Annan & District Athletic Club

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WAMPHRAY GLEN Sunday Nov 18th 

The parish of Wamphray situated half way between Moffat and Lockerbie was the location for the second event in Annan and District Athletic Club winter league series of races. The winter League is made up of a number of off road races, the disciplines being Hill, Cross Country and Trail running.

The Wamphray Glen race is almost 5 miles long and takes place along the scenic Glen with the kind permission of the land owners the Crown Estate. Weather on the morning of the race Sunday 18th November was bright and sunny after a frosty night, however it was still very muddy in parts, with the frost doing little to harden the water logged ground. A total of 23 runners from around the area turned up to contest the event.

In first was local Kevin Plummer from Wamphray, setting a new course record of just over 34 minís using to his advantage intimate course knowledge. Second in from Lockerbie was Alan Spence crossing the line a minute behind, close on his heels was another Lockerbie man Joe Boardman. As Kevin was involved in setting up the event he declined his prize, so Andy Render again from Annan got the third place treasure. First Lady was Hardrock Hoodlums Shirley Singh in 39 minutes, second lady was Janet Priestly again from Lockerbie with Caroline Legg from Annan coming back into form to finish third. Caroline was also awarded the most improved runner after a comparison of runners previous times for the event. To top both Carolineís prizes it was also her birthday on the Sunday.

The event had a few runners looking on due to injury, Rory Longmore the championship leader and old course record holder watched from the side lines no doubt in frustration at not being able to compete. He picked up a Knee Injury after a very good run the weekend before in the Tinto hill race. Nigel Priestly took on the role of time keeper, again side lined with a Injury while Rodger Irving was having trouble with a long standing back issue, but all still turned up to cheer on there club mates.

A well earned hot meal was provided for all runners, time keepers and event marshals afterwards which included locally sourced venison for the casserole.

While the top runners always get a mention it is also worth noting that all runners expressed their thanks to those who helped on the event, the fore mentioned Nigel for his time keeping, Gordon Vivers for helping sign the course and Louise Plummer for the meal afterwards.

After the event the ADAC Hill running section manager, Rodger Irving presented the winners of the 2011-2012 Hill Running Championship there prizes, first was Rory Longmore who was never beaten by another ADAC runner this year on the hill, second was Kevin Plummer and Third, Nigel Priestly. Jean Roberson was declared the ladies winner but could not attend on the day due to illness.

The next race in the Winter league Series is at the Black Esk Forest, it comprises of just under 8 miles of forest trail and will be held on the 1st of December, guest runners are welcome.




Ben Nevis 2012

After 3 years of trying to get a place in the race, 8 months of training and 3 Ĺ hours traveling I find myself standing in a stream of drizzle on the outskirts of Fort William in the Claggan Park Stadium. In less than 2 weeks I will be 48 years old. As I listen to the pipe band giving us a suitability rousing send-off I look up to the Mountains, our destination, and watch as the low cloud blows over their tops. I think to myself, a lot of sweat, a fair bit of blood and a few tears will be shed today as we take on the mountain. The sweat I give freely as my payment, the blood if I have to, but tears! No mountain! Break my body but never my spirit I scream inside my head. Doing extreme physical exercise the brain gets depleted of oxygen. This can cause people to lose rational thoughts and even big strong men can break down, as many a marathon runner will have seen.

We move forward to the start line through the gates where we drop our start token with our race number on into a bag held by a marshal; this is to confirm our presence at the start and therefore we will be counted back in at the finish line, nobody left behind on the hill. We are then asked to stand in silence in respect for the recent passing of two of the local hill running community; I always think that runners "live longer" while others may just exist as long as we do. After a silent prayer for those that have moved on to bigger hills, the starter gets us under way.

I position myself in the middle of the pack and we start our one lap of the stadium before running onto the tarmac road heading for the hill properly. My Club mate, a man with massive hill running experience, had advised me to take it easy on the road so I settled into my cruising speed. However my cruising speed seemed to be a bit faster than those around me and I was struggling to find spaces to push forward; did these guys know something I didnít, I wondered? Never mind, run your own race I told myself. Trying to find gaps to push though by zigzagging from side to side on the road took me back to two years previously when running the London Marathon. Strange, as the two events could not be more diametrically different; one in the biggest city in the UK and as far south in this country as I had raced, and the other starting in a little town as far north as I have raced. One just challenges you with 26.2 miles of flat tarmac, the other 4406ft of rock and mud.

The tarmac road comes to a finish and you then come onto the popular tourist track also called the Pony track. This will be familiar to most of those who have walked up the Ben from the Visitors Centre as it is the most popular way to the top. I am still overtaking people on this steady part of the climb, some people are walking but I am still running and not finding it too hard. No shame in walking in hill running, even the fastest will. All I will say is, if you walk "walk like you mean it" - power walk.

We reach the point where the Pony track switches backs on itself taking the path of least resistance. This is not the route for the hill runners, we are only concerned with the fastest way up even if it is harder. At this point I am with another local runner from Dumfries Running Club. The path splits into two, some runners take the high road climbing straight up, others are taking a contouring route up the side of the hill. I have to make a quick decision - left or right? I see the climb to the left is getting blocked by runners while the path to the right has less people on it, I go right thinking that even if it is longer I will not get slowed up by poorer climbers and the less experienced who have started too fast.

We eventually find ourselves back on the Tourist path; this is easier to run on again and I am passing more runners still. Above the Red Burn the path again switches back but we again go off piste, climbing directly towards the summit. We are now on grass and mud but the wind is driving against us as we are not protected by the side of the mountain. We again climb on to the Pony track but this time we are only to cross it and carry on climbing. It is here that I take my empty water bottle from my pack and fill it from the burn. This is the first check point and is about half way up the climb. Any runner that doesnít make this check point in 1 hour is timed out and has to retire from the event. I continue to climb on up above the path. For a while I have been aware of somebody behind me being called "Amanda" as time and time again I hear spectators show out "well done Amanda", "keep climbing Amanda" and other words of encouragement. I raise a smile from the runners around me by shouting out "I wish my name was Amanda". (Amanda at the end wins a host of prizes, including first Vetí 40 female and 3rd lady overall). Not long after this Craig, the runner from Dumfries, catches me up. My route choice a couple of miles before must have been a better one for me to have got ahead. I offer him some water from my bottle and he takes it willingly.

It is too steep for anybody to run; its hands on knees and walk as hard as you can. I find I am dropping places now to lads who are climbing better than me at this point, but my time will come. I keep shouting out in jest "Are we nearly there yet?" to amuse my fellow sufferers; they donít seem to laugh too much. I reach for some jelly babies that I have in a pouch on the front of my "bum belt". I grab a handful and offer some to the lad in front and he accepts them gladly. While others like to use very expensive performance gels, jelly babies are a firm favourite of many Fell runners. I washed my Jelly Babies down with the last of my water. I prepared to "walk like I meant it".

We were climbing on rocks and boulders where the infamous Zigzags path is, although we were climbing straight up and not taking the zigzag path. The wind and rain was driving into me, sapping the heat from my body. I was wearing shorts, my club colours running singlet and a thin pertex smock. My hands were numb and my head ached with the cold wind. I had a set of full waterproofs, gloves and hat in my pack (compulsory requirement of the race rules and if you are found without them you are disqualified). Some runners were pushing on in just their vests, others were stopping to put on waterproof jackets. I decided to climb on just as I was; I knew the trig point at the top was not too far off. At times we passed walkers dressed head to foot in Gortex, all that was visible was a pair of eyes in a slit below the peaks of the jackets, large rucksacks on their backs and walking poles in their thick gloved hands. They reminded me of knights in amour, but their amour was not for swords and arrows but to fend off the wind and rain. What did they make of these near naked "mad men"? Some I know admired our athleticism while others I know have commented their opinion that we are foolhardy; but that is to judge us by their own physical limitations. While it would take most walkers hours to get from the top, the time taken by most hill runners would be measured in minutes.

Through the low cloud I caught a glimpse of the race leader coming back down the hill towards me, "well done" I shouted, and as he passed me he put his hand on my shoulder; whether it was a hand of encouragement from a sportsman I wished I could come even close to in physical ability, or whether he just used me to help steady himself from a fall on the descent I donít know. He passed me so quickly in the cloud I couldnít have told you if it was Finley or Rob (the race winner or second place runner).

The visibility was getting poor now. I concentrated on keeping the runner in front in view, this meant working hard but it was for the best. I had a map in my pack but this would be of little use in this clag, however on the map I had written the critical compass bearings to get me to the top from the path and back off again; this would be of better use if needed. As we climbed on to the summit plateau the race organisers had laid out red and white tape to stop any runner dropping into the deadly Gardyloo Gully. I followed the tape past the ruin of the old observatory. I hand in a small round token that has been round my neck on a piece of string, this has my race number on and confirms I made the top. I check my watch - 1:25 to make the top - too slow. I had hoped to do it in 1:15. Oh well, what is done is done, just better crack on. Well under the 2 hour limit at which runners are pulled from the event anyway.

I started my descent. This is what runners of the "Ben Race" talk about the most. Not the climb, but it is the down that does the damage, the continuous pull of gravity pulling you relentlessly for 4406 ft, stressing the quad muscles on the front of the thighs to the limit. Many a runner tells stories of struggling to walk for a week after the "Ben".

I am chasing a spectre in the mist; the runner in front is only partly visible as he darts left and right, side-stepping the big boulders and trying to find the best path down. I see he has a Blue and White Lochaber Athletics Club vest, he is a local runner from Fort William and some of these guys run this Mountain weekly as part of their training. He will know the quickest way down, I only have to be able to keep him in view and match his speed. We career downwards, "boulder hopping", trying to land on the boulders that are firm in the ground and not the loose one that will move and send you tumbling. To be a good downhiller you need to be fearless, have strong quads, the balance and lightness on the toes of a ballerina, an eye for the terrain, to be able to read the ground before you and pick the best path down, quick reactions to react if you get it wrong and be able to concentrate totally on the job in hand. Failure to concentrate can lead to injury, as later I nearly find out. I am a pretty good downhiller but my local "guide" was too and I was having to work hard just to keep him in sight.

I hear a shout coming out of the mist, "keep left lads keep left!!!". Out of the mist and into view came the Mountain Rescue team with a ashen-faced bloke on a stretcher; whether he was a runner or a walker I didnít know, although if he was a runner he would have had to have been one of the front runners to have fallen and the Mountain rescue to get to him before we did. I think this reminded us all of our vulnerability as everybody seemed to slow down for a few minutes before we are all back racing again, the thought of injury tempered by the need for speed. I vaulted down a small rock face dropping about 3 feet with my hand on a rock for support. I feel something sharp dig into my hand and take a quick look to see how bad it is. It is just a very small graze, the mountain had drawn blood though, but taking my concentration away for that brief second nearly caused me a bigger problem. My right big toe catches a rock and I tumble forward, my feet wheeling under me as my face is heading for the flood. "Noooo" I scream to myself. I donít go down that easily, my feet scrabble for grip, my arms flail wildly as I battle to keep up right. Somehow I manage not to end up face down in the rocks but find myself spun 180 degrees looking back up the hill. A spectator or Marshal above me has a sense of humour, he shouts down "The Russian judge has given you 9.3 for artistic content". I shout back "I will try harder next time." I curse myself for my mistake, concentrate concentrate I tell myself. I have lost my guide in my mishap but now the mist is clearing so I can see the way home.

We have cleared the rock and are on to the grass now that we have lost some altitude. Due to the heavy rain the grass has turned into a mud path, grip is at a premium as I drive my heel in on each step going down; sometimes it slides forward before finding something to hold onto. I am happy I listened to some more experienced runners who had advised that the shoe to wear was InOV8 Mudclaws. These fell shoes are famous for having more grip in muddy conditions than any other although this compromises the grip on tarmac and rock. I notice on the climb that most runners have either the red MudClaw 270/272 that I use or the grey/yellow Mudclaw 333. Just before we reach the main Pony track at the half way down point a lady behind takes a fall on the grass and slides past me. I tell her the old joke "thatís why they call it fell running". We cross the track which gives us a very brief respite before we are struggling for grip again in the mud and grass. I slip myself nearly landing on my bum but put a hand down behind me to keep me on my feet "I curse myself, keep it together I tell myself. Up until now I have at least held my own position in the field and maybe even picked up a few places, but my quads are starting to tire badly. We hit the Red Burn again and the runner in front just ploughs though the water making no attempt to keep his feet dry. Wet fell shoes are heavier so slow you down and the fact that he makes no attempt to jump the stream or cross using big boulders usually suggests tiredness. I make note of this and, determined not to make the same mistake, I jump from boulder to boulder, then the far side keeping my feet out the water. We are now back onto the Tourist path, my legs are wobbly but now the descent is more gentle; it is what we term "runnable". I soon fly past the guy who had wet feet, now I am in my element.

The track has a number of small steps cut into it; they are about every 10 to 20 metres apart. I fly down these jumping off the steps as if trying to fly, this is fun, this is the best bit for me. I pick my route trying to avoid the bigger rocks and jump off the ones I canít. Now I am picking up places. From this point in the race nobody passes me and I gain countless places. The walkers stand to the side as I fly past. I make a point of thanking them all and most shout words of encouragement after me. As each new runner comes into view I hunt them down, more "prey" to catch and as soon as one is caught, on to the next. I think to myself am I in my element or have these guys pushed too hard earlier in the race and now are too tried to exploit the good runnable track? It matters little as I fly past another runner.

I see the tarmac road ahead, "not long now" I think as I pass another group of walkers standing to the side for me. On the tarmac I pass more runners. I see two lads running side by side in the same club vests, I catch them and kick past them. I see the Dumfries club lad that left me on the climb; I push hard looking for revenge. I pass him and put in a bit of a lead and he shouts after me "I am all done Kev" I shout back "I think we all are". One more runner caught and then I pull off my Pertex top. I am a proud Annan and District Athletic Club member and want my team vest on show at the finish. Turning into the arena the crowd is cheering. I kick as hard as I can then take a quick look back, there is nobody near to me and I can cruise in to the finish line. All over! From Fort William to the top of Ben Nevis and back in 2:12 minutes. In the visitor centre at the foot of the mountain it advises walkers to allow 7 to 10 hours for the same journey.

My wife finds me, we move so we can sit down in the stands out of the way of the heavy rain and I have a drink of milk shake, a banana, and a big handful of salty peanuts to replace the salts lost from sweating. With warm clothing on I head to find the drink every fell runner craves after a run Ė tea. Free tea and cake was provided for the runners. I see runners with bloodied grazed knees and shins the mountain has not been conquered at no cost, had tears been shed up there I didnít know, Later I saw the big yellow Sea King search and rescue helicopter head up the valley, more payment to the mountain?

My time of 2 hours 12 minutes and 37 seconds gave me 146th place out of 457 finishers. The total entry was restricted to 600 so 143 either didnít make the start line, retired or were timed out. That put me just into the top 3rd of the field; a fair reflection of my ability, or lack of it. I was first Dumfriesshire home so that wasnít too bad. Some of the other results are:

Finlay Wild (Lochaber AC) came in first in 1:29:56 with Robb Jebb (Bingley Harriers) just under a minute behind in 1:30:53, these two proved to be in a class of their own on the day. Martin Mikkelsen-Barron (Borrowdale A.C.) came in a little way behind in 1:37 to claim 3rd place. Ian Holmes (Bingley Harriers) crossed the line in 1:40 to take fourth place and first Veteran.

The battle for first place between the leading ladies was even more hotly contested with another Bingley Harriers runner Sharon Taylor coming home first, just breaking the 2 hour barrier in 1:59:23. Only 25 seconds behind came Eilidh Wardlaw (Hunters Bog trotters) in third place and first lady Veteran over 40 was Amanda Blackhall in 2:07:42. This local Lochaber runner enjoyed great support around the race from the spectators.



Me in the orange pertex top placing myself in the middle of the pack at the start.

Me filling my water bottle at the red burn.





I grimace as the wind and rain drives against us still climbing.

Not long now! Nearly there just running into the finish line.

Me with my Ben Nevis Whisky, Ben Nevis Beer and, of course, the Tee shirt.


Iíll be back!!!







A brief note for the hill runners:


While there was more local interest in the Moffat run this week and the Saunders MM over the w/e, Jean and I were playing away and took in a trip to Fort William while having a few days hols in the Cairngorm.

There was a three day hill race series of Meall an t-Suidhe / Half Nevis / Cow Hill all from the Fort William FC sports field used for the full Ben race, but we only took in the Sunday. The Half Ben may only go as it says on the tin 'half way' but it is still a decent run at 6ml / 2000 + ft ( more ascent in shorter distance than Criffel ) with the rocky path and still a fair chunk of steepness! And you can enter on the day, unlike the full Ben.

Weather was forcast to be grim, but in the end turned out decent - no views as clag and light drizzle only just below turning point, and cool but not cold - good for running.

There was a friendly field of 72 runners, mainly Lochaber but also a few travellers.



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

72 runners


Our members who completed the race in extreme conditions

Rory missing above but competed well to be first ADAC home