Castlelaw Night Run Report
16th January 2008

When Souterrains Suit the Terrain

“I saw the crescent; you saw the whole of the moon”
(Lyric) The Waterboys

“Character is what you are in the dark”
Dwight L Moody

This year, Alison (my ever so long suffering wife) and I will have been married for 30 years (just lucky I guess) but as many of you will know we are complete opposites in our points of view and emotional perspectives, except when we agree that I’m right yet again. Alison has a “my glass is half full” view, whilst I have a “more glasses over here please” philosophy. For years, OK decades, this has been enshrined in our family in the Waterboy’s song quoted from above. But the two approaches produce differing results, just as two different approaches did in tonight’s night run.

It was a night run with an unusual twist. It was the first one which Bob had organised—although he wasn’t the only unusual twist—for instead of the usual, gentle meander over some obscure route that only two or three can discern when they’re out there and only one or two can retrace once they’re back, this was a night time orienteering event requiring teams to navigate by dead (lucky) reckoning to specific features on the hill. At least one of which led to continuous discussion throughout the run, because it didn’t exist!

As a teacher of kids with special needs, Bob was ideally qualified to provide a night’s entertainment for the 15 or so Carnethy (and some non Carnethy) bods who turned up for the run in perfect conditions—windless, with a temperature of minus 1, but light and bright even though it was but a crescent moon. The snow and frost covered hills reflected more than enough light to show the way, although at one time or another we all used our headtorches. Bob’s tactics, like the runners themselves, were simple—divide and conquer. Firstly he split us into two teams to introduce competition and secondly he gave each team two maps in the hope of introducing dissention between map holders; thirdly each team had different courses. Oddly enough this might have been the deciding factor as one team didn’t consider the other team at all, other than to observe the lights from their headtorches at different points and had no dissention or dispute over the maps or coordinates.

For our team, Gordon’s, early map holders were Gordon and Andy. With old gits like Willie and I in each team, there was a fair chance that both teams would have an insight into where the checkpoints were and luckily I knew where the first checkpoint – a Celtic cross—was, so we headed there with minimal map work or navigation, even though it was secreted in the woods. The next checkpoint, one of two, old, enamel sinks was well known to most of our group (Shanks for the memory) so we had no trouble locating it, although we could have taken a more direct route. Luckily for us, whilst in our team we each had a say as to where we were headed and which way, Willie’s team were being convinced by Willie’s confident lead (he runs the same or similar route almost every day) to go to the wrong sink for their course. They were losing points.

Our team had no such sinking feeling as we located our sink, drained a couple of drinks of water (not from the sink) then plugged over to, then up, Castle Law with the collective knowledge that there was never, ever, a Trig point there. En route we had lots of debate, deliberation, discussion, and dissention but continued towards the grid reference given. Bob’s divisive tactics seemed to be failing with our team as we hardly considered the other team and Gordon and I exchanged the second map willingly and we were all singularly united in our route choices.

On the top of Castle Law a surprise. Bob and Moi and Bob’s homemade trig point that he’d carried up the hill! Nigel had been feeling unwell up until this point and took the opportunity to head down with Bob and Moi whilst the rest of us headed towards Allermuir and the next checkpoint. On the flank of the hill ahead of us was a phalanx of white light moving steadily upwards—Willie’s team! Slightly behind a single red light—Richard, who confessed later to be having difficulty as his well-worn Inov8s skited and skittered off the frozen ground.

Bob’s checklist required one of us to head up to the windbreak south of the summit of Allermuir, so Stephen—as acknowledged fittest and fastest—headed off on his own whilst the rest of us ran down the valley between Castle Law and Capelaw to our next checkpoint—a stream just off the path. From there we headed round the hill to one of the Army’s practice assault targets—a metal door standing in isolation at the foot of the hill. Time for a quick photo of Captain Gordon looking through the door then it was off to a wood for the penultimate checkpoint.

Whilst the Army is away … we slipped over the fence and like galloping Ghazis or guileful Ghilzai took a shortcut across the Army firing ranges. Despite the shortcut though, we were running out of time so we made a quick tactical decision to time out at the finish before heading up to knock of the final checkpoint just for the hell of it. Just as well … as we ran round the ancient souterrain we were rewarded by collecting a couple of bottles of beer and a glittering star while we were passed by Willie’s team due to finish dead on time but minus valuable points as it seemed they had gone to the wrong monument and the wrong sink. So presumably with a monumental sinking feeling Willie’s team learned we’d won by a whopping 30 points!

So, off to the Steading to celebrate the evening with food and drink and tales old and new. Our thanks to Bob—and able supporters Cali and Moi—we might even let him organise something else!

Nick Macdonald

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