The Borders are secret Scotland and the area around Selkirk hosts some cracking races like Feel the Burns and the Bowhill Duathlon Series among others. These two are in winter and whilst can be tough in wet conditions, show that the hills in the area eminently runnable. So, to make use of a mountain bike race series, Durty Events decided to use one of the marked bike routes to add a new couple of races – an Ultra Marathon and a Half Ultra. Advertised as 44km, the Ultra looked like it was going to be a trail marathon and turned out to be such.
After a month of drought, rain was forecast and the clag was down. Waterproofs were donned but soon removed only to be needed again for 30mins in the race (for those who bothered). The half Ultra did a lollipop route from the start to do a circuit around the Bowhill Estate and down Duchess Drive to loop back around and over Pernassie Hill to return to Selkirk. The Ultra route headed past Broadmeadows passing a ruined castle and following a fabulous river trail, up to the Three Brethren, a tour of Yair Hill Forest and back up the Southern Upland way to return to Selkirk Rugby Club. The views were limited in the low cloud and trees but the odd glimpse into the valleys was possible now and then.
This is a really great selection of trails with only around 2km on tarmac and the rest using forest tracks, steep winding mountain bike descents, a section on green trods through heather and lovely single track paths, all in a stunning area. Well worth the visit. The organization was great, with plenty of route markings and marshals where needed. The four aid stations were well stocked with water, fruit, great cakes, biscuits and pretzels, and friendly helpers. Results are here: http://www.durtytiming.com/race-results.html.
There were a few Carnethys in both races. Carnethy results… Since the prize giving for the Half Ultra had happened by the time I came in, I see from the results:
5th Hilary Spencely (1st FSV)
24th Moira Stewart ?? (2nd FSV)
29th John Stewart
In the Ultra, the winning three comprised: Hugh McInnes, Nick Williamson and Tim Darlow.
Results for mere mortals include the Carnethy folk:
15th Allister Short
21st Mark Hartree (3rd MSV)
23rd Pamela Whitlie
24th Maggie Creber (1st FSV)
Neil’s wife Seona Burnett running for Harmeny had a great run coming 16th (3rd FV). If I missed anyone, sorry.
Having recovered enough from running the Virgin London Marathon a few weeks ago, I was delighted with my result which is only the second time ever to get a race prize. Time was lost running cautiously downhill, but overall, I found this race way-way easier than the VLM with the variety of terrain giving a chance to rest different pains.
The Ultra distance turned out to be a bit short (41.6km on Strava for many people) but had 1380m of ascent to add to the challenge. A highly recommended race whatever the measure.