by Nick MacDonald, Colin Pritchard, Anne Nimmo, Gordon Cameron and Jim Hardie (Past Presidents)
What is Carnethy?
Carnethy is a Hill Running Club, of course, but much more than that. Carnethy is arguably one of the premier Clubs in Britain and is certainly the largest hill running club in Scotland with a membership of over 400 in 2017. A glance through the past and present members’ list reads like a Hill Running Who’s Who, with World, British and Scottish Champions, Ultra-distance record holders, Internationals and the like, but that would give a false impression of Carnethy’s origins and what Carnethy is still about today. In essence, Carnethy is an association of like-minded people, enjoying hill running for all it has to offer whether it is some crucial competition or a social stravaig ‘up there’.
Once labelled ‘a particular lesser club’ and proud of it, Carnethy was formed on 12th April 1983 as a refuge for the homeless! A place for all those unattached hillrunners or displaced hillrunners in Athletics Clubs who didn’t have a real hill running club to call home. As such, Carnethy is now ‘home’ to a wide-range of eclectic and some say eccentric individuals. With an oldest competing member in his eighties and a youngest, non-competing, member of a few months, we’ve quite a range of runners, raconteurs and rogues.
There are many outstanding athletes of all sorts in the Club, and people talented in diverse ways. One of the features of the Club is that, whether champion or also-ran, we are all enthusiasts. You will find mountain bikers resplendent in their new cycle-tops, sea-kayakers, dancers, triathletes, cross-country skiers, open-water swimmers, sailors, rock-climbers, orienteers, mountaineers and even the odd cross-country runner among our membership, all eager to share their own interests and skills. Time and again people have said that they joined the Club because of the friendly people and their attitude to running in the hills. With a strong ladies section – a third of our membership – and an enthusiastic junior section.
Carnethy’s strength lies in the diversity of its members and their interests.
What do I think makes Carnethy special?
Well, it doesn’t just boast World, British and Scottish Champions (along with its ‘also-rans’) but, unusual in a running club, it contains a majority who are recreational runners. This is undoubtedly because hill running has a non-competitive side to it that track and field athletics doesn’t have. Carnethy offers these runners something too (something the stereotype athletic club doesn’t) – journey runs, weekends in the hills and foreign trips running over well-trodden trails or through remote wilderness. This interesting mix of competitive and non-competitive members makes Carnethy a breath of fresh air. The club Journal and website is alive with stories of exploits as well as races and is a huge incentive to make you ‘get out there’ and join a trip, enter a race or organise something yourself.
Carnethy organise, or are involved in organising, about a dozen races a year, spread across the running year and across the country too. From East Linton to East Fife, from Moffat to the Moorfoots, from Skye to the Skyline (Pentlands that is) we try to contribute to well-organised competition in the hills. In the Scottish Championship, we believe the Club have held every title there is to hold.
In the winter months when the moon is up and the darkness descends Carnethy organise a series of night runs in the hills. The locations and terrain vary but always end with ‘pub and grub’ somewhere near at hand. The pace is often slow but the conversation and the wit is usually quick. The International Xmas Pub Run is now legendary.
In the summer months we organise a series of handicap races. Based on the Biblical principle that ‘the first shall be last and the last first’, runners are given different start-times, with the slowest off first and the fastest off last and gives everyone the opportunity to beat a British Champion or two. There is a catch of course. If you thought Catch 22 was bad, wait until you try to outsmart our handicapper. For points are gained throughout the series and the only way to gain points is by running fast but the faster you run the worse your handicap is next time out. The only way to get a good handicap is by running slowly but then you don’t score points. So how is it done? Come along to a handicap race and find out.
The Journal and Website
The Journal has been an integral part of the Club and a mainstay of its fabric and cohesiveness since the Club’s formation. Many members have said how much they enjoy it and read it from cover to cover on the day it drops through the letterbox or hits their PC in-box. Free to all club members it expanded over the years from a one-page NewsSheet to a 40-page quarterly Journal with a wide variety of contributions from many members. From poetry to politics, records and results, tales of derring do and didn’t dare, it is an invaluable record of the doings of the Club and an important archive resource. The club website has been at the core of Carnethy since the dawn of the 21st century. Race reports, run reports, social reports, odds and sods, all have a home on our website. From a simple page, the site has grown to contain maps, reports, upcoming events, previous events, race information, handicaps, trophies, awards, merchandise, AGM minutes, and links to everything you’ll ever need as a club member. If there is a race, then there’s a good chance you’ll find a report about that race somewhere in the depths of the site.
Throughout the year Carnethy organise a number of social events, including Club Weekends away, a Burns Supper, a Winter Talks series, internal race series (the “Alternative Carnethy 5”), occasional trips overseas and long, leisurely, all day ‘journey’ runs, winter ultra-distance runs, interspersed with video nights and talks, cycle climbs, and lots of other events. Oh, and the occasional pub run, just to keep the legs lubricated.
Triathlon, Duathlon, Ultrarunning Swimming, MTB, CycloCross, Climbing, Sailing…
Being a large club with many enthusiastic members, we touch on many disciplines – not just hill running. No matter what interests you, it will interest somebody else in the club too. Carnethy is a place to meet other people like you, just with different levels of experience, and other people to join you on that adventure you’ve always fancied. From running round the Pentlands and diving into the reservoirs, to cycling between the 4000 footers, to ski-touring, to bothying in the highlands, or a day trip to reccy a race – we do lots! Occasionally, just occasionally, you might even find somebody to go for a run on tarmac… but don’t hold your breath!
We’re a sociable club, so it’s inevitable that social media is going to rear its head somewhere. The club has two presences on Facebook. The first is our standard Facebook Page Carnethy H R C This is open for all to see, add to and comment on. It’s primarily for the outside world to see what the club is doing.
Facebook Carnethy Group. This is only accessible by members, which makes for more interesting debate, and more jokes at other clubs expense. New members should get a welcome email which gives details on how to join, which is basically to email webteam, who will get Facebook to ‘invite by email’. Facebook will then send an email inviting you to join. Alternatively a member who is a FB friend can invite you directly (subject to moderation – no non-members will be accepted). As an incentive for you to pay your subs we will cull you if you don’t!
The club now has a swimming group – a group of Carnethys (and friends) who are interested in coordinating outdoor swims, and a dedicated Facebook page. It does tend to involve wetsuits so may not suit everyone! The page can be viewed but to see posts you need to be invited. Tell the Club Secretary or Mike Lynch that you would like to join the Facebook group.
If you have a GPS-enabled device, such as a GPS watch or mobile phone, you might want to log your runs on Strava. Strava is a useful way to keep your own training, and also a good way to see what your fellow Carnethies are doing. The club has two pages on Strava, one for Running and one for Cycling. Most join the ‘Carnethy Running’ club page. It’s not essential that you join either one, but they’re there if you do. To see the latest Runs & Rides by Carnethys see the website’s Strava page
Club Clothing & other gear
Carnethy Club Vests, Buffs, Cycle shirts.
Items free to members and equipment for borrowing. See this page to find out what is available.