Manor Water Hill Race
On the morning of the race there was a discussion on Radio 4 about the precarious economics of sheep farming (a net deficit of about £70 per sheep per annum at present). So it was heart-warming to arrive at the friendly race venue with sheepdog trials, hill race, drinks and food marquee and all the other trappings of a traditional celebration of life in the Border hills, including the usual raffle prize of a whole sheep.
Seventy-seven runners (plus three juniors) set off in warm air for October, heading for cloud-capped Scrape, 4.75 miles away. My retirement from regular training left my form uncertain, but the substitute cycling regime seemed to be keeping me fit and providing freedom from knee trouble. Cycling seems to be great for climbing fitness but not very good for descending – at least for me. Frequent position trading with Dougie Milligan and John Donnelly (still suffering from the Pentlands and a long day on the bike afterwards) suggested I was going well. At the top of the Breach Law forest, Brian Marshall appeared out of the cloud with Colin Donnelly in hot pursuit a few strides behind. That would be an interesting battle on the way down. Veronique Oldham appeared out of the cloud, looking set for a fast time.
Re-joining the John Buchan Way for the
last mile, I tried to open the throttle but it was disconnected from the
engine. I stumbled
line in 89 minutes – counts as a success. I didn’t know where
all the other V60’s were until later – they were behind!
A bottle of wine and two bottles of beer!
The urgent whistles from the sheep dog
trials echoed around the field as we collected our prizes. If the £70 per sheep per annum loss
isn’t sorted, what are hill farmers and hill runners going
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