Annual International Club Pub Run

Hermit hoar, in solemn cell, wearing out life’s evening grey,
Smite thy bosom, sage and tell, what is bliss and the way?
Thus I spoke and speaking sigh’d; scarce repressed the starting tear;
When the smiling sage replied—come my lad and drink some beer”
Samuel Johnson

“Beware the night runners my dear, they also drink beer”
Local Saying

Some 20+ of us foregathered at KB on a beautiful if crisp and cold winter’s eve to take the sage’s advice and drink some beer whilst we meandered over a 10 mile run. First stop the Braidburn, where Santa had already looked in to buy the beers in readiness for the Carnethy horde. As usual, bemused customers looked on as Santa, or at least St Nick, in full beard and red tunic, Willie with a flashing Christmas tree on his head, Shane swathed in red tinsel and beads, Neil and Caroline (who’d come over from Vancouver for the pleasure) and all the rest in a range of Santa and Elf hats threw a quick beer down then swarmed out into the night and up Kirk Brae to Liberton Rugby Club where the round for all was a staggering £10 only!

No staggering for us yet, and so it was off down Double Hedges, then up Gilmerton Road to the Robin’s Nest where the drinkers complained about the cold because so many of us were arriving and keeping the door open. I on the other hand was learning that a Santa suit and a white beard can actually be pretty hot when you’re running, no matter how cold the night.

A detour through Moredun Wood, now called Burdiehouse Park, although Burdiehouse (a corruption of Bordeaux House) is a few miles away. By my house and into the Northfield Hotel for another beer then up to the Marmion, where someone was gunned down last year. Resisting cries of “let’s all have shots”, more beer was drunk and we had some banter with the locals. A quick sprint and in 40-odd seconds we were in the Waverley where the delightful barmaids gave us a free dram to go with our beers. Noting that the whisky was “Scottish Leader”, Willie tried to blag that it was named after him by displaying his Buff Skyrunner Leader’s vest which he was wearing. The Barmaids were singularly unimpressed. Leader perhaps but not Buff enough.

Then into Burdiehouse Park proper where the temperature plunged as we ran by the river, then ran up to gawp in awe at “the Christmas House” awash with flashing lights, singing reindeer, dancing Santas and a carbon footprint that dwarfed the rest of Edinburgh’s.

Round the corner and over the main road, we went into the Old Bordeaux, which was burnt to the ground a few year’s back? How was this possible? Ah the magic of Christmas! Hot mulled wine, restored some heat to those who were cold and then it was off over the fields to far Pavilions with a stop off at the Fairmile Inn first. Before we set off, a text message from a broken boned Keith Burn’s arrived cautioning us about the perils of binge drinking and night running and reminding us to make a proper risk assessment. Ahead, a chiaroscuro of light beams spilled over the sky and some of us debated whether it was the second coming. “Nah, someone else said, it’s the laser lights from the winter festival at Ikea”. Sigh

Running over the recently ploughed but frozen fields around Broomhill Farm which felt like running over lumps of broken concrete. Fraser provided the risk assessment we needed to acknowledge … “Someone’s going to break there ankle on this guaranteed”. Well although the impact would have been great, the probability turned out to be low and we arrived at the next pub unscathed.

There are advantages to having mates who don’t drink beer and as we downed bottles of beer on the terrace we toasted Steven Fallon who met us at the Fairmile (which has been boarded up for over a year) to distribute some of the beer he’s won as race prizes over the year. With murmurs of “O Captain! My Captain” we were off again although our trip was neither fearful nor done

So, up the hill to the Pavilion, where we had more banter with the regulars than we had in the last two pubs …After that, confusion reigned! Having taken a wrong turn running through Buckstone, Willie led us up a blind alley and then he and a couple of others disappeared over a fence. The main group went looking for a vennel which wasn’t there because we in the wrong street then decided to cut our losses and head down to Braid Road (t’oher way) and the start of the track we were trying to cut across to. Others thought, “They’re going the wrong way”, let’s head off that way” … So, in a club of members holding as many degrees as the compass we set out every which way there was. Appropriately enough considering the freezing conditions, we’d matched the weather conditions by the time we reached the start of the track, being minus 8; but all were reunited at the pub.

Next up, the Stable Bar and there was some talk of re-enacting the nativity play at the Stable. Fraser had one of the essential attributes to take the role of Mary and Oz offered to be the baby; “Jesus”, someone uttered; “that’s the one”, said someone else but on arrival it all came to nought when we realised we couldn’t find three wise men. Still, the Pub Run itself remained an immaculate concept …

A time-check revealed that, just as last year, we could legally order one last beer or strike off for the Balmwell – which could be shut. So more beers all round and then back to my place for more beer and a film show of the Esk Run and the Carnethy trip to Slovenia.
So what is bliss and the way? 10 glittering miles, conversation and conviviality, good crack, good friends …and a beer or two!

Nick Macdonald

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