Handicap Series 2011
series results

13th April - Boghall
Cool and fine
boghall race
Record Field
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.
Willie Gibson
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!

Meldons results
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
Withershins Way

“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 Grant
Pentland Days and Country Ways

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.

Nick Macdonald

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 best"
Dr John Brown

Aye well, for me it was a bit over the hour that I spen' before I, one of the lownest, wan my rest but thae greenest hills were certainly shone on by the sun as it was hot running out.
A new organiser, a new handicap, a new route but old memories for me and I remember running the route in reverse with Dave Peck a decade or so ago in similar conditions, although I was in different condition then, ha, ha.
So after the off, there's only (hah, only) Bill ahead, keeping up a steady pace and gait. Up over Clover Law and Michael Wilkinson runs into the mix and we juggle positions whilst Bill gets closer but keeps ahead. So it continued over Cowiemuir Hass until Michael gradually, inexorably, crept by Bill to his (Michael's) undoing for whilst Bill and I knew the route, Michael was going by the map and so as Bill headed back, Michael was still standing at the top of Green Law looking perplexedly at the map. He set off just before I hit the summit but took Broomy Side on the roomy side and headed off too far left and far too soon.
Bill was out of sight but I used my usual ploy which was to head across the heather to where I wanted a path to be and then followed it diagonally and directly down to the col. Only the steep climb up to Hammer Head was left but I began to be passed. As with the previous handicap, those following behind were following me on my "sensible shortcuts". Hillrunning has never been simply about being fastest but it's not fair when the faster folk follow my optimum line and pass me by. Aye well.
So, a canter down to the finish and at the last I hear a footfall behind me and suddenly it’s a sprint to the line to stay ahead of Mateo, which I later found out the handicapper ignored and gave us a tie until Gordon and I had a word.
Eventually we waited for an injured Willie G to come in (accompanied by Cody). Willie was running despite having a couple of broken /cracked ribs and came in to a hero's welcome. All done, or done in, we headed down to the excellent and recommended Laurel Bank bar and restaurant, where, as usual, the good craik and company rounded off the night.
Thanks to organiser Cameron Scott and handicapper Phil, even though he managed to win the race himself. Photos

Nick Macdonald

17th August - Hungry Snout Handicap
Cloudy & midgey
hungry snout hungry snout hungry snout hungry snout hungry snout hungry snout hungry snout
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

arthur seat handicap arthur seat handicap arthur seat handicap

“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.
Niccolo Machiavelli

At the start of the series, the distant target of actually winning the series outright seems too remote and so we each pick targets closer to hand—beat so-and-so, beat this time, beat that time, last year’s time, his time, her time, beat…someone…please. As the series rolls on, some close targets dissipate and some develop as the points do or don’t mount up.  Whatever the individual target, the last handicap race of the 2011 series had—as usual—all to play for with at least six contenders for the title, although my money was on Willie Mykura having done the math.
With a handicap rubric of the best of 3 race scores Iain Gilmore sat with an overall score of 144, made up of 50, 47 and 47 points but if 4 of the 6 contenders bettered a 3rd place 47 they could win.  Willie M had a 50 pointer and a 49 in the bank so he could make 5th place in the race and still win.  Oddly when I mentioned this to Phil prior to the race and to Willie M immediately after he finished both seemed surprised (although as current and prior handicappers respectively I suppose I shouldn’t have expected either of them to have worked this out).
Aye, so to the event itself:  Arthur’s Seat (Àrd-na-Said, implying the "Height of Arrows", which over the years became Arthur's Seat (a corruption perhaps of “Archer's Seat”) has long been the venue for the final handicap because it has everything a handicap requires: five interesting summits, big descents, varied terrain, myriad route choices and great views… Digby a relative rookie made several mistakes before he’d even got his race shoes on.  He turned up early and so was given a job, he parked by the start line and so his campervan was commandeered to house handicapper and organiser as well as sundry bits of race equipment, bags, bits of kit, clocks and car keys, and he parked it so the torrential rain which fell swept into the open side door of the van, which he couldn’t close because of the aforementioned kit and caboodle.
The rain didn’t put off another large turnout, however, and once everything was soaked—including the printer-timers which refused to accept soggy print rolls and so couldn’t be used, the sun rolled in and the runners rolled out on the deceptive course which is a sort of squashed figure of eight taking in the summits of Arthur’s Seat, Crow Hill, Dunsappie Hill, Whinnie Hill and Salisbury Crags but with infinite route choice its possible to see ranks of runners passing each other in completely opposite directions and criss-crossing each other’s path.  Mike Lynch was perplexed by Willie G’s route last year and Willie was a tad reticent in enlightening him, so I suggested that he follow Machiavelli’s advice (as above) and like a prudent man, follow in the footsteps of the great man himself and then burn him off on the approach to the finish.
I wasn’t sure if Mike was listening but that’s exactly what he did although he mistimed his bid for victory passing too soon and heading the long way round St Margaret’s loch, giving Willie a chance to snatch victory. Alas it was not to be and Mike stormed home to win the race.  Willie’s pace packing a post-Picos punch made him a close second and soon the rest of the field were streaming across the finish line from all directions.  In sparkling form, Willie M finished fourth to steal the series from Iain by 2 points much to Willie’s surprise as he thought Ian’s lead was untouchable.
And so to the pub for the usual Carnethy craik and conviviality.  Just back from the Picos where I’d witnessed five Griffon Vultures at close quarters tearing apart a wild goat scarcely prepared me for the sight of 30 to 40-odd (and I mean odd) runners mauling 17 pizzas apart much to the bemusement of the welcoming and efficient barmaid who had to count her fingers each time a plate was snatched from her grasp.  Watching a flock of Carnethy vultures swoop and descend upon plates and platters is not a sight for the faint-hearted and other customers wisely fled. 
Being the end of the series, the prizes were duly handed out by Phil and Willie M deservedly lifted the shield and the leader vest.
Thanks to Phil for setting the handicaps and thanks to all race organisers and helpers as well as the competitors who made the 2011 handicap series so memorable and especial thanks to last night’s organiser (oh that was me) who found a great prize-giving venue—the Kilderkin in the Canongate, great pizzas, great beer—at short notice and thanks of course to Carnethy who paid for the lot!

Nick Macdonald

more photos on Carnethy Picasa Album

top of page

Home | Go Back
© Carnethy.com 2014