Monday, 26 September 2016

Two Breweries Hill Race - Part 2

This was my third consecutive running of the Two Breweries and I had set myself the target of simply improving on last years’ time. Down at the first brewery level, the weather, although grey, was not too unpleasant – shorts and a vest seemed appropriate - and once kit-checked and given the off, 94 stampeded their way to the first road section. Here, the group thins until the first climb up through the dry bracken to the lower side of Birks Hill. David and Chris pass me here and it’s an arduous slog against a very angry southwesterly wind up onto Birkscairn Hill itself. Marshals are rocked around as they shout out race numbers. From here down to Glensax Burn, quad quality is tested by the steep heathery decent. I had recced this section previously and found that the grouse butts offered some cleaner down-hilling. By the burn, I am in much the same company so no real benefit in this route on the day. I refill my water from Glensax Burn and add half a salt tab.

The climb out of Glensax is a tough one and I use it to munch an energy bar and consume some fluids. I can see David and Chris further up the hill. My goal on this section is not to stop. I manage this and join those battling against the wind – trying to be as small as possible. At Hundleshope, more wind-whacked marshal count us through and point us on our way.

The contour on the side of Broom Hill is well trodden and an upper line here proves beneficial. Onto the oddly named (Door Hass) saddle leading to Stob Law and I am a few paces behind David. On the top of Stob Law almost all of the marshals are lying on their sides trying to avoid the howling wind.
I trot past David, exchanging words, which are whipped away by the wind. Another thigh tester down to the farm, where the winds are so strong that my left leg - nearest the wind - is being blown across my right leg, and at the same time, my whole body is being blown uphill - like some weird hillside dressage display. Quite a challenge! I am swept past Chris somewhere above Greenside Craig.

A quick top up on water at Glenrath and off up through the forest to the top of Whitelaw Hill. I manage the firebreak without stopping for oxygen and am soon on the pleasant Old Drove Road downhill to Dawyck Mill. Tarmac to Stobo Home Farm where Lucas C offers fluid and encouragement. I am there in 3.03 and feel I may improve on last years’ time.

Heading through the farm, directions are hard to find and I take a detour but end up back in Tarcreish Forest. I manage to run most of this but the change in surface really gives the hips a hard time. I catch up with Swaz from Westerlands and we pick a path through the reedy wasteland, around Louden Knowe Wood, and up onto Louden Hill. The hoolie is now peaking and the top of Trahenna is invisible due to the sheets of horizontal rain whistling over its crest. At this point, it becomes apparent that my Moorfoot vest is letting in water – as are my shorts. I claw my way up the wire fence and am soon passing another band of barely visible marshals. The last contour before the decent to Ratchill Farm is tricky as the undersides of both my feet have no feeling – but Broughton appears from through the gloom and I know I am almost there. I pass two runners on the decent and set a course for the brewery. Over the line and probably the best I’ve felt on finishing this run. I manage to take over 2 minutes off my time – so goal achieved! On seeing that many were 10-20 mins down on their previous times, I’m hopeful that I will manage to shave a greater slice off next year - weather permitting.. Soup, sandwich, ale – sorted.

120 signed up - 94 turned up - 76 stayed up

(Door Hass - probably Dour/door - infertile - and Hass: a narrow passage between hills, the head of a pass; a narrow connecting ridge between two heights on a watershed’)

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