With several usual suspects missing at the
start of the month and the wind down starting
now for the end of the year it seemed a good
idea to have a special Christmas handicap.
One big advantage of being both the handicapper
and the route setter is that I can pick and
choose a route that I know and suits my running
and after a recent couple of bad runs my
handicap has worked to my advantage too.
With Jamie equally playing to his handicap just in front of me he overtook Chloe before the top of Nether, as I made my way up behind them. After taking a thumping fall on the contour path last week I was a little more circumspect on the drop-away sections as we ran back down to Duddingston. Although I caught Chloe just as the hill opened out again, Jamie was well away down to the road.
After last months lack of traction I reverted
to the mudclaws for a bit of confidence on
the drop to Duddingston, but even with those
on the going was tricky. As I got back to
the steps I passed Chloe and Richie taking
the safer route down to the turning point
at the road.
General feedback on Mike's route was positive (despite a few 'extra metres' from some runners), but it is notable that the first three places all belong to those of us that know the route well.
All that leaves me to say is happy xmas
to all our handicappers and (ir)regular attendees
and see you all again in the New Year (in
time for another handicap...)
End of Year Stats
December's mighty skitey handicap
Well done to Cameron - the only runner to better his handicap this month
It was a very slippery day out on the Seat
this month. The weekend's frosts had been
covered with snow, which was in the process
of melting. Making it a day for full studs
and proper warm ups. I failed on both accounts,
turning up with a pair of worn trail shoes
two minutes after my start-time meant I was
never in the race. Quite literally as some
of the guys had already gone back to work
by the time I finished.
"I had a good
run today, setting off last* but finishing
first! To be fair there was a relatively
slim field, with some of the regulars missing,
and the tricky conditions maybe favoured
my rather haphazard style. Nevertheless,
it's not likely to happen again any time
soon, so I'll make the most of it.
The conditions were pretty tricky in places - and in fact I'd use the word that is specially reserved for this time of year, 'treacherous', with patches of ice, and patches of mud, and sometimes both. You know the kind of thing where the muddy surface shears off over the permafrost, taking your foot with it. The one silver lining, however, was the scree run, which was in relatively nice condition, with a slightly tacky crust on top.
Good fun and now feeling
totally annihilated, as usual :-)"
The hunt for red, October Handicap
With the voices of Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin ringing in our ears we set off up the crags.
The proud front-runners bearing the red standards, the chasing pack hunting them down in pursuit of the glory and red rewards.
A fine autumnal day greeted the runners this month, with the grassy bank up the steep side of the crags almost providing traction for a change. The (HMS) vanguard of Andy and Neil soon relinquished the leaders trophy. After they had passed through a variety of hands the one with the flag and the polka dot leaders cap at the finish line this month was (r)Eddie. A couple of newbies and some late (or early) starters have slightly skewed the official results however those on the day know that the first of our small group was Ed. Miniband of runners or maxiband next month? Who knows, but I think we'll try and reuse the polka-dot bunnet. The red flag might have to wait until the 1st of May to fly again. Spreadsheet results show some fast times and Neil is still rapidly improving as is Chris, although initial temporal variances (they didn't start on time) allowed Eddie to claim the spoils this week
As meteorologists have decreed that summer finished on Friday it made sense then that today's run was about the warmest of the year to date. The excuses were there as normal, but so were most of the usual suspects.
Neil chose today to come along for the first time - thrust into the handicap probably about 15 minutes faster than he should be, but he battled round nonetheless, giving himself a decent start point for next month. Jamie and Russell maintained their turn up late and go for hell for leather approach - one which is never going see them breasting the finishing tape first.
With both Chris Henty and Chris Hill turning up today it was a bit of relief that Jon Ascroft didn't turn up allowing John Askham to be this weeks John A. And a fine run John had too, leaving Cam Murray and myself in his wake up the Crags. Chris (Henty) made the most of his generous handicap (which to be fair he probably deserved for running halfway round the alps the previous weekend), Chris Hill is making the most of the team Sky 'marginal gains' philosophy and chipping a few more seconds off his time. Meanwhile Eddie had forgotten it was a handicap and struggled round in new shoes and the wrong set of legs and lungs.
Up at the sharp end Andy Strathdee (thankfully for my abbreviations Andy Spenceley didn't turn up) powered round the course to knock a couple of minutes off his pb, chased hard by Richie Bell. Paul F, Stewart and Mike were ripping through field, Paul getting within seconds of the 26 minute time, possibly if he'd not had his i-stopwatch in his pocket he might have been spurred on to try and beat the record.
Results below on a day of some fast times despite the overgrown gorsey shortcuts. Biggest shock of the day is non-appearance of Gordon though - his first miss since 1896 (well maybe not but it's been a long time)
With the Olympics in full swing an elite dozen (well as a baker would have it) took inspiration from the antics down South to take to the Seat.
As I sat this one out I'm really making this report up based on the stats and comments from the participants, but as that's never stopped me in the past;Highlights/Excuses:
Tired runners after weekend racing and speed of lighting
Returns from exile (Jon) and Injury (Chloe)
New start (Alan)
Hidden Rocks in the gutted haddie overgrowth
Inadvertently Stopped Watches
Inexplicable exactitudeWell done to Paul for yet another 26 minute time, welcome to Alan and welcome back to Jon
Stevie Wonder once sang about it being hotter than July. Well, this year that isn't difficult. So far drier than June would be a good start but as it was the great summer of 2012 has led to a very verdant and supremely slippy handicap route. For once I got there in time, and spotted several runners heading off in several routes. Opting for the more gentle but more runnable route looks to have been a reasonable choice as those of us taking the diretissimo approach up the North Face struggled for grip. Except for the returning Mr Fallon who passed me just as the gradient eased off and soon drifted off into the mist of the Crags.
These misty tops led to a few close calls on the summit as runners verged on veering off the wrong way only to realise at the last minute the correct route. I reached the top just as Digby and Drew headed off. Surviving upright on the summit glass was my major achievement of the day - much to the besmusement of the only 2 hardy walkers on the top. Paul was on another flyer and was on my tail as soon as I started descending to Dunsapie, overhaulling Chris and Digby on the way down I then led us off a minor detour to the car park (did I say it was misty).
The race was looking close coming off Dunsapie as Andy and Steven had overhauled Mark and were trying to see where Gordon was (probably in the gorse on the way up Whinny) with Paul storming round the head of the overflowing Dunsapie loch in pursuit. I was doing my best not to repeat my slips on the way off Crow.
Ironically given all the recent rain the scree run was in the best condition I've seen it for a while. Slightly disconcerting though were the walkers trying to pick their way up (although if we can take a wrong turning on a hill we've been on countless times it's not surprising a few visitors might get temporarily mislocated).
Congratulations go to Paul who not only put in the best performance but again recorded the fastest time of the day, nearly 5 minutes faster than the second quickest despite a great run at Corrieyairick at the weekend. Newbies Andy and Drew didn't choose the best of days to make their debut but still aquitted themselves well, and got some decent handicaps for the next time too (as did the rest us).
With a lot of the regulars on holiday it was good to see some new and 'not been out for a while' faces helping to keep up the numbers.
Next month it WILL be summer.
My run (and probably Paul's) will be on Strava - if you were wearing a GPS you can upload your time too - see segment at: http://app.strava.com/segments/1641212
A smaller than usual turnout, various post-race excuses for poor times and no-shows. Those that turned up then set off at random times (myself included, although I blame the US as they made my Garmin and then hid all the satellites).
Paul set off at fair lick - passing me before we'd got up onto the crags proper, he continued to stream past runners all the way to the finish, just failing to catch Cameron at the finish. Cameron, knocking again on the sub-30 minute door set off slightly early but even so was still the statistical winner. Russell though set off late, but still managed to record a time within his handicap, on a day when the going was far from fast (that's my excuse anyway). Gordon and I both managed to maintain our full house of runs for the year, but that's the best that can be said about my run, both of us were outran by Digby despite his 3rd race in 3 days. Good to see Jamie back too, for a quick sprint effort prior to his WHW race in a couple of weeks time.
Well done to Cameron, that'll be his handicap cut for the 2nd of July.
With plenty of folk using the may bank holiday as an excuse to get out of the city the hardier (of the 'fool' variety) amongst us partook of a fine afternoons handicapping. Not being here didn't stop Colin posting another fine time on Friday lunchtime but in the heat of the battle today Digby was a runaway winner (literally as he was first off). His time even knocked a full second off his March 2011 pb so a well deserved victory for him from Gordon. Gordon's 33:07 time getting back towards his better form from earlier in the year, although Digby managed to outwit him this time his handicap is still looking a tad generous, which might make him worth a flutter in the June handicap. RichardB was next man home, despite, or perhaps thanks to the Highland Fling the weekend before he managed to nip inside the one o'clock gun.
Rab and I might also have done if we had started on time, Rab zoomed past me on the way up the crags and then even had the audacity to get to the top of Arthurs before Allister and myself. This despite us both having gone straight up the gutted haddie and Rab going up and over Nether first. I managed to reel in Rab on the descent just before the road crossing and then found myself being chased for the rest of the run for the cheek of it.
All of this helped spur me on to pass Mark coming off the Haggis knowe crags. Sadly the pre-prepared excuses of Allister and me of having had a hard race at Stuc a Chroin were trumped by Rab's 2:07 run in the Ed-North Berwick race, which just makes it look like we were out for a short training run.
Of course if Rab and I had turned up on time it might have meant a closer race with Richard, but at least we had each other to race against, unlike Russell who was chasing his own shadow after starting off about 8 minutes late, so he did pretty well to get so close to his handicap.
Next race may well be on the 4th of June - but if there's too many folk taking advantage of the very long weekend we might reschedule.
April Reversicap results
As a sure sign that it was handicap day the weather duly turned from last week's hotter than July to this week's cold as Christmas. Still it didn't deter the faithful from turning out. Matteo could not make the run today so posted the time for his run in the fine fine conditions of last week. Perhaps we should call him Meteo as the cold drizzly rain made the rocks and short grass as slippery as glass.
Inspired by his Kilian video from last week Paul bounded down the gutted haddie and cut through the field to give him the day's best time. Instead of an inspirational video most of the rest of us looked closer to the ice-pond scene from bambi as we tried to descend the rocks on the summit and the steps.
Newbie Colin Muir took to this run like he was born for it, not only finishing first but getting lost along the way a couple of times. Under my obscure and undocumented rules newbies have their debut runs taken to be their next handicap, which officially means a win for Mark, quite fitting then that he knocked another couple of seconds off his pb on a wet and windy pacindah.
Despite taking the tourist route round the last descents Mike made use of his quite generous handicap to nip inside his allotted time. Next home was Tom, only just falling outside 1 o'clock. Digby was close on his heels, and he was virtually followed by Matteo, then actually by Gordon. Paul actually passed Cam on the final climb (as well as me) but as Cam set off late his second fastest run of the day statistically has him following in 8th, all the same, not bad for someone who had run from Glasgow to Falkirk the previous day. I managed to avoid posterior to surface contact by keeping to the long grass on the last descent and in doing so overhauled Chloe and Tony. JBF and Russell both set off late but oddly both would have finished at the same time if they hadn't.
Well done to Mark, Colin and Paul who can all argue some form of victory.
Back to the normal way round next month for the daring buds of May.
(as usual - the times don't quite match the finishing order but our budget doesn't quite stretch to a bloke with a clipboard yet!)
With a spring in our steps and the sun on the crags it was a perfect day to get out and clamber over the Arthurs seat hills in pursuit of the runner in front.
18 of us thought likewise and headed off up the crags with a spring in our steps and a runner in our sights (or on our tail).
On a day of post-race excuses after the Bishop Hill/Lasswade10 double header it was old hand Tom that provided the hare for the rest of us. With Tom now back down to closer to his racing weight (if anyone has seen a couple of old stones lying around on the seat since Christmas they probably were his) he took almost 5 minutes off his handicap, bringing him back within a minute of his all-time pb. Not far back Ross and Mike were making the most of their handicaps as were Chloe, Cameron and newbie Dan.
As most of the action here took place well infront of me I have to rely on on-spot reporter Cam
"I thought conditions were pretty good today but was alarmed at how easily Dan cruised past me - you should have seen how he leapt off Haggis, two steps and he had cleared the crag and was sprinting over the grass. It appeared that Tom had a very generous handicap coupled with a good run as he was sunbathing when the next bunch of us came in. By the finishing straight Dan had eased past Chloe who wasn't going to let him go that easily and picked up the pace - second home for Dan, 3rd for Chloe. I furiously kept chasing but couldn't find the speed to close the final 4 or 5 seconds to Chloe so I was 4th home followed by Mike L and Gordon".
A new pb for Allister almost saw him join the sub-30 club and with Mark also recording a pb and Martin running his best time for several years (could it be a v60 record?) it was a case of making the most of the conditions.
A wee bit back down the field Chris Anderson was keeping the handicapper happy by running almost exactly to his predicted handicap on his first ever run, Chris Henty and Jamie Thin made welcome returns with Jamie using Lasswade as an excuse to raise his handicap for the next time for an easier paced return. I just failed to catch Eddie or Martin and Digby and Mark were also too far in front.
Congratulations to Chloe, after taking another couple of minutes of her pb we now have a new ladies record holder, and a time that is only going to get faster as her descending improves in leaps and bounds
Congratulations too to Dan whose debut run has put him within touching distance of Paul's overall record and could even be the fastest debut time we've had - all that after running the Lasswade 10 milers.
18 runners out with a few of the regulars missing is a great turnout - next month, being April, may well see a return of the pacindah. Thanks for turning out - see you all next month
On a fine a frosty day it was the experience of Tom that beat the handicapper, just winning out over the fast learning Rab, on his second only attempt at the handicap he set the days fastest time. With Mark recovering from his post Christmas blip to take a minute off his pb and Mike, also playing the long game, putting in a decent run to pop in 2 minutes faster than his handicap and Gordon returning to form also beating his handicap. Chloe, on the other hand thought the temporal handicap wasn't enough and tried wrecking the summit rock and spread a blood trail for the rest of us to follow. She still knocked another 30 seconds off her pb though.
Taking advantage of the offer to start a few minutes early Tony put in a fine run to match the weather, and debutant JBF (come to think of it, it's probably a wee while John was a debutant at many events) clipped 30 seconds off his anticipated time despite enduring (enjoying) the East Ayrshire mud of the masters cross-country on Saturday. Russell though missed his start time by 5 minutes and despite giving me a chase up the Crags dropped back and had to settle for a lonely run round. Good to see some old familiar faces out making the best of the weather and the final count of 17 runners is up there with our best ever turnout, despite a fair number of call-offs.
Who knows, we might even break 20 in March.
New Handicap Year...
... and a bumper turnout of 18 starters all in. With the new years resolutions must come some self assessment's of ability as we mixed up the start order according to how we felt. What may have seemed anarchic led to some quite close bunching as the westerly blew away the remaining cobwebs of Christmas
After a last minute reminder I reset Cam and Mike's time which was just as well as Mr Reid has been storming has way around the borders cross country, but as some horses a suited to the flat, others are more suited to the rough ground and Stewart showed his form by reversing their Paxton differences by taking a minute back from Mike. Another couple of close Borderers were Eddie and Martin, and with this in mind the experienced Mr Hulme used this as an excuse to find a pace maker for the day - leading him to the honour of first across the line for 2012. Eddie, obviously spurred on by Martin, took a minute and a half off his handicap to be the stastical winner on the day. Allister, who arrived late, was also storming round the course in a mini pack with Cameron B and myself being shadowed by Paul. Early starter Pete had to pull out after the summit as his back was playing up. Newbie Rab had a great run join a bunch of us with a time between 30 and 32 minutes, and this is a time that can only improve as he learns the shortcuts.
Chloe finally got a clean run in and broke the 35 minute barrier, and looks to be homing in on Lucy's 33 minute record. But the fastest time of the day went Mr Whitlie as he started the year off with a sub 27 minute time despite a late start and maybe looking to get that record back off Paul.
Great to see so many out.
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