Manor Water Hill Race
Saturday 13th October
A report by Keith Burns

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.

The spell in the cloud was very brief. At the turn on Scrape I noted that Willie Gibson was dangerously close (but behind) with a determined set to his gait. Big strides were in order for the return, and no looking back. The re-ascent from Dead Wife’s Grave was fraught, with my pace getting sluggish; but my three marked men were behind. John D came through at speed (with the torn arse of his shorts flapping in the wind) and I was afraid to look back to check on the other two.

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 over the 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 to do??


Home | Go Back
© Carnethy.com 2014