Tuesday 31 October 2017

Dave does Dumyat Dash

Dave Gaffney competed at Dumyat Dash, Saturday 28th October, Menstrie. Here's his poetic report:

I remember the first time I stood by the side of the road in Glen Torridon, looking up at the imposing walls of Liathach, checking and re-checking the OS map because I didn’t believe a path could possibly be found heading straight up there.
Dumyat, the westernmost of the Ochil Hills, is on a different scale entirely but there is something of Liathach’s impenetrability in its southern flanks, the direction of approach dictated by the Dumyat Dash (it’s an ironic name, mostly), which must rank among the most bonkers and brutal short courses in the Scottish Hill Racing calendar.
Trying to resist the lure of a pre-race bacon roll, as Dumyat looms in the background
Starting near the war memorial in Menstrie, one of a line of Hillfoots towns strung out beneath the Ochils, not many races manage to cram as much climbing (550m) into such a relatively short distance (a shade over 6km). A couple of kilometres in, the penny begins to drop with the realistion that every time you gain height – and you do so almost immediately from the start, via a steep single-track up through the gorse – you seem to lose it all again in a tenth of the time it took to acquire.

On reaching Blairlogie, after 3km or so and a fast run down a gravelly road, any ambitions of dashing vanish quickly as the route turns sharply up towards Castle Law, the satellite top of Dumyat. Pretty soon I was negotiating very loose scree, dodging rocks dislodged by those above while the ones under my feet shifted constantly, a demoralising state of affairs that means you have to work twice as hard as normal for every step gained. The race organiser, in an attempt to demonstrate he wasn’t 100% masochist, had fixed some climbing ropes to tree roots in this section, which soon proved crucial to any vertical progress and happily took at least some of the strain off my screaming quads and calves for a few minutes.

The next 10 minutes or so were a severe test of mental and physical obdurateness, as every contour left its mark on body and mind and I clutched at the long grass in front of me to help haul myself ever upwards. It was at this point that I recalled Alan Elder’s unencouraging words the previous evening – “that is one helluva climb up to the top, my calves exploded on the way up last year” – when he’d impolitely declined the opportunity to join me on today’s foray into Clackmannanshire. The wisdom of elders indeed.
Cursing his good sense and my current predicament, I pressed on, neither overtaking or being overtaken, which was about as much as I could hope for at this stage. Soon we were up out of the gulley and passing the cairn at Castle Law, where I was reminded that the blessed relief of some downhill running from that top was short-lived, as the final climb to Dumyat’s summit was soon upon us. “Dash it”, I almost said. 
Rounding the cairn, the problem then became how to persuade the same muscles I’d been imploring upwards for the last 40 minutes to get me the hell down the hill as quickly as they could. Fortunately, the route is perfectly set up for just that – a brilliantly fast, runnable, grassy track plunging down down down to the gate that takes you back off the hill and onto the narrow path to the town. I’ve never been described as dashing but perhaps this was my moment.
Passing three runners on the way, including kind-hearted Carnethy Jim Hardie, who generously held the gate open for me as I passed, I hurtled down the path and managed to stay on my feet to cross the finish line in 48:07. A special mention for Jim, who had found the time and inclination to gather up some litter on his way round the course and crossed the finish line with a large paper cup in his hand. He’d actually turned back to pick it up, letting his conscience be his guide, which then made me feel guilty for having overtaken him so close to the end. I must have carried that guilt with me for at least five seconds, before realising I'd managed to shave two minutes off last year’s time.
So, I left the Hillfoots happy with my morning’s work but secure in the knowledge that my legs would be suffering the consequences of this race for days to come. Three days on, as I type this report, I’m tempted to suggest a change of name for this race next year. “Dumyat DOMS” has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?

Monday 30 October 2017

Jedburgh 10K 2017

The Jedburgh Festival of Running is now a well established autumnal event, on the weekend of the clocks falling back to GMT for the winter.

Possibly slightly lower turn outs this year, than previously, but three Moorfoots on the start line for the 10K, on a course famed for it hills and windy conditions.

It was less breezy than other years, and from the north, so it was going to be a tough outward run before getting some help on the final kilometres; but otherwise a lovely sunny day

Darin ran strongly for 2nd place overall (and 1st MV40) in 37:07, with Mike McG getting 2nd MV40 (8th) in 38:44; Close behind came Kenny in 39:25 for 9th place (2nd MV50)
The 10km podium - Darin still not feeling the cold! And is 3rd place trying to psyche Darin out? A bit late if so

A shout out too for ex-Moorfoot James Britton running for Carnethy, who came third in the Half Marathon in a very strong 1:16:26

Results here...

Sunday 15 October 2017

Manor Water Hill Race 2017

A couple of miles outside Peebles, it's hard to ignore this run and within minutes I have arrived at the parking area in the smirry haze. It has been raining heavily for hours/days before so everything is soaked. David G and I meet in the glaur park and have a pre race chat.

It's a friendly, low-key run, set amidst the backdrop of the Manor Water Sheep Dog Trials. Registration, as always, is delivered from the back of a horse box, and surrounded by short sharp whistling, come bys and lie doons, I am uncertain whether to register under my own name or Cardinal Chaffinch of Cabernet Franc (aka -  Chaff), I realise that there will be very few V50 Border Collies, so decide against the idea.

Unlike last year, when the weather was conducive to record setting, this year's outing to the summit of The Scrape (719m/2359ft) is more likely to break an ankle than any previous bests.

Kits are soon check, numbers daubed and the off given. It soon becomes clear that, under foot conditions are poor and will only get worse. A trio of Carnethies can be seen leading the pack out from Glack Hope up to White Knowe.

Conditions are tough. It's mush and gloop interspersed with mossy rafts and reedy dips - there is very little let up from top to bottom. The prevailing clag makes visibility minimal on most of the journey and it is difficult to gauge just how much energy to gamble when you are unable to see what lies ahead.

The upward trek is demanding and David passes me on my climb to the summit. We exchange encouragement. The top is hard to see through the clag and horizontal rain. A sharp turn and time for the enjoyment of the down hill. I manage to make up 7 or 8 places from the turn. I finish slower than my previous time but oddly felt stronger - possibly the conditions?

David puts in a good shift and comes home in 19th position - one behind Craig W.


A cheeky bottle of IPA for each finisher...nice!

Certainly, one of the most manky, mawkit outings this year - David and I noting the knee-high glabber!

As they say...Manor's manketh the man...(ouch!)

Stewart Whiltie was first lad back in 1.19,

First lady was Kathy Henly in 1.48

Full Results Here

The outcome of the Sheepdog Trials?

At the end of the day - all the crooks were put away!

Saturday 14 October 2017

Darin third Vet at Dunbar 10 Mile

I spied Darin Dougal was in action at the Dunbar Doon Hill 10 mile race last Saturday and recorded a very creditable 11th place and 3rd M40 in what was a field with some real quality - GB and Scottish Senior International hill runners Murray Strain and Andy Fallas were 2nd and 4th respectively with the winner Eoin Lennon, a sponsored ultra runner from Carnethy over 4 mins clear of second! Full results here Well done Darin.

This is how the organisers Dunbar Running Club explain the race:

The EDF Energy Dunbar 10 Mile Race (a.k.a. the Doon Hill Race) is held partly on unclassified roads, and mainly on farm roads, trails and paths.  

After a flat 2 miles out of town, there is a steady climb up to the highest point on the course at around 5 and a half miles.  Enjoy some terrific views out over East Lothian and to sea, and then make your way back down again and onto the finish.

Further details (route, elevation, etc) can be found HERE.

Monday 9 October 2017

Tweed Valley Tunnel Trail Run 2017

This is the second year of the Tweed Valley Tunnel Trail Run and it is proving to be a very popular race with runners travelling from far and wide.

It dishes up a little something for everyone - outstanding scenery, flat trails, tarmac, open hillside, challenging climbs, thrashable descents and a surreal dry-iced-disco-balled-tunnel-of-coiled-luminescence. 'And the big wheel keep on turning.... neon burning up above'....Shoulda worn the platform Hokas!

Although this clashes a bit with the sweat and glaur, it's certainly an unusual ending to a slog around a very handsome corner of the Tweed Valley.

The event offers 2 routes. A 10K and a 20K route - below. (Courtesy of Hillside Outside)

The 10K is much the same as the 2016 route but the 20K now takes a kick up around Cademuir Hill - probably to make up for the lap of Haylodge Park that was not included this year. A good move I feel!

All in all - a very enjoyable run - with good performances in the 40+ Ladies - won by Moorfoot's Ruth McKean and not far behind (soon-to-be-Moorfoot!?) partner Roger was first 40+ male.

Iain Roberts had a good run in the 10K for 7th in the M30 category

Alan and Pete duelled for the first V50 Moorfoot slot - and in doing do - managed overall 1st and 2nd V50s - Though setting off 25 minutes apart, and running very close splits ( 3 seconds at one point!) Alan managed to get to the line, a smidge before Pete.

Full results HERE

A really well organised event courtesy of Neil Dalgleish and the team at Hillside Outside.

Big thanks too to all the volunteer helpers and marshals who support the event and make it enjoyable for all the runners taking part.

Monday 2 October 2017

Dave takes on Bennachie

Dave Gaffney was in Aberdeenshire doing the Bennachie Hill Race over the weekend. Here's his report:

I tend to look at the Scottish hill racing calendar with an eye for possible weekend trips that would offer something for all the family and Bennachie Hill Race offered great potential on that front because my cousin and her family live just a few miles from there. Knowing that both sets of kids would welcome the opportunity to spend a couple of days reacquainting themselves with each other, we invited ourselves to stay for the weekend and ventured north-east on Friday afternoon, across the new bridge over the Forth and beyond the Granite City to Garioch (pronounced “Geary”), the area which lies to the west of Inverurie.  

Bennachie is actually a range of seven hills, flanked on all sides by pine forests. Its name is a derivative of Beinn na Ciche - literally “hill of the breast” - and having not run for four weeks due to illness and injury I did think there was every chance it was going to make a tit out of me. The summit ridge extends for about 8km in total and the relatively low-lying flat land in the surrounding area means Bennachie is easily seen from miles around. Except, that is, when it is entirely obscured by cloud, which it was for several hours before, during and after the race on Sunday afternoon. Even high winds, which were forecast to be up to 50mph on the summit, couldn’t shift it in the hours before the race.

Entry numbers (all done in advance, no entries accepted on the day) were capped at 200 and despite the cold, wet and windy conditions most people who had registered did in fact turn up to accept the challenge posed by a 13km route which takes in four of the range’s tops and a total ascent of 1600ft (or 500m). That’s about double my ideal hill race distance, so I felt pretty sure I’d struggle for stamina towards the end, but figured it would be a good long Sunday run regardless.

The junior race got underway at 2pm to loud cheers from the seniors gathered at the start line. Then, after a quick briefing by the race organiser and a generous round of applause in memory of Chris Tomlin - a member of the Cosmic Hillbashers running club who had died suddenly last week - we were soon underway and headed up the fire road towards Watch Craig, the first top of the day.
Good going on a wide track soon dissolved into a sticky climb on a very muddy single track, first through trees then out onto the heathery open hillside. An abundance of rocks and tree stumps on the path made overtaking and/or looking upwards perilous in the extreme, but as it began to flatten out slightly towards the first top overtaking was possible again and I managed to gain a few places as we were blown up and over Watch Craig and down towards Oxen Craig. The wind on the summits was as bad as I’ve experienced in any race - with the exception of this year’s Carnethy 5, which will definitely take some beating. But somewhere between Oxen Craig and Craigshannoch the boggy path became a good gravelly track, the wind subsided a bit and the cloud even dispersed enough for us to have views down to the north and east of sun-kissed fields below.

A well-built path led us to the final rocky outcrop of Mither Tap, from where it was a very enjoyable run down the Maiden Causeway on a great path with just the occasional wet rocky section thrown in to keep us honest. With no GPS watch to remind me how many kilometres I’d covered and how many more there were therefore still to go, I got a bit carried away and probably ran too hard on this section as the remaining 5km through the woods to the finish were long, painful and slow, as my pre-race prediction came true and I lost some 5-10 places on this stretch.

But soon the finish line was in sight and I had enough in the tank to hold onto 37th place, out of 159 finishers, in just over 1hr17mins. Robbie Simpson of Deeside Runners (and Team GB!) was first finisher in 55:21 and Veronique Oldham of the Cosmics was first woman in 1:12:11. Full results

A very special mention to Garioch Road Runners for the quite incredible spread of sandwiches and home baking at the finish. I managed to force down some coffee, tablet and a piece of Rocky Road (very fitting) despite feeling like I might throw up at any minute. I’m already regretting not being able to stomach more of that home baking but that alone would be worth repeating the 360-mile round trip for this time next year.

Great Scottish Run - Magnus and Paul at Glasgow Half Marathon

Paul Nichol and Magnus Skea completed a rather damp half marathon in Glasgow on Sunday. Both had really good runs.

Paul commented:
As you get older and your race times head South (or is that North) you need to take solace in what achievements you can. Happy to report after much trawling on the Great Run website that I was 24th out of 401 in the quite but no very auld category (55-59). Big congrats to Magnus who's results are going in the opposite direction to mine and was on the telly too.
Paul's run track is here:https://www.strava.com/activities/1210706017

Magnus recorded his third consecutive personal best over the distance, recording 1:27:25 - a big improvement and a great effort having gone under 1:30 for the first time at Alloa in March

You can see Magnus on the Reporting Scotland report at about 5 mins in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b095tl9k