Ultra is anything over marathon length, that’s 26 and a bit miles or 42 km, though some shorter upland runs make the ultra grade.
“if you ask 10 people what all should be included you’ll get 15 opinions” (Murdo)
Some archive pages –
|Races and Challenges||Mike O’Connors Ultralist||Carnethy Achievements|
“All of a sudden I was enveloped in yellow flashing LEDs – these turned out to be a patch of buttercups.” (Olly Stephenson on the WHW)
“I’ve done about eighty miles and now I’m feeling it. My head is swimming and the pain in my knee has returned with a vengeance. I begin to hallucinate.” (David Waterman)
“I’ve seen Boeing 747s pull up beside me, and green lizards on the road that don’t exist, a gal clad in a bikini rollerblading in front of me that didn’t exist.” (Andy Bowers, on the 135-Mile Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley, USA)
What an awesome weekend of running and adventure. The Equinox Run was fantastic apparently but hats-off to Shane Ohly and his team for 4 amazing races, ranging in scale and commitment with ~1500 competitors racing 1000m – 4750m up-the-way and up to 120km along-the-way.
Carnethys featured in some or all of them. These included
- Mamores verticle km – ‘Allermuir Uphill on steroids – nip-up Na Gruagaichean’ (me)
- Ring of Steall – ‘on a par with Jura’ (Michelle Hetherington)
- The Ben Nevis Ultra – ‘the toughest race I have ever done. 120km + of torture’ (John Hammond)
- Glencoe Skyline – ‘the ‘hardest Skyrunning in Europe’ (someone who did them all)
Kinlochleven race village was buzzing for my race registration with full kit check and lots of chatter about the amazing field that had come to Scotland. Lots of very muddy folk were staggering in from the Ring of Steall race and I bumped in to Rachael Newstead who came in 14th female. Michelle Hetherington came first V50 female. Jasmin Paris was busy giving out prizes to the race winners. As I left to get some sleep, Donnie Campbell strutted down the finish line high-fiving everyone after completing the 120km from Fort Augustus via Carn Mor Dearg and the Ben in under 13hrs. John Hammond finished in a fantastic time of 16:40 which makes me feel these guys deserve some major respect. Mud and guts the order of the day for everyone so far.
Sunday’s Glencoe Skyline takes an awesome route across all the hills of Glencoe. 55km and 4700m+ of ascent, I did it the first year and was crooked last year and generally still recovering from niggles and pains. I had waited all year since registering hoping I’d be fit for it. Graham Nash is correct: ‘the Alternative C5 is the best training week you can do’ (minor plug for next year) – and since this constituted a key part of my final ‘preparations’ it confirmed I could run…slowly, and not too well downhill. That was good enough for me to start since the rest is all in the head.
Photos at the start with Carnethy A, B+ and C team runners (Konrad Rawlik, Andrew Wilson and I) had me in the start pen at the back and nearly rubbing shoulder with his greatness Kilian Jornet and other whippets from World Skyrunning including his girlfriend Emilie Forsberg. My plan: start slow, every descent navigated uninjured is a bonus (serious issue), go steady (never hard for me), eat well (food is fuel), strong finish.
I did all this and with poles to take some strain tottered along at the back of the field. Quite soon there was on 5-6 folk visible behind me and plenty in front. It was great to see Carnethys out on the hills rooting for me and everyone else – just a shame they got so cold waiting for me to arrive (they came for me right, not Kilian and Emilie!). I did a bit of singing to amuse myself and maybe others around me in earshot. I overtook a few folk who were suffering especially on the ascents, feeling great on the climbs and cautious on the descents, and the hills rolled by and the views came and went in the mist.
In summary, I timed out at 9hrs after 35km and 3200m ascent, to a fantastic reception of a cow bell from Rachael Newstead and most of the event marshals, but had to retire before my favourite 900m climb up onto the Aonach Eagach fuelled on new potatoes in salt and butter. I had reckoned on 13.5hrs this year and was on target for this, but omitted to realise I had missed the cut-off time at the road crossing by Loch Achtriochtan. Bad planning, but then I could not go any faster. I must try harder, but I was happy, since I was still running despite an imposed DNF.
I got the bus back to race HQ and saw Konrad finish looking a tad weary and not too happy with his time. I thought he did brilliantly to come in 3 hrs after Kilian Jornet. I hadn’t got up Stob Coire nan Lochain when Kilian finished, who was running over twice my pace.
Results for the Skyline are here to boggle your brain, limbs and lungs.
|1st Male||Kilian Jornet:||06:25||(bloomin’ ridiculous)|
|1st female||Emilie Forsberg||07:53||(also bloomin’ ridiculous, Jasmin….next year….!!)|
|1st Carnethy||Konrad Rawlik||09:28||(bloomin’ good in my book)|
|2nd Carnethy||Andrew Wilson||11:12||(brilliant effort, well done)|
|3rd Carnethy||Mark Hartree||CP11||09:02 (must try harder)|
Scan the web for other race results and other stories of the event and have a go next year. There is something for everyone. Sorry for other Carnethys who raced but I missed out.
The TDS ( Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie) – is part of the UTMB series of races and is 119km long, with 7,200m of ascent. The route runs along the Grande Randonnée trails that cross Mont-Blanc, Beaufort, Tarentaise and the Aosta valleys which were once part of the Savoie State, before they were annexed into France and Italy.
I had traveled out a couple of days before the race to take in the pre-race atmosphere and relax before the race, although relaxing in Chamonix during UTMB week is difficult. This year seemed even busier than previous years, with the town centre full of elite athletes strutting about in Salomon compression race gear.
The race starts at 6.00am, and the organisers lay on a fleet of 30+ coaches to get runners from Chamonix through the Mont Blanc Tunnel for the start in Courmayeur. The forecast was as good as it gets at this time of year, dry, light winds although temperatures were forecast to peak around 28C in the valleys.
The first 50Km of the race route to Bourg Saint-Maurice was on good tracks and paths, and made for fast running. With 1,800 runners the trail was initially congested, with a few shoves and whacks from poles (the running sticks, not people from Poland). After the second climb, to the highest point on the route at Col Chavannes (alt. 2,603m), the field thinned out, and for much of the rest of the race I was running on my own. We headed into remote quiet valleys populated only by herds of cattle grazing on the high alpine meadows, a contrast to the UTMB where you are sharing the trails with hundreds of TMB trekkers.
The eight aid stations en route were manned by enthusiastic volunteers and stocked with an incredible array of food from energy bars, coke and water through to cold meats, cheeses, biscuits and pastries. I stopped only briefly at each point, enough time to refill my bottles and grab some food.
Reaching Bourg Saint-Maurice (50km), at 1.00pm, the day was now hot, and the biggest climb of the race lay ahead of nearly 2,000m. The first 5km to Fort de la Platte (alt.1,992m) was truly brutal and took 2 over hours of slow plodding. At bends in the track or under small trees, runners were sitting or lying down, with many having drunk their water supplies from Bourg. I had taken 2 litres of fluid for the climb and was trying to ration it. No amount of supping was quenching my thirst. At the Fort I found some shade to sit in, and try to cool down before beginning the final section of the climb to Passeur de Pralognan (alt. 2,567m). From this point the route became more technical. The descent is described as the one of most exposed and steepest in any commercial trail running race. The organisers had fixed ropes in place, with extra guides and medical staff on standby. Once in the valley we descended to Cormet de Roseland (66km), a large aid station where we were re-united with our one drop bag.
At the start of the Passage du Curé there were more guides to warn of the steep drop. This amazing path is hewn out of vertical rock above a gorge, where 3 miners lost their lives. Legend has it that their ghosts haunt the trail at night, and as it was now dusk, I quickly made my way through.
The next aid station was at Col de Joly (85km), where hopefully Nicola would be waiting, having made a 13 hour journey from home, involving taxi/plane/mini-bus/train/bus and finally a hair raising landrover lift to the col. Darkness had now descended, and a few drops of rain warning of a change in the weather. Nicola arrived at the col just 15 minutes before my arrival, and I felt slightly guilty for staying for only 3 minutes before beginning the fast 10km descent to Les Contamines (95km), 900m below, leaving her to find her landrover lift back down.
Nicola was waiting at the town centre aid station, and I stayed a couple of minutes longer this time, before she made her way back to the finish at Chamonix, courtesy of the organisers’ buses. There remained just one final big climb to Col de Tricot (2,120m), which seemed to be vertically above our heads. Once at the col I was eager to get to the finish as the rain showers were becoming more frequent. At Les Houches (111km) aid station I didn’t stop, and made quick progress along the river path to Chamonix, arriving at just before 3.30am for a finish time of 21 hours 27 minutes and 144th place.
After an emotional reunion with Nicola, I collected my finisher’s gilet and headed for a few hours sleep. We spent the next few days seeing the finishers of the TDS, OCC and CCC races, and then the start of the UTMB itself. The race week is a masterclass in organisation, logistics, commercialism, and brand development, and I recommend going out for any of the races, either as a runner, or supporter.
From the results I could only see two other Carnethies: Fergus Johnston finished the TDS in 23 hours 4 minutes, and Fredelina Yong finished the CCC in 25 hours 26 minutes.
In the PTL (290Km, 26,500 ascent) there was only one British team (out of 116 teams starting) this year, but unfortunately they were not to be one of the 61 teams that finished.
All 5 UTMB Races Results here: https://utmb.livetrail.net/
Taking advantage of a 23 hour weather window in North Wales, Graham Nash and I got down this weekend to do a Paddy Buckley, with the support of Liz Barker and Jim Mann. Following a photo with a man wearing a muzzle and a rope (towel was a late addition), we left Capel Curig at midday on Saturday on a clockwise round, 15 minutes after the rain stopped.
We made reasonable progress across the summits, hillocks, tussocks and fences that count as tops, dodging the worst of the bogs and by dusk we were comfortably up on schedule. Liz and Jim took turns at enduring our chat to Craig Wen. Darkness slowed us considerably as we crossed Yr Aran towards a deserted Snowdon a little before midnight, the trains having stopped for the night. The not-quite-full moon broke through the cloud for much of the night. Dawn and sunrise on the Glyders buoyed us towards the last leg across the Carneddi, where Liz joined us again. Speculation was rife. Would man-in-muzzle-and-rope still be at our start-finish point? Would Jim have taken his place? Did Jim have rope? If we started at ‘man-in-muzzle-and-rope-tied-to-post’ but finished at ‘just the post’ could we call the round complete? We completed at ‘just the post’ in 22h 28m, 15 minutes before it started to rain again.
We were both humbled by the knowledge of the round shown by Liz and Jim, as well as their willingness and enthusiasm to share in this adventure.
This completes the ‘big 3’ for Graham who also now joins a short list of runners to complete all 3 rounds in a season.
Apologies for somehow missing this report sent in April from Conor Cromie…
Dublin2Belfast Ultra – 21st/22nd April 2017
On the 21st April I lined up with 25 other hardly souls at the somewhat leisurely hour of 11AM for The inaugural Dublin2Belfast Ultra. 107 miles of tarmac stretching from the Guinness factory at St James Gate in Dublin to the Crown Bar in Belfast.
Not my usual type of course but their was a pub and the start and finish lines and the route went through my home town of Lisburn. And well, if your only going to do one road race in your life it might as well be a quadruple marathon 🙂
The main pack bolted like we were off on a 10k run leaving myself and a half dozen others trotting along at the rear enjoying the scenery and a good chat. Think I was second last through the first checkpoint at 15 miles.
The route winds its way through the Dublin suburbs, past the airport and out onto the R132 which goes the whole way to the border at Dundalk. Not the most scenic of roads and horrendously busy. A few sections with no hard shoulder to run on were pretty exciting with all the trucks using the road to avoid the motorway tolls.
Running through Dundalk late on a Friday night provided some good entertainment, the locals all agasht that we were out running at that time of night.
Crossing the border we picked up the Newry canal path and followed the backroads through Pontzpass and onto Banbridge. Long hours of darkness, never ending rolling countryside and HGV’s screaming along the backroads normally on the wrong side of the road.
Daylight broke as I approached Banbridge with the winner already in Belfast in just under 20hrs, though I have to say that arriving several hours before the pub opened seems like bad planning to me! Now onto the A1 that runs all the way to Belfast and a road I know like the back of my hand, not sure if this was a curse or a blessing, but at least there was a hard shoulder the whole way to keep me out of the way of the traffic.
My family came out to meet me just before Hillsborough which was great after quite a few hours by myself. By this point my easy early pace was paying off nicely as I was picking off other runners every few hours. My ankle was hurting like hell though so was reduced to a death march by this point. Local knowledge was also on my side with quite a few people not taking the most efficient route through Lisburn. With only 10 miles to go my sister joined me for the march into Belfast, quite pleased that she was having to work hard to keep up!
Finally the Crown Bar came into view as we went through Shaftsbury Sq and the race was done, 27hrs 22mins and 10th place.
A well earned pint of the black stuff was had perched atop a wobbly stool in the middle of a crowded bar, immensly proud that I managed not to topple off backwards onto the floor!
…now that’s done and dusted where have the hills got to!
The Tranter Round has always held an appeal – being such an elegant circuit of some great mountains and challenging terrain. Despite thinking we’d used up all the wet weather in recent weekends in the hills, the weather gods were still mixed, and we found our best window to be a 12 hour slot on Friday between weather systems of heavy rain and wind. Ever optimistic and supremely confident in the forecasts, we set off at 5:57am in an anticlockwise direction.
Throughout the first 5hrs and the last couple of hours, the tops were in mist above 800m, and waterproofs were on and off several times. We were lucky to get a 4 hour spell of clear weather from Binnien Beag over the Grey Corries where we enjoyed some great views and glimpses of sun. Helen’s parents met us at the col between Stob Ban and Stob Choire Claurigh on the Grey Corries where we refuelled and stocked up on spare food.
The clag returned for the last four tops and the promised rain started on schedule at 5pm, just as we approached the final climb of Ben Nevis. We didn’t see anyone else all day until the descent (even the summit was clear to our great surprise). Helen ran the day by feel and didn’t want to know split times or have the pressure of a schedule to keep to. Andy on the other hand quite enjoyed tracking time, and had a range of schedules to hand! We finished at 6:22pm to complete the round in 12hr25.
Andy & Helen
(Ed.) This time beats Jamsin Paris’s previous record of 12hr41. Tranter round details here
A few Carnethies completed races at the St Cuthbert’s Way Ultra on Saturday. I raced the 100km and Scott Henderson and Derek Paton ran the 45 miler. I managed to knock almost 20 minutes off my previous time and course record to finish in 10:49:53, Scott finished third in the 45 miler and Derek was 2nd MV40 and 6th overall.
It was a hot day and the sun took it’s toll on a few runners in both races. I ran with Nicholas Wolverson from Edinburgh AC for the first 65km who really helped push the pace and keep on track for record time. Got some great views on the course, especially coming over the Eildons and looking down the finish in Melrose. After the race I “slept” in the village hall while more 100km finishers came in and there were still people finishing when I drove home at 4am!
Gran Trail Courmayeur comprises of 3 races; 30km, 75km and 105km starting and finishing in Courmayeur, Italy at the southern end of the Mont Blanc Tunnel. The 105km route is actually the 30km and 75km routes joined together in a figure of eight with Courmayeur at the centre. The 30km route heads north east into Vallon du Sappin, while the 75km route heads into the south west part of the Aosta Valley.
I had originally seen this race as it was “conveniently” in the middle of our family summer holiday to the Alps, and I thought it would be a good run in my build up to the TDS (one of the UTMB series of races) later in the year. Also I was hoping for the award of “most abuse of family holiday time” at the 2017 Carnethy AGM.
After a week acclimatising (eating burgers and drinking beer) in the Chamonix valley we travelled under Mont Blanc to registration at the Courmayeur Centre of Sport.
The 3 races are limited to 500 runners, and are therefore on a much smaller scale than UTMB. This makes for a less commercial and more friendly atmosphere.
The race started at 7am in cool conditions, while the weather forecast was for a hot day with temperatures of 35C in the valleys.
The first part of the route was through quiet forest trails, before climbing to Refuge Deffeyes, 23km, 2,400m high. This was the 2nd of 12 refreshment points on route, well stocked with drinks, food and friendly volunteers. The views were spectacular, and the technical trails made for great running.
At La Thuile (32km), Nicola, Andrew and Rachael met me and ran along part of the trail before getting the bus back to Courmayeur.
The day was now hot and I was starting to struggle in the heat. The race route took us into rarely visited parts of the Alps and to the highest point of the race on Mont Fortin at 2,758m. Everyone seemed to be battling with the combined effects of the heat and altitude, and my heart was beating at its maximum, although my actual progress was slow.
Descending to lower altitudes towards Courmayeur I felt better, and met up with Nicola, Andrew and Rachael again at the Sports Centre where the 75km runners finished. I headed off into the darkness to now do the 30km section and didn’t see another runner until the final descent into Courmayeur, when I passed the leading lady (Anna Marie Watson from the UK).
Arriving into a deserted Courmayeur, just before 3am, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself finishing in 9th place (19hrs 51min).
This is a fantastic series of races with a choice of distance to suit all abilities who want to experience trail running in the Alps. And easy to get an entry, with no points requirements or ballot, plus the added bonus of good value with an entry fee of 1Euro per Km.
Results here: https://www.100x100trail.com/classifiche/GTC2017-105.php#
Race info here: http://www.gtcourmayeur.com/en/content/trail-ultra-105km-7000m-d
On Saturday 17th June, Jamie Thin and I completed a 112km circuit of the hills to the south of Edinburgh in a time of 20hrs and 14mins. The route has 5,573m of ascent and descent and starts and finishes at The Steading pub.
After both having done the 3 big UK 24 hour Rounds (RR, BG and PB) we figured it was time to do something a bit closer to home so we set out to create an ultra that takes people over the hills we train and race on all the time, along with pushing people to explore some of the more esoteric spots the Pentlands has to offer. There’s such a lot to explore south of Edinburgh so we focused on trying to join some of our favorite races together to create a round that would be challenging but accessible, also as we both turned 50 this year we decided we’d like the route to cover 50 hills.
Leg one of the route follows the outward Pentland skyline but carries on south west from the Kips to West Linton. The second leg takes in the hills to the east of Romano Bridge with Stephenson Hill being thrown in to tempt Olly to have a go at some point. Leg three takes us back west towards the southernmost point, and mid-point of the round, at Trahenha (if you thought you were tired climbing this at the end of the Two Breweries then spare us a thought last weekend in the heat). Leg four is a short one taking in The Mount (the hardest hill to work out how to ascend) and the masts at Broomy Law. Leg five is also short but climbs the magnificent Black Mount and less impressive White Hill. Leg six is a long one, starting at Dunsyre and charting the trackless heathery wastes of the southern Pentlands to Cock Rig where a final (wobbly) bog trot brings you back to the Drove Road. At that point with only the second half of the Skyline to go what on earth could go wrong.
Well, what went wrong was that we missed closing time at the Steading by about 10 minutes, which, in all honesty, was probably a good thing. Thanks to our fantastic support crew, Steve, Mike S, Mike L, Neil, Jonny, Phil and Mark we could not have done it without you guys.
For anyone keen to follow get your maps out as here’s a list of hills you’ll have to visit to take the record away from two 50 year olds . For the eagle eyed you’ll see there are 51 hills but as we did Allermuir twice we figured we should only count it once.
START – The Steading
Leg 1: Caerketton Hill, Allermuir Hill, Castlelaw Hill, Turnhouse Hill, Carnethy Hill, Scald Law, South Black Hill, East Kip, West Kip, Green Law, Spittal Hill, Paties Hill, The Mount, Grain Heads, Mount Maw, Faw Maw
Leg 2: Wether Law, Green Knowe, Wide Hope Shank, Stevenson Hill, Hamildean Hill
Leg 3: Tourbank Hill, Riding Hill, Ladyurd Hill, Penvalla, Hog Knowe, Trahenna Hill, Hammer Head, Clover Law, Green Law, Broughton Heights, Wether Law
Leg 4: The Mount, Broomy Law
Leg 5: Black Mount, White Hill
Leg 6: Dunsyre Hill, Mid Hill, Bleak Law, Darlees Rig, White Craig, Craigengar, West Cairn Hill, East Cairn Hill, Cock Rig, Hare Hill, Black Hill, Bells Hill, Harbour Hill, Capelaw Hill, Allermuir Hill
The Steading – END
Happy running – a very tired and hungry Mick James
Graham was one of a carefully selected support team that was chosen to assist Liz Barker from Oxfordshire during her R R attempt. Following a 3 week wait for a favourable weather window Liz finally set off from Glen Nevis Youth Hostel at 11pm on Monday 19th June, travelling anticlockwise. Graham was delegated to assist with pace and navigation over the Mamore’s (10 munros) (Leg one).
Following the completion of leg one, Graham decided to further assist with leg 2, the valley section, and continuing with another 3 munros and onto Fersit at the north side of Loch Treig. Feeling good and with 10 more munros still to negotiate Graham decided to carry on to the finish.
Liz completed the round in 22 34 Followed by Graham a few sec behind with a new PB making him the 1st person to achieve a hat trick of Ramsay’s Round completions within 24 hours.
Well done Graham.
I succeeded in running the 101st Ramsay’s Round on May 26-27, ably assisted by a clutch of Carnethies. Starting at 5pm to catch the best of the weather – 28C at Glen Nevis youth hostel with a lightning storm forecast for the following afternoon – and proceeding anticlockwise, I ran the Mamores unsupported, with Mark Hartree (and Sparky) providing outstanding static support at Luibelt shortly after midnight.
John Busby then ran with me into dawn to Fersit, where we were met by a team of Highland Hillrunners and several million midges. Mark Hartree was again on hand in the Grey Corries to offer support and a mobile massaging service when I was feeling particularly weak and feeble. Andy Fallas and Helen Bonsor were waiting on Stob Choire Claurigh thereafter. I met Chris Busby at Coire Bhealaich for the ‘last big climb’ (up Spinks Ridge) which is definitely not the ‘last big climb’.
The rain started on Ben Nevis but it did not matter by then. I was down in 22 hours and eight minutes. I appear to be crying in a photo at the end when I was actually recovering from a Cava-related injury caused by an exuberant Graham Nash.
Thank you so much to all the Carnethy runners who helped me fulfil a very long-held ambition. What a privilege it is to be among those 101 rounds.
A more literary report to follow. http://heightsofmadness.com
The Borders are secret Scotland and the area around Selkirk hosts some cracking races like Feel the Burns and the Bowhill Duathlon Series among others. These two are in winter and whilst can be tough in wet conditions, show that the hills in the area eminently runnable. So, to make use of a mountain bike race series, Durty Events decided to use one of the marked bike routes to add a new couple of races – an Ultra Marathon and a Half Ultra. Advertised as 44km, the Ultra looked like it was going to be a trail marathon and turned out to be such.
After a month of drought, rain was forecast and the clag was down. Waterproofs were donned but soon removed only to be needed again for 30mins in the race (for those who bothered). The half Ultra did a lollipop route from the start to do a circuit around the Bowhill Estate and down Duchess Drive to loop back around and over Pernassie Hill to return to Selkirk. The Ultra route headed past Broadmeadows passing a ruined castle and following a fabulous river trail, up to the Three Brethren, a tour of Yair Hill Forest and back up the Southern Upland way to return to Selkirk Rugby Club. The views were limited in the low cloud and trees but the odd glimpse into the valleys was possible now and then.
This is a really great selection of trails with only around 2km on tarmac and the rest using forest tracks, steep winding mountain bike descents, a section on green trods through heather and lovely single track paths, all in a stunning area. Well worth the visit. The organization was great, with plenty of route markings and marshals where needed. The four aid stations were well stocked with water, fruit, great cakes, biscuits and pretzels, and friendly helpers. Results are here: http://www.durtytiming.com/race-results.html.
There were a few Carnethys in both races. Carnethy results… Since the prize giving for the Half Ultra had happened by the time I came in, I see from the results:
5th Hilary Spencely (1st FSV)
24th Moira Stewart ?? (2nd FSV)
29th John Stewart
In the Ultra, the winning three comprised: Hugh McInnes, Nick Williamson and Tim Darlow.
Results for mere mortals include the Carnethy folk:
15th Allister Short
21st Mark Hartree (3rd MSV)
23rd Pamela Whitlie
24th Maggie Creber (1st FSV)
Neil’s wife Seona Burnett running for Harmeny had a great run coming 16th (3rd FV). If I missed anyone, sorry.
Having recovered enough from running the Virgin London Marathon a few weeks ago, I was delighted with my result which is only the second time ever to get a race prize. Time was lost running cautiously downhill, but overall, I found this race way-way easier than the VLM with the variety of terrain giving a chance to rest different pains.
The Ultra distance turned out to be a bit short (41.6km on Strava for many people) but had 1380m of ascent to add to the challenge. A highly recommended race whatever the measure.
Twelve Carnethys braved the 53 miles of the Highland Fling last Saturday. It was an early start and a very long day. The organisation was superb and drop bags for four checkpoints were collected at the start and magicked to the right places. I’d never used dropbags before and packed a picnic into each one, most of which I left behind at each checkpoint and mainly ate sachets of baby food. Yum.
The race started fast and we rolled out of Milngavie amid cheers. I settled into a comfortable pace but let go on the downhills and hoped I wouldn’t suffer for it later. The descent of Conic Hill was particularly fun and I passed lots of people on the descent into Balmaha. We took the high path to Rowardennan but then the trail ran alongside Loch Lomond and was more technical with lots of scrambling over rocks. It was hard to get into a rhythm but great fun. I hit a low point just before Beinglas but luckily was convinced to eat something before I left the checkpoint, which probably saved my race.
I’m not really sure what happened between there and the finish, I think I spent most of the time arguing with myself about whether I should run or walk. I came into Tyndrum convinced there were still two miles to go so I took an energy gel. I’m sure this helped me finish strongly down the red carpet to the line, although from the photos it was more of a shuffle than a sprint. I’d been the third place lady since 25 miles and despite being convinced I would be caught in the final uphill miles, managed to stay ahead till the end. Third place was much better than I had been hoping for (which was just to finish my first 50 miler) so I’m very happy about it!
Donnie Campbell’s record from 2016 was lowered by 10 minutes by Rob Sinclair who finished in the unfathomable time of 6:41:13.
The finish was spectacular, there was prosecco in the goody bag and the soup, courtesy of the Real Food Cafe, was excellent. Apparently the ceilidh was fun too but I had passed out by then. It’s worth putting your name in the ballot for!
Full Carnethy results:
Rachel Newstead 8:55:29, John Hammond 8:55:44, Alex Coakley 9:29:13, Douglas Macqueen 10:01:32, Myvanwy Fenton-May 10:05:05, Alexis Dole 10:14:51, Aisling Allum 11:16:57, Lee Murphy 11:39:33, Jamie Megaw 12:42:46, Lauren Mckay 12:58:39, Hayley Mckinnon 13:35:32, Ina Donat 13:54:44
Leaving the Moot Hall, Keswick, at 11pm on Friday 21st April, John Ryan and Graham Nash returned 21 hours 39 mins later having completed the 66 miles, 27,000 ft circuit of 42 of the highest peaks in the Lake District. They were met at Dunmail and Wasdale by Nicola, Andrew and Rachael providing support, food, tea and encouragement.
During the night sections, over Skiddaw, Blencathra and the Helvellyn ridge, the ground was partially frozen, with thin ice on some rocks (some would say winter conditions…). The day was sunny, but the cool north westerly wind made for excellent running conditions.
Greeted by a clapping, cheering crowd of 3 strangers on the run into the Moot Hall, they touched the steps, and celebrated with beer and fish & chips.
So, the (hastily thrown together) Carnethy Winter Social Ultra Series finished with the Alternative JMW on Saturday! Hurrah!! It really does take a lot of organization putting-on something like this, i.e. basically adding an ultra-distance run among three already-established journey runs. Don’t you dare thank us! Having done a few of them, I can honestly say It was an excellent way to spend some of the winter months, and an excellent way to keep up the miles in some pretty awful, and also fantastic, weather.
So here’s a quick summary of those who completed each of the runs:
Completed on foot: Jeff, Mark, Lee, Alan Hogg, John Ryan, Dave Harrington, Sarah Robertson, Billy & Dorothy, Willie, (and loads others)
Completed on foot: John Busby, Jeremy, Dougie, Alan Hogg and Jim
Cyclists: Keith, Jonathan
Sea To Summit (26miles)**:
Completed on foot: Jeff, John Busby, Mark, Rachel Newstead, Jim
Completed on foot: Jeff, Lee , Peter, Nick, Nicola, Jeremy, Jim
Duathletes: Dorothy & Billy, Keith, Mark, Hilary.
Well done to all! Jeff Roberts gets the greatest kudos of all, as he started all of the organized runs, completing three and partially completing one. From rough calculations he covered just under 100miles (97.3) on foot. Nice!! Mark also ran all four in part, completing two. The abysmal conditions on the Sea To Summit run was in complete contrast to the AltJMW, which was like running along the Mediterranean coast, bathed in sunshine throughout. Glorious!
Jeff, Mark, Jeremy, John, Lee, Alan Hogg, Jim, Keith, Dorothy & Billy all get a beer for completing at least 2. Nicola Dunn has made an excellent case for getting a beer too (one completion, another partial, plus an ultramarathon distance of 30miles with the AltJMW). I’ll bring them along to the handicap on Wednesday. And then drink them if you don’t appear. Feel free for anyone else to argue their case!
So, the runs included: beaches, rivers, hills, railway lines, country parks, towers, castles, moors, estates, rubbish tips, harbours, golf courses, tramlines, dams, promenades, links, canals, canal feeders, garden centres, building sites, viaducts, aqueducts, fields (planted and grazing), woodlands, roads, sand dunes, and maybe the odd section of good ol’ generic mud.
Weather included: Rain, snow, sleet, gales, and glorious, glorious sunshine!
Food included: Bacon rolls, egg rolls, sausage rolls, cakes, coffee, naan-pizza, tea, juice, beer, crisps. i.e. nothing healthy.
Expletives included: “What the **** are you doing on this building site? How did you get in?! F*** off!” (Sea to Summit)
I don’t think you’ll find a more varied series. Many thanks to Mark Hartree for pulling most of this together, and forming a nice wee Sea To Summit route, too!
* Yes, I know that an ultra needs to be more than 26.2 miles. Who asked you, anyway?
**Arguably, nobody completed the Sea To Summit route due to extremely bad weather, but we all finished together and I guess that’s enough. Well, it’s enough for me.
The Alternative John Muir Way majors on scenic value and a variety of obstacles to keep you alert through dunes, beach, cliffs, boulders, barbed wire and electric fence crossings, a fortified castle to storm, breaking wave-leaping and a long dark spiral staircase to climb. A big anticyclone provided perfect conditions with sunshine and a light sea breeze to start. 21 appeared for around 55km of running and/ or cycling with the usual off/ on road variations for the cyclists. Patricia and Richard swopped very attentive sag wagon services throughout the route, Mark James having collected the van for us before rushing off to Norway.
We faced a rising tide that was to present some interesting route-choices for the first 30km as the field kept splitting between boulder-hopping wave leapers and cliff-top scramblers. The sun, breeze and gently lapping waves provided a fantastic first leg to North Berwick during which we inspected East Lothian golf courses, Uri Geller’s island with spoon bending powers, a golf course ghetto fence with land grab and vandalism of sea buckthorn on a SSSI site, and forest demolition to make way for golfing villas as a contribution to East Lothian’s golf coast hedonism. These were amply compensated by the superb sandy coves and strands extending all the way to North Berwick.
The North Berwick Sea Bird Centre provided a welcome coffee stop and van support point before we resumed the journey up and down the cliffs past Canty Bay and the old Gin Head radar station to the moat creep to get past Tantallon Castle. The rising tide at the boulder beach shoreline option to Seacliffe forced us to stick to the cliff top until we were able to return to the shore below the old ruin of 1750 Seacliffe House. The closing tide trap at the Sphinx rock was easily passed by about half the group with the others taking to the cliff top. Progress to the Ravensheugh van rendezvous was straightforward thereafter along the edge of a pounding surf at the foot of the dunes. The passage past Ravensheugh Rock needed a brief sprint timed between waves crashing against the rock wall, or a detour over the top. Around the corner we were greeted by a synchronised rhythmic drumming group performing some kind of meditation ritual in the acoustic crag corner. One or two enjoyed a final full immersion with a quick swim before we collected bikes and drinks at the van.
With all these diversions we were half an hour behind programme and made a swift passage through Binning Wood to lunch at East Linton. Eric demonstrated the formidable performance of his electric-assist bike, powering it through Binning Wood like a Sherman tank through the Ardennes. At East Linton, Barbel, Heidi and Kara had a great spread waiting for us, plus a gymnastic display for further entertainment (except Barbel, too busy in the kitchen). The group tends to fragment more after lunch, with the end-to-end runners taking an early start for the bucolic River Tyne path, with cyclists breaking up into a road and an off-road group timing a later start aimed at catching the runners before the Hopetoun monument. Mark H decided that he needed to rest a few latent aches before the London Marathon and borrowed Barbel’s bike to finish the circuit, off road on a road bike. The ground was dry and he managed very well. Barbed wire and electric fences tend to thwart the pace of the cyclists on the final ascent to the Hopetoun monument.
After a final feed and drink at the van the downhill finish was weary but routine. We were all in, in both respects, by 6pm at the bay footbridge, with the sun sinking and the oyster catchers calling as the falling tide exposed their evening feed on Aberlady Bay. The only injuries were a few blisters and sunburn.
Thanks to Carnethy HR for food and transport costs, to all cake/ bread etc. contributors, and to Patricia, Richard and Mark (James) for driver services. There may be photos from others.
Featuring – Gio Macdonald, Dorothy and Billy Elliott, Patricia McMaster, Peter Buchanan, Nick Williamson, Chris Henty, Jeff Roberts, Lee Murphy, Richard Lathe, Mark Hartree, Gordon Eadie, Hilary Spenceley, Eric Brown, Brian Waldie, Brian Dempster
Typical, weeks of still weather and some of the most glorious days recently but the Circo 2017 managed to get a wet and manky day. Good news though, no wind, or we would have been Les Miserables. Twelve runners and 4 on bikes hopped up and down to keep warm in the carpark as the Leaders Jim Hardie and Mark Hartree arrived promptly – a bit late. The first leg to Portobello followed a tested route. The junk filled railway section near Drum has been cleaned up but we faced an medical emergency when Jim H got a large thorn in his pinky. Amputation was avoided and a plaster put on to stop him trying to gnaw it out with his teeth. The Beach House café in Porty was great but despite booking and sending orders in advance, still slow.
It did stop raining a bit, then started again on the run to Cramond. A couple of guys – Pete and Nick, had joined us, then we lost a Lee and Lucas Lefevre who ducked out on the way to Cramond. Flat tarmac is not my favourite surface and various pains grew so the pub was a welcome stop and a chance to dry off. The bikers left as we arrived and we left not long after for the final longest leg leaving Nicola Dunn and Neil Rutherford at the 20 mile point. Matt Jones and Jeff Roberts joined us here. It was now trying to snow and the paths very wet and slippery on the mud. The wooden steps along the River Almond were fenced off so we ignored the barriers and used them anyway to avoid a detour. A few piccies in the Cammo estate and on past the airport and tram depot to the Gyle. I dropped out here with Sarah Robertson and got a pick-up from Neil Rutherford who had retired at Cramond after having completed The Spine Race a few weeks ago, so was no doubt a bit weary still.
Without Mark and Sarah, the remaining few made their way into the Industrial Estate of the South Gyle. The final stage of the Circo has always been the best – the gradual climb to the Pentlands. From South Gyle we pottered over the canal, shimmied through Heriot Watt Campus, over the train tracks and up Donkey Brae into Currie. It seemed only right and sensible to stop for a swift half to brace ourselves for the climbs ahead, so we popped into the Kinleith Arms for cola and beer. Time was against us though, sunset was coming and not all of us had headtorches, so we needed to get back out there pronto! Over the Water Of Leith, past the new Horse place, up towards Torphin, round the old golf course and over the Torduff dam. Looking towards the hills ahead we could see that snow would feature heavily.
At Bonaly we said our goodbyes to Nick and Peter who were taking a faster route down to Leith, and then goodbye to Andy as he didn’t fancy the hills. White Hill was the first proper climb into the snow, and on the track there were the tyre treads from the Circo cyclists – a clear sign that they were near…and crazy for shoving their bikes into the snowy Pentlands! By this point the world was white, everything covered in snow. It was glorious! Up Capelaw, and finally Allermuir into whiteout conditions, with no view and driving snow. We agreed that Allermuir would be the final hill, a quick photo, and then slip, slid and skidded our way down to The Steading. I took a tumble, bruising some ribs, but recovered enough to complain about it for the remaining run. A good run, made all the better by great company!
34.4miles in total, nearly 3,000ft ascent.
Thanks to all those that joined (Peter, Nick, Matt and Jeff)!
Well done to all those that done most of it (Lee, Lucas, Nicola, Neil, Sarah, Mark and Andy)!
Fantastic work by the cyclists (Keith, Nick, Jonathan and Eric)!
And finally well done to those that done the full Circo (John, Jeremy, Dougie, Alan and me)!
Massive thanks to Mark for organising all the hard stuff!
The Cyclists report:
The 24-hour ahead weather forecast is not often as badly wrong in the wrong direction as it was for Saturday. We cyclists were down to a hard core of five, but not all at the same time. The opening leg to Portobello prom set a new record for discomfort from rain, mud and high wind chill, causing complaints of frozen fingers and toes; some would say appropriate conditions for this tour of Edinburgh’s unloved badlands which only the connoisseur appreciates. The Beach Café (a name inducing childhood memories of sunshine, ice cream and candy floss) provided us with life saving bacon and egg rolls and tea, but at an eye watering price. As usual, the runners appeared not long after. It’s much easier to keep warm on foot than on a bike; there was even plenty of exposed flesh being flashed. The bikers left early for Cramond. The cold was moderating from desperate to mildly uncomfortable. The beach refugee camp at the sewage treatment plant was gone. There was a welcome absence of the usual nuisance of dog walkers with telescopic leads on the Granton – Cramond prom. Hospitality at the Cramond Inn was excellent for a relaxing long lunch – until the runners burst in, reminding us that we needed to start building our lead before the trials of the Pentlands foothills and the White Hill crux. The Almond riverside path presented the unusual challenge of an impenetrable council safety fence protecting the perilous decaying Salveson steps overhanging the river. Combined tactics got the bikes safely around the fence overhang, down the rickety steps and a repeat across the fence at the bottom. Back on the bikes for the rest of the riverside path, finishing with the Fat Man’s Agony taking us to the Cammo estate entrance. The rough path to the rubbish dump wasn’t too muddy. I noted more interesting stuff to collect later at the rubbish dump, then a straightforward passage to the tram depot and new Gyle railway station interchange. A new underpass took us across the A8 into the Gyle commercial utopia with its landscaped tumbling burn between a million executive desks and glowing screens. Who would swop those for the bracing arctic downpour we were enjoying in the sweet fresh air? Next under the city bypass culvert alongside a suspiciously whiffy ditch to join the long road climb to Haston’s Currie Wa’s and his new memorial. Now falling snow prompted a final hot brew before tackling the Pentlands closing stage. We were down to two to finish the end game. The Currie Brae was despatched with gusto as a re-warmer, thankfully turning downwind for a fast passage past the reservoirs to Bonaly car park. No sign of snowy footprints or screams to the rear so we were clear for the White Hill climb ahead of the runners. The snow made pushing the bikes a battle for traction to the top. During the swampy struggle we heard screams from behind – they were closing on us. A couple of over-the-bars face plants cleared us down to the burn with only the traverse across past the horse depot to finish in the failing light. The runners had pressed on over Allermuir to find deeper snowdrifts in the dark. Just under 8 hours including relaxation stops. The longest continuous rain and snow session I can remember for some time. The first pint and fish and chips went down very well. And we finished without losing any toes or fingers. Herman Buhl would have approved. Much thanks to Mark for the excellent catering arrangements.
The bikers, variously: Jonathon Whitehead, Shane Bouchier, Eric Brown, Nick Macdonald, Keith Burns
On Sunday evening of 22 01 2017, travelling in an anticlockwise direction, Jim Mann from Bowes in the North Pennines, originally from Edinburgh and who currently runs for Durham Fell Runners, completed the round in a new winter record time of 22h 23m.
Jim was supported by a very distinguished team of top Fell / Hill runners from both north and south of the border including a number of Carnethy enthusiasts.
Jim also played a major support roll when he supported Jon Ascroft during his record round in 2015 and Jasmin Paris during her successful fastest overall time in 2016.
Jim will be recorded as Number 97 on the Ramsay’s Round finisher’s page www.ramsaysround.com
Will we see any more from Carnethy getting into the 1st 100 finishers? And who will be No 100?
Having got a wee glimpse of the Cheviots doing the Yetholm Race on a gorgeously warm day in the summer, the Wooler Trail Marathon appealed as a way to see more of the trails and hills in the area. This new race by Trail Outlaws is a bit over marathon distance at 28.5 miles (45.2km) and has a little over 6000ft ascent making is either a tough marathon or a long hill race. The route goes out over Cheviot, joins the Pennine Way, then follows St Cuthberts Way back to Wooler making the route 98% on trails, and Pennine bog.
An 0800 start from Wooler YOHO meant an early wake-up call and a foggy drive along roads at -5.5C according to the car. With my son Finlay having the final league winning game or the pre Xmas rugby season kicking-off at 1400 I hoped for a good run and maybe catch the last 20 minutes of the game. This idea was dashed when we started late and the race time estimate from the organiser was double your marathon time and take off an hour. Carnethy’s were few and I only saw Myvany Fenton May with Derek Paton registered. A few Harmony folk were there with Seona Burnett running.
I set off too fast as usual and held 2nd position till the first hill! It was very cool and frosty still and the trails mostly frozen and quite icy. Cheviot was in the clag and there was no view, just great frosting and the sun peaking through the mist for a while. A rutted peat climb led to a great paved path across the top, but too quickly led to the bog sections along the Pennine Way which were really tough with intermittent rutted frozen footprints and unavoidable creaking ice with regular breaking-through into the c-c-c-c-cold water below. Later runners would have a horrid time of these sections once the frozen bits broke up. I took it easy and lost places to save my knees. Miles 10-13 were the worst then things improved a bit. The last leg along St C’s Way was quicker and more runnable with the odd climb to check your sense of humour. The final views down to Wooler in its frosted autumn colours were great.
A good race in a fine area with good interesting route making a fun race. The time estimate turned out to be quite accurate based on my D33 (flattest marathon) time with a finishing time of 5hr 43mins. Seona was a little after me but I legged it back to Megggetland before Myv FM came in, and arrived after the final whistle to hear of thumping 123-0 win to the Boroughmuir U15 and wining of their league.
Results will be up here: http://www.trailoutlaws.com/wooler-results-2016.php
At the unfortunate time of 5am, we arose to make our way to Killin for the start of Glen Ogle 33 ultra marathon. While off to a chilly start, it was an absolutely beautiful day with the sun shining and only a small amount of wind. The first six miles were beautiful forested trail with lovely views of snowcapped mountains. Nikki started off with some dodgy gurgling coming from her stomach from some sketchy bacon, but by mile 10 had decided to keep it all down. The next 12 miles went quite smoothly with only one or two hills that made me question my life decisions and why this is my idea of a holiday. By mile 23 I hit my own bad patch and decided that it was time to have a good cry about missing my dog… but by the time I managed to chase down Nikki again I was feeling quite cheerful and we ended up finishing with 10 minutes of each other. Overall, it was a really lovely race, with terrific weather, cheerful marshals and only a few desperate dashes behind boulders to pee!
On Saturday I ran my first ultra. The 38 mile Jedburgh Three Hills ultramarathon. It’s more of a trail run with the Eildons thrown in halfway through, but no less a challenge. Out of the ultra and relay runners I didn’t see any other Carnethy tops, but chatting with a Harmeny runner he said they had 27 down, mostly for the relay.
Around 270 runners made the start line at 8am on Saturday. A wonderful setting by the Abbey in Jedburgh and perfect running conditions, if not a tad on the mild side for the end of October. The organisation of this event is impressive, with a dry line of Jed humour throw in to make it clear what they think of runners with headphones ignoring marshals, including the punishment they would mete out (30 mins penalty).
Given this was my first ultra I was taking the approach of “start really slowly and finish strong”. The route took us along the Jed Water, the Teviot and the Tweed rivers. All showing their striking autumn colours. Given it has been relatively dry of late the conditions under foot were perfect. After 17 miles we arrived at the 2nd check point at Rymers Stone before the ascent of the north Eildon. Having run on flat up until now it was a welcome relief to gain some height. The sun had come out and the views from the tops of the Tweed Valley below were stunning. On a different day a leisurely pack lunch would have hit the spot. The ascent and descent of the three Eildons provided a welcome change and was the part of the race I enjoyed the most! Bounding down the mid Eildon was especially worth the entry fee and I even got a couple of “go Carnethy” cries.
The 2nd half of the race was more serious. My training and previous runs up to marathon distance had not been great in terms of nutrition. Resulting in pretty bad nausea. I’ve been trying out Tailwind and this was what I used on Saturday. For the most part it worked well. I took drinks of coke at the check points and stayed off solids. The last 3 miles and especially the last mile as you come into Jedburgh seemed to take an age, but the support helped and I managed a semi-sprint finish, clocking a time of 07:55:58 which was my goal to come under 8hrs. The winning time was Mark Sutherland with a time of 05:12:06. Full results here – Keep it Simple Timing Jedburgh Ultra 2016 Finish
It is a fantastic event and looks to be growing each year as a sure bet in the diary each year for the runners I spoke to. Whether I do another ultra is down to whether I can sort my nutrition out. I loved the distance, just not the bad stomach. Any suggestions from members is most welcome.
Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra Marathon