If as a one time
(albeit summer) resident of Swanston, Robert Louis Stevenson was
right in saying that “our
business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits”,
then for me, this was the handicap to put that maxim to the test, for
I would fail. A course which climbs from the start to lead you into
the climb which takes you up to the climb, then levels out the descent
speed you on to the climb is perhaps not my forte.
Four weeks previously, Willie G (our generous
organiser) and I discussed Swanston as a possible venue and discussed
various routes over the dark
side of the moon … one of those areas of the Pentlands where
few run, although the access and running is good. Two weeks previously,
by a small (Bob was there) band of stalwarts  we set out to reconnoitre
a basic route, with options. Methought that the route through the initial
ascent gorse would throw people, but with maps, pointers it’s obvious … apparently.
As a deadbeat, dropout, runner I was thinking
on the lines of a 40 minutes—tops— run,
especially as with a new route, on the dark side, there was a great potential
for people to get lost and / or caught out in the dark. Willie didn’t
think so and as we progressed on the recce and I (and others) mumped
and moaned we kept heading out and up, up and out, and then of course … further,
up and out. On the recce, there were two views about the outlying spur
to the Northeast of Capelaw: (Mine) its pointless, adds nothing but
distance when time to get everyone in and eating is limited and no-one
you for this bit, better take them up to the stile and then up Allermuir,
or head up Allermuir from the col and take in either Caerketton, or first
top beyond the main col (linked to my subjective view that I’d
be running backwards in terms of positions if we headed out there). Oh,
the other view (Willie’s) … It’s my ****ing handicap,
I’m the ****ing organiser and it’s my ****ing route.
I gave him a hug.
On the night, Willie was of course right. Perhaps
I should have listened … Except
people got lost on the initial ascents and got caught out in the dark,
with a couple of search parties our looking for our last finisher.
As a habitual explorer of the dark side for some
30 years and with the advantage of the recce, I didn’t put a
foot wrong (smug b*st*rd) until we headed out to the outlier where
I began to get caught and passed
(mostly by people who had little idea of how they got there.
Despite the desire to sit down, I forced myself to keep the pace (ha,
ha) as a group of us ran up an increasingly misty Allermuir. Despite
a good descent, I was now fading and was caught on the last ascent (for
some) by some of the fit b*gg*rs who had managed to recover from being
lost and any advantage I might have had was being rapidly stripped away,
sigh. A clutch of runners interpreted the rules in such away that they
added more up, onto the second top of Caerketton (some even ventured
to the top) which helped me attain my final position.
Still, dinner awaited (if we had ordered correctly)
and as my old mate Robert Louis opined “there is only one difference between a long
life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last”.
So, somewhat knackered I enjoyed the sweetness of the final descent,
running in a sea of sparks down the glorious scree and down, down (no
more up) to the finish, where I was 103rd out of the 31 or some such.
The new Swanston Golf Clubhouse Restaurant and Bar did us proud with
food and drink until inevitably I had to cycle off into the rain.
Willie did good, not only in running over the ****ing
route in his ****ing handicap, but in being the ****ing organiser too.
Hey, next and final handicap is mine … Beware.
 The ever-changing faithful