On a day when it would have been unwise to stray neath the nethers of a brass King Kong, 471 weather - clad lads and lasses boldly undertook this year's Carnethy 5.
Among them Tom, Lucas, Paul N and me. It was my first outing on this run and was unsure what to expect - so I had a minimal recce on the Friday to check the lay of the land. Seemed manageable from the heated seat I was sat on in the layby outside Silverburn. Then Saturday came and the weather arrived in Penicuik. I met Paul in the hall and, once changed, we headed over to the bus for the jaunt to the start. With the external foulness, we questioned our sanities en route to the starting area - since none of us could come up with a reasonable answer - onward it was.
There are a couple of mini marquees, in which 450 people are trying to keep out of the wind and sleet until the race starts. Difficult in a 15 foot square area. We huddle like Gore Tex-clad rockhopper penguins, jostling and stomping until it was time to face the shrill easterly wind.
10 minutes to go and it's time to 'warm up'. I head to the start line and am off to the sound of the bagpipes - never seen a piper so chilly! The Braveheart charge is underway and many fall foul of the initial foot freezing bogs. I manage to avoid these and am keeping a good pace to the first and second gates around Charlie's Loup. I take a heathery line and make up a good few places down to the Grain Burn.
The ascent to Scald Law is treacherous as first footers have compacted the snow and turned it into something my shoes don't agree with. Nearing the top, I pass the other guy who is wearing shorts. He is making strange noises.
The route drops before rising again to circle the cairn at the top of South Black Hill. On the ascent, the runner in front of me is blown clean off their feet. Another takes a similar line and meets the same fate. The wind is snarling viciously and it is difficult to stand or see - and I have no idea where I am or where I have to go. I follow the runners in front and am soon on the down hill to the bottom of East and West Kip. There are surreal moments every now and again as many of those marshalling are wearing army uniforms and shouting directions above the howling wind - felt like I had been whipped in to a disaster movie at times!
Following the Kips, a good run down to The Howe - where many take part in the hillside-backside toboggan ride. I find a westerly route and avoid the drookit bahookie.
A calf-busting climb up from The Howe through Crooked Rig where compressed snow proves challenging underfoot.
Things take a turn for the worse - yes it was possible! The final climb to the cairn on Carnethy and things become surreal again. I can see no further than a pair of blue mudclaws at the bottom of the legs of the runner in front of me. I become aware that my windward jaw is numbing and that dainty little drifts of snow are forming on the outer edges of my calves. With a little more knee pumping, I am around the final cairn and heading down hill.
Many are grunting and tumbling at this point. I manage to pick up a few places and can now make out the main road through the snow. I muster a good (all thing considered) charge from the last gate to the finish where three other runners have a Steve Ovett moment and I race in and gain a cheeky three places.
All in all - Heart a little fuller, smile a little broader - legs a little redder!
Paul and I took the bus back to Beeslack but didn't see Lucas or Tom after the race.
However, Lucas had a great run and fought his way round in 1.01 - definite sub 1.00 in better weather.
Tom keeps Moorfoot Runners on the map with a fantastic 1.03 and 3rd M50 prize!
Alan and Paul sledged round in 1.25 and 1.28 respectively
Short Video here Ice cream it's no joke
(vids Courtesy of Carnethy website)
Also - huge praise for the marshals and special thanks to the ones who sorted out my number at the start)