Devil's Burdens, 31st January 2004

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 happened? Stories here....

Leg 1 (pairs)

Although 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)

Sat 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 in 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 of exciting 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 so desperate 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 wondering 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.


The drive to the end of leg one was exciting! Luckily I got there quickly and before the 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 treacherous slopes 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 appeared and 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)

Jill Tait 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!

Leg 3

Wet, 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.
Jill Tait (Ladies A)

Leg 3

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.

Leg 4(single)

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 the hill 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. Then Elsie and Christine from Westies appeared- both excellent navigators. I pitied Maggie and Jill, especially as I had called off leg 3 on Friday. We huddled in Willie's landrover and Gordon primed himself for his leg 4 with week old orange juice with added mould floaties. He thought the substantial biological culture was ice. Maggie and Jill appeared triumphantly a while later, having taken a lengthy diversion, and I plodded off in the slush with Ben, quite relieved that the pressure was off. It was quite horrid till in the forest then the snow laden boughs lightened my mind and I enjoyed a hard 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 felt funny sprinting along the Estate road with no one in sight. Thanks for the great support at the end. Sorry about the lack of humour.

Kate Jenkins (+Ben) Ladies A

Head down and get into a rhythm

Snow fell gently down in the woods above Falkland

Once out of the woods you could follow the footprints in the freshly fallen snow

The snow muffles all sounds except your own heavy breathing!

Margaret and Phillipa get the view from the back!

A short breather at the stile

Moira pushing up the final bit of road to the changeover

Evidence of what awaits weather-wise once they're out of the woods

Anne and Moira split the Westies pairing in the run up to the changeover

Brian and Willie at the end of leg one, running for the vet team

Andy and Jamie finish leg one for the B team

Hilary finishing leg 2

There were some youngsters running too (adult-in-tow)

The winning team (Lothian) with just 500 metres to go.

Kate Friend and Joanne Thin set off on leg 3

Ben spotted Adrian and set off to tie him up!

Who says it's not fun!
There's gallons of soup waiting at the finish.

Joanne finishes for the Ladies B team

Graeme Carracher sporting shorts on leg 4

It was a day for the club pertex top!

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