Wednesday 29 August 2018

Andy Cox grass sledging at Grasmere!

Andy Cox was racing at the annual Grasmere Lakeland Sports in the Guides Race.  At 1.3 miles and just shy of 1,000 ft it’s one of the classics in the history of games hill/fell racing and was a highlight in the professional calendar in the days of when there was a split with ‘amateur’ racing.

This is what the website says:
The Grasmere Guides Race to the top of Silverhowe was first introduced in 1868. The current Grasmere Guides Race record of 12 minutes 21.6 seconds over the Butter Crags course, was set by Fred Reeves in 1978 and is still unbeaten today. Reeves won the Grasmere event 8 times altogether. £500 is still being offered to anyone who can beat Reeve's record.

There were 120 runners and the race was won by Nick Swinburn of Northumberland Fellrunners in 13:28 in the rain in very wet and slippery conditions. Andy finished 20th in 16:59 having been wiped out on the descent by another competitor who slipped over, but luckily for him Andy was there to take his fall but came off much the worse as a result!

Full results:
Race Video Moorfoot fame at 2:30 and 7:30

Monday 27 August 2018

Baddinsgill Round 2018

One of those ‘just around the corner’ races that is hard to resist – though some serious rain on arrival drew in some second thoughts.

It’s as low key as they come – parking in the sawmill and registration in a pop-up tent on Baddingsill Farm’s village green. Pay your fiver, put on your shoes, safety briefing (which included a detailed description of the route – but far too much to absorb on a Sunday morning) and off.

A steep start takes runner (33 starters) up on to Faw Mount with good running to Mount Maw to Grain Heads and on to The Mount. I manage to pass a couple of runners along the ridge and another on the descent in to Deer Hope.

Faw Mount - centre-right - leading to Mount Maw (head anti-clockwise from there)

A lady runner was consumed, waist deep, in the Badlands at the base of Wether Law – rescued by her fellow runners – onward she sped – and with others (sometimes we are just sheep - too foolish to consider availing ourselves with a compass and map) head blindly to the massive cairn on top of the aptly named, East Cairn hill.


Part way on the trip, I notice a lack of ‘claw’ marks in the drier peat and decide to head off and over the hill – an easier fence line route missed by many (though the map shows the route passing the cairn!) It’s all heather-louping to catch up and get to the Cauldstane Slap (Slap, as I discovered - a gap, a breach or hole (in a wall). Haribos from the marshals at the slap and onward into the oncoming, horizontal rain on the run to West Cairn Hill and on to Wolf Craigs.

There’s a long mushy drag through the morass to the top of Byrehope Mount – where a marshal stands in bright yellow rain armour, buffeted by the elements. ‘Straight down the hill to the final marshal on your left’ he says – The red rag is waved and I take full advantage of the descent – though would have taken more had I not suspected another incline before the end!

The run finishes at the end of a wood on the Thieves Road. Fortunately, it was still there!

Top job by the supporters and organisers in testing conditions. Definitely one to try again.

Results Here

I found out later (As I did not make the pub (shameful) afterwards, that I had missed out on picking up a prize as 2nd MV50. Note to self…go to the pub!

Thursday 23 August 2018

Weekend race roundup 18/19 August - Ochil 2000s, Abbotsford Trail Race, Kinloch Rannoch Games Hill Race

Saturday’s Ochil 2000s Hill Race was selected as the Scottish Athletics one-off championship race, as well as counter for the Scottish Hill Runners series. It’s also a biggy at 33km, with 1770m of climb, and part of the Long Classics series too so it won’t surprise you to learn Alan Elder was in action. However the stand out Moorfoot performance came from Scout Adkin who completed the route in 3:47:04 not far from the podium, as 6th woman in a highly competitive race given it’s Championship status.  Alan finished in 4:42:44 as 25th M50 so great performances all round in a navigationally challenging day on the hills. Full results here:
A rather challenging route!
Dave Gaffney and Andy Cox continue to enjoy a season of short sharp hill races taking part in the Kinloch Rannoch Highland Games on Saturday, before some extra munro bagging that evening and the next day. The race route is up to the top of Craig Varr and back again which is 2.3 miles and 900 feet ascent. Andy described the race as:

Brian Marshall pipped the young boy from Fife, closely followed by Colin Donnelly, who caught me on the road into the park, we all came in within 20 secs of each other, 4th and £15 which paid for the fish suppers.....
It was a ‘anyway you want’ to the top and back, the 'older' boys who have done it several times, definitely knew the wee shorts cuts.


Abbotsford Trail Race on Sunday was held in a pretty special setting of Abbotsford House by Melrose. There were two courses which would not have been out of place in the Borders XC series – a junior race of 2 miles and senior race covering 5 miles. The terrain was mainly grass fields, and riverside path but some sections of made up purpose built gravel paths. There were two Moorfoots in each race.

First up in junior race was Shaun Pyman, 6th overall and 2nd MU13, followed by Esme Minto 2nd WU15 and 15th overall.
94 seniors ran and it was dominated by Gala Harriers, the organising club. It was won by Graeme Murdoch, in 29:24. First Moorfoot home was Darin Dougal in 9th (5th M40) in 32:53 and Colin Williams 12th (6th M40) a minute and a second behind. Also racing was Brenda Dougal for the Galavanters finishing 12th F40.

A good set of photos of the senior race can be found here:
Unfortunately there do not appear to be any photos from the junior race.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Pub social and ideas review, Friday 7th September

There was a well attended meeting earlier in April this year very kindly hosted by Lucy at her house when we considered some ideas about developing the club to cater for members more. This is the description from the evening at the time :
The were a number of ideas that came out of the meeting, one being the establishment of Thursday night training. I've sent an email to membership that attached a note with Lucy's summary of what we thought, and the subjects considered and an overview of the Thursday training

We are looking to set up a meeting in a pub at 7.30pm on a Friday night at the County Inn in Peebles as there is lots of space to have a relaxed chat about how we feel the Thursday training has gone and whether we want to alter it, and review also whether we should now be looking to act on any of the ideas that came out of the meeting.

I've been trying to find a date in the next few weeks and the proposed date is Friday 7 September.
Please can you reply to let me know if:
> Do you want to come along?
> Do you can or can't make Friday 7 Sept?
> Would you like to go to Francos after for pizza?

cheers Colin

Monday 13 August 2018

Scott McDonald clocks fastest Scottish M50 5,000m time in 2018

Scott was racing in the Scottish Athletics Championship at Grangemouth on Sunday 12th August and set another age PB in a scorching time of 16.49 for 5,000m.
This comes only a few weeks after he won a very well deserved M50 1500m silver medal at the Masters National Championships at Grangemouth on Saturday clocking a super quick 4:35.48, less than 3 seconds off the title. Scott led for most of the race before being out kicked on the final lap.
Although Scott’s run on Sunday was the fastest by a Scottish M50 over 5,000m in 2018 in windy and drizzling conditions he was denied the chance to defend the title he won last year as the Masters Championship race was combined with the very popular GAA milers meeting held on Friday night 27th July where entries filled up in day when Scott was away. Despite being defending champ no discretion was used by the organisers which seems counter productive and deserves to be criticised. Scott is able to claim moral victory however after his quicker run on Sunday.
Photo (C) Bobby Gavin
Video here:
Masters 1,500m results:
National 5,000m results:

Sunday 12 August 2018


FINAL CALL FOR THE SUMMER BBQ    (in covered area at end of Glentress, Peel Cafe– so no weather issues!)
I need to confirm numbers with the Peel Café by WED eve so if anyone wants to come along please add names to the doodle poll – see link below

By popular request we have booked the PEEL CAFÉ at Glentress again for the Moorfoot Runners Summer BBQ on SUN 19th AUG.
The BBQ will be held in the covered seating area at the end of the Peel Café - aiming to start from 5:30pm onwards
We would encourage everyone to attend and bring along family (we had over 60 people attend last year) –it is a good chance to catch up with other club members.
Gregor will be presenting prizes for the Junior Club members.

The Peel Café will provide the catering which will include a BBQ  & soft drink within the price. The club will be subsidising the event to try and encourage as many members (and family) to attend.

Adults - £5 per head , Children - £2 per head. This subsidised price is available to all Club members and immediate family. GREAT VALUE!!

To help plan the catering could  you sign up to the doodle poll below:-

If there are any special dietary requirements then please email me ( and I can try and make arrangements at the Peel. There will be vegetarian options.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday 8 August 2018

North Berwick Law Race, 1st August 2018

A belated and brief race report from last Wednesday’s (North Berwick Law race, with Moorfoots represented by myself (Dave Gaffney), Andy Cox, and Katie Walling running in HBT colours.

Nearly 250 runners set off from the town’s harbour to the arresting sounds of the local pipe band and the loudest starting pistol in the east. It’s a frantic 3-miles from sea to summit and back again, with no chance to draw breath or enjoy the panoramic views from the trig point at the top. Not that it was a night for hanging around up there, the warm sunny weather that had dominated most of the preceding month having given way to pouring rain on the evening of the race, making for difficult and slippy conditions on the rocky descent of the Law.

The race was won in 19:18 by Scott Fraser, a familiar winner at Tweed valley races in recent weeks and boasting an impressive hill racing record to date, having won 14 of the 20 races he’s ever entered. Catriona Morrison was first woman (and female vet) in 23:34. Scott was the first recipient of a new trophy commissioned in memory of hill-running legend Robin Morris, a seven-time winner of the Law race who passed away earlier this year.

A pre-race recce of the route with Andy gave me the opportunity to recommend some truly awful lines of ascent and descent in an attempt to slow him down but despite that (and the fact that he’d run and won the Stag and Hind at Moffat the previous night) he stayed out of sight, finishing just outside the top 20 – but on the same time as 20th place – in 22:05. I was nearly a minute behind in 22:56 for 25th place and third vet, and Katie finished just outside the half-hour mark but just inside the top 130.  

The wet weather didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the locals who lined the streets in good numbers as usual to cheer runners out and back in, contributing to what is a great, friendly and fun wee race. The fact you can exchange your bib number for an ice-cream at the local chippie afterwards contributes to this and is something Scottish Athletics would do well to adopt as standard procedure. Thanks to Edinburgh Athletics Club, East Lothian Council, and race sponsors Dandara and NB Fry.  

Full results and organiser’s race report can be found here:  

Report by David Gaffney

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Scottish Long Classics - The first 6…..

I set a goal this year to attempt to complete all 9 Scottish Long Classics (info below)

Distance ranges from 14 miles to 20.5 miles with climb from 3737 to 7874 feet.

Scottish Long Classics 2018
Distance in miles
Climb in feet
Ran it?
Stuc a'Chroin
05 May
Isle Of Jura Fell Race
26 May
Trotternish Ridge
02 June
Arrochar Alps
30 June
Ben Rinnes
28 July
Glenshee 9
5 August
Ochil 2000s
18 August
Two Breweries
22 September

Pentland Skyline
14 October

*See Arrochar report

Stuc a’ Chroin

Third running of this race and the climb up Beinn Each is just as brutal as I remember – almost matched by the final climb out of Glen Ample. This year’s race took a new route (due to forestry operations) on a long gradual forest path – a slog on the way out – but allowed for some ‘overhauling’ on the return route. A slight improvement on previous runs.

Isle of Jura

Always a treat to run this (well..perhaps ‘treat’ is the wrong word)  – it’s hard as hell and the feet take a real beating on the way round. The final road section proving particularly painful – with a Morton’s Neuroma in tow (or more precisely between the toes!).
The day before the race, after leaving my road shoes at the 3 Arched Bridge for the final road section, I was hitching my way back to Craighouse and was fortunate to get a lift very quickly. Even more fortunate to discover that it was Bobby Shields and his wife who had stopped. Bobby was an outstanding runner in the late 1950s to the early 80s and won the first Jura race in 1973 – when it was called ‘The Bens of Jura Fell Race’ and has run Ben Nevis in 1h:31mins – A real pleasure to chat to them both.

The run itself was tough in what must have been around 27 degrees – with nowhere to hide. Major dehydration by the finish but a pleasure to replace lost fluid in the Jura Hotel bar!

My third run here and my third ‘never again’…the jury will be out until January when the entry for 2019 opens!

Trotternish Ridge

It’s a fair old trek to Portree but for a 6 hour romp around the hills – not bad value.
I camped overnight and after a decent fill of potatoes for breakfast, I was ready to go. Post registration, runners are bussed to Flodigarry for the start.
A slog up through the Quaraing and it soon becomes apparent that the weather will be a major factor in completing the race – 16 miles, 6500 feet of climb and it is 28 degrees.
It proves a really tough run, and part way up Hartaval, I catch up with running buddy Greig College who has serious cramp issues. We manage to get off the hill and onto the final road section. Much grunting, accompanied by a few expletives we eventually finish. A fairly brutal day out!

Arrochar Alps

My first time on entering this race – probably one of the most frightening race profiles out there!
The race entry is small at just over 40? (34 made it round the course) – Possibly due to the severity of the ascents and descents. Completing it looks like hard work but with no cut off times mentioned – I feel I should make it round - even though I pitched my tent at around 12.00 midnight! Amidst a midge-fest.

It is another baking hot day with temps around 28 – 30 degrees and pretty much no shade anywhere on the 15.5 mile route.

Registration done and off to the start line – pre race briefing and mention is now made of a cut off time on Ben Vorlich and 2.5 hour cut off on the top of the second hill Ben Vane.  Surprised to say the least - as this info (according to SHR advice to Race Organisers) is supposed to be made clear at the point of advertising the race. I have no way of telling the time - However, onwards….

It’s a long undulating run to the base of Ben Vorlich and then a brutal 2000 + foot climb to the top. I ask the marshal at the top if I have made the cut off – 10 minutes under he says – ‘anyway, I am stopping nobody today – If you are having a good day and look reasonably fit…carry on…’ Good attitude on such a clement day!

The descent to the Sloy Dam feels vertical at points and it is tough to pick a route and avoid ending up becoming a human boulder and rolling at great speed towards the water.

I chat to some hikers before clawing my way up the grass walls that make up the ascent to the top of Ben Vane. This is an unpleasant slog – more so in the heat of the day. I can see the sweeper below me and am aware that I am the tail end of those who have made it this far.

I reach the second peak – unaware of the time and am informed that I have not made the cut off time. There are two other runners who are in the same position – one is ill with dehydration and the other has no intention of continuing. I do and I explain this to the marshals. The sweepers arrive and inform the marshals that that they have no issue with my progress and are happy for me to continue with them. Marshals agree and suggest that I ask for a time when I finish. We take some pics and carry on.

Top of second peak - Ben Vane ( Tks - Graham Kelly)
Second peak - Ben Vane - heading for third ( Tks - Graham Kelly)

A wild, rapid descent from Ben Vane and I am at the base of Ben Ime. Yet another slog through heather and tussocks. From the top of Ben Ime to the base of Ben Narnain is a good downhill and I manage to overhaul another runner. I think that if I am in front of a runner who has made the checkpoint – surely I would be given a time at the end. He gives up and I am once again at the tail end of those who are still going.

Up and over Ben Narnain and down some of the worst downhill terrain that there is. Boulders, dry river beds, concrete slabs, lose rock and huge drops to manage.

Around 14 miles in, half way down the final descent, I can see a couple of walkers coming up the hill. As I near, the lad seems to pass out and crashes face and shoulder first onto the rocks.

I run down to help. He rolls over and is really unwell. His partner knows of no illness that would cause his convulsions. Other than reassure him (though I am uncertain he can hear me) that help is on its way – as I knew the sweepers were some way behind me – there is little I can do. 
Suddenly, it is silent and he appears to stop breathing. A surreal moment. All I have is CPR training that I attended (through Jo Cunliffe) and decide to apply this.

10 or so compressions on and he comes round – unaware of where he is. His partner and I get him comfortable and wait on the sweepers arriving. They arrive and after some discussion, I am wrestling my way down the final awkward section of hill and on to the forest path at the bottom of Ben Narnain. A mile or so later I am over the finish line and the timekeeper at the end logs my finish time on his laptop.

Not a typical hill run by any description – I find out later that the lad’s partner took him to hospital. Hoping he is fully recovered.

On checking the race results, I discovered that I was not given a finish time – though I was recorded by the timekeeper.

I enquired as to why and was informed ‘I’m afraid you were timed out and that’s the end of it’ – but as a Moorfoot mum once informed me…Strava never lies…

Ben Rinnes Hill Race

My first running of this race featuring an overnight camp at Aberlour in order to make the early start up in Dufftown.

It is part of the Dufftown Highland Games and starts with a circuit of the games track before and after the hill section.

It’s a good climb up to the golf course where the track then suddenly heads off onto a wilder route up to Little Conval. This leads to a good descent to the base of Meikle Conval which in turn is followed by a good descent to the road crossing below Round Hill.
There’s a stony climb up to the lower section of Ben Rinnes and this soon turns to a bouldery scramble up to the summit. It is a wild day up on top with sleet and hail whistling in horizontally from the north.
Marshals on top of Ben Rinnes

The homeward leg is a straightforward return on the outward route and after speed hiking up both Convals, there is a long downhill back to the sports ground. Quite a cheer from 5000 spectators! A long way up the country for a run – but probably the most runnable of the nine runs included.

Both male and female records were broken this year
Record (M): 1:53:47 - Eoin Lennon, Carnethy 
Record (F) 2:18:12 - Jill Stephen, HBT

Glenshee 9

Another first time run on this route.

On a quiet Sunday morning – this is just over 2 hours away, starting at the Glenshee Ski Centre.

132 runners gather in the ski centre car park and are soon off on the long schlep up to Creag Leacach. It is steep in places but much is slight in gradient. The biggest challenge is on the final route to the summit (and down again) as this is strewn with boulders – big ones, small ones, ones that shift unexpectedly and some that grab your foot, causing dented knees, gashed and bruised hands and partial fingernail removal (single stumble of first descent!)

The hill with the aggressive boulders

All 9 peaks have the same boulder coated summits and all have the same potential to injure.

Once up on the tops, there isn’t any one big killer hill but many smaller hills with many descents over moorland or rocky terrain which really chew up the calories.

A diet of buttered, salty potatoes and chunks of palm sugar help keep the energy flowing – though not as fully as I could have coped with. Energy was certainly low, heading up Carn Aosda – the biggy once the checkpoint has been reached. Cut off at 3.5 hours just below munro number 6, Carn an Tuirc. Once over this, you are falsely lured by the sight of the chairlift at the top of the The Cairnwell – however – the route boomerangs out to Carn a Gheoidh. After 7 munros, this looks like an impossible cairn to reach. Feet ache on the way to the summit and worsen on the way back to the Cairnwell. 

Gravelly dust is creating friction between sock and sole. Grunting ensues and continues for the 800ft final drop to the finish line at the ski centre.

Good to get cheered over the finish line by David Nightingale from Gala Harriers!

Over 200 signed up for this one but only 132 turned up on the day – with 109 finishers. 

Andy Fallas just pipping Eion Lennon for first place.