It’s an idea that’s been bouncing around for a while now, pretty much since I heard about it a couple of years back. Information was slight, at best, but it was roughly this: The 7 Hills race route, with a 7 pints from different pubs on the way. The time to beat was 4hours, set back in ’87, but beyond that nothing much was known. With a boring winter break approaching it seemed like a good idea for a day out (i.e. running and drinking), so a few folk suggested we had a pop including Graham. Sounds good! A bit more digging, and the record for it was set at 4hrs 3mins and 57s by a pair from Livingston and District AC: Mark Adams and Jim McTaggart. As they completed as a pair, we thought it only correct that it should be attempted in pairs so Graham and I paired for a record attempt. The target was set, we chose a random Saturday when we were free (22nd Nov), and set about planning a route. We also opened the suggestion out to the club, thinking nobody would be interested anyway and to just assume it would only be us out there.Fast forward to the 22nd November, and 7 teams were readying themselves for a run at the trig point on Calton Hill. In a few hours time, Mark Adams will be taking time out from his Christmas shopping to see if anyone had beaten his record. Until then, we had the 7 hills to complete, 7 pubs to visit, hitting the following checkpoints:
Castle Esplanade (wall at entrance to esplanade)
Corstorphine Hill (touching Clermiston Tower)
Craiglockart East (touch the bench, or post next to bench)
Braid Hill (touch trig point)
Blackford Hill (touch trig point)
Arthurs Seat (touch trig point)
Calton Hill (touch trig point)
The only fixed pub checkpoint was The Kilderkin, seeing as that’s where we’ll be ultimately ending up, and it’d be fun to watch people pass through when you’ve finished. Also, it’s pretty much the only choice for route-savvy runners!
Knowing we’d all be different paces, we drifted off when ready. Graham and I heading out 20mins later than we’d planned, with Graham clutching his laminated record schedule. Behind us was Mary and Matt completing their video blog. In a bid to improve serving times, Mary had donned a short skirt and Matt had a look of availability and willing. Further behind, recently-engaged Euan and Lisa had difficulty getting out of bed in time, so were starting a bit later again. So sweet. Ahead, a trio of Shane, Sean and Jamie. Another trio of Rachel, Tom and Steve. Gordon and Chris, and also Fraser and Gio.
First to Deacon Brodies…but it looked busy, so we went to Jolly Judge….but went up the wrong close, and our third attempt was the Ensign Ewart. “Ok lads”, says the barman, “you’ll be wanting two pints of our weakest ale as soon as possible, right?”. Right! It seems the leading groups had stopped here too. Quick drink, and we’re back out running within 4mins. A great start! We touch the wall at the Esplanade, and we’re on our way down Johnson Terrace.
Graham struggles with road crossings (it’s fair to say that I don’t), but he has the speed to catch and pass me easily. I dodge round people, Graham nearly wipes-out some fella on Haymarket Terrace. Soon we’re at the Murrayfield Hotel where Graham’s already trying to order, but the barmaid is clearing a table, we lose a few minutes, but a quick glug and we’re off again up Murrayfield Avenue to Costorphine Hill. Chat is free flowing, Graham occasionally pushing things on with a few motivational phrases, the beers are giving us a fuzzy warmth already. Mike and Neil are waiting for us at Clermiston Tower with some sweets, and taking photos. Wiggly Wormz and dried fruit. Perfectly dehydrating! A few teams ahead, we’ve not passed anyone yet.
Down Kaimes Road:
“Graham, I think we should try to remember this moment.”
“Well, I think things might get….bad.”
“Yeah, I think you might be right.”
I was right.
We try to keep a strong pace towards the tramline, then over to Stenhouse Road. We misjudge a shortcut across the roundabout but it’s ok. Graham again struggles to cross the road at the A71 quickly. However, that would be the last instance of Graham trying to use the Green Cross Code correctly, and I hope his kids never get to see his later attempts. Into The Pub at the corn exchange, and I push myself to the front of the queue ahead of a wedding party, smearing my sweaty carcass past their freshly-hired kilts. They didn’t mind, thankfully. I’m struggling to finish the beer swiftly, and I notice we’re losing a bit more time at this stop. Still, on we go past ASDA and Graham makes his first attempt at a reckless road crossing – a seamless manoeuvre through rolling traffic, crossing lanes with minor braking from cars. The boy done good!
Craiglockart passes, and we avoid Braidburn Park, thinking the ascent-descent-ascent wasn’t worth the more direct line that way. We meet Rachel’s group, and Gordon & Chris at the Buckstone. We caught them? Alas….no, it seems not, Gordon and Chris have already been to Braids having previously stopped at the bar next door in the hotel. Ooooh, cunning! They were drinking smoothly and quickly, and it was here that I noticed that I wasn’t quite up to the drinking standard. Oh dear. The two groups leave, I finish as quickly as possible, then we’re off to the Braids.
We see Rachel’s crew on their way down, and we take a direct route across the golf course towards the golf club, then down Braid Hills Avenue towards The Hermitage Bar on Morningside Road. We discussed previously that this would be a good shout and not cost us much time. Ultimately that was probably incorrect. Rachel’s team took a chance and found the hermitage golf club to be open and serving beer, so they win the prize for optimum bar choice (although they took a terrible route to it!). We meet muddied and bloodied Fraser (“I fell at Corstorphine”), and euphoric Gio, at The Hermitage Bar. Again I try to drink quickly, but struggling with the whole “don’t be sick” thing. We lose a bit more time. Graham studies his schedule to see if we’re ahead or behind, after a short while I conclude that Graham has lost any ability to perform simple arithmetic.
Up Blackford from Cluny Gardens, we see Rachel’s gang again, we’re not gaining any time on them. A wave, then down to Oswald Road, briefly waving at David Fulton who was out training on the steeper slopes. We try to push hard along this flatter section, and I become aware that Graham’s motivational phrases are becoming a bit more colourful….and slightly personal….and not really motivational. Into Swany’s for a pint, and others have been here before us: “Sorry lads, you’ve totally lost it! The other fellas came through *ages* ago! ”. I really struggle with the pint here. Rachel’s crew arrive, we chat but I have no memory about what. Despite their team arriving after us they still leave before us, Graham is finished, pressure on. We probably take about 12minutes here. Feck!
Up Arthurs Seat, Graham zips up the hill quickly and we see Rachel’s crew take another line nearby. I look up, and Graham’s head appears to give some more verbal “motivation”. Thankfully, he can’t descend in Hokas, so I take the lead for a precious few seconds to recover some dignity. Once onto the flat, my dignity dies and he storms past heading up to the Kilderkin. We meet recently-engaged Euan and Lisa at the Kilderkin – they got as far as the slopes of Costorphine hill before Euan’s injury flared up. They were still going with the beers though, and that’s the main thing! Another struggling pint, but soon we’re off, and up to meet the waiting crowd of Gordon, Chris, Rachel, Steve and Tom. All three groups smash the previous record, and it is assumed that we were the quickest….but no! Gordon and Chris, with their easy drinking, swift running and smart route gave them the upper hand by nearly 5 minutes! Congratulations to them both!
We retire to the Kilderkin to have a refreshing pint of beer! Just in time to catch Fraser and Gio, both still smiling, before their ascent of Calton. Shortly later, Mary and Matt breeze in to finish strongly. Shane, Sean and Jamie cruise in, take their seats, and sup their final pint before finishing.
In our haste, we forget that Mark Adams (previous record holder) was waiting for us on Calton Hill. A quick call and he’s down at the Kilderkin to congratulate the new holders. The guy is a absolute legend! Kind and congratulatory, but was pulled away by a slightly irate wife looking to get back to John Lewis. And to be fair, after hanging around to meet some strange drunks, I can’t blame her! As far as he knew, the record stood until we came along on Saturday.
So, unless we hear otherwise, Gordon Cameron and Chris Henty are the men to beat!
Results (feel free to email changes):
|Time||Distance||Run Time||Pace (min/mile)||Pub Time||Min/pint|
|Gordon and Chris||3:08:48*||?||2:26:00**||?||0:42:00**||6:00**|
|Jim and Graham||3:13:36||16.3||2:15:41||8:15||0:58:36||8:22|
|Rachel, Tom and Steve||3:39:31||17.2||2:31:37||12:46||1:07:54||9:42|
|Fraser and Gio||3:51:23||16.7||2:47:52||10:03||1:03:10||9:01|
|Mary and Matt||4:31:55||18.3||3:19:47||10:55||1:12:08||10:18|
|Sean, Shane and Jamie||7:12:19||17.7||4:18:38||14:36||2:53:51||24:49|
* Any young punks that think they can run and drink will have to beat this time. No GPS plot for them, as they’re old skool.
**Estimated, based on pub bragging about drink pace.