Runners + Senior Club Run volunteers for 2016

We are keen to what you the membership think about the club, and how we can grow and improve the club from a senior member perspective. Please feel free to respond to Colin by email this week or come along with some thoughts to the AGM on Friday night. I'd like your thoughts on:

How do you think we can improve the club? Are there things that you would you like do more of and less of?

We are hoping to get more club runs / activities at the weekends - Can you organise or assist in some way?
My hope is that at least once a month we will have a club activity. Here is a link to a calendar for the rest of year that shows local and major weekend races that would be better to avoid if possible, but are you happy to help or lead a run on one day in a year. The weekend runs can be simply a favourite route you do and need not be anything special. Then again if you fancy do something more then go for it.

For instance I intend to do another InnerleithenHandicap in Caberston forest as I have a few times:
John Buchan Way runners 2015
Previous examples and other suggestions -
  • John Buchan Way, Broughton to Peebles
  • Kailzie and Cardrona Forest loop
  • Cross Borders Drove Route, West Linton to Hawick in stages
  • Minch moor from Inners
  • Glentress, than cake in the cafe
  • Eddleston loop and Mapa Scotland from Barony Hotel
  • Glen Estate inc Loch Eddy from Inners or Traquair
  • Peebles - Lyne Station and Cademuir loop
  • SUW to 3 brethren from Inners or Walkerburn
  • Walkerburn Glenbenna loop
  • Windlestraw Law from Inners or Walkerburn
  • Inners to Peebles by GT or bikepath + Caldwells Ice Cream (or vice versa)
These are simply ideas, and written by me some are quite long and Innerleithen-centric, so don't be put off or feel restricted if you have something else in mind.

I look forward to hearing from potential volunteers and any thoughts about to how the club can best cater for its members.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Moorfoots at Alloa Half Marathon 2017

Four Moorfoots at this years Alloa Half Marathon, a popular (3,500 runners !) event at a good time prior to the big city Spring Marathons as a tester of current form and year to date training regimes.

Weather forecasts had been changing daily in the week running up to the race - high winds, heavy rain in the worst case scenario - but the sun actually came out, and there was just the one wee shower, The wind however, was a factor - a stiff westerly head wind in the main leg between Tillicoutry and Menstrie.

Colin - a solid 1:21, in what is his third race in as many weeks...
Magnus - a new HM PB with a great 1:29...more to come from Magnus this year I think...
Paul - 1:37 and ticking over nicely for his April London Marathon...
Kenny - 1:27...same time as 8 years ago at Alloa funnily enough...

More geeky stats on the Moorfoot Strava page..

Full Alloa race results here...

Friday, 17 March 2017

Annual General Meeting + Franco's meal - FRI 24th MARCH

Moorfoot Runners AGM + Franco’s meal   - 24th March – 7pm County Inn

The Annual General Meeting of the Moorfoot Runners is being held on Fri 24th March at the County Inn, Peebles  at 7pm .
By popular request we are also booking a table at Franco’s restaurant afterwards for 8:30pm.
This ensures the formal proceedings wont drag on too long  !!

The AGM is open to all club members - we would encourage everyone to attend as it an opportunity to have an input into the clubs activities.  The committee are always looking for new ideas!!

To help track numbers for both the AGM and the Franco’s meal could you sign up on the attached doodle poll link:-

If you could tick the appropriate boxes – eg: if planning to come to both AGM and Meal then click  the 7pm and 8:30pm boxes , if AGM only then just the 7pm box.


Eddie Balfour

Club Treasurer

Monday, 13 March 2017

Deerstalker report amid tragic circumstances

The Mighty Deerstalker night run took place on Saturday with almost 2000 people taking part in the route that starts and finishes at Traquair House and takes you up and down the hills around Innerleithen.

Tragically the whole event was completely overshadowed by absolutely terrible news that a runner died about 1 mile into the race. Clearly the circumstances will be examined thoroughly but according to this report in the Sun the runner was a 48 year old mother of two from Northumberland and was an 'experienced racer'. The thought that you take part in a race and don't come home is simply horrific. I, and people I talked to, were unaware of any of the details on the night. I did see an ambulance at one point but had no idea of the severity of the circumstances which didn't emerge until Sunday morning.

The Moorfoots racing all did very well. Ruth McKean, unable to run for long distance due to underlying niggles took part in the shorter 'half stalker' and almost won it outright just 10 seconds being the overall (male) winner. In the full course I got involved in the race for the unoffical accolade for fastest local running with Dean Whiteford from Innerleithen for two thirds of the course. We were side by side to the scree climb but eventually managed to get gap and descended Rocky well to pick up another place to cement 5th.
Colin with Dean at Pirn Craig. Photo Courtesy of Ian Linton

Dean is best known for his successes on the Border Games track circuit but in recent years he has been racing over the XC season and won the Lillesleaf Trail 10k a fortnight ago. David Gaffney who has recently  moved to Innerleithen and trains with the Moorfoots on a Tuesday night finished a excellent 9th on his debut run at the race making it 3 from the town in the top ten.
Alex Nisbet completed the hot streak of form the Moorfoots were showing recording a 6th place finish in the woman's field again on her first time at the race, a fantastic achievement. Full results here

Alex at the Finish
There was also a good turn out from other local racers in the valley.

At the Start (obviously!). Photo Courtesy of Ian Linton

Monday, 6 March 2017

Eildon 10 Mile Trail Race 2017

This year’s Eildon 10 mile trail race was attended by Mike McGovern, Pete Hall and I. It’s a 16.4km blend of forest track, river walk, hill side and B roads. With 540m of climb, it packs a decent challenge.

We meet up at the start and we partake in a round of the usual ‘who’s who spotting’. Last year’s winner Craig Mattocks is on the start line along with Alexander Chepelin - more of a concern for Mike than me or Pete!

It’s raining lightly as the off is given and I manage to stay in the front half on the initial tarmac section. A sharp right up a rutted track to the bottom of Eildon Hill North. This fades and soon we enter the unrunnable toffee fondue before the initial steep ascent. Many curse and snarl as the slippery ground robs them of energy. As the hill steepens, shoes fail proper purchase, causing some to employ the Bambi shuffle - more cursing ensues.

My calves take a duffing on the ascent and are pleased to welcome the rough downhill to Eildon Mid Hill. I manage to pick off a couple of runners on the way and am soon knee-pumping it over the top (422m 1,385 ft). On the thrilling/dangerous decent off this hill, I hear a runner approaching from behind. I pick up the pace - as does the other runner – I hear a dull groan.

Pete and I catch up for a breathless chat on the way up Eildon Wester Hill where Pete heads off up to the turn. However, we meet up again on the way through Broad Wood. I find a good pace here and am soon behind a group of six runners. A sodden plod to Bowden and then some good running until Maxpoffle – where the glabber is awful! (This is Thomas the Rhymer country after all!) Following some slipping and sliding, I manage to pass another two runners once onto the road section through St Boswells.

Along St Cuthbert’s way until the River Tweed and we head north on a track a few feet from an irate looking Tweed! Stumbling here would be unwise!

I can see three runners in the distance and decide to see if I can catch up. The riverbank ahead is badly eroded and, around Monksford Bank, the path veers away from the river and through some of the worst leaf-rot chowder I have ever, nimbly slogged over.

I keep a pace on the gradual uphill through the forest, behind the golf course and am gaining on the two runners in front. Then…the A68 road crossing….and any hope of catching up fades as I stand frustrated, waiting on the traffic to clear. I am then caught by the runner behind me. Traffic clears and I am off on the final stretch. 

The last uphill, I manage without too much complaint. I pass another runner here and am soon over the ballast section and on to the final road portion. From here, it is all about improving on last years’ time.

I cross the line, pull in to the side and follow this with an impression of someone who is being sick – without actually being sick. I’m over the line in 1.38.41 (over 3 minute’s improvement on last year!) – Closely followed by Pete in 1.40.21

(Courtesy of Danielle Glendinning)

Mike had a great run for 5th in the enviable time of 1.21.16

Top 3 in each category were

1st Alexander Chepelin 1:11:48 (may have taken the number 38 bus at Bowden!)
2nd Craig Mattocks 1:19:23
3rd Greg Glendinning 1:19:35

1st Fiona Dalgleish 1:32:59
2nd Gillian Cairns 1:35:32
3rd Michelle Hetherington 1:38:56

full results

Some madness followed my return to Peebles with a 6 mile 'warm down' around Manor Brig/Sware/Spoon Wood/Cademuir - Must seek therapy!

Lasswade 10 Mile Report

Three Moorfoots took part in the annual Lasswade 10 Mile Road Race - Alex Nisbet, Darin Dougal and Colin Williams. Scott MacDonald had also entered the race but unfortunately had a bad fall the day before during an easy run and injured his leg and had to withdraw on the morning when it hadn't improved (get well soon Scott).

I (Colin) have done the race once before back in 2011 and didn't remember it as well as I should have as it's an absolute brute and might . It's 'only' 10 miles but it have a lot of steep ascent and descent which pushes you to limit early on.

It was a case of friendly inter club rivalry for Colin and Darin who ran next to each other for almost the whole race before Colin managed to get a small gap in the last mile  to finish in 14th in 62.03, with Darin 15th in 62.10. Alex put in a strong showing having raced the Glentress trail half the weekend before and finished in 77.15.

Results here: (without category positions at the mo - will update when they are issued but don't know Vet / Female placings right now). Route here: (The route was changed this year with a detour in the last mile - you didn't go on past the big house on tarmac but along a most mucky potholed dirt track round the back of Rosewell)