Single file through the woods up East Lomond
We had 5 teams
running in this year's Devil's Burdens. It is the best hillrunning
relay in the Scottish calendar and, being in January, the
weather can make or break it. The conditions also depend on which leg you are running! Our
men's and ladies' A teams were in the lead going into leg 3.........What
Leg 1 (pairs)
the weather looked horrendous the running was good if perhaps a little
slippy on the steep slopes. It was more difficult for the cars than
the runners to get to the changeover. The wind was behind us (unlike
in leg 3) and we could really enjoy the snow. The added bonus of running
this leg is that you can change into warm dry clothes and cheer the
rest of your team on safe in the knowledge that you've done your bit!
Anne Nimmo (Ladies A)
Leg 2 (single)
in car sheltering from icy horizontal sleet, waiting for Margaret and
Phillipa to arrive - no warming up today!
The map made all the difference - thanks Willie. I was sure where I was all the
time, unlike my last go at leg 2 when I got hopelessly lost in a whiteout
(yes, we have had weather like this before!). The footprints helped too!
Thankfully the wind was behind otherwise I'd have been in "shot-blistered
agony". Steady climb, passed three people, and in deep snow the descent
to Scotlandwell was bearable!
Hilary Spenceley (Ladies B)
Leg 3 (pairs)
At the start local lassies and others said "There's a nice run
from Whitecrags and the next top, along a track" and "Don't
worry about navigation - just
follow all the footprints!"
Conditions from the top were wild, whiteout, into the wind and wet
snow, blasting the face. Forced to follow our bearings, we were swimming
often waist-deep snow, especially on the way down from Bishop Hill.
The ascent up West Lomond verged on needing an ice-axe in a couple
gullies. After that we thought we had navigated wrong, it was so wet
and misty and we seemed to be on a flat area with nowhere to go.
We joined two other lassies and eventually found our way steeply to
the top - after meeting some folk descending? By this stage we were
to get back that we opted for the steep descent - I took off like a
rocket in my waterproof trews. It was scary as I flew down the gully
what I would break. I was fine nonetheless, and Kate and I were much
relieved to meet Jamie at the road. An EPIC.
Joanne Thin (+Kate Friend) (Ladies B)
Willie Gibson (our own 'Tough of the Track' or rather - hills) ran
leg 2 for the B team and then continued on the long leg 3 when Carnethy
found itself a runner short.
to the end of leg one was exciting! Luckily I got there quickly and
queue up the slippy road formed. There were lots of runners pushing
lots of cars into their
parking spaces. Andy and Jamie arrived in about 5th or 6th position
and I headed off up
the track. I was feeling pretty crap as it was a bit roady, and all
these fast people were
running past, but as we got into the woods the road turned to track
and it was better.
The open hillside was a welcome sight as I dibbed and slid down the
down to the changeover and a welcome rest......................
................only to find Mick James alone saying "No Ricky!
Do you want to run again?".
So off I set with Mick dragging, pushing, pulling and willing me
on up the slope. We
dibbed and headed through the snow for Bishop Hill, accompanied
by Robin and Brian
(vets team). We seemed to find this no bother. After that we got
in tow with a couple of
lads who seemed to know the way and sure enough the Devil's Burdens
we got up West Lomond. Coming off though we somehow went totally
wrong and took
15 minutes at least to sort ourselves out (another Willie and Mick
epic!), and ran down to
hand over to Graeme.
Willie Gibson (Men's B)
and Maggie Creber set off on leg 3 (for the Ladies A team) in the
lead, but Westies ladies stuck to the 'direct route' from Bishop
Hill and ended up well in front!
white and wild is how I'd describe leg 3. We dropped down off Bishop
Hill instead of carrying on along the ridge and we only realised things
didn't look quite right when we reached the bottom! Rather than re-trace
our tracks through thigh deep snow, we contoured round and found a runnable
track. We headed back on course over the Burdens and on to West Lomond.
A good bearing took us directly off the summit. There was nothing for
it but to sledge down on our bums. Great fun and some of the most challenging
conditions I have experienced on the hills to date.
Apparently, we had a 4-minute lead at the start of leg 3, thanks to an excellent
run on leg 2 by Mark. Apparently, we had extended this to a 5-minute lead by
the summit of West Lomond – thanks to Adam A. pulling me along at a very “steady” pace,
with me shouting directions from about 10 yards behind. Apparently, we even got
the descent off Bishop Hill spot on! (for the first time in three attempts in
my case). Approaching the summit of West Lomond – with
the next nearest team a considerable way behind us – Adam apparently tempted
fate with the following words: “Garry, it’s in the bag”. Apparently,
this was a case of foolish optimism as, apparently we were later spotted by some
of the chasing teams contouring anti-clockwise around the southern slopes of
West Lomond??! Apparently, this diversion cost us about 15 minutes, and therefore
first place. Apparently, it’s going to take some
time for me to live this down!
Garry MacInnes (and Adam Anderson) Men’s A.
Usually the fast guys
on leg 3 appear about 11:50, but as I couldn't even
look up the hill due to the pelting snow and strong wind, or see up
due to field level mist, I wasn't expecting to be off in a hurry. Leaders,
Lothain appeared about 12:20 with following teams well spread out.
Elsie and Christine from Westies appeared- both excellent navigators.
pitied Maggie and Jill, especially as I had called off leg 3 on Friday.
huddled in Willie's landrover and Gordon primed himself for his leg
week old orange juice with added mould floaties. He thought the substantial
biological culture was ice. Maggie and Jill appeared triumphantly a
later, having taken a lengthy diversion, and I plodded off in the slush
Ben, quite relieved that the pressure was off. It was quite horrid
the forest then the snow laden boughs lightened my mind and I enjoyed
push from there on. Ben slowed me down with two loo stops (25secs x
2) so I
blame him for the 4 mins (can't add) down on my last leg 4 time. It
funny sprinting along the Estate road with no one in sight. Thanks
great support at the end. Sorry about the lack of humour.
Kate Jenkins (+Ben) Ladies A
Head down and get into a rhythm