The Alternative John Muir Way majors on scenic value and a variety of obstacles to keep you alert through dunes, beach, cliffs, boulders, barbed wire and electric fence crossings, a fortified castle to storm, breaking wave-leaping and a long dark spiral staircase to climb. A big anticyclone provided perfect conditions with sunshine and a light sea breeze to start. 21 appeared for around 55km of running and/ or cycling with the usual off/ on road variations for the cyclists. Patricia and Richard swopped very attentive sag wagon services throughout the route, Mark James having collected the van for us before rushing off to Norway. Read more…
Typical, weeks of still weather and some of the most glorious days recently but the Circo 2017 managed to get a wet and manky day. Good news though, no wind, or we would have been Les Miserables. Twelve runners and 4 on bikes hopped up and down to keep warm in the carpark as the Leaders Jim Hardie and Mark Hartree arrived promptly – a bit late. The first leg to Portobello followed a tested route. The junk filled railway section near Drum has been cleaned up but we faced an medical emergency when Jim H got a large thorn in his pinky. Amputation was avoided and a plaster put on to stop him trying to gnaw it out with his teeth. The Beach House café in Porty was great but despite booking and sending orders in advance, still slow.
It did stop raining a bit, then started again on the run to Cramond. A couple of guys – Pete and Nick, had joined us, then we lost a Lee and Lucas Lefevre who ducked out on the way to Cramond. Flat tarmac is not my favourite surface and various pains grew so the pub was a welcome stop and a chance to dry off. The bikers left as we arrived and we left not long after for the final longest leg leaving Nicola Dunn and Neil Rutherford at the 20 mile point. Matt Jones and Jeff Roberts joined us here. It was now trying to snow and the paths very wet and slippery on the mud. The wooden steps along the River Almond were fenced off so we ignored the barriers and used them anyway to avoid a detour. A few piccies in the Cammo estate and on past the airport and tram depot to the Gyle. I dropped out here with Sarah Robertson and got a pick-up from Neil Rutherford who had retired at Cramond after having completed The Spine Race a few weeks ago, so was no doubt a bit weary still.
Without Mark and Sarah, the remaining few made their way into the Industrial Estate of the South Gyle. The final stage of the Circo has always been the best – the gradual climb to the Pentlands. From South Gyle we pottered over the canal, shimmied through Heriot Watt Campus, over the train tracks and up Donkey Brae into Currie. It seemed only right and sensible to stop for a swift half to brace ourselves for the climbs ahead, so we popped into the Kinleith Arms for cola and beer. Time was against us though, sunset was coming and not all of us had headtorches, so we needed to get back out there pronto! Over the Water Of Leith, past the new Horse place, up towards Torphin, round the old golf course and over the Torduff dam. Looking towards the hills ahead we could see that snow would feature heavily.
At Bonaly we said our goodbyes to Nick and Peter who were taking a faster route down to Leith, and then goodbye to Andy as he didn’t fancy the hills. White Hill was the first proper climb into the snow, and on the track there were the tyre treads from the Circo cyclists – a clear sign that they were near…and crazy for shoving their bikes into the snowy Pentlands! By this point the world was white, everything covered in snow. It was glorious! Up Capelaw, and finally Allermuir into whiteout conditions, with no view and driving snow. We agreed that Allermuir would be the final hill, a quick photo, and then slip, slid and skidded our way down to The Steading. I took a tumble, bruising some ribs, but recovered enough to complain about it for the remaining run. A good run, made all the better by great company!
34.4miles in total, nearly 3,000ft ascent.
Thanks to all those that joined (Peter, Nick, Matt and Jeff)!
Well done to all those that done most of it (Lee, Lucas, Nicola, Neil, Sarah, Mark and Andy)!
Fantastic work by the cyclists (Keith, Nick, Jonathan and Eric)!
And finally well done to those that done the full Circo (John, Jeremy, Dougie, Alan and me)!
Massive thanks to Mark for organising all the hard stuff!
The Cyclists report:
The 24-hour ahead weather forecast is not often as badly wrong in the wrong direction as it was for Saturday. We cyclists were down to a hard core of five, but not all at the same time. The opening leg to Portobello prom set a new record for discomfort from rain, mud and high wind chill, causing complaints of frozen fingers and toes; some would say appropriate conditions for this tour of Edinburgh’s unloved badlands which only the connoisseur appreciates. The Beach Café (a name inducing childhood memories of sunshine, ice cream and candy floss) provided us with life saving bacon and egg rolls and tea, but at an eye watering price. As usual, the runners appeared not long after. It’s much easier to keep warm on foot than on a bike; there was even plenty of exposed flesh being flashed. The bikers left early for Cramond. The cold was moderating from desperate to mildly uncomfortable. The beach refugee camp at the sewage treatment plant was gone. There was a welcome absence of the usual nuisance of dog walkers with telescopic leads on the Granton – Cramond prom. Hospitality at the Cramond Inn was excellent for a relaxing long lunch – until the runners burst in, reminding us that we needed to start building our lead before the trials of the Pentlands foothills and the White Hill crux. The Almond riverside path presented the unusual challenge of an impenetrable council safety fence protecting the perilous decaying Salveson steps overhanging the river. Combined tactics got the bikes safely around the fence overhang, down the rickety steps and a repeat across the fence at the bottom. Back on the bikes for the rest of the riverside path, finishing with the Fat Man’s Agony taking us to the Cammo estate entrance. The rough path to the rubbish dump wasn’t too muddy. I noted more interesting stuff to collect later at the rubbish dump, then a straightforward passage to the tram depot and new Gyle railway station interchange. A new underpass took us across the A8 into the Gyle commercial utopia with its landscaped tumbling burn between a million executive desks and glowing screens. Who would swop those for the bracing arctic downpour we were enjoying in the sweet fresh air? Next under the city bypass culvert alongside a suspiciously whiffy ditch to join the long road climb to Haston’s Currie Wa’s and his new memorial. Now falling snow prompted a final hot brew before tackling the Pentlands closing stage. We were down to two to finish the end game. The Currie Brae was despatched with gusto as a re-warmer, thankfully turning downwind for a fast passage past the reservoirs to Bonaly car park. No sign of snowy footprints or screams to the rear so we were clear for the White Hill climb ahead of the runners. The snow made pushing the bikes a battle for traction to the top. During the swampy struggle we heard screams from behind – they were closing on us. A couple of over-the-bars face plants cleared us down to the burn with only the traverse across past the horse depot to finish in the failing light. The runners had pressed on over Allermuir to find deeper snowdrifts in the dark. Just under 8 hours including relaxation stops. The longest continuous rain and snow session I can remember for some time. The first pint and fish and chips went down very well. And we finished without losing any toes or fingers. Herman Buhl would have approved. Much thanks to Mark for the excellent catering arrangements.
The bikers, variously: Jonathon Whitehead, Shane Bouchier, Eric Brown, Nick Macdonald, Keith Burns
On Sunday evening of 22 01 2017, travelling in an anticlockwise direction, Jim Mann from Bowes in the North Pennines, originally from Edinburgh and who currently runs for Durham Fell Runners, completed the round in a new winter record time of 22h 23m.
Jim was supported by a very distinguished team of top Fell / Hill runners from both north and south of the border including a number of Carnethy enthusiasts.
Jim also played a major support roll when he supported Jon Ascroft during his record round in 2015 and Jasmin Paris during her successful fastest overall time in 2016.
Jim will be recorded as Number 97 on the Ramsay’s Round finisher’s page www.ramsaysround.com
Will we see any more from Carnethy getting into the 1st 100 finishers? And who will be No 100?
Having got a wee glimpse of the Cheviots doing the Yetholm Race on a gorgeously warm day in the summer, the Wooler Trail Marathon appealed as a way to see more of the trails and hills in the area. This new race by Trail Outlaws is a bit over marathon distance at 28.5 miles (45.2km) and has a little over 6000ft ascent making is either a tough marathon or a long hill race. The route goes out over Cheviot, joins the Pennine Way, then follows St Cuthberts Way back to Wooler making the route 98% on trails, and Pennine bog.
An 0800 start from Wooler YOHO meant an early wake-up call and a foggy drive along roads at -5.5C according to the car. With my son Finlay having the final league winning game or the pre Xmas rugby season kicking-off at 1400 I hoped for a good run and maybe catch the last 20 minutes of the game. This idea was dashed when we started late and the race time estimate from the organiser was double your marathon time and take off an hour. Carnethy’s were few and I only saw Myvany Fenton May with Derek Paton registered. A few Harmony folk were there with Seona Burnett running.
I set off too fast as usual and held 2nd position till the first hill! It was very cool and frosty still and the trails mostly frozen and quite icy. Cheviot was in the clag and there was no view, just great frosting and the sun peaking through the mist for a while. A rutted peat climb led to a great paved path across the top, but too quickly led to the bog sections along the Pennine Way which were really tough with intermittent rutted frozen footprints and unavoidable creaking ice with regular breaking-through into the c-c-c-c-cold water below. Later runners would have a horrid time of these sections once the frozen bits broke up. I took it easy and lost places to save my knees. Miles 10-13 were the worst then things improved a bit. The last leg along St C’s Way was quicker and more runnable with the odd climb to check your sense of humour. The final views down to Wooler in its frosted autumn colours were great.
A good race in a fine area with good interesting route making a fun race. The time estimate turned out to be quite accurate based on my D33 (flattest marathon) time with a finishing time of 5hr 43mins. Seona was a little after me but I legged it back to Megggetland before Myv FM came in, and arrived after the final whistle to hear of thumping 123-0 win to the Boroughmuir U15 and wining of their league.
Results will be up here: http://www.trailoutlaws.com/wooler-results-2016.php
At the unfortunate time of 5am, we arose to make our way to Killin for the start of Glen Ogle 33 ultra marathon. While off to a chilly start, it was an absolutely beautiful day with the sun shining and only a small amount of wind. The first six miles were beautiful forested trail with lovely views of snowcapped mountains. Nikki started off with some dodgy gurgling coming from her stomach from some sketchy bacon, but by mile 10 had decided to keep it all down. The next 12 miles went quite smoothly with only one or two hills that made me question my life decisions and why this is my idea of a holiday. By mile 23 I hit my own bad patch and decided that it was time to have a good cry about missing my dog… but by the time I managed to chase down Nikki again I was feeling quite cheerful and we ended up finishing with 10 minutes of each other. Overall, it was a really lovely race, with terrific weather, cheerful marshals and only a few desperate dashes behind boulders to pee!
On Saturday I ran my first ultra. The 38 mile Jedburgh Three Hills ultramarathon. It’s more of a trail run with the Eildons thrown in halfway through, but no less a challenge. Out of the ultra and relay runners I didn’t see any other Carnethy tops, but chatting with a Harmeny runner he said they had 27 down, mostly for the relay.
Around 270 runners made the start line at 8am on Saturday. A wonderful setting by the Abbey in Jedburgh and perfect running conditions, if not a tad on the mild side for the end of October. The organisation of this event is impressive, with a dry line of Jed humour throw in to make it clear what they think of runners with headphones ignoring marshals, including the punishment they would mete out (30 mins penalty).
Given this was my first ultra I was taking the approach of “start really slowly and finish strong”. The route took us along the Jed Water, the Teviot and the Tweed rivers. All showing their striking autumn colours. Given it has been relatively dry of late the conditions under foot were perfect. After 17 miles we arrived at the 2nd check point at Rymers Stone before the ascent of the north Eildon. Having run on flat up until now it was a welcome relief to gain some height. The sun had come out and the views from the tops of the Tweed Valley below were stunning. On a different day a leisurely pack lunch would have hit the spot. The ascent and descent of the three Eildons provided a welcome change and was the part of the race I enjoyed the most! Bounding down the mid Eildon was especially worth the entry fee and I even got a couple of “go Carnethy” cries.
The 2nd half of the race was more serious. My training and previous runs up to marathon distance had not been great in terms of nutrition. Resulting in pretty bad nausea. I’ve been trying out Tailwind and this was what I used on Saturday. For the most part it worked well. I took drinks of coke at the check points and stayed off solids. The last 3 miles and especially the last mile as you come into Jedburgh seemed to take an age, but the support helped and I managed a semi-sprint finish, clocking a time of 07:55:58 which was my goal to come under 8hrs. The winning time was Mark Sutherland with a time of 05:12:06. Full results here – Keep it Simple Timing Jedburgh Ultra 2016 Finish
It is a fantastic event and looks to be growing each year as a sure bet in the diary each year for the runners I spoke to. Whether I do another ultra is down to whether I can sort my nutrition out. I loved the distance, just not the bad stomach. Any suggestions from members is most welcome.
Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra Marathon
On Sunday 02 10 2016 Jasmin Paris completed the Paddy Buckley Round in an amazing time of 18h 33m making her the fastest Lady for all 3 of the sub 24 hour mountain challenges.
In doing so she has also recorded the fastest cumulative for these rounds as shown.
Bob Graham 15h 23m
Charlie Ramsay 16h 13m
Paddy Buckley 18h 33m
Total 50h 09m
Knocking a modest 6 hours off the Previous record held by Chris Near from North Wales
A huge congratulation to Jasmin and her support teams for these success.
Jasmin will post her latest report following the completion of her much needed and deserved recovery period.
Eoin Lennon – 15th
Ring of Steal Skyrace
Liam Braby – 7th, Nigel Shekleton 19th, Jeff Roberts – 84th
Glen Coe Skyline
Jasmin Paris – 1st (21st overall) 8h 15m, Andy Fallas – 6th 7h 29m, Konrad Rawlik – 28th 8h 47m, Jon Ascroft – 29th 8h 53m, Jonny Muir – 43rd 9h 22m, Antony Hemmings – 84th 10h 46m
In lieu of prose, below is a personal insight into the enormity of the Glen Coe Skyline in numbers.
5896 calories burnt (so says Strava)
4800 metres of ascent
4800 metres of descent
1150-metre highest point at Bidean nam Bian
870 metres of vertical climb between Glen Coe and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh
596 metres of vertical gain in mile 22
562 minutes of running
359 minutes of uphill running
200 storeys Buachaille Etive Mor would approximately have if it was a building
175 beats per minute, as seen on the heart rate monitor on the wrist of Malene Blikken Haukoy on Curved Ridge
169 minutes of running more than race winner Jonathan Albon
87 minutes spent crossing Aonach Eagach
21 positions gained from Lairig Eilde (checkpoint 5) to the end
10-inch post-race pizza
6 hours of broken pre-race sleep
5am alarm call
5-metre lowest point at Kinlochleven
4 Ibuprofen shots
3 Mars Bars
3 incoherent mutterings at cameras when asked, ‘how are you doing?’
2 fat ankles
2 blood wounds
1 warning of ‘risk of serious injury or death’
1 nervy leg-twitching moment on Aonach Eagach
1 extraordinary day in the Scottish mountains
La Petite Trotte à Leon is an ‘ultra pedestrian’ big brother of the UTMB race in the Alps that encompasses a 300km and 25,000m loop around the base of Mt.Blanc through the steep, rugged and trackless mountains of France, Switzerland and Italy. The route varies each year, it is unmarked (you navigate using maps and GPS), there is a lot of emphasis on self-reliance and autonomy, and numbers are strictly limited to 300 carefully vetted entrants.
This year Team Carnethy HRC (Olly Stephenson, Jason Hubert and Graham Nash) were faced with the worst possible weather for Brits, namely a heat wave, and the only small consolation was finding a team from further north (i.e. Finland) who appeared to be suffering even more than us.
We set off from Place De L’Amitie in central Chamonix at 9am on Monday 22nd August 2016 and the first 24 hours proved to be a gruelling snapshot of the week ahead – namely a huge ascent and traverse immediately beneath the famous rock towers of the Chamonix Aiguilles, followed by a massive descent/re-ascent up the opposite side of the valley to eventually reach the 3,096m summit of Mt.Buet in pitch darkness, to be confronted with arse-clenching exposure and a series of chains, ladders and cables as steep as the North Face of Ben Nevis. Meanwhile a storm had whipped up out of nowhere and we were struggling to stay warm despite wearing everything and moving fast. It felt a little surreal to be this high, this cold and solo-ing everything with ski-poles clenched firmly in one hand, cable or ladder in the other, constantly repeating a silent “don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall” mantra, with our headtorches licking the edge of the truly monstrous void like some prowling tiger.
By the time we made it back down to the village of Le Buet the next morning we’d effectively completed a ‘Ramsay Round’ in terms of effort and allowed ourselves a 30 minute nap before starting up the next massive re-ascent in an attempt to reduce our exposure to the midday sun. It made little difference, and in the end we were basically in an oven for 5.5 days (135 hours), punctuated by an average of 2 hours sleep/night (of which Graham noted we only actually slept for about 1 hour each time). On the plus side the views were spectacular, we had multiple amazing sunrises, sunsets and starry nights, and I’ve never seen the Alps looking more beautiful.
We worked really well as a team, travelling at a similar speed, and encouraging each other through various mental lows and temperature highs. I was delighted that my back felt OK throughout despite breaking it in a climbing accident 9 weeks earlier (meaning no training for me between accident and race start) – sincerest thanks to Jason and Graham for having more faith in me than I had in myself and for allowing me to remain on the team.
106 teams started, we came 7th (and first Brits) out of 47 teams that finished, and to give some indication of the terrain and difficulties there were no less than seven helicopter rescues throughout the race. By the end we were so tired that in my mind Jason transposed himself into Jamie/Justin, Graham became Mick, and much confusion was generated each time they spoke – especially when I forgot their names altogether – but that didn’t seem to matter as we collapsed across the finish line at 00:03 on Sunday 28th August into the welcoming arms of family and friends, and some much needed food and sleep. Many thanks to Kirsti and family, John, Eoin, Aisling, Digby Harris and others for being there for us.
I’m truly in awe of the organisers of this epic race and eternally grateful for the life-enriching experience they provide. Merci à tous!
On Saturday 18th June 2016 Jasmin Paris aided by a carefully selected support team, left Glen Nevis Youth Hostel at 03 00 and headed onto Ramsay’s Round traveling in an anticlockwise direction, she returned to the Youth Hostel 16hours and 13mins later.
Not only had she broken the Ladies record of 19 hours 39mins held by Nicky Spinks of Dark Peak Fell Runners, but she had also broken the Men’s overall record established by Jon Ascroft of Carnethy in July 2015.
Jasmin is only 1 of 4 ladies out of 92 successful finishers that have completed the round within 24 hours.
Carnethy currently has a total of 10 members who also successfully completed the round within the specified time limit.
I hope that Jasmin’s journey will inspire others to start looking at the round and preparing themselves for a sub 24h journey in the not too distant future.
Well done Jasmin and huge congratulations.
I would anticipate that following her recovery Jasmin will compile a short summary report, I’m sure it will prove to be of interest to all.
Watch this space.
The Wicklow Round is the Republic of Ireland’s equivalent of the Charlie Ramsay Round, encompassing 26 hills, with 6000m climb, over 100 + km in under 24 hours. It was first completed in 2009, with about 25 completions since then (https://www.imra.ie/wicklowround/).
As part of my on-going ‘tick-the-boxes-in-Ireland-before-re-emigrating’ mission, I completed the round at the weekend, in 21h 06 minutes. As I went around the first 8 hours I debated whether it was dominated by ‘fog and bog’ or ‘clag and peat-hag’. The sky cleared after the highest point (Lugnaquilla, 925m) making for a lovely day of running, trotting, shuffling, walking and crawling.
Another good day out. If anybody fancies it, I’d recommend doing it before mid June as the ferns grow like fiends this time of year.
Five Carnethy travelled South to meet the dragon of Wales. Four were running, one (Matt Curry) was part of the paparazzi for the day with instructions of action shots of good running style and muscle definition, or featuring the dashing good looks of the Carnethy team.
The race – a south to north route over the 15 tops in Wales over 3000ft, starting and finishing near sea level, required being vegan for a day for some vague reason. The fire from the Dragon must have some cause after all… The route forms part of the Skyrunning series and Anthony Hemmings and Alan Renville needed to get one over on me after I’d pipped them in Glencoe last year. Ross Christie had a chance of a podium place and set off from the 5am midges at the start with the lead pack to the top of Snowdon, cloaked in thick mist and covered with probably >200 people doing the 3 summits race at 0620. Read more…