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:

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Runner vs Rider - Jenny's Brae Tues 26-Sept

**Results** - riders in narrow win, fifth rider home behind second runner, but subsequent runners close behind. Well done to all participants and thanks to guest PCC riders Gary, Andrew and Chris....rematch to be arranged...

Meet up at Kingsmeadows carpark Peebles at 6:30pm. Warm up en route to foot of Jenny's Brae..
We will try to get started by around 1850

The Course:
From 'post' on bike path, following bike path then forest road up Jenny's Brae...finish is at entrance barrier to Buzzard's Nest carpark in Glentress (3.1Km, 177m elevation gain)

Helmets please for cyclists...(and a bike obviously ! Suitable for mountain bikes and CX bikes)
Course suitable for road or trail shoes
You might want a headtorch/bike lights for the way will be dark by 1930...

The Rules:
First team (Riders/Runners) to get five team members to finish
No short cuts (not this time anyway...)
There will be no official timing...but we will want to pour over your Strava stats later on...
No dog assistance...
No punching, kicking or biting....

The Runners:
All welcome....

The Riders:
We have three Moorfoots on bikes at this time, but let me know if you have anyone else interested to join...I'm still recruiting...

After the Finish:
There might be time for a short sociable loop around one of the trails, before returning back down Jenny's Brae to Peebles...back at Kingsmeadows car park for around 1930/1945

All a bit experimental this time round, but I'm sure we will be able to 'refine' the format/course/rules to repeat again....



Tuesday 19 September 2017

Lilliesleaf Trail 10k

Darin Dougal and Mike McGovern were in impressive action in the Lilliesleaf Trail 10k on Sunday, which also hosted a joint start with a 5k.
The course was different course from previous editions and basically a cross country across muddy fields. It was won by Bruce Hughes of Teviotdale in 38:39, with Darin 4th less than 2 minutes behind 40:09 and Mike 5th 41:47

Muddy start

Moorfoots leading off a quick start

Mike being caught??
Gala juniors dropping Darin?
Full results and photos here:

Andy Cox runs Scafell Pike Race and gets 3rd place "King of the Mountains"

Andy Cox completed the Scafell Pike Race in a highly impressive 8th place on Saturday. He covered the 4.5 mile race with 3,000 feet of climb (well it is England's highest point) in 1:03:54, less than 6 minutes behind the winner.
Andy seems to be enjoying it
Having also achieved high finishes for the Snowdon International, and Ben Nevis races he also made the podium for the King of the Mountains, a Trophy awarded to the highest finishes for the races up the tallest peaks in Wales, Scotland and England combined.
His prize was awarded than none other than Wasdale farmer and fell running great Joss Naylor
Results are here
On the way doon - Number 13 Lucky for Andy

Superb achievement, and he's doing the Two Breweries this weekend so we'll see if there's anything left in the tank!.
Scafell Pike summit - the roof of England

Sunday 10 September 2017

Moorfoots at the Great North Run - Scott 1st M50

Scott McDonald, Colin Williams and Magnus Skea made it to Newcastle to take part in the this years Great North Run half marathon, along with 43,000 other runners.

Scott continued his phenomenal form to finish in a sensational time of 1:18:11 to claim top spot for the M50 category (113th overall) and record what we believe is the fastest Scottish half marathon for 50 and above so far this year. Colin clocked 1.21.30 (214th & 25th in M40-44 age group) and Magnus set a new PB in 1.28.52 in 720th and 133th M35-39.
Scott's report is below:
The three Musketeers Magnus, Colin and myself from Moorfoot Hill running club headed down south to the biggest road half marathon in the world which I have always held fond memories towards, having run my break through race in the UK 20 years ago and later having the privilege to work for the Brendan Foster empire.
Magnus had booked our trip via coach. Accommodation and VIP treatment at the end of the race helped to create a relaxed and fun experience with Colin travelling down by coach on the day. All three of us were lucky enough to get good starting positions with over 50 000 runners taking part. Seeing Colin’s grin and animation as we watched the elite guys doing a few strides seconds before the gun in front of us will go down as yet another great moment running has given me over the years.
Suddenly Brendan Foster pulled out the biggest revolver I had ever seen and the gun went off, we all streamed down the highway.
The Great North Run 2017 was two years in the planning for me and very much went to plan, enjoyed the opening 5km in 17:51 and recording 36:32 at 10km, finishing up 1st 50 year old 113th position in 1h 18 :11.
Colin has had a very strong last 12 months, running both 10 mile PB as well as a marathon, he ran a strong and consistent race finishing in 214 position in a time of 1h 21 :30 having just missed his personal best.
Magnus ran yet another strong PB 1h 28: 52 in position 720 overall; Magnus will certainly have more to come and is also running the  Great Scottish Run Glasgow half in a few weeks so we’ll see then
A short thank you and personal note from me to Caroline and Katrin for the support they have given Magnus and I over the weekend and the year as well as all the Moorfoot training partners and friends who have helped to rejuvenate myself for my running and goals for 2017.
Yours in running

Some photos of us lining up just behind the elites including Mo Farah just out of shot.


Wednesday 6 September 2017

Dave Gaffney at Braemer (with the Queen) and Blairgowrie Games Hill Races

Dave's report from his weekend jaunt to take part in some Highland Games Hill Races:
Dad being watched by impressed kids after 4th place at Blairgowrie Games Hill Race
I’m not much of a royalist, but I do like a good Highland Games and they don’t come any bigger than the Braemar Gathering, partly due to its most famous patron. I’d set my sights on the hill race here a few months ago and set a reminder for the entries going live too, so that I wouldn’t miss out on a place, which I’d been told could be quite hard to secure. In the end, it was a lot easier than expected and much easier than the race itself, more of which later.  

The Queen and Phil at Braemar - not laughing at Dave I'm sure
In July, my wife and kids couldn’t even be persuaded to travel 800m or so from our house to watch the Lee Pen hill race, but there was new found enthusiasm for spectating when a weekend away to see the Queen was in prospect, so the full support crew travelled with me on Friday to our weekend base in Scone. The drive from the campsite to Braemar on Saturday morning wasn’t much more than an hour, so it broke up the journey nicely, although sleeping in a tent with two kids under the age of five isn’t the best race preparation I’ve ever had. And I use the word “sleeping" in its loosest possible sense. 
It’s a pretty slick operation at Braemar - although surprisingly light touch on security considering the guests of honour – so I was numbered and ready to race within 15 minutes of arriving on site. I waved the family away and set off for a quick recce of the lower half of the route. The weather was gorgeous - sunny and warm with a nice breeze - and perfect for queens and queer folk who find pleasure in running up hills. 

The hill in question is Morrone (or Morven), which lies to the south-west of the town. It’s pretty much straight up-and-down for 5.3km, with a path all the way, but runners are given the freedom to choose their own route should they wish. My recce hadn’t revealed any cunning race-winning shortcuts, so once we’d done the obligatory lap of the games track and headed up out of the field onto the hill, I simply relied on the wisdom or directional sense of those in front of me and settled in for a sweaty, steep ascent. 

The path cuts up through some trees and out into the open quite quickly, with the field soon thinning out on the main climb up a good single-track which cut through the heathery hillside. The race route doesn’t go quite to Morrone's summit, but turns at a line of five cairns on the shoulder of the hill. I reached the cairns in 23:30 and started to feel more confident of getting back into the games field within the 45-minute curfew we’d been set. The Gathering is run with military precision and the schedule yields to nobody, so if you want to avoid being crushed under a caber or pummelled by a pipe band you have to beat the prescribed time limit to earn your final lap of honour and a grandstand finish.

Descending first over thick heather, to cut the dog-leg corner formed by the path, I quickly regretted the false economy it offered and yearned for bare track under my feet instead of spongey, strength-sapping undergrowth. Once back on the path I retraced my steps and gained a few places, the roar of the crowd audible again as I flailed downwards. Concentrating all my efforts on avoiding a You’ve Been Framed fall as I ran round the track to the line, I managed to catch and overtake the thrid-placed woman in front of me on the line to finish 27th in 34m52s. The race was won by Peter Hodkinson (who also triumphed on Lee Pen in Innerleithen earlier this summer) in 25m20s, just 10 seconds ahead of Graeme Gristwood. Tessa Strain was first female in 32:01, making it a double for Hunters Bog Trotters. Full results here

I’d definitely recommend this one to folk. t’s a great day out and the biggest crowd I’ll ever run in front of, unless I finally fulfil that ambition of streaking at an international at Murrayfield one day. 
This report should end there (you wish) but as we returned south to the campsite I noticed a sign for the Blairgowrie & Rattray Highland Games, which were due to take place the following day. A quick google search later and I’d discovered that the games also have their own hill race, raising the prospect of a double-header and, with any luck, a much smaller and less competitive field! 

The promise of a bouncy castle was enough to gain support from the kids for another highland games outing, and my hill running widow was pleasantly relaxed about the proposition, so the following afternoon I dragged my sore legs round the 5km course, made hillier by means of a loop at the top of the course, which you are required to run round twice. 

I was joined on the start line by Alex Caracas, an Edinburgh Uni runner who was fifth at Braemar the previous day, and Colin Donnelly, a three-times British fell racing champion, so any hope of a lazy Sunday run ended there. I needn’t have worried as I didn’t see much of those two until the finish line, but the beauty of highland games is that there are often prizes galore and I picked up a tenner for fourth place in 23m49s, which didn’t quite cover the cost of the coffee, cakes, bouncing and face-painting that had happened in my brief absence. I also got back in time to see another Moorfoot, Craig Angus, and Dean Whiteford, also from Innerleithen, running well on the track, with Craig winning the Youth 1600m and coming second in the youth 800m. Dean did the triple to win the 800m, 1600m and 3200m - not a bad afternoon's work.  Track results here

A great weekend’s racing, and I’m now wondering if this accidental double-header might be of interest to people as a family-friendly club away trip next summer…  

Andy Cox at Ben Nevis

Andy Cox was in action in Ben Nevis Race on Saturday which Scottish Hill Racing describes as the The most daunting hill race in Scotland, with the roughest toughest descent” which isn’t that surprising for a 9 mile race with 4,400 feet up and down the biggest mountain in Britain.

The race was won, yet again for the 8th time on the bounce, by Finlay Wild of Lochaber AC in a time of 1:31:37. Andy had an excellent performance clocking 1:54:59 to finish in 36th position in a huge field of almost 500 including some of the best mountain runners from all over Scotland and Britain. Andy’s race was an 8 ½ minute improvement over his time from 2 years ago. 
Andy on the descent - being chased by a bloke in some interesting attire!

Also in action was Craig Mattocks from Peebles just inside the 2 hr barrier in 1:59:36 for 57th position. Full results here
There is a cracking video of the race with slo-mo sections and a good soundtrack showing Andy very far up the field, especially on the climb – check it out:

Sunday 3 September 2017

Bronze for Mairi at Scottish Trail Champs

A good number of juniors managed to negotiate an accident on the bypass and the traffic congestion around the Queensferry Crossing mass walk on Saturday to get to Strathmiglo and the Fife Trail Running Festival on the Falkland Estate which incorporated the Scottish Mid-Trail Championships for U15 up.

The festival kicked off with U11 and U13 development races over 3k and in the U11 Boys race Danny Lancaster came home 4th of eleven in 13.18 with first-time Moorfoot racer Kai Keen 7th in 13.31 and Cammie Carlyle 8th in 13.32. (Sounds like they maybe raced as limpets?!) Had there been a team award, the Moorfoot boys would have romped it. Ok, they were the only club with three in it but good show boys.

In the U13 races, also over 3k, Holly Hobbs was 7th of sixteen girls in 13.45 and Angus Carlyle was 9th of fifteen boys in 12.34.

Middle Hobbs sister Megan raced in the U15 age-group over 5k. She has shown good improvement in training in recent weeks and was in a hot race with Rollercoaster star and recent Scottish U15 1500m champ Anna Hedley from the host club chalking up another impressive win nearly two minutes clear of the field. Megan was home in 25.24 for 13th of the fifteen runners.

Mairi Wallace and Beth Hobbs lined up in the U17 race also over 5k and faced a small but strong field of eleven with many recognisable names from the hills and track. Both the girls have unfortunately just missed out on Scotland selection for the Junior Home International on Cademuir on 16 September, the Rollercoaster trial race coming too soon for Mairi after an injury break, but they will still be able to take part in their respective races on Cademuir in two weeks time due to the open entry nature of the races for the British and Irish Championships. Although coach Gregor emphasised that the Fife trail races were prep races for Cademuir, both were keen to put up a good show and keep them in the minds of the selectors in case of any late call-offs. And that they did.

Mairi, U17 for the trail race, but U20 for the hill race due to different age qualifying rules, had a steady first half then moved up through the gears, overtaking Beth with about 2k to go and crossing the line 3rd in 21.19 to take the Scottish Champs bronze medal. She was just over a minute behind winner Grace Whelan, one of the Scotland U20 team for the JHI who was last year's U17 JHI winner. Beth kept on well to finish not far behind Mairi in 4th in 21.36, in the process defeating two of the Scotland U17 JHI team by a fair way. 👏👏👏

Photos here