On Saturday 17th June, Jamie Thin and I completed a 112km circuit of the hills to the south of Edinburgh in a time of 20hrs and 14mins. The route has 5,573m of ascent and descent and starts and finishes at The Steading pub.
After both having done the 3 big UK 24 hour Rounds (RR, BG and PB) we figured it was time to do something a bit closer to home so we set out to create an ultra that takes people over the hills we train and race on all the time, along with pushing people to explore some of the more esoteric spots the Pentlands has to offer. There’s such a lot to explore south of Edinburgh so we focused on trying to join some of our favorite races together to create a round that would be challenging but accessible, also as we both turned 50 this year we decided we’d like the route to cover 50 hills.
Leg one of the route follows the outward Pentland skyline but carries on south west from the Kips to West Linton. The second leg takes in the hills to the east of Romano Bridge with Stephenson Hill being thrown in to tempt Olly to have a go at some point. Leg three takes us back west towards the southernmost point, and mid-point of the round, at Trahenha (if you thought you were tired climbing this at the end of the Two Breweries then spare us a thought last weekend in the heat). Leg four is a short one taking in The Mount (the hardest hill to work out how to ascend) and the masts at Broomy Law. Leg five is also short but climbs the magnificent Black Mount and less impressive White Hill. Leg six is a long one, starting at Dunsyre and charting the trackless heathery wastes of the southern Pentlands to Cock Rig where a final (wobbly) bog trot brings you back to the Drove Road. At that point with only the second half of the Skyline to go what on earth could go wrong.
Well, what went wrong was that we missed closing time at the Steading by about 10 minutes, which, in all honesty, was probably a good thing. Thanks to our fantastic support crew, Steve, Mike S, Mike L, Neil, Jonny, Phil and Mark we could not have done it without you guys.
For anyone keen to follow get your maps out as here’s a list of hills you’ll have to visit to take the record away from two 50 year olds . For the eagle eyed you’ll see there are 51 hills but as we did Allermuir twice we figured we should only count it once.
START – The Steading
Leg 1: Caerketton Hill, Allermuir Hill, Castlelaw Hill, Turnhouse Hill, Carnethy Hill, Scald Law, South Black Hill, East Kip, West Kip, Green Law, Spittal Hill, Paties Hill, The Mount, Grain Heads, Mount Maw, Faw Maw
Leg 2: Wether Law, Green Knowe, Wide Hope Shank, Stevenson Hill, Hamildean Hill
Leg 3: Tourbank Hill, Riding Hill, Ladyurd Hill, Penvalla, Hog Knowe, Trahenna Hill, Hammer Head, Clover Law, Green Law, Broughton Heights, Wether Law
Leg 4: The Mount, Broomy Law
Leg 5: Black Mount, White Hill
Leg 6: Dunsyre Hill, Mid Hill, Bleak Law, Darlees Rig, White Craig, Craigengar, West Cairn Hill, East Cairn Hill, Cock Rig, Hare Hill, Black Hill, Bells Hill, Harbour Hill, Capelaw Hill, Allermuir Hill
The Steading – END
Happy running – a very tired and hungry Mick James
Graham was one of a carefully selected support team that was chosen to assist Liz Barker from Oxfordshire during her R R attempt. Following a 3 week wait for a favourable weather window Liz finally set off from Glen Nevis Youth Hostel at 11pm on Monday 19th June, travelling anticlockwise. Graham was delegated to assist with pace and navigation over the Mamore’s (10 munros) (Leg one).
Following the completion of leg one, Graham decided to further assist with leg 2, the valley section, and continuing with another 3 munros and onto Fersit at the north side of Loch Treig. Feeling good and with 10 more munros still to negotiate Graham decided to carry on to the finish.
Liz completed the round in 22 34 Followed by Graham a few sec behind with a new PB making him the 1st person to achieve a hat trick of Ramsay’s Round completions within 24 hours.
Well done Graham.
Some folk aspire to do the Celtman which is rated as an Extreme Iron Man. I’d done several Bowhill Duathalons with Nick Williamson (the Teacher one) and knew he was a machine. He had podium aspirations for the Celtman and completed it on Saturday in the worse conditions ever and convinced his support team comprising of Jim Hardie and myself that they would give the Celtman a miss in the future.
The swim was cold, very choppy and full of jelly fish. Nick was mid-field at Transition 1 meaning a lot of work was needed. The bike was hilly, often wet and cool, and the 45 mile head-for-home leg all into a strong wind was brutal, even sitting in the warmth of the support wagon. Nick was quite amazing and focussed, reeling in place after place to be in around 15th place at Transition 2 from bike to run.
Jim Hardie stepped in to run the finishing marathon and a very quick change took a few more places. I was going to do the Beinn Eighe hill section (hoping he’d be knackered by then) but the high route was cancelled due to high wind and rain so after a minor faff, Jim ran on and I supported from a new place.
Nick and Jim spanked the run reeling and dumping more places to bring Nick to the finish in 5th place. An extraordinary achievement in Jim and my eyes. A faster swim and a medal was certainly likely.
Results will be up soon on the Celtman Website. An awesome race for machines.
Mark Hartree / Jim Hardie
|Runner||Handicap||Run Time||Finish Time||Points|
The first 3 finishers were:
1. Scott Henderson
2. Tim Crymble
3. John Ryan
40 out of 48 finishers finished within 7 minute of each other, so the finish team did well! The tractor and stray joggers didn’t help.
The Isle of Jura Fell Race is a classic and one to be recommended, 7 hills and 5 glorious k on the road. The journey over to Craighouse is part of the adventure whether you take the Calmac from Kennacraig or RIB from Tayvallich. Blazing sunshine on the Friday the boat trip over from Tayvallich allowed some great views of the “Paps” and my regular thoughts of how do you get down off the last Pap.
Saturday morning arrived and lots of Carnethy people were amongst the 250+ on the start line. The start feels a bit like a charge as everyone heads out of Craighouse up to the mast and bog that awaits at the side of the forest. Once out of the bog the next section is quite runnable, and onto the first hill Dubh Bheinn, then it’s onto two more hills before the descent to the river and one classic view of the next climb up the first Pap. It looks very steep but also very awesome. The climb up the first pap is the best climb of the race and the views at the top were amazing. I sometimes ask myself why you do these races, this year I was never going to get a PB, but the views were part of the reward and banter from other runners, if you pass them on the uphill bits and they pass you again on the downs, its all part of the fun. The next up and down bits are a bit rough and there are lots of big boulders to navigate, especially off the last Pap which can feel a bit horrid. After coming off the last hill, Cora Bheinn, the nice runnable bit takes you across the river, through more nice bog (special thanks to Wendy Dodds for a gel at this point of the race) to the 3 Arch Bridge. The last test is a nice 5k run along the road to Craighouse and the finish. The threatened thunder and lightening didn’t arrive but it was fairly humid for the duration of the race and you can be forced to drink from a bog if you run out of water. Old news now but Finlay Wild won the race setting a new record and Jill Stephen first lady. Lots of great runs from other people too – too many to mention and great marshals out supporting on the hill. Jura is a great fell race, with lots of up and down and a great weekend away and one I would recommend. Lots of time between now and next race day to get the training in.
Whilst parent-offspring teams are routinely present at mountain marathons, three-generation teams must be exceedingly rare. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to be listed as such, and following on from our successful debut partnership at the Highlander in 2016, my mum and myself teamed up once again to run the score class at the LAMM. Set this year in the spectacular location of An Teallach, Fisherfield & Fannichs, with weather that defied the prior ominous forecasts, and almost no midges to be seen, it was a LAMM to be remembered.
To me, these mountains have an old, forgotten, remote feeling quite unlike the summits we typically frequent further south. As a result, we were enjoying ourselves so much on day 1 that we felt compelled to remain on the ridge and bag the Munro (Sgur Mor), rather than taking the racing line, and an extra 10 points, to our next checkpoint. We arrived there at roughly 4 hours of our total allocated 7, at which point I began to doubt we could make it back in time to the camp… It didn’t help that I was unsure exactly how long we had left, having forgotten to start my watch when we set off (this could never have happened if I had been with Konrad!). In the end we made it back only 2 minutes over (collecting 4 penalty points to our total of 150), although the last half hour was a rather frantic dash along the loch-side, and mummy did fall in a chest-deep smelly bog just before we entered the camp, in her commitment to the cause.
The evening was spent eating and socialising with friends from all over (I love mountain marathons for this reason, especially the LAMM), with a brief thunderstorm interlude, during which everyone retired to their tents for a sleep.
On Sunday we did the majority of climbing in the morning, and then headed back towards the finish in the shadow of An Teallach, eager to make it with time to spare. Nevertheless, a tricky encounter with dense rhododendron bushes in the last km cost us several minutes, and we were forced to sprint (well, in my mum’s case, as much as one can following a hip replacement), finishing just inside the allocated time of 6 hours.
We finished in 38th position of 76 overall, 5th Females, and 3rd Female Vets. As my mum pointed out over the 2 days, with a total 13-hour allowance, we raced for 12 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Now that’s what I call value for money ☺
A quick roundup from Traprain:
It was a warm, dry and muggy day at East Linton gala day, perfect conditions of the Traprain Law Race. Well, it was a tad windy, but that shouldn’t have troubled the runners too much. The main concern was the previous rainfall, and its influence on the river crossing prior to Traprain itself, but a quick safety inspection prior to the race resulted in a positive result: the crossing was on! Snorkels were offered to the shorter runners, and cake was recommended to those that looked a little light, but otherwise the race was ready to go!
Harry Holmes of Pudsey and Bramley took to the front and held a solid position all the way to the finish, nearly a minute ahead of his nearest rival, Dessie Flanagan of Carnethy. Behind Dessie was another 30s of fresh air before young Neil Wilson of Glasgow Uni. Jill Mykura romped back to claim the female prize, followed shortly after by Jenny McCall of HBT and then Jenny Gries (unattached). A quarter of the field were Carnethies, so we already had a bit of an advantage with the teams, securing both male and female team prizes. Dessie, Anthony Hemmings and Chris Busby contributed for the male team prize. Jill, Sally Best and Hilary Spenceley all contributed to the female prize.
83 started, 83 finished, including a bold Jonathan Weir who registered for the race 5mins after the starters had left the field and then passed 22(!) on his way round! Excellent work! All that was left was to pack up the wind-ravaged race tent, and enjoy a traditional East Lothian gala day: teas, coffees, cakes, beers, music, and I assume a witch burning at some point. Massive thanks to race director Colin Elder and his support crew.
Photos, here, on Bob Marshal’s site.
|1||Harry Holmes||Pudsey & Bramley||M||00:38:41|
|3||Neil Wilson||Glasgow Uni||M||00:41:06|
|4||Callum Reid||Edinburgh AC||M||00:41:19|
|6||David Millar||Ochil Hill||M40||00:44:42|
|12||Paul Moseley||Dunbar RC||M40||00:46:37|
|17||Richard Taylor||Dunbar RC||M40||00:47:39|
|29||Graeme Barker||Fife AC||M||00:50:42|
|30||Rhona Anderson||Dunbar RC||F50||00:50:57|
|38||Lorna Kelly||Race Fitness||F40||00:53:13|
|40||Gary Barker||Fife AC||M60||00:53:39|
|54||Allan Gall||Central AC||M60||00:57:00|
|60||Alex MacEwan||Edinburgh AC||M60||00:58:45|
With the sun shining and feeling like summer I thought it was time to head for an easy run. How better to split a run but to have a pub visit half way. So a nice run up through tower farm led us to the Stable Bar. Richard bought the drinks as we moved the seats into the sunshine. After a swift half we ran back via the playpark and the back of the driving range. A quick photo stop showing the best of Edinburgh and it was back to KB 4.6 miles in 67 minutes, good going including a swift half!
Anthony Hemmings and I completed the score course at the LAMM at the weekend. Great location and well organised by Martin and the team. We made one BIG mistake early on day one and climbed the wrong hill (Sgurr Mor – no controls and no points) which scuppered our chances of a good result but we enjoyed the day and picked up some high scoring controls dotted around the Fannichs. We finished the day in 16th with 200 points.
Overnight camp was in a great spot by Loch a Bhraoin and it was good to catch up with fellow Carnethies and swap stories from the first day (thanks to Willie for the dram of whisky too!)
For our second day we decided to go all or nothing and pick up the highest scoring controls on the course. The route took us through some amazing landscapes including a coire full of huge slabs and waterfalls below Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair and some remote lochans beside Ruadh Stac Mor. We picked up 190 points but we were a little bit ambitious in our timing and got back to the event centre 35 minutes late, losing 165 points in the process – nothing like going out in a blaze of glory!
Despite our mistakes we had a great few days in the hills and really enjoyed the event – definitely some lessons learned for next time.
Results here http://www.lamm.co.uk/2017/results/Day2/multistage_index.html
Four Carnethies ran at Yetholm on Sunday 4th May and, for me, it’s the perfect Scottish hill race – entry on the day for a fiver to raise funds for the mountain rescue, parking in a field in the middle of nowhere within 20 metres of the start and finish, a circular route which is run either clockwise or anti-clockwise at the organiser’s discretion (anti this year), a modest turn out with no ‘big names’, a bare-foot runner (that’s Brian Marshall who runs with ‘real’ bare feet, not those funny shoe-glove things) and a lovely route which has plenty of good running without a single metre on a road and the opportunity to run with one foot in Scotland and the other in England (it follows the border at one stage).
There was the added bonus this year that the race was the day after a long SHR championship race at the very other end of the country so not only were there no ‘big names’, there weren’t even any ‘medium names’ which was reflected in the winning time of 75 minutes (Brian Marshall) which was around 25% slower than the course record. This also allowed 2 Carnethies to feature in the top 10 with Matthew Currie achieving a very creditable 7th place only 5.8% behind the winner. The only downside is that since it’s in the middle of a field at the end of a road to nowhere there was no tea and cakes afterwards but it’s still one of my favourite races which I’d recommend to everyone (so long as you’re not a big or medium name). Results here http://www.scottishhillracing.co.uk/RaceResults.aspx?RaceID=RA-0056&Year=2017
Sadly, the race may to have to be cancelled in the next few years due to border restrictions, either that or the mandatory kit will have to include a valid passport and the course record is going to be almost impossible to beat due to queues going through security. #Neverendum2