The 2018 Pentland Skyline Race opens for entry on Sunday 19th August. Details can be found on the race webpage. Carnethy members should follow the instructions sent to them on the email list.
In incredibly hot and slow conditions, Angela Mudge, Hilary and Andy Spenceley recently ran the Thyon-Dixence race in Switzerland, a 16km race from the ski resort of Thyon (near Sion) to the finish on top of the high dam of Dixene. All the race is on narrow twisting paths and the whole race is above 2000m. It is one of the most beautiful runs imaginable. The only downside (apart from the heat and altitude) is you can see the dam virtually all the way and it never seems to get nearer! In a very classy field (as it’s used as a warm up for the international Sierre-Zinal a week later) of about 400, plus another 870 in a separate challenge run, Hilary and Angela made the podium – Hilary 4th Over 60 and Angela 2nd Over 40, while Andy struggled to 12th Over 50 – not too bad when considering he is the wrong end of his age group and all those in front of him were much younger – will be in the Over 60s in this race next year! Race web page here.
One mile into the race today with nothing but mist to look at I suddenly realized that because Digby was down in Selkirk I could actually write a report this week! So bear with me as I have a wee blether. My parents are visiting from Canada so the family were spending the weekend at a cosy farmhouse outside of Cupar. The initial plans were for me to drop them in St. Andrews, run the race and then come back to get them. The day started out looking grim and the family were quite happy to hunker down under duvets with books and mugs of tea. I ignored the fact that the race is entry on the day and I could have easily skipped it with no loss. As the clag came down further and even the edges of the fields were no longer visible I decided to get on with it. There were three other Carnethies at the race: Euan MacKinnon, Liam and Helen (apologies for not knowing your surnames). In general it was a smaller field than usual (60 instead of the usual 100 odd). “60 or maybe 61 I can’t remember” the Race director muttered as he counted us through before the start. I’ll assume he got the count right as we only had to do it once. Some thought the turnout was low due to the impending Ochill 2000s SHR Champs race next week but I think it may have been the weather. After a short race briefing that involved the mention of first aid being available at the bottom of a very slippery decent (bum slide from hell) off of West Lomond we were off. The route had a longish start on tarmac (never fun) but quickly got onto some forest tracks followed by some other stuff and then it was mainly quad/land rover track for most of the way. We even had a water station with Jelly Babies! Up and down East Lomond and there were no views to be had. Back for more Jelly Babies! The field had spread out a bit and for me in the mid to back pack the only thing I could see was the faint outline of the person in front of me. We stopped and had a chat at the bottom of West Lomond about the which track we were meant to take. Consulting maps (Him: “That’s the old map its wrong!” Me: “I downloaded it from Scottish Hill Racing!”) Of course we were taking it on faith that the summit was up there somewhere. As I reached the top the marshall popped out from his shelter behind the trig point and yelled something about the marked trail down. To be honest the wind was so loud I didn’t hear him. Luckily I picked the right direction. However, soon enough I wish I hadn’t. The aforementioned bum slide was quite frankly the most terrifying few minutes of my life so far. I definitely underestimated exactly how slippery the descent down this (thankfully mostly) grassy slope would be. I almost immediately was sliding down completely unable to slow down or stop. In a panic of trying to dig my shoes into anything available I managed flip over onto my stomach which just meant that now I couldn’t see where I was going. I managed to stop myself briefly but then promptly resumed my uncontrolled decent. I finally stopped myself quite close to guy who had done the same as me a few minutes earlier. He was a bit less lucky as he had managed to go up and over a rather rocky part of the decent. After making sure that he was alright (just winded and maybe a slightly banged up hand) and able to shuffle down the rest of the slope I carried on. As I climbed back up the side of the hill I saw and heard more carnage on the grassy slope. I stuck around to see if the marshalls needed any assistance as it looked like a few runners would need help getting off the hill. As there were enough hands on deck without me I carried on. The rest of the race was rather uneventful. Coffee, cakes and some crisps at the Strathmiglo Village Hall. A nice low key race. If it weren’t for the bum slide of doom I would say I highly recommend it and will be back to run it again. As it stands I’m not sure.
It was looking bad on the drive over to Selkirk with rain and torrential downpours, however we were lucky and it stopped, leaving just a very damp mist which was not at all cold so it was quite a sweaty run. Not good conditions though for photos or views.
5 Carnethys present – at least I *think* Fergus is a Carnethy…
1st V60 prize for myself due in no small part to the apparent lack of any other V60s. Prize being a Selkirk bannock and race glass bearing the legends ‘Three Brethren 7 mile race’ and oddly, ‘Tibbles 4 miles’, presumably chasing after a lost cat at Tibby Tamsen’s Grave.
Lots of goodies from local sponsors with lots of race finish healthy snacks, race prizes and medals for the juniors. Volunteer troops manned the kitchen and laid out a spread of sandwiches and cakes. What other race has a spot prize of a round of golf for four? Or candles! Great stuff.
A couple of weekends back I popped down to the Lakes to run the Lakeland Trails Ultra, at a distance of 55k with around 1,900m ascent. Setting out at 7am meant that it didn’t really warm up until later in the race though which was good. My biggest concern was dehydration and sunburn, so I tried to make the most of the cool start, and thankfully made it back before either set in! And luckily, this time, I also made it back in a time that meant they still had a fishers shirt available in my size – bonus! My previous 2 Lakeland trails races had left me with shirts a size too large, which can be disproportionately annoying when you have just crossed the finish line, exhausted…
The race itself was great. Registration was relaxed and I was both surprised, and impressed to see that no kit checks were taking place. Crampons were still mandatory, but no checks to make sure you were taking them. And with all the other kit (2 head torches and 2 sets of spare batteries included) my rucsack felt uncharacteristically weighty. I am assuming that everyone else felt the same…
Setting off in the cool of the morning was nice, out through the town and then a gentle descent alongside the river to about 1,000m was followed by a rather taxing 1,800m ascent to the main summit up at 2,800m. Above 2,200m I really started to suffer and wondered if I had gone out too fast or if it was down to acclimatisation. It made no difference, I still had a job to do….so I plodded on, taking breaks and people passing me. It’s not that great a place to be, but I was given encouraging words from fellow participants which was nice.
Inevitably, I finally reached the top, and having been dreaming of a cable car at the summit that I could take straight back down to the finish I was, unsurprisingly, disappointed. Or maybe it was a good thing. There was food and drink though, so I took some time out to rest and eat, and admire the views, and mustered up some energy to head on to the next checkpoint. They had cut out around 2k due to snow, so in the end the crampons weren’t used and I think a chunk of the ascent was missing, but I had survived the ‘killer’ climb. There were still sections of snow though, and then the rain came down with a biting wind and it was cold. I got cold, even with my jacket on, and finally arriving at the checkpoint I couldn’t really move my hands so struggled to get some gloves on, top up my water, eat a couple of things and then set off to try and warm up. It wasn’t ideal, but as we descended the temperature rose and I warmed through.
Next was another climb though, and that was equally tough as my legs felt ‘dead’ again. Willing the summit to appear I became queasy, and for only the 2nd time ever, I had to pull over and was sick. And I felt better…. I finally reached the top and with a bit of a spring in my step got on with the undulating descent to the last checkpoint, catching and overtaking a few people. At this stage, in my head it was all downhill to the finish, so I took on a couple of cups of coke and set off. Then we headed uphill again and my legs died again. I really didn’t want that! It was a rocky, scrambling climb, but eventually it started to descend and turned into a dusty track. As I reached a cable car station and saw the sign saying it was 1:30 walk back to Courmayeur, I guessed I had about 45 minutes to go. And I did. It was a great descent, not that technical, but many people seemed to struggle and I made up a number of places. Back in the town, there was more climb, but it is always good to hit civilisation in these races and get the encouragement as you run through to the finish from locals or those who finished before you and who are already on their way back to get a much needed shower.
And so, I finally popped out on the ‘high street’ as the locals were taking their evening passagiata which was interesting, and as is always the case, suddenly it was over. I could barely stand at that point, so I lay down and sipped some Fanta and licked an ice cream…..and eventually I could muster the energy to sort myself out.
Running alongside my 55k were a 30k and a 105k, with 105k runners still coming in the next day as the prize giving took place. After that it was off to the ‘runners bbq’ which was awesome! Not a bbq in sight, but they are forgiven!! The food was spot on!
It’s a great event, and at around 300 runners per race, not too big. Plus, contrary to the much larger UTMB events on the other side of the Alps, no qualifying races need to be done. The 30k in particular would make for a great introduction to racing in the Alps and those punishing alpine ascents! They filled up all available spaces this year, so if you are interested, keep an eye on http://www.gtcourmayeur.com/en
On the downside, my recent history of not getting finishers gear in my size continued as I was given an overly-snug fitting women’s size hoodie. Ah well… maybe they are trying to tell me something…
It was baking hot at the Bath Running Festival. We had opted for the 16 Mile “Half Marathon”, which weaves its way around the bowl of hills surrounding Bath, a lovely route and race, even if it left you with a crispy coating – and to top it all, Sandra came second in her age category.
Richard and Sandra Chandler
Only four Carnethies made it down to Earlston this year for the Black Hill Race, part of the Earlston Civic Week, but the very hot & dry conditions brought out a large field of Border runners, as there were 79 finishers, but the hot conditions made the running hard (despite being an evening race). Daniel Lavin was first Carnethy home in 6th, Andy Spenceley was 11th, Hilary Spenceley was first Over 60 in 43rd, with Robin Sloan 63rd (1st Over 70?). Results
9 Carnethies braved the sweltering heat of the Highlands on Sunday to run the 27 mile Lairig Ghru race from Braemar to Aviemore. I’d forgotten what a fast race it is, and how little I enjoy a boulder field after 17 miles of running. The first 7 miles on the road were far too quick and the pace didn’t slow as we reached the trail. It’s a relentlessly runnable race, with the uphill rarely being steep enough to justify a march. However the temperature was in the high 20s so it was sensible not to push too hard and to linger over stream crossings to cool off.
The Adventure Show were filming, so look out for that later on in the year. I’m not sure that my breathless comments while running downhill will make the final cut, but I’m interested to hear what other people have to say in that situation! Unfortunately Dougie Vipond wasn’t there as he went to the Royal Highland Show instead. Nevertheless it added an interesting element of trying to maintain good running form while being filmed leaping over boulders.
Ex-Carnethy James Waldie almost won the race but somehow got lost in the final mile and finished second. Mary Lye was 2nd v40 lady. I was 20 minutes quicker than the last time I’d run the race, and 4th lady. Jonathon Marks and Will Normand had an exciting sprint finish down Aviemore high street. Jonathon narrowly won the sprint, but Will was pleased to have beaten his previous best by 30 mins.
The soup and cakes at the finish were excellent, the buses back to Braemar less so as the air conditioning wasn’t working. A grand day out!
Full results here: https://www.webscorer.com/racedetails?raceid=142182