|13th April - Boghall|
|Cool and fine|
On a fine running night there were 53 runners taking part in the first handicap of the season. I arrived 10 minutes early to find the car park already full; it was obviously a popular race.
The volunteer timekeepers were already worried and rightly so. Phil (the handicapper) Young did a good job with the centre of the field very bunched up causing temporary mayhem at the finish line.
Everyone seemed to enjoy their run, although Irene Schierloh was told off for shouting back lost runners (it is nice to be nice), I enjoyed using my local knowledge to get a good line down from the sink, and having Oz pass me twice.
29 of us went on to The Flotterstone for food and beer, Phil hanging back to avoid an International incident and wait for a lost Italian visitor to the race.
Many thanks to Andy Spenceley and Roger Kemp for giving up their time to time us all in.
|19th May - The Meldons|
|A fair evening with showers that missed us, but a very strong wind|
33 runners turned up for the 2nd Handicap of the season. The race was won by Willie Mykura while the handicapper had to disqualify himself for missing out a hill, quite a feat for a race of just 3.5 miles where you can see all 3 hills quite clearly! The wind was strong enough to blow the field uphill, and cushion some of the descents, though streaming eyes hampered visibility. So maybe an excuse there!
Willie Mykura romped home 1st on an autumnal evening in the borders (does he know something about the handicap system?), followed by a resurgent Jonathan Whitehead. Andy Fallas clocked the fastest time (31:01), holding off Paul Faulkner (32:27). All 3 of the Gilmore runners finished in the fastest 11. The magic handicap formulae led to some tight bunching at the finish with 25 out of the 33 runners completing within 5 minutes. Unfortunately this year's handicapper did a Stephenson and missed a hill so had to disqualify himself.
|15th June - Flotterstone|
|An interlude in the persistent lows to give a warm evening with ominous clouds and striking sunset, and midges|
“We long to stand
upon the tops of the high hills. There
the true perspective of life returns, we
find our soul, we are whole again, all
the world is fresh and fair, and “on the
brow is the calm of wide spaces reflected,
in the eye of light of long distance unbroken.”
Will was right. Having been chesty for a week or so (get your excuses in early) I did want to stand upon the tops of some high hills but the true perspective of this tough handicap was that there was no time to do so unless I was to be last. Even then, it was a close run thing.
Judicial and necessary short cuts—lower contours, direct lines, running through the bracken and not around, my own knowledge of Pentland Days and Country Ways, in fact—kept me up with or ahead of the other runners around me almost to Charlie’s Loup on the mostly uphill, erm, “flat” route out but by which time I’d been passed by two or three runners.
The normal short, brisk, descent from Carnethy had been reversed into a long, steep ascent with a number of runners trying myriad route choices to avoid the punishing slog. On my brow was not the calm of wide spaces reflected but salt and sweat!
Heading straight for the col, I hadn’t made up places but felt the ascent had taken less out of me. A glance behind, however, showed that the rest of the pack was close on my heels. My cunning plan to smear the course with a coating of mucus didn’t seem to be slowing anyone down except me and on the final ascent of Turnhouse—despite vociferous and welcome encouragement from Kate J my lungs gave up but luckily my body conjured up a cramp in my right thigh to take my mind off my lack of puff. At the start—somewhat missing my daughter, currently living in Iona—I’d selected 1989 as my number as it was her birth year and that kept me running. Perhaps I’d be 30th the day of her birth …
Nonetheless, a painfully slow descent allowed me to cheer on more runners than I’d have liked and I was passed by two more in the final run in, including the handicapper, sigh. For me, at least, a much tougher race than running it anti-clockwise.
A glowing Fiona McK (on a nine-month sabbatical from running) and Roger K (on a somewhat longer sabbatical) clocked in the finishers including, eventually me and then it was off to enjoy the barbecue, beer and burgers, where we stood in the midges and smoke and reflected on the light of long distance broken.
As always, a good night.
|13th July - Broughton|
|A splendid sunny night|
"They cam ane
hour to spen' on the greenwood swaird; …Amang
thae greenest hills shone on by the sun;
and they wan a rest; The lownest and the
|17th August - Hungry Snout Handicap|
|Cloudy & midgey|
The running began well before the handicap start as we tried to escape the hungry snouts of the midges on a cloudy but pleasant evening. The large shower spotted from the bypass stayed away, so no monsoon this year. Those choosing the long route found a much improved track running to the top of Spartleton hill, though leaving it near the top as it veers left cuts out a big dog leg. Picking the right direction to descend pays dividends on both main hills as the view down is initially obscured by the angle of the slope. A line of new shooting butts goes straight to the top of Priestlaw hill then a fast descent on trackless heather leads to the dam, and a tarmac finish, to the reward of a very tasty wee barrel of Hungry Snout Ale. Less midges flying around now, as they were mostly stuck to the runners. Results
Iain Gilmore recorded his first win to take him top of the overall table. Willie Mykura and Jonathan Whitehead (both running the short course) came in a close 2nd and 3rd. On the long course Paul Faulkner was the fastest runner in 35:50 followed by Steven Fallon in 36:30. The overall averages for both course were significantly faster than last year, probably due to better weather, better navigation (with a few exceptions), a new stretch of landrover track and the chasing midges.
Going into the last race on Arthur's Seat Iain Gilmore has 144 points, with Jonathon Whitehead on 141, and brother Andrew Gilmore on 137. However there are other contenders so still too early to clear a space in the Gilmore family trophy room.
|7th September - Arthur's Seat Handicap|
|Torrential rain clearing to fine evening|
The Distant Target
“Men nearly always
follow the tracks of others and proceed
in their affairs by imitation, even though
they cannot entirely keep to the tracks
of others or emulate the prowess of their
models. So a prudent man should
always follow in the footsteps of great men
and imitate those who have been outstanding...
He should behave like those archers who …
aim a good deal higher than their objective,
not in order to shoot so high but so by aiming
high they reach the target.
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