Monday 30 September 2019

Borders Cross Country series 2019/20 - PUBLIC ENTRIES OPEN 1ST OCT 6am

The public entry for the Borders Cross Country running winter series 2019/20 goes live at 6am tomorrow 1st October here:

A very popular series of real cross country races

Dates for 2019/20 season.

    Lauder Sunday 3rd November 2019. Registration
    Galashiels Sunday 17th November 2019
    Spittal Beach Sunday 1st December 2019
    Peebles Sunday 15th December 2019 (MOORFOOT ORGANISED LEG)
    Paxton Sunday 12th January 2020
    Hawick Sunday 2nd February 2020
    Dunbar Sunday 23rd February 2020
    Chirnside Sunday 8th March 2020 (Presentation only round)

Please note the first seven races will determine the winners of the series " best of four from first seven rounds" The eighth race will be a presentation round only. However, the eighth race will be included as part of the four races necessary for a Borders XC Series medal. "Anyone completing four round or more will receive a medal"

Race start time: Juniors 11:30 am Seniors 12 Noon

Entry cost for all eight races in the series, Seniors - £16; Juniors - £10

Sunday 29 September 2019

Two Breweries Hill Race 2019

The annual Two Breweries Hill Race, 19 miles long and over 5,000 feet of climb from Traquair House to Broughton, was again a quality event. The standard was super high this year as it was one of the Scottish Hill Runners Championship series. Race day weather was pretty much perfect for the long tough race being cool and overcast, although there was a pretty stiff headwind when you were on the tops. The ground was pretty soft though after a week of rain everyday and with a field about twice as large as normal as a championship race it was very cut up in sections making it tricky for even the most sure footed. It was won by Tom Owens of Shettleston Harriers – a class runner and his first race since his 4th place at the Ultra Tour de Mount Blanc in 2:48.
Four Moorfoots were racing with some great results. Its often the case that the closer you live the later you arrive and that was certainly the case with all four of us in the last 10 to register (Colin beating Alan to winning the unofficial latest to register award).
In terms of the actual race Simon Hammond was first home in 3:37:20 in 44th taking the best part of half an hour off his PB that he set on his debut last year, next was Colin Williams in 52nd (3:41:06, 10th M40 – the 9th time I’ve done it), David Gaffney had a very solid debut in 4:07:41 (84th, 18th M40) over a race twice as long as he’s ever raced before, and Alan Elder finishing the race 6th time in consecutive years with another PB in 4:19:49 (101st and 20th M50) covering the course an hour quicker the first time he did it in 2014. Full results
The race is still probably my favourite race in the calendar and being able to enjoy both Traquair Ale and Broughton Ales at the finish is an added bonus big thanks to Dave to driving!
We didn’t get any start line photos but Andrew Dancer snapped three of us on Hundleshope.

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Paul Nichol runs Scottish Half 2019

Paul raced the Scottish Half Marathon on Sunday in East Lothian and had a fabulous result finishing 6th in his age category - here's his report:
David and Ruth Hinks with Paul after the race - I don't think he wore flip flops for the run!
In March 2014 at Alloa I ran my best half marathon in 1.30.39. A good time but I was gutted to miss the magic 90 minutes and however hard I’ve tried I haven’t come that close to it again.

So reflecting on the words of Albert Einstein “doing the same thing and expecting different results is madness” I decided to do something different.

I signed up to Scott McDonald’s coaching and followed the plan he set out including the dreaded intervals which I have dodged at every opportunity.

So I set off from Tranent with a plan for the first time. As long as I could average 4.15 per km I would make it. I always find the start of races a faff and hate hanging around but the race starts at a sports ground so what could be better. I got there nice and early and stretched and warmed up on the track and scoffed a banana. TBH it was maybe a bit too close to the start time as I would find out later.

I got into my pen doing my nervous kitten routine and ran the first km in 4.07 which may have been too fast but felt ok I went through the first 10k spot on time. Not sure whether it’s because I’m not used to running that fast or cos the temp went up (the sun was shining - not as per forecast) but I felt sick (remember the banana) after 10k and slowed down. The wheels came off about 17k when the legs felt tired and the brain was at the finish which was actually very nice because it was at the grandstand at the racecourse.

I came in at 1.32.36 which was 203rd overall out of 2800 and 6th in my category. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted it was 2 mins better than the Edinburgh half which I would argue is a faster course and is moving me in the right direction. Marginal gains and all that.

What next then. Well I am looking to do a London qualifying time at York on the 20th Oct. That’s 3.20 for my age (57) so wish me luck. Scott and I have a plan :)

Full results here and action photos

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Amy wins Castles and Falls Trail Race, Yorkshire Dales

Amy headed down to the Yorkshire Dales to take part in the Castles and Falls Trail Race, an 18 mile/28km (2400 ft/ 730 m ascent/descent) circular route, starting and finishing at Bolton Castle.
She had a fantastic run coming home as the first woman, finishing 10th overall. Brilliant.
Full results here
Trophy bing

Oli and Katie sky running at Glencoe

It was the Glen Coe Skyline series of races this weekend with Oli doing the main Skyline event, and Katie Walling doing the Ring of Steall Skyrace and had some cracking runs.

The Skyline route covers 32 miles / 15,000 feet (52km / 4,750m) of some of the toughest terrain in Scotland including ascending Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mor) via the exposed Grade III scramble (a 'Moderate' graded rock climb) of Curved Ridge, and a full traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge, which includes exposed Grade II scrambling. Here's Oli's report:


Ten months on from a painful and lesson-heavy Tweed Valley Ultra, probably somewhat prematurely, I’m toeing the line at the Glen Coe Skyline amongst a sea of mammoth calf muscles and expensive looking sports watches. Despite an increase in training, some decent runs in the Alps and a few months at the mercy of Colin’s intervals, the 52 km and 4750m of ascent had me somewhat concerned for the health of my legs (and had mum concerned for my life after helpfully reading the race information: “risk of serious injury or death whilst participating in this event”).

My game plan was to eat and drink endlessly, walk the ups, slowly run the rest and never stop. Which I managed to do except thanks to increasingly shrivelled kidneys, one brief pee stop.

For the first five kilometres, Scotland gave its best with a glorious sunrise as we climbed out of Kinlochleven towards the Devil’s Staircase and into Glen Coe. A day of glorious sunshine would of course have been disappointing so I was thankful when the weather would inevitably get somewhat more Scottish later on.

As a part of this “running” race was the Grade III scramble of Curved Ridge on Buichaille Etive Mor, an exposed heady scramble up the ultra-photographed Scottish mountain. Well, it would have felt exposed had it not been drowned in cloud but it nevertheless made the race feel very adventurous and before long, I was making my way along the perpetual up and down of the southern skyline. That Scottish weather that we had all been hoping so much for hit four hours earlier than forecasted and as the wind driven rain drenched the scantily clad runners, they hunkered down into inadequate looking 200 gram “jackets”. Thankfully, I’d decided last minute to take a marginally more substantial waterproof which I retreated into and returned to the thoughts that seem to be inevitable on long runs; of pointlessly thinking about race timings, race nutrition, existential joy and despair, what beer I was going to enjoy that night and infinitely back and forth between everything and nothing.

With more literal ups and downs than metaphorical ones, I managed to continue moving well. I would sporadically hear a position being mentioned by spectators and marshalls, initially in the low twenties then in the teens - improbable I thought but I suppose the legs may have been doing better than expected.  Nevertheless, for the majority of the race I was waiting for either my inevitable bonk or for the masses of better-paced runners to calmly proceed past me into the cloud. But neither happened.

Increasingly on my own, I descended down to the second road section (20 feet across the A82) and the only aid station on race. The stepped rocky descent was made ice-like by the rain but I managed to avert a full fall from my endless slips and made it to the aid station safely. I opted for a speedy stop (trying to look professional - there was a modest crowd and a fella with a camera afterall), grabbing a few gels from stoic friends who’d remained after a morning trail race and to refill some water.

Then, Aonach Eagach. I’d tried not to think too much about the climb out of Glen Coe and onto the start of the Aonach Eagach ridge but it was sadly difficult to not constantly notice the steep, endless mountainside infinitely ascending into the clouds. I only got overtaken by one (lean and tanned) bloke who my climber friend later told me is a well-known Chamonix mountain guide. I didn’t mind much anyway as there wasn’t much else to give. And he had poles.

Inevitably, although it didn’t feel like it at the time, I reached the top of the ridge to cheers from yet more heroic marshalls. I traversed the scramble-come-run-come-crawl of the Aonoch Eagach ridge uneventfully and even bumped into an old friend who was perched precariously halfway along as mountain safety. Again, the scrambling traverse made the race ever more adventurous and as I reached the end of it, managed to overtake another runner who seemed to have given up. “I just wanted a nice day out”. About seven hours too late for that, mate.

As I slowly pulled away from the despondent runner, I finally let myself rejoice that I had no more significant climbs left and my reluctant competitiveness forced me to keep the pace going. Then I hit the West Highland Way to more supportive cheers from the marshalls and with it the prospect of finishing alive and in an unexpectedly good position. For those last 10 km, I continuously wanted to look behind me to see if anyone was close but knowing I had no more to give than I already was, I kept my gaze strictly forward and kept the wheels turning.

Which somehow, for 9 hours, they did. And I came 15th. My surprise at which is only out-weighed by how chuffed I am with such a good result on such an adventurous and brutal course. Must have been Colin’s intervals up Cademuir.

Oli's very impressive result is here:

The day before Katie was tackling the Ring of Steall Skyrace which is described as "A variation of the classic 'Ring of Steall' ridge-walking route this 29km / 2,500m mountain race has spectacular views of Ben Nevis from the Mamores and includes short sections of scrambling."
Katie's comments:

No expectations running... all the omens suggested I shouldn’t start @ringofsteallskyrace yesterday. An injured foot and the tail end of a cold meant I was in no shape to run 30km and 2500m of ascent. But the weather forecast was so good I just couldn’t resist a day out in the mountains! So I decided on a day of zero expectations, zero pressure, no pain caves and nothing but fun... and if I got timed out at half way then so be it. The result? 7 1/2 hours of huge grins, up and down some of Scotland’s finest ridges in glorious sun, topped by crossing the finish line with my biggest inspiration. For sure one day I’d like to go back and see if I can run the route faster, but for now that was the perfect day.

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Andy Cox and Marty Davidson head south to the Scafell Pike Fell Race

On 14th September Andy Cox and Marty Davidson headed south to the remote Wasdale Valley in the Lake District to compete in the Scafell Pike Fell Race, the highest point in England. Here's Marty's report (and informs me he still can't walk down the stairs properly as his legs are wrecked) :

This race unlike the Scottish and Welsh flagship events (Ben Nevis and Snowdon) is very low key, to such extents that to find out where to send the entry cheque to, you need to have a copy of the Fell Runners Association handbook for the organisers address!

120 runners lined up at the head of Wasdale for the short 8km out and back pull up to the summit and back via Lingmell nose and Lingmell col, gaining about 950 meters of climbing in total.

The race started abruptly with a sharp Cumbrian "right off you go then!" and we were straight into the steep banks of Lingmell gaining about 600 meters of height in little under 1.5k.

Andy was sitting well within the top ten from the off and I could see him for the duration of the climb about 50 meters in front of me.

As we crossed the col and hit the tourist path for the last 250 meters of climbing, it was then all about route choice and a sneaky line saw me catch Andy as we hit the cloud base and into the thick blanket that shrouded the tops. We hit the summit together inside the top ten with what I thought was a good enough gap behind us to stay there until the end…. Was I wrong….

We ran together and made good progress on the rocky drops back down and out of the cloud and across to Lingmell together. When we crossed the col I looked back to the cloud base and I couldn't see anyone chasing at this point.

Andy put a bit of a gap into me as we started the steep drop down Lingmell nose and at was with about 1k to go a couple of runners came past at what I would probably call "all or nothing" speed including the flying Gregor Davidson from Lochaber who was moving at such a pace he took half the scree off the hillside with him and bagged himself a few Strava Crowns off some famous locals to go with it!

A fast finish into the field saw Andy come home in 12th with a new PB of 1.03.17 and myself in 14th at 1.03.51.

The race was won by John Yells from Lochaber AC in 55.01. John had come second the weekend before at the Ben race and 15th at Snowdon in July which was plenty to take the triple crown of king of the mountains. This is a low key event made up of those runners who have competed in all the big 3 (The Ben, Scafell Pike and Snowdon) in the same year.

Andy Cox placed well in this competition having competed in the series too and claimed a very creditable 4th place in the series - big congratulations.
Results here:
Andy and Marty
Race route can be seen in the middle with the cloud topped pike and Lingmell on the left

Thursday 12 September 2019

Ben Nevis 2019

First won in 1895 by Fort William barber, William Swan, in around 2 hours 40 minutes this is probably the granddaddy of all the UK runs. It is 14km and 1360m (4461 feet) of climbing. (And getting back down againing)

Andy does the overnighter and I drive up on the Saturday.  Just over 3 hours to Fort William and we catch up in the football field where it starts. Quite a spectacle – 600 runners sign up and around 500 turn up. 450ish finish due to the 1 hour to halfway cut off and 2 hours to the summit.

Others just get smashed on the rocks and have to visit the nurse and don’t get back down in time.

In terms of brutality – it is a heavyweight contender. There is no let up from start to finish.

The mile or so from the start to the base is comfortable and I am managing not to red line, keeping up with the throng. There is a cut up from here on to a 20’ incline – though this varies all the way to the Red Burn where runners head off the tourist path and take their own direct line to the summit.

From there, it is scree, boulders, scrambling, sometimes crawling – trying to get the most efficient line to the next stage of the route. I am slipping around (having chosen trail shoes – thinking large flat stones and road sections – forgot all about the scree and mud!)

I manage to get to the flatter plateau at the top. It is swarming with tourists and awkward to navigate through. It’s possible to pick up the pace a little. By the top, I feel as if I have been chewing feathers and I realise I am pretty dry. A wrist band is handed to a marshal at the cairn and then a turn around to take on the descent.

I am looking forward to this, but the shoes are just not gripping, and the downhill over the scree and boulders, hands out a serious drubbing to the quads. By the return to the Red Burn, the legs are verging on banjaxed and progress is none too swift. By this point, Andy has finished and is on his first tray of chips.

It’s a battle not to face-plant, dodging runners, tourists and some industrial sized rocks on the way back to the tarmac.

The final run on the on the road section is a real drain. I am very short on fluid and progress takes a great effort. I manage to stay ahead of the runners on the final section on the field and am glad to exit the finishing funnel.

Alan and Andy - back without plasters

Dehydrated at the end, I immediately consume 750 ml of water. 3 minutes later, I no longer contain the 750 ml of water!!

Andy continues his stay and attends the awards ceremony (Finlay Wild makes it 10 in a row) – outstanding!

I drive to McDonalds, and consume two large cokes and fries, then drive to Tyndrum and have a litre of chocolate milk followed by another half lite of salt-tabbed water.

3 and half hour later, Back in Peebles - I am showered, changed and in Wuzzies with a Guinness and a portion of spicy chicken wings. Mmmmm…
Runs like that – do take it out of you!

Andy – had a great run (though regretted stopping twice at the Red Burn for a drink) – Reckoned it cost him 21 seconds! And finished in 2.00.20.

I was following the 1875 barber’s lead and finished in 2.47

Ross Docherty was out there too and finished in 2.24

Next year – Aye…probably but will consider shoes and hydration!

(incidentally – the year I was born, the race was won by Pete Hall)

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Tiree Ultramarathon 2019

A group of Moorfoots (Colin Williams, Andrew Dancer, Simon Hammond and Scott McDonald) headed to Tiree for the annual 35 mile ultramarathon
The course was actually a bit shorter than then 35 miles claimed – how much depended on how much you decided to run in the edge of the sea or go wide to stay wider and drier on the 19 beaches it crossed, and it came with 1,300ft or 400m of climb.
We arrived after a short flight from Glasgow in Tiree (Peebles to Tiree door to door in 3.5 hours – the Oban ferry alone takes 4 hours) and picked up our hire bikes that were going to get a lot of use over the next few days being used for 8 trips back and forth the 4 miles or so between the hostel and community hall/race HQ and airport.
The weather simply got better and better on the Saturday so by the time we registered on the Saturday evening it was still with glorious sun and blue sky.
Race day wasn’t quite as kind although you could argue that no risk of heat stroke or sun burn was a good thing, however the wind and drizzle did increase over the course of the race which started on Sunday morning at 8am. The race route was actually a lot tougher than we expected for a pretty much flat course - with some seriously rough and boggy sections and soft wet sand. Some long sections of exposed beach near the finish left you fully exposed to the wind.
That said Tiree is a truly beautiful place and there was a great vibe about the race.
There was a really good showing all round with all four of us finishing in the top 10.
4              Scott      McDonald          04:51:23
5              Simon   Hammond           04:53:23
8              Andrew Dancer                05:10:40
9              Colin      Williams            05:11:50
Scott had a particular good run to finish 4th considering he is partially sighted and had a few slips and falls in the muddy sections which meant he had to hold back until the ground was better. In particular there was one comedy moment where Scott tried to take the racing line through the rocks and ended up neck deep in a pool – completely un-hurt luckily!
Where we were expecting Scott to be challenging for the podium Simon was a bit of dark horse. He started very sensibly in about 12-15th place and then worked through the field. He caught Colin at halfway moving into 8th and then picked off the next few runners including Andrew not long after until by the final beach he had Scott in distance and finished exactly 2 mins behind.
Colin caught up Andrew shortly after the third checkpoint and moved ahead slightly before Andrew pulled it together for the last two miles and regained his lead.
We had a break before the evening’s ceilidh and prize giving and a few celebratory drinks were had.
All in all a very satisfying race and an enjoyable trip altogether.

Nice flyby of the route from some one who shared it:

Album here