The Carnethy Interview - Moira Stewart

        Here is the return of the Carnethy Interview. The Face-to-Face of the hill running world. Whose original purpose was to make famous for five minutes those club members whose only claim to fame is their enthusiasm for hill running. There have been a couple of exceptions like Charlie Ramsay and Sir Hugh T Munro who were famous and dead - or thought to be dead by The Interviewer. This time round the policy will be to represent a wide cross section of members. Most members don't know most members but we must share a common something or we wouldn't be members. The hope is that you will read somethig here, stand up and shout "Yes, that's just how I feel. I thought I was alone!!" Since a third of the Club is female, it seemed right to start to get the proportion of interviews balanced.

        Orcadian, with two older brothers - one by 7 minutes - Moira was very reluctant to be interviewed. "I've been a member for only 3 years and there are champion hill-runners and experienced members who should be interviewed before me". When I explained that the point of The Interview was to introduce a cross-section of members to the rest of the Club (well those who read the Newsletter) she agreed to reveal some personal details and opinions. I bribed her with the offer of a foot-massage; the one I had promised in Norway and failed to deliver! "I'll do anything for a foot rub - even a Carnethy interview". She purrs loudly when her feet are rubbed with arnica. Her family name is Kerr, clan motto 'Serio sed Serio' - Late but in Earnest. That applies exactly to my running in the hills, she said.

        We chatted in a room of the Log House between Torridon and Shieldaig on the Carnethy Week organised by Keith Burns in April, 1998. Moira was not running because of an Achilles tendon problem. She expressed frustration and impatience at the length of time it was taking to clear up. However, she was able to do some hard walking and get into the superb mountain country of Torridon.

        She spoke of her schooldays in Orkney, learning to swim in the sea (hence her ability to take dips in Norwegian lochs with ice flows on them). After reading psychology at Aberdeen she did some post graduate work at York, before taking up a post as Data Manager for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in Edinburgh.

        Since you didn't do any serious sport at School, what brought you into running? I saw a girl at work going for a run at lunch time and decided to join her to get fit. I ran about 500 yards and nearly died. It developed into road racing, half marathons, 10k s, Edinburgh Marathon in 1984 in under 4 hours, etc.

        Why hill running and why Carnethy? Well, I'd done some hill walking and it seemed logical to combine the two. I joined Carnethy after a run at Flotterstone, encouraged by Peter Brooks. He was very enthusiastic and supportive. I was very sad when he died and I miss him. He encouraged me a lot.

        Moira spoke of her love of the hills. "Being in the hills is important. There is a sense of freedom in the natural environment, away from everyday pressures. Even repeating the same hill is always different" The phrase 'a sense of freedom' came up a lot in our conversation.

        What are your favourite runs?
Well, I tried orienteering to improve my navigation and it worked! Now I really enjoy the Karrimor, the Lowe Alpine and the Mournes. The Mourne was my first event of its type. Peter Brooks and I won the veteran class. That was my first win in a race. So my favourite is a long journey run, an exploration of the hills. I get most satisfaction from long days out. I take part in races but I'm not seriously competitive. Although when I became a veteran last year I did win a few.

        Talk about Carnethy. The thing I like most is the friendliness and being accepted as you are. The top runners are so approachable and are always happy to encourage and join in with the less talented, to show the less experienced what is possible. Road running clubs are more competitive and elitist. And there are such good events, like this one at Torridon and Norway and many others. They're wonderful, shared experiences. We saw some eagles yesterday. Carnethy has such a lot to offer everyone in the Club, including the juniors. Moira spends a lot of time with Willie Gibson encouraging the younger members and introducing them to hill running. They get a taste of the experiences available, We try to make it fun, not pushy; its important not to pressurise kids or put them off. The Ladies Nights are very good. They have encouraged a lot of ladies to get involved in Club events. They are a great social gathering. You should interview Gillian Paul and Nikki Innes.

        What are you reading at the moment? Do you read a lot? Yes, I love reading. Mostly novels and biographies. Book of the moment is "Path with a Heart", an examination of Buddhist ideas and Western society. I think we can learn a lot from the eastern cultures, about different approaches to life by other societies. Oh dear, this a very serious interview, not very amusing at all. Moira was worried throughout the interview that it was all very earnest and serious. Maybe it was the interviewer.

        Do you take safety in the hills seriously?
Yes. It seems obvious that the objective dangers can lead to dangerous situations. I haven't experienced anything very serious yet but I'm always prepared for it to happen. Yes, race organisers do need to insist on minimum and appropriate equipment, if only to protect those who do not appreciate the dangerous situations that can arise in the mountains.

        Are you worried about economic developments in the Highlands? We need a balance between creating jobs to keep people in the Highlands and destroying the feel of the place. It's very difficult. I'm not entirely against economic schemes but if they make a huge impact then that would be objectionable. I think mining and anything which produces a scarring can't be acceptable.

         And what of the future? I want to run for ever. I don't want to give up. There is so much enjoyment to be had out there. It may be hard to make oneself go out sometimes but you know your going to enjoy it all. This Achilles tendon is such a nuisance. Suppose it won't go away? Please tell me it will heal and I'll be running again soon. Sedio sed Serio - I did come late, but I am in earnest.

AM 18/4/98

Home | Go Back
© Carnethy.com 2014