As I lay in bed on Saturday morning, listening to the rain batter off the roof, a sense of fear crept over me. The Equinox Run is not your usual run, and it’s not your usual pub crawl, it’s an awkward halfway beast that relies on a lot of goodwill, timing and a fair bit of good luck. I’d already left the list of attendees in Fiona’s house the night before, and the rain suggested even more that luck may not be in my favour. It was miserable out there, I can’t remember who’s coming along, it could be a very long day indeed.
Fast forward a few hours to The Steading, everyone was arriving on time, and outside the rain had cleared. Inside pints were being finished, chips eaten, in fact a part of me quite fancied spending the day there instead. But no! The bus was on its way, everyone out, bags stashed in cars, glasses being handed around, the game was on! Well, to the bus stop that is, and the agonising wait for the bus. Will it be here? It should be. It’s a little late. Will it stop for such a big group? I hope so. At last it appears, and gladly took us all – nobody had asked for 22 singles at once before, the machine couldn’t do it, so a mobile phone was used to get the total cost and groups of 8 tickets spun out.
Sean provided some homemade chocolate and raspberry brownie bites for the journey. We had one spare, and that went to the bus driver for his troubles. They were fantastic! Rich, smooth, with a bit of tartness from the raspberry. Awesome!
Into Allan Ramsay’s for a swift pint of IPA, a swifter pee, then back out for some photos and a jog round to the start. Here, after learning from last year’s mistake of not really keeping track of people very well, we introduced a “buddy” system to ensure nobody got lost or into bother without people noticing. God knows what’s around those dark corners of the Pentlands, old quarries or mineworkings or whatever. So, with that in mind, we tried to ensure that people were buddied with folk they didn’t know, to discourage them sneaking off together and somebody slipping down a shaft or something. Safety first!
We skirted the first lump, and round to the summit of Paties Hill. The skies were now clear, the sun beat down, and practically no wind in the air, it was lovely. Layers were being stripped off, and far too many men were going topless for my own comfort. Congratulations to John for winning the “hairiest torso on show” competition, and to Jeff for a world record for “world’s whitest skin”. Congratulations both!
On Paties the first drink of the day: Pickerings Gin and tonic. Pickerings is distilled in the old Dick Vet building in Summerhall, so it was the perfect choice for this run. Also, I tend to find gin not particularly flavoursome, but this was noticeably tasty. A great addition!
To accompany: Apple Pies, made by our own Jane Jackson (with some help from her kids, and a mystery crimper). Fine work! Light, delicious, and nicely sweet to compliment the more bitter gin.
Over to Spittal next, and up Green Law. Friday night was spent stashing 5 litres of cider and various odds and sods. Visibility was limited to about 10m on Friday night, and when we arrived on Saturday it was clear that Graham and I managed to stash the goodies half a mile away from where we intended. Good ol’ us! So a long slog with over a gallon of cider to meet everyone else. With hindsight, we should’ve just shouted for everyone to come back. Ah well!
Drink: Thistly Cross Cider, Original. Made in Dunbar, it’s pretty nice, though could have done with something sweet to accompany. Noted for next time! Graham had some Stoats bars, which he handed round to any that wanted.
Onwards we went. The Equinox run last year was on the same day as the Great Pentland Push, this year was the same, and we met some of the marshals on the Drove Road. They were kind and welcoming, and gave us some leftover food and water – including a cheese board! We all nibbled on stilton and crackers to prepare us for the slog up West Kip. Massive thanks to them, and their charity St Columba’s Hospice (they’ll hopefully get a wee donation in due course, I encourage others to do the same).
Over the kips, the sun still split the sky, and a light haze in the distance gave a nice depth to the hills across the valley. We sat ourselves down for some Nash’s Berry Liqueur. A sweet berry concoction, with a good kick of gin (I think). He also handed round some lovely oatcakes, which went nicely with the sweetness of the liqueur. Perfect.
A shudder went down my spine. Ahead, I knew partly what was going to happen, but there was an unknown element – Bob! There were rumours, terrible rumours, that he had something up his sleeve. He said nothing to me….but I knew he was out there. Somewhere. Lurking.
Over Scald Law, then onto the side of Carnethy. We regrouped just before the summit, I braced myself, then we made our way to the top. Ahead, in the distance, two odd shapes were dancing and waving – a Bavarian beer wench (pre-arranged, Mike) and…a Monkey? A monkey with a bare human(-oid) bum?? It has to be the oddest sight in Carnethy (both the club and hillside) history! I’ll leave it to the photos to explain!
Mike had brought some savoury olive tapenade pastries, and Bob had brought slices of melon and watermelon. Mike had also brought a homemade “tincture” based on a whisky. It was quite a feast! It was an odd combination of flavours, but I think they all went down well, the melon was particularly refreshing on such a warm day. Next up, orders for beer, and a speedy group were sent to start the drinks order at Flotty. The rest of us said cheerio to our kind food deliverers, and bimbled along over Turnhouse, enjoying the sunshine and fine weather.
A fine pint (Stewart’s Pentland IPA) in Flotty, and we grabbed our stashed bags for the next stage, depositing bottles across a number of kind helpers. But all was not well, or more specifically, Anya wasn’t well. She’d been avoiding most of the drink, she hadn’t really had much of anything, but it seems she was coming down with something. It happens, in fact it happens to me quite a lot. Anyway, Carnethy’s absolute finest came to the rescue, and ensured she got back into town ok and was well looked after: A hearty round of applause for Nick, Euan, Lisa, Bob Waterhouse and Nicki Dunn!
Into the sunset we went, stopping at the side of Castlelaw for a small pick me up: The Mystery Drink! This was a little bit of fun, a mystery red liquid that others had to guess. I described it as: “It’s not local, but has become famous mainly due to the area west of Tinto, it’s a little like a port in a way”. This isn’t particularly accurate, but my intent was to infer that it was based on red wine. Ronnie got it first….Buckfast! it tickled me to think the great and the good of Carnethy were echoing a story being written all across the country: Saturday night, in a park, wearing a variety of sportswear, necking Buckfast (albeit a small amount).
A group went to the summit of Castlelaw to admire the sunset, while a smaller band continued for a regroup at the cattle grid. Here we had some awesome savoury muffins from Fiona: Cheese and courgette muffins. Really nice, and very hearty! We washed it down with some Autumn Leaf wine, from Cairn O Mhor, which was something else. I think the kindest thing we can say…is that we all agreed on how good it was. Let’s leave it at that.
Onto the summit of Allermuir, the sun had set to leave a red glow to the west, and the Edinburgh streetlights sparkling to our north. I always find this part to be the best reward on this run, the sight of the city lights, and we had a cracking sunset to enjoy too. Perfect! A quick dodge of some highland cows, and onto Caerketton for the final drink of the day, and a classic too: Ma Hardie’s Berry Liqueur. Sweet, and warming, just like the woman herself! Then a final mad dash down to The Steading for some food and even more beers!
Drew Lennie gave me loads of jam the last time I seen him, and I had no idea what to do with it. So I decanted it into dinky wee jars as a memento of the run. It ran out, of course, so the remaining jars were filled with my mum’s liqueur. I’m hoping that they provided an excellent breakfast for everyone the next day!
A massive thanks to everyone that helped. The bakers, the makers, the cross-dressers, the carryers, the crimpers, the rescuers, the heroes and…em…the bare-bummed simians! They were all fantastic, as they always are….however, I think the real star of the show was the weather. An excellent day on the hills with good company! Cheers!!
p.s. Peter’s report with loads of great pictures here: http://bestpartday.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/equinox-run.html
p.p.s. Phil Young’s photos, here: http://theyoungones.smugmug.com/Sports/Carnethy-Runs-and-Races/44465474_j5jjZT