A gentle smirr of rain and the early onset of darkness did nothing to deter almost 40 stalwarts turning up for the final handicap of the season. Whilst Phil hid in the back of his van pretending to get changed to run, I fielded the usual protests about ludicrous handicaps being allocated to anyone the complainer was expecting to beat or to be beaten by. As Race Director I’ve developed the ploy of agreeing completely with the complainer whilst assuring them that all will come good and even itself out in the next handicap which of course it won’t and won’t be calculated on their current performance but how well they do in next year’s Carnethy 5 should they do it. Otherwise it’s the Carnethy 5 performance they pushed to get a decade ago or whenever they last ran it.
Given the nights are drawing in the Arthur’s Seat handicap always starts at 6.30pm, half an hour earlier than the others but not everyone reads all their emails. “Bit quiet” exclaimed Heather when she turned up “early” at 7pm after everyone else was off. Still undeterred she took a number and set off knowing with both of us knowing she’d be out in the dark.
The route is simple as there isn’t one so maybe that’s why there’s confusion every year. You simply have to visit the tops in a set order and choose your optimum route in between. So basically it’s start at the east end of St Margaret’s Loch and choose which shore you want to run along, although occasionally some actually opt for a Queen’s Drive rather than a Duke’s Walk. If the latter, a cut up before Haggis Knowe and straight up the Dry Dam serves well but there are various options on the final approach to the summit and on how to leave the summit to head across to Crow Hill – back and down a bit or straight across? So, neither hill or Nether Hill means you’ve gone wrong. Its the same with leaving Crow Hill with the direct path tussocky and tough as opposed to the longer but smoother, back and down route. Dunsappie Crag is straightforward unless you want to swim but Whinny Hill still seems to cause confusion because there is little to distinguish between the two tops except height of course but you might need to lie down to judge – and maybe just want to do that at this point – but it’s the right hand top as you approach from Dunsappie. That is, not the one you think or want it to be. Its the other one, honest.
It’s here the real route choice comes in and the race decides who pays the piper. Most head off to cut across then dash down the Piper’s Walk, some drop off down the gully due West hoping not to get bogged down but all depends upon preference and perceived abilities. No wonder people cock it up, although nobody did that this year obviously. Did they?
In Autumn heather grows dark and we began to worry about our own Heather as she was last off and late back as it grew very dark, so I was relieved to see the weaving and winding of her head torch light as she descended the crags then running into the finish minutes later, strong and cheerful.
My thanks to all who helped but remember if it all goes pear shaped hereafter it’s Phil’s fault, or the Committee’s but not mine.
The race is mine and yours, the immediate results ours too unless Phil loses them again but the final outcomes are another province.
Next week sees the prizegiving for the handicap series and the Alt C5 at the Northfield House Hotel. As we reach the culmination of our racing year its the place to be to reminisce about what’s been did and what’s been hid. See you there.
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I told you Whinnie Hill can be elusive! Strava bares all. Well not all but several – including Steve Best and ‘Murf’, whoever that might be – found, no, didn’t find Whinnie Hill top. Strava flybys reveal all here. A lot of people took suboptimal routes – doing the Monday Arthur’s seat runs and handicaps certainly pays off here.
With recent rain the top and the steps were lethal so tiptoeing was the best way. It was quite warm though and we glistened at the finish.
It being rather dark the photos are impressionistic. Margaret meanwhile, stopped long enough to get a lovely view from Salisbury Crags, and a very unlovely view of Chris and myself.
A good turnout and excellent fun!