Monday 25 March 2019

Kielder Dark Skies Marathon 2019

Kenny Davidson and Simon Hammond were in Kielder on Saturday for the Dark Skies Marathon (Andrew Dancer – who won the event in 2017 and the combined Marathon + half marathon double in 2018 – and Colin Williams were also entered but both have been fighting illness and withdrew).
In a field of over 400 runners Kenny had an absolute storming race, and finished 6th overall clocking 3:24:32 for the 26.5 mile course with an elevation of 1,700ft and run at night. Kenny won the M50 prize by a huge margin, and knocking the best part of half an hour off the M50 course record in the process! This goes with Kenny’s age group win at Glentress trail half the month earlier. Huge congrats!
Simon had a solid run too but a dodgy hip came into play in the last part meant that he unfortunately slowed to a walk near the end, but still finished in 59th and clocked a still hugely respectable 4:05:55 – well done.
Here’s their comments; Kenny:
Great course, actually really enjoyed the very undulating route and totally runnable in the dark. blood red sky sunset. Tough final 10k or so.... Friendly bunch all round too
Kenny smashed it! Altho he completely ignored our pre-match game plan about pace that agreed in the canteen. He was out of sight by the 2nd corner I (wrongly) thought he'd gone off far too fast and I'd catch him at time point but he clearly knew what he was doing!! I had really enjoyable 30km rigidly sticking to my pace until not long after the dam....then my hip started to niggle. It got worse and worse and I ended up walking/hobbling the last 7km turning the air blue every couple hundred yards when I tried to set off again. Great route although last 6 miles were definitely a bit pants....I'd hoped for 3.5 to 4 hours and was on target for about 3hrs 40 until things blew up.

Thursday 21 March 2019

Criffel Hill Race 2019

Criffel, I thought, is an unusual name – so I looked it up on Wikipedia to see if its origins were defined.
A fruitless task -  but it does say, amongst other things, that it is the eight most prominent hill in southern Scotland and, get this….

The slopes of Criffel feature the upland vegetation of heather, bog cotton and blueberry and are inhabited by skylarks.’ Lovely, idyllic image……….

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A syklark – looking happy with its quarry – somewhere on sunny Criffel

The reality is that the Wiki writer has undoubtedly never been to the top of Criffel (about 1900 feet) -  never endured its filthy quags of viscid peat, as you slog your way to the top of Knockendoch. Or the great black foaming morasses, gouged into the side of the hill en route to the top of Criffel itself.

Some believe running through this terrain, for enjoyment, is a sport.
 (Both Alan and Andy insane enough to believe it for a second time.)

Each had different reasons for undertaking the challenge –

Andy – wasn’t 100% race fit but wanted to test himself on a known course.
Pete – never done before and wanted to give it a go.
Alan – had been to a Bad Company/Free tribute band in the Eastgate the night before and should have known better.

It was a race led by Ricky Lightfoot, from start to finish. A good band of strong runners chased him out and back but never really got close enough to threaten his lead. Bonnington Road resident, Kate Jenkins coming home as first lady. 

Andy had a good run with some tussles along the way and came home in 1:03 for a respectable 5th place.

Alan and Pete had their own ding-dong on the descent. Pete chased Alan after the turn at the cairn on Criffel – catching him around the drop from Knockendoch, and then, taking off (in a very composed, balanced display of downhilling) Alan noticed this and followed. This continued.

 By the time they reached the edge Glen Craig Forest (which features 4 foot drops, and equally deep pits, hidden fence wires, posts and all sorts of tussock-like obstacles) The grace had ebbed and the hilarity began – one would fall and half drown and then the other. Laughter - followed grunt - followed laughter.

Final outcome.... Alan finished less than a minute in front of Pete. Alan relinquished a few red cells in his efforts and was wearing a substantial quantity of the hillside by the end.

Recuperation in the form of fish suppers in Moffat...

Results Here

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Scott McDonald stars in the latest Edition of the Scottish Athletics Magazine

Scott McDonald stars in a focus article in the latest Edition of the Scottish Athletics Magazine! The article is titled 'Back on the Road Again - Scott savours M50 success'. A great read with some excellent insights from Scott talking about his early career and his recent focus back on running and success after becoming partially sighted having been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a deteriorating eye condition. Fantastic to see that Scottish Athletics recognise his success alongside praising the likes of Laura Muir and Chris O'Hare!

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Tuesday 19 March 2019

Moorfoot Runners AGM + meal after. Friday 29th March, Eastgate Theatre followed by Francos

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The Annual General Meeting of the Moorfoot Runners is being held on Friday 29th March at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles. Meeting at 7pm, with AGM proceedings commencing at 7.15pm prompt.
We have booked the downstairs room - the ‘dance studio’ (leotards and ballet shoes optional!). Please note that on the the same evening there is a live music show upstairs so the foyer may be fairly busy but the bar will be open will be serving drinks, teas/coffees. 
We are also booking a table at Franco’s restaurant afterwards for 8:30pm, and this ensures the formal proceedings won’t drag on too long!
Club membership numbers this year are at record levels (over 100 in total) and have both an active senior and junior section.

We would really encourage everyone to attend, we are looking for some fresh faces to join the committee ( in any capacity) and would welcome input into how the club is run. 
To help track numbers for both the AGM and the Franco’s meal could you sign up on the attached doodle poll link:-  
If you could tick the appropriate boxes – eg: if planning to come to both AGM and Meal then click both boxes, if AGM only then just that box.

The AGM will cover:
1.           Presidents Welcome
2.           Treasurers report
3.           Senior Section Highlights Report
4.           Junior Section Highlights Report
5.           Election of Committee

Committee Positions, and current holders:
President – Alan MacDonald 2018/19
Provides the vision, leadership and business planning skills to develop the club for the benefit of all.  You will run the committee and be responsible for the liaison and cooperation between club officers.  
Secretary – Colin Williams 2018/19
The main administrator for the club.  Your remit is broad looking after the general running of the club but typically dealing with correspondence from Scottish Athletics and organising of Committee Meetings which occur about 5 times a year (including the AGM).
Treasurer – Eddie Balfour 2018/19
Responsible for looking after the club accounts and financial dealings.  They report to the management committee. A club cannot function without handling money in an organised and ‘financially sound’ way, so this role within the club is a crucial one.
Junior Team Manager and Head Coach – Gregor Nicholson 2018/19
Responsible for managing the junior section of the club, including retaining and recruiting new athletes, setting programmes and overseeing training, pull togethering teams for competition and getting the most out of the athletes.
Senior Coordinator – Colin Williams 2018/19
Responsible for promoting the senior section of the club, raising the profile of club activities to members, and to prospective members / wider public, with the aim of boosting participation. Coordinator of weekly training, and weekend and social events on occasion.
Welfare Officer – Mike Pearson 2018/19
Providing leadership in the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults within the club and act as a key point of contact for anyone needing to support or guidance
General Committee Member(s) – providing non-specific support and assistance as and when opportunities arise. In the past this has been typically in relation to things like social events, website, providing wisdom etc, however the club is always eager for people assist the club in any way they feel able whether that is formally joining the Committee or simply contributing as and when.

In particular we are looking to fill the Welfare Officer and Secretary roles. Mike Pearson has held the post of Welfare Officer for many years and is keen to step down from the role. The Secretary has been held by Colin Williams for a number of years and in effect combined unofficially with the Senior Coordinator role so we are looking to split the role to spread the load. Please feel free to contact Colin ( if you want any more information on any of the roles.

Monday 18 March 2019

Chapelgill Hill Race

While others were racing at the Deerstalker, Adam Hayward was in action not far from Broughton at Chapelgill Hill Race. Here's his report:

Ever since I started looking at the Scottish Hill Racing website about three years ago, I’ve been fascinated by a small race taking place in March: the Chapelgill Hill race, in Glenholm near Broughton. Last year, it was a Championship race and 130 people took part; usually it attracts around 45 competitors. It caught my eye because of the bald stats beside it in the race calendar: “Distance, 2.6km; Climb, 410m”. There are steeper races: Alva is the same distance, and although it ‘only’ has 385m of ascent, the start involves running round a flat field and through a flattish golf course: the hill that follows is (to me) frightening steep. However, at Chapelgill, for every metre of the outward climb, you only move forwards by just over 3 metres. To me, starting out as a hill runner, that seemed ludicrous.  

Anyway, I didn’t feel like this would be ‘my kind of race’ – I’m a complete scaredy cat when it comes to flying downhill and I have the weakest quads ever – but that’s exactly why I thought I give it a go. I was still convinced it was a good idea when we woke on Saturday morning to see soggy snow drifting down and blanketing the street outside.

By 2pm the snow had abated and been replaced by rain and low cloud, which made Glenholm look absolutely stunning – in an incredibly dreich kinda way – and this was the first race I’ve done where the race organizer registered everyone from the inside of the boot of his estate. At 3, when 40-odd folk were gathered at the start, the rain had eased to a fine mist, the sort that doesn’t seem to be wet until you realise you’re soaking. And then we were off!

No easing into it, no charge across a field to get an optimal position at the start of a narrow hill path: it was just straight up the side of the heathery slope. Everyone pretended to run for the first hundred steps or so, and then it was hands-on-knees stuff. Near the top it flattened out a bit, but to say that I ran this bit would be as generous as saying I charged down the hill: in both cases, my strides got shorter, but I’m not sure I went any faster. After we turned at the top, I juddered on down, overtaking one person to my immense surprise, but the five or six people still ahead of me raced off over the edge and into the mist and I didn’t see them until I wobbled over the finish line.   

I didn’t take any photos or go to the prizegiving in Broughton because I had to dash off home to relieve my partner of our energetic infant, and anyway I was wearing an Ochils vest (though hopefully I’ll be able to fix that before my next race?!). However, if you’d like to simulate the race experience, I suggest stabbing yourself in the thighs with a pair of forks while a friend spritzes water over your face while in the back of a pickup doing about 30mph…but only for about 25 minutes or so. I’m writing this two days after the event and those forks have been replaced by hot forks: DOMS has truly set in and it’s a stark reminder that I need to work on my leg strength before next year’s race! 
Stock photo of Chapelgill Hill