Click image for gallery
Some great results with the Senior Men’s team coming in 1st and 2 runners in the top 4! Poor visibility wreaked havoc with runners: follow this link and click ‘Start’ to see some Carnethy runners’ attempts:
Individual Carnethy results:
2nd, Iain Whiteside, 1:05:35
4th, Andy Fallas, 1:06:01
20th, Michael Reid, 1:12:37
26th, Stewart Whitlie (1st V50), 1:14:06
32nd, Craig Mattocks, 1:17:37
37th, Alex McVey, 1:19:49
50th, James Waldie (2nd U23), 1:23:35
61st, Paul Faulkner, 1:27:07
72nd, Simon Titmuss, 1:29:16
105th, John Ryan 1:36:09
11th, Kate Jenkins, 1:34:31
15th, Helen Bonsor, 1:36:13
Read more to see some individual reports.
It’s 8pm on Sunday evening. Alex and I are tucking in to some well-earned chips at Belfast airport, ready for our flight home. An announcement: our flight has been delayed for an hour. The reason? Fog.
Rewind to Friday afternoon and James Waldie and I are halfway up Slieve Donard, the hill we are due to race up the next day. It’s a bit foggy and the weather forecast for the race is even worse. We give up on the thought of heading to the summit and investigate the first and last checkpoints, hoping to find some good lines through the quarry. The rest of the team was arriving later in the evening, so we had a quiet evening in trying to figure out how to get the television, microwave, hobs, and doors of the cottages to work. The arrival of Alex brought the first of many travel mishaps of the weekend, with Alex having arrived at Edinburgh airport to find he had booked a flight for Saturday instead of Friday. Oh, and his flight was delayed an hour. I suspect fog.
I rose at the crack of dawn on race day trying to remember if James, my roommate, has actually been quoting Alan Partridge in bed as a pre-race custom or I had dreamt it. I hadn’t. We spent breakfast consulting maps and discussing bearings before most left early to have a quick wander up part of the route. James and I hung about a bit longer while I figured out how to put some fancy tape on my injured knee to help support it. We arrived at the start line to see no mountain and a fuzzy patch of green which could have been the forest.
I had decided that since my knee was quite sore going downhill, I might as well give it 100% on the way up. Well that was a terrible idea: my lungs and quads were burning by the time we reached the first checkpoint. Thankfully the next little section to Millstone Mountain (the second checkpoint) was rough and hands on knees. My quads recovered, my heart rate decreased and my calves turned to solid rock. It was around here (400m) that the fog started getting really bad, so I dug out my compass (conveniently trapped at the very bottom of my bumbag), looked at the numbers on my hand and headed uphill. I quickly bumped into a wee group heading the same direction and we hit the ‘main’ trod to the summit and worked well on the way up unill a rocky section when we all took a slightly different line. As I approached the summit I saw Morgan and Jebby on their way followed closely by Andy. A big yell of well done slowed be down for a tick, but I made it to the summit guided by some helpful marshals.
I turned around and couldn’t see the one that had guided me there, so set off on my next bearing (helpfully still legible on the back of my hand). Bumped in to Finlay and thought he must’ve went wrong to be hanging around with me. Saw no-one else until after some nervous compass checks I hit the taped handrail to the quarry checkpoint and trundled off to into the forest, happy to be on a marked course all the way to the finish. I arrived uneventfully onto the road 500m and just to the finish when a blur zoomed past me. Chase or not to chase? I halfheartedly started, but decided it wasn’t worth buggering my knee that had kindly played ball the rest of the day – anyway, not much difference between 25th and 26th, right? Only when he did some wild celebrating did I realise that he had actually won. What – I was second?! How did that happen! Andy came in closely behind, storming past Jebby to take 4th place!
A bit bemused and confuddled by it all, we jogged back up to the forest to cheer everyone coming back in. What a surreal experience – Alex’s reaction to being chased down by Kenny Richmond and just behind Finlay was priceless and unrepeatable on the carnethyweb. A few rushed off to flights (or 6 flights between Craig and Kate…) and the rest of us trotted to a cafe giggling about the strange adventures of the past 2 hours. Charlotte’s magnetic gloves, Alex’s scalps, Paul’s circuitous route, Mike and Stewart’s alternative valley routes, Helen’s second summit of Millstone, the list goes on!
We then proceeded to the prize giving, optimistic that we might have done quite well in the senior team standings. Sure enough – we were first! The best news I’d heard in a long time. I personally was a little embarrassed about getting the second quickest descent time after talking a lot about having to walk back down…
We all piled back to the cottages for showers, snacks, and Tiger Balm before a slightly ‘cosy’ car ride to the annual pilgrimage to the pub. On arrival I was immediately chatted up by a dark peak runner in a lovely flowery dress that I’d ran with for a bit earlier in the day. He was a little upset to be told that he wasn’t my type. In honour of Paul, we proceeded to the slightly quieter and less fleshy back room for a few pool tournaments and some more beers. My legs began to complain and my stomach was unhappy with the amount of garlic I consumed with my ‘tapas’ dinner, so I was glad that we had a relatively early night.
Sunday. The part of the weekend I had been looking forward to most came 1 hour earlier than expected and several hours earlier than desirable, but we gamely fuelled and tiger balmed up for a nice long run planned by Helen around some of the peaks that I had last been to in my duke of Edinburgh days. We praised the idea of a massive wall to aid navigation and lamented the lack of a camera to document our adventure and the occasional glimpses of other peaks. A wonderful end to a wonderful weekend with some wonderful people. I think we’ll be talking about this for quite some time to come, and some definite candidates for the wooden spoon award.
This weekend saw the annual pilgrimage to the Mourne Mountains for the first of the British Fell Running Series. With previous travel arrangements falling through early in the week I was left with no option but to organise transport to Ireland for myself. I have learnt that this is not a good thing. Making early running for the wooden spoon I arrived at the airport to find I had booked flights to travel to Belfast on the Saturday evening rather than the Friday and therefore missing the race. The helpful people they are Easyjet agreed to transfer my flight for twice the price of the original return flight.
I will leave others to elaborate on their detours through the haar this weekend but suffice to say if the web gurus can sort some kind of overlay of gps tracks I don’t think there will be many parts that overlay with each other! I was passed by several people more than once as folk bounced around the summit in a desperate attempt to find a way back to Newcastle. I think I was relatively successful in navigation having learnt my lesson at the last British short counter in the Lakes when I managed to get spectacularly lost on a course where at all times you can see the start and finish…
Having got every to the start line, Iain led Carnethy home in a fantastic 2nd position. He was in the lead until the tarmac but thought he was well down the field so allowed Allan Bogle to pass him. Andy followed close behind in 4th, with Mike Reid (20th), Stewart Whitlie (26th & 1st V50). Craig was home soon after in 32nd to round out a winning team for Carnethy.
I was back not far behind (37th) followed by James Waldie (50th & 2nd U23), Paul Faulkner (61), Simon Titmuss (72), Kate (96), John Ryan (105) & Helen Bonsor (106).
Notable moments of the weekend. Charlotte and her magnetic gloves leaving her running in circles. Kate & Craig successfully booking 6 flights home due to a malfunctioning smart(?)phone.
I feel a collective nomination for the wooden spoon should be made for a highly successful weekend!
All was going so well until the moment Craig turned to me and said ‘You know, looking at the map, I think we’ve been heading in completely the wrong direction for the last 10 minutes’. I don’t think this really came as a shock to any in our small group. It had been more of a creeping realisation that something was not right and we’d probably lost a lot of time. And so it was with heavy hearts that Craig, Kate and I turned the hire car around and headed due south back past Belfast City Airport and towards Newcastle. After Kate eschewed the local public toilets (‘I might get r*ped if I go in there’) for the even more public beach, we met up with other Carnethies in the Donard car park and registered.
With no sign of any hill and rain battering the windscreen Kate and Craig were already busy booking an early flight home as the rest of us ventured up to the quarry for a recce – it seemed entirely sensible to check out the only part of the course that was fully marked and taped. After an unfortunate incident at the end of the Arrochar Alps race a couple of years ago I was a little concerned that I might miss the huge arrow on the forest track descent route – I needn’t have worried as near the end of today’s race I was to see the arrow quite clearly, as I ran past it, first from one direction then the other. With the full range from vest and shorts, to full waterproof cover being sported on the start-line the race began at a predictably ferocious pace across the playing fields and up into the forest. After succeeding in not killing myself in the first section I settled into a good pace and started steadily picking off people as the gradient steepened. We passed through the stone ruins at the first checkpoint and then something very odd happened. Everybody started running in different directions. Those in ahead of my group of six started heading left, while those below us started heading to the right. I guess if we’re in the middle we can’t go too far wrong I thought. And we didn’t, much. We emerged somewhere to the right of Millstone summit but were drawn in the correct direction by the sound of voices at checkpoint two. I was disappointed to see a shadowy figure who looked a great deal like Kenny Richmond going through ahead of me (I’d overtaken him in the forest), maybe a minute lost I thought.
Since my group had found the checkpoint with only minimal time delay I (stupidly) assumed the guy at the front knew where he was going. It is only with the help of my Strava map that I now know of the absurd route we then followed, south down the mountain instead of SW up it. After desperation, faffing and incompetent compass work on a minor summit we finally started heading in the right direction. As it turns out I was still probably doing ok by time I got to the summit of Slieve Donard and joined a steady stream of runners coming up a more direct route. The fact that the marshalls needed torches to show the way 10m out, in the middle of the day, perhaps gives the best indication of the level of visibility. I initially thought I was then lucky to latch onto a local runner on the descent and so was happy to again ignore my compass and instead be skilfully guided by his shouts of ‘a bit further left’, ‘this way now’ etc until we triumphantly emerged at the main Donard path. Thoughts crossed my mind of heading straight to the finish but remembering the V40 team requirement I ran back up the forest tracks, up to checkpoint four, passing a sodden looking James Waldie coming the other (correct) way.
An enjoyable gallop down through the forest followed to the finish. After my 12.8k run plus stoppages and extra ascent, in a 10k race, 64th place seemed unlikely, until I learnt that my farcical experience was actually pretty close to the average rather than the exception for the day. Unfortunately a dinner engagement back in Scotland meant I wasn’t able to stick around for what must have been a great evening of Guinness-fuelled race recounting. Very well done to Iain Whiteside (2nd), Andy Fallas (4th), and the rest of the Senior male team (1st) not just for cracking running but great navigation and independence of mind. Craig, Kate, James and I made it back to Belfast City with no further (major) navigational errors.
13 lucky Carnethy members managed to arrive on the start line for the first British counter of 2014, all set to challenge themselves on this short course up Slieve Donard. Conditions from the start were cold & wet and as we raced along the first few miles in the woods we soon realised visibility was going to be an issue as we climbed.
All thirteen members then took different routes to the summit as we plunged into the mist with varying degrees of success. Not often you find the leaders passing you several times on a climb but I am sure they were having more fun than me. The summit finally appeared in the gloom with the marshalls shouting bearing informations to the wide eyed runners as they turned at the top.
On the descent we all deployed differing strategies from – follow the man in front, anyway down will do to the most successful option of ‘I might use my compass’ aka El Captain ‘Iain Whiteside’. Not surprising the most successful option was being able to use a compass and believe in what it says.
Great results saw Iain come in 2nd overall I believe our best British results in race, closely followed by Andy in 4th.
James Waldie was 2nd U23 so is well placed for this series
Stewart managed to outwit his arch rival with his descent choice so leads the old boys V50 category and goes one up on the Series on Mark Roberts.
The rest of us got home finally with some clearly wanting to do as much running as possible to make the flight over worthwhile.
The Senior Men managed to win overall team on the day so are currently leading the British at this early stage and the Vet 40s are placed third overall with Paul, Simon, Craig & Stewart all counting for this.
Having survived the race we all ensured we enjoyed some local produce and liquids to replenish ourselves before our long social run on Sunday. The quality of the pool played in front of Putin was as ever of a high standard so if we give up running we could all turn our hand to this. Perhaps next year we will choose to challenge Dark Peak on the dressing up front.
An excellent run along the Mourne wall picking off some tops with some educational information supplied on the tors by our resident boofs
Excellent weekend with the Club and hoping we can repeat it at Ennerdale