Jonny Muir set a new fastest known time (FKT) for the round of the Ring of Fire in Galloway on July 14. Setting out from Bruce’s Stone at 5am and moving anti-clockwise, he finished 14 hours and six minutes later, surpassing the previous record set by Glyn Jones in 1996 by 38 minutes.
The Ring of Fire (48 miles, 30 summits, 13,000ft) visits three ranges – the Minnigaff Hills, the Rhinns of Kells and the Range of the Awful Hand, climbing as high as 843 metres at Merrick. While the main ridges are runnable, the approaches, particularly on the Rhinns of Kells, are extremely rough and pathless.
Travelling solo and unsupported, and navigating on-sight, Jonny struggled early on, repeatedly twisting an ankle and was quickly exhausted by the tussocks around Curleywee, Cairngarroch and Darrou. Relief at reaching the end of the Rhinns of Kells was tempered by the dreadful descent of Black Craig to Loch Doon: head-high bracken, tussocks and lurking ankle-snapping holes. The reward for getting to the bottom was being deposited in a saturated fire break in dense forestry.
After six miles on forest roads, Jonny had to hack through another maze of trees to gain Shiel Hill. From there, he had four hours and 40 minutes to cover the next nine summits of the Range of the Awful Hand to break the record. Despite a poor line of descent off Bennan, the final hill, he reached Bruce’s Stone in a cloud of midges with time to spare – and was finally able to lie down.
Conclusion: it was very hard.
Continuing with the Carnethy tradition of abusing family holiday time I saw that the 30th edition of the Traunsee Bergmarathon coincided with our summer holiday to Austria. Once I’d secured an entry, I then booked some accommodation nearby in the village of Ebensee. This was the site of a Nazi concentration camp where over 8,000 died building underground tunnels to house Hitler’s V2 rocket program. Very little remains of this dark piece of history, and you have to seek out the hidden memorials.
The race itself was 70km with around 4,500m of ascent/descent taking in 7 hills around Lake Traunsee. After a lengthy briefing, mainly in German, the race started at 3.00am from the town square in Gmunden. The first few miles on forest tracks and trails reminded me of the Trossachs Night Trail Series, and the pace very similar- way too fast with 70km ahead of us. The route then went through a series of tunnels under the mountains, and I thought of those lost souls who had died in their construction.
Emerging in the open the race took a dramatic turn as we climbed the Traunstein; an almost vertical lump of rock rising from the lake to 1,691m. The markers followed one of the via ferrata routes; an 800m climb up cables, ladders and metal plates with some worrying exposure. Overnight rain had made the rocks and cables greasy, and at times my feet were struggling for grip. The Austrians, who made up 95% of the field, were much quicker than me at climbing, and I found myself frequently stepping aside to let them pass.
Once over the high point we faced a steep technical descent down more cables and scree filled gullys. I was somewhat relieved to reach the shores of the Lake, and one of the many aid stations, each one well stocked with food and drink, including “man cuts” and beer.
I reached the halfway point at Ebensee after 5.5 hours, and after a pit stop began the 1,200m climb up to the summit of Feuerkogel (1,592m). After another slippy descent down narrow forest trails the route eased into tracks and some sections of road back to Gmunden. I finished in just over 10hrs (47th and 1st Brit – out of 2), in time to spend the rest of the day with the family.
A fantastic race, very much of 2 halves. In fact the organisers give competitors the option of the full 70km, or either half from Gmunden to Ebensee, or Ebensee to Gmunden, if the exposed scrambling on Traunstein is not to your fancy.
Race info: http://www.bergmarathon.at/
Results: https://my3.raceresult.com/ 84075/results?lang=de#1_A472E2
Last weekend was a busy one for races with lots of superb Carnethy performances. At the West Highland Way Race David Hanna had a great run to come 5th in 17:44. I am sure there must have been other Carnethy runners there too so sorry if I have missed them off but I see that Nick Williamson of Dunbar who does a lot of our social runs also had a very good race. David McLure won and Nicola Adams Hendry was leading lady. The oldest competitor came under 24 hours at the age of 70!! Amazing.
This was my first attempt at the race and it went surprisingly well – if feeling like death would be a welcome release at points counts as well. I never want to see another pot of custard as long as I live. I did however manage the most awesome sprint finish (my fastest ever kilometre according to Strava) and made it around in 30 hours. Here is a photo of me looking completely deranged at Bridge of Orchy.
Jason and I haven’t been running much of late, with injuries to his knee and my arse proving rather stubborn, hence deciding to have an attempt at the Lakes Classic Rock challenge (LCR) a couple of weeks ago instead.
The LCR, also known as “the rock climbers’ Bob Graham”, is an enchainment of fifteen of the finest and longest rock climbs in the Lake District, separated by 32 miles of running. We managed to complete ten of these climbs (a total of 38 rope-lengths, or ‘pitches’*), together with 20 miles of hobbling in 20 hours unsupported; our midnight departure was carefully timed to give us the trickiest climbing in daylight hours, but it also meant that we’d been awake for 41 hours by the time we collapsed back into bed, and our safety margins felt pretty slender towards the end with me in particular starting to nod-off whilst holding the rope and generally beginning to see things that weren’t there.
We opted to go fast and light, mostly climbing together, or ‘simul-climbing’ (meaning if one fell the other would almost certainly be pulled off, guaranteeing at best big air time for both of us), on a super-skinny 7mm x 30m ‘walkers confidence rope’ and an absolute minimum of safety protection to keep the weight down. This added to the sense of commitment and made for some memorable moments teetering hundreds of feet above the abyss, with our last piece of protection often a distant memory, connected to each other by what felt like a fat shoelace. To go any faster would necessitate jettisoning the rope altogether, i.e. free-soloing, which thankfully we’re too old for.
Chapeau to anyone that completes this challenge sub-24 hours, we estimate it’s only been done about half a dozen times, and instead we’ve decided to enjoy it in the style that works best for us, i.e. returning for a second day later in the summer to finish it all off which promises to be half the risk and twice the fun.
* this equates to more than double the height of the cliffs on the north face of Ben Nevis, or approximately 38 ascents of the biggest wall at Ratho climbing arena
Olly Stephenson, Jason Hubert
Saturday saw the inaugural running of these races in Arran after their last-minute postponement last year due to weather. There were two races, advertised as 25km and a 71km Ultra. However, the Ultra was cut short to 50km (I think), missing out a couple of technical loops, and the 25km (Tarsuinn) race was actually nearer 27km (with around 6,000 feet of climb).
There were 4 Carnethies running – Myvanwy Hanna in the Ultra and Neil Burnett, Stephen Magee and myself in the shorter race. The Ultra runners set off on their shortened race at noon and we were off at 1pm.
The Tarsuinn Trail race had elements of the Glenrosa Horseshoe about it, albeit in the opposite direction, so taking in Goatfell first (and as we ran from the beach at start, we took in all 874m of it), followed by North Goatfell, to Cir Mhòr (799m) across The Saddle. There was some very technical stuff here and there was much scrambling and sliding and climbing, before a more runnable section up to the midpoint spur at Caisteail Abhail (859m). Some finishers took it upon themselves to miss this extra spur completely and 7 were disqualified in all at the finish. From here we started to descend until the final climb up to Beinn Tarsuinn (937m) and then it was a descent to the final couple of miles on a road/track to the finish at Ormidale Pavilion.
Neil had a great run on his preferred surface (large, sharp rocks) to take 3rd place (and wasn’t far off a the win) in 3.50 and (unusually for me on longer races) I had a decent run in and managed to overhaul 5 runners to finish in 16th in 4.50 with Stephen in 4.56 for 18th. Myvanwy was first female on the Ultra in 9.43 in what looked like a brutal day out.
We were lucky with the weather: cool with little breeze and decent visibility (I only went wrong once!) and finished the race thinking it was a real test and would highly recommend it. It was a technical run, but not overbearingly so and the ascent up to Goatfell gives you a chance to warm up before the harder running begins. Getting there and back in a day was a bonus too. Hopefully 2019 will see greater numbers, as it deserves to become an established race.
Results here: https://www.ultratrailscotland.com/results.html
Massive congratulations to Lynsey Van Der Blyth who smashed the Hardmoors 160 ultra at the weekend! 160 miles of continuous running round the north Yorkshire moors, with a whopping 7000m of ascent. Lynsey was 5th out of the 7 that were able to complete the course, and she was the only female finisher.
Cheery face here.
Congratulations to Graham Nash who finished his 4th Ramsay Round on Saturday! Solo, unsupported and without any drop bags – the purest form of any 24hr round. He also set a PB by two minutes.
His 4th round follows his:
– “accidental” round when supporting another runner in 2017.
– “wintry” round, requiring winter gear in 2016.
– “first” round, in 2013.
Amazing stuff! Congratulations, Graham!
The full list of finishers here, on the Ramsay’s Round site.