Annan & District Athletic Club
MEMBERS REPORTS 2012
(Should you have any races/events you took part outwith club events please send in a report)
Andy's Spanish Sojourn
Back in the midst of this summer I was thinking of something to do to mark my big 40 and I was reminded that Joe had mentioned a 10k event in the town where he has his Spanish apartment during the October break. After a quick conflab with my good lady wife (and the using up of whole load of Brownie Points), I suggested it to Jose and it was on - the advice was don't book any flights until the I've checked out the date. A couple of weeks later the date of 21st Oct appeared on a website and the booking swung into full gear. Those of you still awake will have noticed that this is still in the future! About a month later I stumbled downstairs one Saturday morning to find a message on my phone from Joe sent late the previous night - the date had been changed, the race would now be a week earlier and as a consequence he would be unable to do the race as he had other travel plans and my flights were a bit pointless. More conflabbing followed and the decision was taken to see if I could change my flights and stay at Casa Boardman on my own which came to pass last weekend.
I'll save you most of the preparation work other than to report that on the Friday before departure Joe gave me a crash course in all things Gran Alicant, the apartment and the race itself. The gen on the town and house proved spot on - the race info was however a year out of date!! The briefing was a fairly flat road course with a couple of hill sections and a nasty deceiving finish - as the race left the car park and headed in a different direction I figured there might have been a change of plan!!
At this point it might be useful to provide a little bit more background to the race - named after a resident of the town Abel Anton, who was European 10,000m championin 1994 as well as World marathon champion in 1997 and 1998. At the start we all lined up as per and there was what I assumed to be the usual Health & Safety briefing and a speech by a local dignitary or whatever - my Spanish doesn't go further than Hola and Adios. But then a guy stepped forward from the ranks wearing No 1 and waved - it was Senor Anton himself.
The first 1k was mostly a steep uphill drag and I was keen not to go off too hard in the heat and blow it so tucked in behind a group including Abel. As we crested the hill I heard a Garmin bleep and looked at my watch - 4.15 for first uphill k was ok and I felt good so lifted the pace to my usual race pace. Just a little further on we were directed off the road onto basically a trail, I think it is popular with local mountain bikers, it was fairly compacted and dry but rolled a bit and was loose in places. I was on my own now - a few guys about 30m ahead and we stayed in these positions for the next 3k or so. There were no regular markers so I had to judge distance approximately by pace.
By 4k I was getting thirsty and a drink station was a welcome sight - I grabbed a bottle (much better than a cup!) and took a big swig and poured a good bit over my head which was grand. I then used my extensive Spanish vocabulary to hold a mid race conversation with one of the guys who I had by now caught up: "Cuatro Si?" "Si!" (Wow - Ed!!)
A little while later we hit a stretch of old road which headed back in the direction of town and I spotted a cone with 5k written on it - time check 20.06 - not bad and I was feeling good after the drink. Despite the rolling terrain I was sure we were more or less at the same height as after we topped the first climb so I knew the second half would be net downhill and this gave me confidence to keep up the pace.
We left the road shortly afterwards and rejoined the trail. A second water point was at about 8k, 32 mins or so and all good, then the wheels buckled a wee bit. We rounded a bend in the trail and a marshall signalled us down a steep emabankment - perhaps not as steep as Gala hill at Moffat but rough and uneven, with steep berms and terraces that caused me to lose a lot of momentum, I didn't want to roll an ankle (I'm not in Kev's class for descending!).
After this we were into the town outskirts and back on tarmac - the downhill had taken it out of my legs a bit and the day was getting hotter, just keep on going to the finish! Joe's description of the finish was that you approach it along the road next to the car park thinking you are in the final 1/4 mile but then have to go past and double back to finish - he told me it had thrown him a bit and to avoid this happening to me! Well I figured that since the course had changed then it was likely that the finish had too and I full expected to finish as I apprpoached the finish - not to be, we were guided on along the road.
What I did notice at this point was how supportive the Spanish spectators were - I was getting a real good cheer from everyone which I thought was fantatstic, it seemed to me I was getting more cheers than the few runners just up ahead, perhaps they could tell I was a peelywally Scots man from my blue skin! Anyhow I rounded the last wee bend and saw again the finish line - nearly there keep going, and then Abel Anton swept past me - the crowds had been cheering him, and now he was going to pip me at the post - well I had other plans!!!
One last effort and I picked up the pace - the former world champ reacted but I had him and he relinquished - get in!!!!
The time was 41.52. I was hoping for sub 41 but that was based on a road course so I was happy looking back afterwards. The last 2k took my legs from me - perhaps next year!!
A nice goody bag afterwards - good value for 8Euro - loads of fresh fruit, soft drinks, energy bar, gels and a purse type thing (?). I walked back to base munching on grapes (and spitting out the seeds!) then into the pool for a quick cool down and stretch.
A grand adventure and a fun weekend.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
Nigel getting ready.
Me also getting my rucksack ready.
The race, day one.
The start line was a good 20 minutes’ walk up the valley from Wasdale head. Somehow we cut the time short and found ourselves having to run to the start line even before the proper race started; we got there with a minute spare. We stood on the start line and were told that once the big clock "beeped" we were to dib our electronic dibber to start our race. We were then handed a map each and a small piece of paper with the 6 figure grid references of all the check points we had to find and, of course, the location of the overnight camp site. We found a flat piece of grass in among the other teams who were studying their maps. We started to mark the location of the check points on each of our maps independently. There was great temptation to mark the first few we needed and get off as teams were leaving around us as we studied the maps. I compared my map against Nigel’s once I had finished, making sure I had mine right. Nigel would be doing the navigation and would plan the exact routes and the lines we were to take as we went along.
We set off with Nigel leading and I was doing my best to follow our route on my own map, although Nigel had to point out on occasion that I had it the wrong way up – Doh! The first Check point was Grid reference 182 109. It was numbered 155 and the description given was "Re-entrant South East Most". The number is important as there can be more than one check point dibber base in the same area and it is important to check you get the right one for your class. Finding the first one was easy, I guess the organisers wanted to get everybody off to a good start. It was about half way up Black sail pass only ½km from the start. I checked the number was correct "155 Nigel" I shouted. I put the dibber in the base, it bleeped to let me know I had dibbed correctly, and while I was doing this Nigel was planning the route to the next check point. We were then off climbing up the pass with Kirk Fell to our right. Once we reached the top we headed easterly along a path. The next check point was just North of Green Gable. We found that one without too much trouble, then headed straight up and over Green Gable. We had a good descent off Green Cable with some easy running down the grassed slope then onto a good path.
Finding the next check point wasn’t easy. The check point has a small blue and white flag or orange and white orienteers’ flag to mark its location, however, the race officials like to put them out of plain view behind a rock or in a gulley, for example. The description for this one was Stream Junction however with all the rain we had there were a lot of streams and it turned out we had been looking too high up for it. It was next to "Granny Gill". Nigel spotted it and he set off for it. I followed, once there I dipped, and he worked out the route for the next check point.
The next check point involved a good climb up to nearly the top of Lingmell. We climbed hard. It took us just over 54 minutes to get to this check point but we found it with little difficulty. The shortest route with a good path to the next check point, Number 5, would involve a climb up over Scafell Pike, however Nigel had a better route in mind. This involved a bit of fast descending down the main tourist path then a contour along the bottom of a scree slope, a short climb, then it would be pretty flat running all the way to the check point.
We set off on this route. I found it great fun flying down the path and this brought many a comment from the people walking up it. I guess they must have found the sight of two mad fell runners hurtling down the path jumping from bolder to bolder with rucksacks on their backs slightly disturbing. I was making the most of this good running. We hit the bottom of the Scree slope and now played our trump card - I had an altimeter on my wrist. Nigel said to try and keep an elevation of 500 meters while we contoured. Keeping one eye on our altitude we kept to 500 give or take 5 meters and came out perfect just below the top of Black Craig. This was a great route choice by Nigel and as we contoured we could see teams below us working hard to climb up. The teams that went via Scafell we never saw again as our route made up places. As said, a good navigator can beat a good runner and I felt this was part of what competing in a MM is all about.
We made the check point without further trouble. Because of the heat we were constantly filling our water bottles from streams then dropping in an electrolyte tablet. Because of the distances and the time you are out you have to drink to replace fluids and eat to keep you from "Bonking" or hitting the wall as Marathon runners would say. We carried a variety of gels, chocolate bars, cereal bars, jelly babies, flapjacks, etc in our rucksacks to eat on the run. I tried to eat something big every hour and drink at least one water bottle per hour, although I often drank a full bottle at the stream then refilled it again to drink between streams.
All through the event we were in good spirits, talking to our fellow competitors and having many a laugh and a joke along the way. The route choice to the next check point was a difficult one. There were many different routes and without local knowledge it was not easy to know which one would be the fastest. We went up and over the top of Great How rather than detour round it. From the top we got a look at the terrain and then were able to pick a route. We ran down a sharp drop to Whillan Beck, waded this and headed south of Burnmoor Tarn heading along the Miterdale valley following a good path by the river Mite. We then cut though some woodland to start a hard direct climb up to Whin Rigg.
While climbing this we met another team. This was a mixed team, the woman was carrying both her and her team mate’s rucksack while he was lagging some way behind. I got chatting to her as I made a path though the bracken for the other three to follow. She told me she did 6 MM a year and the way she kept up with me going uphill with two rucksacks I didn’t doubt it. She passed comment on what good spirits Nigel and I were in, laughing and telling jokes, singing daft songs as we climbed. She told me that her teammate was a very experienced road marathon runner, so he must have been a fit chap. Being the gentleman, I did offer to carry one of the rucksacks but she wouldn’t let me. After a while Nigel shouted out, the gent was sitting on the floor shaking his head from side to side. I spoke to the woman and said "I think your mate is in trouble". Looking none too happy she walked back down to him as Nigel came up to me. Nigel said he was not in a good way - he had told Nigel this was the hardest thing he had ever done, "It just keeps going on and on" he said. I suspect that it was a mental thing rather that a physical problem. After a while he got back to his feet, well, he really had to make it to the overnight camp even if he retired there. He couldn’t really just sit on the hill and do nothing. If it had been a real emergency then the Mountain Rescue would attend and of course we would not have left them. We climbed on and then found the check point without any more trouble. This section had been the longest of the day taking 1:56 minutes, a tough one.
We then had another fast downhill on grass to the southern end of Wast Water. Here the terrain changed and we were running in a maze of paths and bridleways though little woods and coppices; the ground was flat and good underfoot and we were passing a lot of other teams here. Unbeknown to us this is where Oliver’s teammate had problems and had to retire - they had been flying up until this point but Andy’s legs went into a spasm of cramps. They managed to get to a road where a support vehicle picked them up.
This section was not to be plain sailing for us though. We came to a point where we were unsure which way to go. One team went to our right but in front of us to our left were about 6 runners. They must be going the right way, we thought. Assumption is the mother of all mess-ups as they say (or words to that effect). We soon caught up the 6 runners and ran past feeling pleased with ourselves for gaining another 3 places - pride before a fall they say. Too right. We came out on a road and with a bridge and a junction that shouldn’t have been there. Oh no, good runner beat by good navigators again. As we came to a sudden stop and looked intently at the maps, the other teams caught us. At first we thought we had run right off the edge of the map but in the end we worked out that was not the case. We turned and ran back the way we had come still not exactly sure where we were. There was a path going up to our left and one going low to the right. Some teams went low, we went high. From a high point I was able to see two big woods on the opposite hill and a house between them which matched our map, then a white mini bus could be seen moving from the left to the right in the distance. This was the road we needed. We set off heading due north over fields and met up again with the runners on a path who had gone low and it looked like their route would have been faster. Oh well, at least we were heading in the right direction again. We forged ahead once more on to the lane and then had to take a climb up a small tarmac track to our right. We started to climb this, but after nearly 7 hours of running over hill and dale with a rucksack it was starting to take its toll. We slowed to a walk and started to cram in gels, food and drink. We climbed on up at a steady walk and managed to find check point 7, which was further on than I thought it should be.
We now had a team of two ladies with us and we discussed the best route to the finish. They wanted to take a longer route, picking up a path through the woods while Nigel and I were looking at a more direct route across the moor, then picking up the same woodland path further on. The route we chose turned into a bit of a slog and the girls commented on why we had led them though a swamp? We knew how to treat a lady! They were not far wrong to tell the truth. Running was out the question, it was trudging on with the water and mud around our ankles trying to find the driest way forward, but we were still in good spirits and again the girls commented on how happy we were despite our toil.
Did I mention that a good navigator will beat a good runner? We made the path in the end and it was great one, nice and flat. Oh why had we not listened to the ladies? Still, no good dwelling on what could have been, you just have to crack on with what you have. On the track we made good time flying along. Going downhill we caught another team at a river crossing. I helped them wade across the river - the last thing you want is to fall over in a river and get your sleeping bag and spare clothes wet through leaving you with nothing dry for the coming night. Nigel and I had our clothes and sleeping bags in waterproof plastic bags and dry bags but I wasn’t sure that other competitors would have taken the same precautions.
Once we had crossed the river we climbed a small hill and there in the distance, at the bottom of a hill, was a view for tired legs - a field full of tents. The finish was in sight, literally. As I said to Nigel, like a horse bolting for the stable we were off, downhill, finishing with a flourish as we ran past the finish line and I quickly "dabbed" in. It had been 7:46 minutes since we started that morning and the only time we had stopped moving was when checking the map in all that time.
Me and Nigel climbing hard after the first check point.
Over night camp.
We found somewhere to pitch our ten and once up we went and sat in the nearby stream to cool off our legs because we needed them as fresh as possible, ready to do it all again the following day. Once back at the tent we got into our spare clothes and boiled up water for our food; just about everybody had de-hydrated food of some description in the camp. Nigel had also brought a packed of small cheeses and these tasted great. After eating sweet things all day, the savoury taste was appreciated. After eating our "space food" we then drank loads of tea. We needed it to get rehydrated. The campsite provided portaloos, fresh drinking water and you could also pick up pre-ordered milk and beer. The ideal location was provided free. After dining we went for a walk and found somewhere to stretch any tight muscles we had in our legs. Once we had returned to the tent we had a big cup of drinking Chocolate and a can of beer each which we had pre-ordered from the race organisers. Then it was time for bed. I got up to answer the call of nature at around 11:30 (I must have been hydrated then) and was met with the fantastic view of a full moon raising over a ridge as big and as bright as a red sun.
We rose to a bright sunny morning and, after a breakfast of instant porridge washed down with plenty of tea and coffee, we packed our kit away ready for another day on the hills. We were laying 64th in our class. The start this morning was not staged as on day one, you just dibbed out and away you went. This meant that we were running with a lot of other runners. The going was good on forest tracks at first before we came on to moorland, nav’ was pretty easy with so many other runners looking for the same check point, although the teams would string out a little as the day went on. We hit the first check point in 26 minutes the second one was found only 12 minutes later but the third check point would not be so easy. It was a long slog through tufty grass and bog. The terrain had limited features making navigation not so easy without a compass. We were told by some of the other teams that were in a different class to ours that this ground was terrible as they had come this way on their first day. Quite tough going, yes, but I would not have called it terrible; they must have been soft southern pufters…Ha ha. I got talking to another of couple of lads and told them "This is my first MM and I am only going so slowly because my mate has said I have got to save myself for day three" I don’t know if they took me seriously they had somewhat bemused looks on their faces.
Check point 3 was a classic. The organisers had set it up to catch out the unwary. There was a cairn on the skyline and the description of our check point was a 2 meter Cairn. We could see a lot of people heading up to this Cairn. I mentioned to Nigel that on the map there was another one further on and I thought that was the one we needed. He said we had best check this one out anyway. I climbed to the top of the hill and sure enough there was a check point, however the one we needed was 151 and this one was marked 148. I shouted out "This is the wrong one Nigel" for which I was told off by all the other competitors for shouting out where the check point was and alerting other teams to the trap.
The 148 check point was an easy check point for some of the other classes below ours. It was no trouble and didn’t take us too far out our way to find the one we needed. Once we had check point 3 under our belts we set off again.
It was on this leg that we had the highlight of our weekend. Above Greendale Tarn I saw a man with a distinctive bent-over style running towards us and running around his feet were two collie dogs. I have never met this man before but knew in an instant it was the fell running legend Joss Naylor OBE. I couldn’t believe it. He must be most fell runners’ hero - the toughest of the tough, the record holder of the 3 peaks challenge set 30 years ago and will never be beaten - 11 hours 30 minutes to run up the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales including driving between them. It takes the average walker 7 to 10 hours just to walk up the Ben. We went over to have a chat with him. He was great, so approachable. He asked how we were doing and said he was going to have a crack at the mountain challenge himself, proudly telling us he was 76 years old. Once we had finished our short chat we were off again, dropping a few places but it was well worth it to meet the great man of the mountains.
We stood just below Middle fell looking across the valley to Blackbeck Knotts where check point 4 was. It was a steep down from our side. We studied the other side, trying to pick the best route up but there wasn’t one! OK, this was going to be a direct attack straight down and up the other side by the Black Beck. I launched myself off the top, careering down the steep side made up of grass and rock with a banshee yell, "Yippiee!" and a shout "I love descending!". I opened up the throttle and flew down, talking to people as I went past, shouting "It is all downhill from here mate!" and "The only way is down!". At the bottom I filled my water bottle from the Nether Beck. In good spirits, I shouted to the other runners "Spring water sale, get your half price spring water here. £1.25 in Marks and Sparks but on special offer here today. Get it quick before it runs out, not much left, this is a one off sale." Of course there were thousands of litres surging past every minute. I was having fun and the rest must have thought I was mad.
Once Nigel had got some of my bargain, limited supply, once in a life time opportunity of spring water, we set off on the hard climb. I was singing my climbing songs as we went up: The Only Way is Up by Yazoo, The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music, Climb Every Mountain and Ain’t no Mountain High Enough, Ain’t no Valley Wide Enough, Ain’t no River Deep Enough to Keep Me From …… that check point (original sung by Diana Ross).
Once we made the top I found the next check point and we set off again. I was asking other competitors if they "would like any of the drugs I was on." As I am sure they thought we were quite bonkers.
The next check point was a manned one and we found it no trouble. Once we passed this one, we started another hard climb and on this we were talking to a woman from the south of England. Her husband was away in front and we asked if he would wait for her. She said no, this was how they did every MM, with him storming off in front while she did her best to keep up. We felt a bit sorry for her. I caught up with her husband and tried to talk to him (he wasn’t that quick) but I got a solemn face and hardly a word from him. Well, we had all paid to be here and I was going to have my monies worth of fun even if he was going to be a miserable bugger. The ground was really rocky under foot and the visibility was down to 20 yards in the low fog. We climbed up Red Pike onto Scoat Fell. Once or twice the cloud was blown away to reveal some big drops and great views before the clag came in again. Check point 6 was on Pillar. We had a little difficulty finding it at first in the cloud because we were looking for it too high. Once we realised that we were at 700 meters and not at 600 where the check point was we dropped lower and soon found it, then pressed on.
We were now coming back down. It was very rocky and I was flying as we had dropped below the cloud so had visibility again. While I was trying to overtake a slower runner I was forced to jump to the left and in doing so I ended up dropping my foot inbetween a V in two rocks, tweaking my ankle. It was a little painful but I was able to run on it OK and the finish was not that far away. We found check point 7 with little difficulty.
We now had a big descent on good running down to the last check point. While coming down, the effect of two days’ running was taking its toll so we stopped to take in fluids, gels and a bit of food to get the energy levels back up for one last push. After a minute or two the sugar had worked its way into the system and we were off. We were picking up places going down the grassy slope before we jumped on to a rocky path, then we were flying though ferns which were about 12" high. Downwards we plunged and hitting the valley floor, we jumped and waded the two burns. The sheep fold next to a big boulder was close; we were able to see this check point from the top of the hill before our downward plunge. I dibbed our last check point then it was onto a path for the ADAC blitz to the finishing line. In this last run for the line no other team could match the speed of Nigel the ADAC Bulldog and his mate. At one point the path split, one going high the other low. The team in front took the high road, Nigel chose low. "Good route choice" I shouted as we took 10 yards out of the team in front to slip in front of them - another scalp for ADAC. As we came upon another team they ran into a bog, the first runner went above his knees in mud, his mate following just behind him. I quickly spotted a path to the right and flew by the trapped runners. Nigel stopped to help them out. They told him they were OK, so we continued on down the path overtaking many a tired runner. The gates and styles were tackled as quickly as possible, the first one there holding the gate for his mate. The finish was looming as each yard was dispatched under the soles of our studded, lightweight InoV8 race shoes. With 50 yards to go we had one team in front but these were too near the finish now for us to catch them. We came over the little stone bridge together to finish the second day in 4:52 minutes which gave us 40th place for day two.
Me and Nigel finishing strongly.
We then went and sat in the Beck along with a lot of other runners, the running water cooling the overworked leg muscles. As we did so we watched more runners finish as they came over the stone bridge. After a while we decided to make our way back to the car to get changed into fresh clothes and have a bite to eat. As soon as I got out of the beck my ankle started to give me stick. Typical. Now the adrenalin had worn off the pain came though. I hobbled back to the car and we changed into fresh clothes. The event organisers had laid on soup and tea for afterwards which was welcome. The only downside was the size of the portions which were a bit wee. We stopped to see some of the prizegiving before we headed for home.
I really enjoyed the MM. In fact, I would say it is the best event I have ever done and we came nowhere near the prizes. I set out thinking a midway finish would be great. We finished 15th in our Vets class out of the 41 starters, although 11 teams dropped out over the two days. Overall we were 55th out of 81 finishers in our class; another 21 teams didn’t make it to the finish and of course another 33 didn’t even make the start line. So 55th out of 102 starters.
I learnt a lot about the event thanks to Nigel. I think I even found out something about myself too. One of the reasons I think I enjoyed it so much is the camaraderie of the event. Unless you are one of the top teams, you can’t be going flat out all day for 8 hours so, at least for the first part of the day, you can chat with the other teams. Also, because you are in pairs there is somebody to help you though any lows you may have and chat to.
I must say a big thank you to Nigel for taking me under his wing for this event. Also to Graeme for lending me his kit, Louise for her patience with my training while on holiday and talking about MMs for 4 weeks and to Janet for the tea and biscuits while Nigel and I hatched our master plan. Thank you to you all.
I am doing my next one at the start of October. Now all I need is to find somebody as mad as me to do it with me.
1st M Mat Sullivan - Shettleston 56.49
1st F Lyndsey Shaw - Lochaber 1.11.19
29 John Robson 1.14.08
68 2nd FSV Jean Robson 1.43.22
Well done to our marathon runners at Sunderland on Sunday 6th May 2012
Gordon went to the pre race party for some Pasta...... look what he picked up!
Mark homeward bound at 23 miles
Highland Fling Ultra Marathon Saturday 28th April
Jim asked for some personal reports for the website, I thought I ought to write one.
As some of you may know, I had entered the Highland Fling Ultra Marathon. A little bit of a strange thing for me to do, as I consider myself to be quite a new runner who has yet to run a marathon, never mind a double marathon. But I actually felt it was the easier option, as it was ok to run slower and I could probably convince myself that a finish was OK, where as a 5 hour marathon would have been a fail!
The Highland Fling race takes in the first half of the West Highland Way and there is a website should you want to know more.
I started preparing immediately after entering, giving me 4 months to get ready. I am not sure if it went to plan as I didn’t really have a plan, other than run, lots. Luckily I had no injuries, except for one sore foot which forced me to take a week off. Although I was very concerned about the pain I suffer in my ankles if I do longer runs.
My other concern, as the date of the race was fast approaching, was the weather. In my mind it was always going to be gloriously sunny, but the forecast had other ideas. In the end we could not have been luckier, with a cool start, but glorious sunshine for most of the race and the bonus of snow capped peaks to add that chocolate box scenery.
Now down to the athletic bit. 53 miles is a long way and I had no idea how I would run it, so my plan was just to start and see what happens. But I knew one thing, I would need to keep putting fuel in and to keep drinking (water unfortunately).
I can break the race in to two halves, the nice half and the other half.
The first half from Milngavie to Inversnaid was very pleasant. Great scenery once you crested Conic hill, nice groups of runner to chat to and the benefit of trying to run slowly.
I stopped at Balmaha where Mrs C was waiting with a fresh pair of shoes for me and continued trotting along the Lochside and clocked up a comfortable 4.15 first marathon. So far so good.
Inversnaid and a hurried few bites of fruitbread and a refill of the water bag and I was off again. Now the second half began. Here the footpath stops being a foot path and becomes a scramble. Running stops being an option and you are picking your way between the boulders. After an hour of this I started to get lighted headed and though it was lack of food, only later did I realise it was probably due to the excess concentration need to make sure every footfall is a solid one.
I limped into the last feed station a broken runner and munched down the chocolate I had stashed in my feed bag. It didn’t work! My GPS’battery was flat, so I had no idea of the time and I asked a fellow competitor: "7.5hours" he told me in a very Dutch accent. So I had 2 and a half hours to run the last 12 miles and that would see me finish in under 10 hours. Easy: ha.
Of those 12 miles I probably walked 5. I was under the impression it would be flattish. No. It went up and then it went down just so it could go up again. The terrain was wide and open and I could see a line of runners in front of me spread over the next 2 miles. None of them got any closer or further away, we all just trudged on together. Fun? Possibly.
Except that some stretches the farm track we were running on were terrible. Just full of buried stone footballs or mud or both; more concentration needed.
Down the final hill and only 3 flat miles to the finish but my body had had enough. My right foot failed me and I start hobbling with sharp stabbing pains. I tried to wiggle my toes, not a good idea. Oh well, I am not stopping here, so I limped on.
Then the really annoying thing happened. Runners started to pass me! I guess I am just ever the competitor, because this hurt the most, but there was not much I could do.
Last mile and I tried to make sure I ran it all. My legs started to go numb, but the welcome site of my smiling wife Paula urging me on saw me home.
5 seconds inside the 10 hours, precision running!
Thankfully Paula was there to feed me, undress me and wash me afterwards, as well as driving me to the start and driving me home. If I wasn’t so fat I would have let her carry me up the stairs to bed.
If you are thinking of doing this race next year, my advice would be to save a little bit for the second half……
Keswick 'Round the Houses' 5.3 m Road Race -
Wednesday April 25th (Report from Andy Render)
Spurred on by a couple of work colleagues I decided to enter this race as a warm up to the Hightae 6 miler the following night!!
I ran this a couple of years ago in the earlier days of my running career and enjoyed it so I thought why not.
Weather conditions were contrasting to the previous time though with cold rain and a stiff breeze greeting me in Keswick. At the start we were also advised that the route had been altered slightly from the normal due to a major flood defences scheme closing a section of road - luckily though Keswick AC organised a splendid core of marshalls and getting lost was not an option (something that might be of interest to a few ADAC'eers!!)
136 runners set off at 7pm just as the rain seemed to get that bit heavier and I tried to find a good pace in the usual hectic early stages. I remembered the early part of the course ok and after a short stiff climb felt comfortable over the opening mile, then we were diverted into a park to avoid the roadworks and the effect of the diversion hit me - another nice steep hill out of the park and a descent to the High St to rejoin the normal course (I was sure the other way was flatter!!)
At the half way point the route hits it main climb, a proper brae which saw a few runners around me walking then a nice downhill back into the town centre - due to the weather spectators were thin on the ground but for club coaches reappearing regularly as they took short cuts around the course - I think there were a few clubs using it as a championship run. At this point I was in a group of three and we were all pushing ourselves on (this is going make me pay tomorrow night I thought!). Then back onto the diversion and that pesky climb again, through the park and the final mile beckoned - a quick check of the watch and a sub 34 min might be on.
Keep on pushing, short downhill and into finishing straight and strong finish - ach not quite 34.25 (34th overall) and a big improvement on 35.48 two years ago.
Results at www.keswick-ac.org.uk
Now on to Hightae.
Clachnaben Hill Race - 7th April
Report from Rory.
Made the journey to Strachan (pronounced "Strawn") for Scottish Champs round 1... the 10-mile Clachnaben. About 220 runners to fend off & 2 climbs to tackle, Mount Shade & Clachnaben. Usual crazy mass sprint to start (I couldn't really be bothered) then shin deep river to wade through after a couple of hundred yards (yuchh!) - then next mile or two was a mad mass scramble / sprint for position through narrow forest tracks. As a seasoned campaigner (ok, old timer) I hung back at this point, reckoning there might be hell to pay later for too much early enthusiasm...sure enough when we broke out of the trees into the first climb proper, there were certainly some pained looking faces around as I began to hit my stride...before long the course became a very narrow but runnable singletrack, surrounded on each side by thick spongy heather....i.e. the drawback to playing things cautious early on, was that even if you were now able to go faster than the next couple of guys in front, it wasn't really worth the effort of getting past, as a sudden sprint through the heather soon had your legs and lungs begging for mercy... with the hard bits of the race still to come ... However by waiting for the right moments to make any overtaking manoevres, I did make a bit of progress up to the top of Mt Shade.
Marshalls had Jelly babies on offer at the summit .. thanked them but said no thanks, & got straight into the descent...narrow track, muddy, rutted, slithery, , remnants of snow here and there, & of course plenty of heather... on the way down lost two places & passed one - so that counts as a pretty good descent for me. A sharp right turn on to a good grassy path which traversed the foot of Mt Shade, then on to excellent hard stony path, winding its way up to the summit of Clachnaben (apparently means "Hill of the rock"; and yes, as you will have guessed, it's the hill with the great big rock on top...). Still passing people at this point including - I hadn't been aware, but he later told me - our own Adam Anderson.
However that particular situation proved to be short-lived, and after passing the summit, (& more j-b's offered and refused) a few minutes later Adam powered past as part of a small high speed group, all going downhill like no tomorrow. I'm guessing they all took jelly babies at the top. Then seemed like miles of tricky ankle-testing downhill along narrow grassy paths, followed by relief for the ankles as we finally hit a hard forest road; & after a tough couple of fast downhill miles it felt like this should at least be the last effort before the finish line. Wrong! ... Marshall on the road indicated us to take a sharp right, off the road into the trees, to enjoy the final short uphill sting in the tail. "WHOA, Enough!" cried the legs. Thankfully the end was now in sight, and a few hundred yards of smooth forest path led to the downhill sprint finish across the line. "Never again, etc, etc".
"What kept you?" asked Adam, already on his second cup of water.
Position 50th approx overall / 7th in age group I think - so can't complain, & definitely room for improvement. As I said, never again ... at least till next week.
Footnote ... if anyone's interested, remainder of championship races: seniors, vets: 1 of each cat + any 1 other to count. O/60 any 4 to count.