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.
Archive Ultra pages here
Carnethy ultra series 2018 details
Everyone is invited since these are quite social and not races. Each route will provide options to join, leave or abort along the way to suit energy levels of time commitments. Some bits can be cycled:
17th December – Willie’s Eskapade – 25 miles from Mussleburgh to Carlops along the Esk. (Run Ldr – Willie Gibson)
20th January – Sea to Summit – 32 miles from South Queensferry, via East Cairn Hill to the Steading. (Run Ldr – Mark Hartree / Jeff Roberts)
Sea to Summit
large map (opens in new window and should be easy to print from – probably best in landscape orientation)
Annotated pdf maps – Leg 1 South Queensferry to East Calder, Leg 2 East Calder to The Steading
Starting from under the Forth Rail Bridge at South Queensferry at 0930 (the Sea bit).
The plan is to get the train to Dalmeny station for a start at the seashore below the Forth Road Bridge with toes or finders in the sea at 0930.
The route is in 2 distinct halves starting on trails and nice tracks out towards Kirknewton and East Calder where we will find a café/pub for a break. People can meet us/or leave using the Kirknewton train – let me know if you plan to do this. The second half crosses the A70 and heads for the hill including East Cairn Hill and Allermuir (the Summit bit). Escapes from this leg are to Balerno (A70, 44 bus to town) or Carlops, Nine Mile Burn or Flottersone (A702, 100 and 101 buses for town). Rough route map attached with 2 scales showing the general line. Distance is ~ 34 miles.
Bad weather – If the hill section is bad like last time we may amend the route accordingly. Weather permitting, this year we will make it all the way.
Bring food, money, head torch, waterproofs, drink and spare warm clothing, including maybe a change of kit for the pub.
Logistics: The logistics require a bit of planning.
· Trains from Edi Waverly arrive at Dalmeny at (dep 0839- 0855 <tel:0855> , dep 0848 – 0905 <tel:0905> and 0909 -0924 <tel:0924> ) so an 0930 start is possible. (5 mins later from Haymarket)
· Trains to Kirknewton leave Waverly at 1026 arriving around 1053 <tel:1053> every hour. They return at around 1119 <tel:1119> .
· We will have a café stop near Kirknewton or in East Calder (still tbc which one) – it will be the last food stop.
· Cars can be parked at the Steading then folk get a bus to Haymarket Station. Requires a 7 min walk to the right bus stop to get the No 4 service to Haymarket (d0744, a0821) or (d0816, a 0856)
Mark 0780 171 4032
Jeff 07929 201 137
24th February – Tweed Valley – 31 miles from Galasheils to explore the Tweed Valley to Traquair and back. (Run Ldr – Pete Buchanan)
24th March – Edinburgh 17 Wards – 42 miles linking the highest points in the 17 Election Wards of Edinburgh. (Run Ldr – Jonny Muir)
17 Wards of Edinburgh – click on red dots for highpoint details
large map (opens in new window and should be easy to print from – probably best in landscape orientation)
Or Mark’s annotated maps here (pdf 1.2Mb)
Maps of electoral wards 2007 onwards – City of Edinburgh council area maps
|1 – Almond / Mons Hill 119m|
|2 – Pentland Hills / East Cairn Hill 567m|
|3 – Drum Brae / Gyle and 5 – Inverleith / Corstorphine Hill 162m|
|4 – Forth / Silverknowes Neuk ~55m NT213754|
|5 – see 3|
|6 – Corstorphine / Inverleith Mast on south Corstorphine Hill 155m NT209736|
|7 – Sighthill / Gorgie Baberton Mains ~90m 195 696|
|8 – Colinton / Fairmilehead Allermuir Hill 492m|
|9 – Fountainbridge / Craiglockhart Wester Craiglockhart Hill 176m|
|10 – Meadows / Morningside Braid Hills top (to north of wall) 208m|
|11 – City Centre / Castle esplanade ~105m|
|12 – Leith Walk Easter Road / A1 junction ~54m NT269743|
|13 – Leith / Lochend Road roundabout ~25m NT277749|
|14 – Craigentinny / Duddingston Arthur’s Seat 251m|
|15 – Southside / Newington Blackford Hill 164m|
|16 – Liberton / Gilmerton Footpath junction at Mortonhall ~180m NT255686|
|17 – Portobello / Craigmillar Edmondstone 104m NT302697|
21st April – Alternative John Muir – 33 miles visiting the stunning coast, rivers and trails of East Lothian. (Run Ldr – Mark Hartree / Keith Burns)
Fuller route details, logistics and options will go up on the club website soon, and look-out for info on the club Facebook page where we will use the ‘Event Invite’ feature to try and cut down on multiple emails etc.
The club website also has plenty of information on kit that you should take (it is winter and you will be on the go for many hours) and the run leader will offer additional advise subject to the weather forecast as the day approaches.
Give them a go. A prize for who does them all!
The Sea 2 Summits idea came about in 2016 as a novel way to link to the coast to tops of the hills. In February 2017 a group of tried it, but heavy rain from the start dampened our enthusiasm and we cut short to Balerno. Heavy snow and frost were the challenge this year but Saturday’s forecast was for another ‘best day of the year’ day. The second challenge of the day was how to feed along the way since the route avoided refuel stops on a run whose length and commitment in the second half really needed a café. Jeff Roberts came up trumps with the Park View Café in Mid Calder.
A group of 9 Carnethy’s set off from under the Forth Road Bridge with toes in the Sea at 0930, and headed down the old railway line towards Kirkliston at a fairly leisurely pace enjoying the fresh morning air. Icey paths and snow from the start made for careful footwork being needed. From Kirkliston we joined the River Almond which remained our partner for the next 7 miles by the odd bits on Bondoo Bashing, graffiti bridges with apt slogans, swing parks and frozen ploughed fields. The stunning West Lothian Viaduct and various arched bridges and the canal aqueduct make this section really interesting and worthy of a run on its own, since Almondale Country Park shows more delights than you expect. After 10 miles we made it to the excellent Park View Café in Mid Calder for welcome bacon butties, coffee and cakes. Nicola Dunn left us here (recovering from flu), Sarah Robertson headed for the gym and a 48 mile race in Suffolk next weekend, and Mary Lye tag-teamed with Matt Jones and we were down to seven. The food was great and a second butty ordered – which we were glad of later.
The second half of the run turned out to be long and hard and nowhere near a half, more a first third and second 2/3rds. We followed the river further upstream before cutting up to Selm Wood and joining the Scottish National Trail past the Hilly Cow Wigwams where Lucas Lefevre enjoyed a cuddle with my shadow. From here the snow started to get tricky and energy sapping with drifts and knee deep powder-fluff over heather. We weren’t halfway till we crossed the A70 at 1400 onto Thieves Road, but East Cairn Hill was in sight, even if maybe 2hrs away yet in the conditions. In 2017, the Thieves Road path was flooded in ankle deep water and shin deep bog. We still had shin deep bog, but today it was hidden by knee deep snow. Joy.
East Cairn Hill succumbed to brute force and the bonus of a youthfully energetic Auren Clarke breaking trail with Alan, Jeff and Lucas, while Lee Murphy, Matt Jones and I brought up the rear. But my god, was it worth it at the top for the views and ambience of the scenes around us. Cloud inversion, snow crystals in the air, pink mountain tops in the evening glow. We could just make out the FRB in the distance and Pentlandia around us through breaks in the mist. Jeff broke out the Drambuie and we celebrated his birthday and contemplated a viable route to Allermuir, maybe 10 miles away still. We set off, flogging our way through more drifts of varying depths and even broke out Matt’s compass to get to the Borestane safely. Snow gaiters helped some of us along with Micro Spikes, while others shoes looked like frozen sheep with pom-pom attachments. The direct shorter route over Kitchen Moss to the Howe was de-selected as an option and we headed North down the Drove Road in the sunset then turned right towards Bravelaw Castle making use of the track for faster travel. Alan Hogg and Jeff had a momentary wobble thinking of heading for Balerno since time was marching on and it was dark, but we dissuaded them from being big Jessies.
Familiar trails had us running to Glencorse by starlight and a crescent moon. We donned head torches, jumped the wall and cut up across the field to the metal sign and the bottom of Castlelaw Hill and walked / bobbed up the reverse Boghall route to the col and up onto Allermuir. We were later than planned, but who cares, apart from Jeff who was late for his birthday party. Epic trips deserve relishing the finish, and the lights of Edinburgh had us all smiling, and imagining the beer in the Steading. We jogged down the Swanston path then cut across to the ski slope, avoiding the road by cutting further across the Skyline start, where we got the last few shots, and then down the trail to the pub, finishing at 1910 with beer and medals.
Leg 1 – South Queensferry to Mid Calder – 16.5km, 220m ascent, 2hrs 20mins
Leg 2 – Mid Calder to The Steading – 32km, 1020m ascent, 6hrs 20 mins
Café Stop – 40 mins
Total run – 48.5km, 1240m ascent, 8hrs 40 mins
We commend this Ultra to Carnethy. It is a cracking route. I could be done quicker, but may never be better.
On Saturday I raced the inaugural Montane Cheviot Goat Ultra in Northumberland. The route was approx. 85km with 3000m of climb and took in a section of the Cheviots ridgeline along the border with a few other hills thrown in for good measure.
The weather conditions on the day were as good as we could have hoped for but underfoot the going was tough with layers of soft snow and slush on top of thawing peat bog and heather. I managed to hold onto the lead group until the halfway point at Barrowburn farm (the only drop bag/aid station checkpoint on the route) where Jim Mann and Andy Berry started to open up a big lead on the rest of us. From Barrowburn to Windy Gyle I stayed within sight of Pavel Paloncy, occasionally running together and having a chat before he pushed ahead on the rough ground towards the Cheviot – home turf for him from his previous Spine Race completions.
The final few hills between the Cheviot and the finish at Ingram were tougher than expected and seemed to go on forever but the beautiful sunset and fun, snowy descents kept me going. In the darkness I could see a few headtorches not far behind which gave me the push I needed to keep a speedy pace up towards the finish line. I ended up in 4th place about an hour behind Jim and Andy who finished together in joint 1st place.
The race was well organised and had just the right level of self sufficiency to feel like a proper winter challenge. It’s ideally timetabled for people running the Spine Race/Challenger in January but also makes a great training race to keep the motivation up in midwinter when the event calendar is a bit sparse.
Results here http://live.opentracking.co.uk/cheviotgoat17/
Photo of me from Martin Ellis http://www.martinandjohnphotography.co.uk/, others by race marshals.
A load of Carnethies made the journey along to Foxlake last Saturday for the inaugural Foxlake Nocturnal Ultra. A simple idea, one of the few as-many-laps-as-you-can ultras, consisting of a 5k loop and time limit of 6 hours. I’d entered a while ago as a means to getting a long run during the winter, which is something I always struggle to do. Also, my workmate, Roger, managed to persuade me that 5k laps would be fun and we should totally do it. I’m really not an ultra person, as I always just buckle at an early stage and withdraw. It seems that I can happily run ultra distances, as long as there’s alcohol involved and nice stops at country pubs. I have no idea why this is. So it seemed only sensible that I ask the organisers via facebook if there was a bar, and if it had beer, and if I was able to have a pint on the way round, but they laughed it off thinking I was joking. Em…haha!(?) A subsequent race-prep email confirmed that if anyone turns up drunk they’ll be ejected from the event. Sob.
So to the race itself. The route was actually really good. Lovely single-track trails through forests, and edges of fields, over bridges and weaving through farms. Coloured lights lit-up sections of forest, people whizzed overhead on zipwires, and they even put a “rave barn” on the route to run through which was great fun. FYI: it was more of a disco barn as I didn’t hear any of the Old Skool Anthems I was expecting. It was all great fun and had a brilliant atmosphere.
At the leading end of things, Carnethy heroes Dave Hanna, Matt Curry and Nicola Duncan were all pushing hard in the solo event, followed not far behind by Phil Humphries and my workmate Roger. In the teams, Eoin, Aisling and John Busby had formed a team for Aisling’s work and were always out in front, but Alan Renville also had a Carnethy team in who were also running strongly. During the race it was very hard to tell, because the live timing results were nothing short of incomprehensible, so for the entire thing I had no idea who was winning at anything.
In the end, Nicola won the Ladies’ event, Dave Hanna was second male, Matt third male, Phil 7th male, and Roger 10th male. I withdrew as expected, obviously. I chucked it on the 8th lap, after confirming 8 times that there was no bar, and I just fell apart. Eoin, Aisling and John won the mixed teams prize, with Alan Renville and co in third place.
I thought that the results presentation hid some of the outstanding runs involved. For the presentation the solo males and females were separated, as were male, female and mixed teams. So, I thought I’d pool some of them together. It was pleasing to see that in the top 6 overall included three males and three females. Also, the overall team results were dominated by mixed team, not a male-only team, setting a high bar for any team in future.
|Stuart Paterson||14||6:05:57||21:37.3||Solo Males|
|David Hanna||14||6:28:41||23:50.3||Solo Males|
|Nicola Duncan||13||5:51:09||23:27.6||Solo Females|
|Matthew Curry||13||5:59:38||23:30.8||Solo Males|
|Ali Wyllie||13||6:06:00||24:43.4||Solo Females|
|Jo Newens||13||6:10:52||26:32.4||Solo Females|
|Team Lennon Busby Allum||18||6:14:52||0:17:07||Mixed Teams|
|Team Ross Pollock Parks||17||6:11:11||0:18:44||Male Teams|
|Team Griffin Saunders Peacock||17||6:21:45||0:19:51||Male Teams|
After a gap year, the SLCR was back on, and back to teams of 6 after an ill-conceived attempt to push the teams up to 8 in 2016. Everything was the same – the same format, transitions and thankfully for the race, the same great weather. This year we had 9 teams up from 6 in 2016, which made for a better feel to the race. There was one key change actually, and it was a positive one, and that was the introduction of ‘mass’ starts at every transition (if needed). This was to allow for bunching of the race and to prevent marshals from standing out for very long periods of time. These worked well and didn’t negatively affect the feel of the proceedings.
We started things off at midnight in Kincardine-on-Forth and teams progressed through the 116.5 mile route as a relay of 6 runners through the transitions of North Queensferry, Dysart, St Monans, St Andrews, Wormit Bay and to the finish at Newburgh.
Chris Russell of Leven Las Vegas (the only two places in the world that you can buy sex with chips, apparently) stormed through the first leg in a new record of 1.50.34 to hand over in the lead. There was quite a gap to second (over 12 minutes) before Stonehaven Top Dogs came in. Leven maintained their lead through Leg 2 to Dysart with HBT moving into second place, ahead of Stonehaven. A new leg record of 2.25.10 from Jason Kelly put Stonehaven into the front at St Monans and they never lost the lead from there on in. Leg 4 to St Andrews is always a tough one and there were some big gaps developing in times, which justified the mass starts. A great run from Nicola Duncan of Carnethy on Leg 5 put them into 4th position here, but there was another record leg of 2.19.26 from Michael Barker of Stonehaven to consolidate their lead. The final leg to Newburgh saw Stonehaven come in for a total time of 14.45.06, which is a new record both for the race itself and for a run by teams of 6 around the route. HBT came home in 2nd with Leven Las Vegas 3rd and Carnethy 4th.
So a successful running of what is a long event, but the feedback was positive so looking forward to 2018.
Fastest times on course:
- Stonehaven Top Dogs (2017 race): 14.45.06
- Fife AC/Wormit Runners (2014 Challenge run): 14.58.00
- HBT (2015 race): 14.59.36
- Carnethy (2013 Challenge run): 15.10.00
An album of pictures here: Scottish Long Coastal Relays 2017 147 new photos – Album by Mike Lynch
Some more here: here – 19 new photos by Victoria Shanks
or view/download as pdf
Carnethy Team report
A call for club members to form a Carnethy team Scottish Long Coastal Relay along the Fife Coastal Path returned a mix of folk, some known to me and some unknown. I didn’t argue, since anyone volunteering to start a relay at midnight or 0300 and to run 16-22 mile legs is good for me. I even had two reserves so hoped I could extract myself from a leg and let others do the work. Early planning, and getting a rough time schedule agreed with everyone was helpful and kidded-on to the team, hopefully, that I might know what I was doing.
As it turned out, a reserve crooked his groin playing Frisbee (can you guess who) and another needed childcare planning while her husband Neil ‘marshalled’ at the same race, so short notice changes to the team were tricky for her to accommodate. I emailed everyone a few times to remind them to turn-up and finalised lifts and pick-ups…sort of. As of the day before, we didn’t need substitutes and I resigned myself to running the last leg and even printed maps since Neil Burnett advised that it would be helpful since the route had lots of turns.
Viv Busby, our secret weapon, who was going to smash the record on Leg 4 (the longest, remotest and roughest leg) in under 3hrs (or so he forecast), thereby giving me leeway for a slower last leg, admitted to a knee problem at 1400 on the Friday that he had picked up on Weds night. I only noticed the email at 1615. Pooh. A quick panicky series of phone calls, Facebook appeals and perhaps divine intervention and Neil Burnett volunteered to let me do Leg 4 while he did my shorter and final leg. Double Pooh, I get the toughest leg. Still, it was a solution.
Our run times are in the table of Mike’s report. Most teams or leg runners went wrong at some point along the way. Most were suitably tired at the end of their legs. I had to lie down! Later on, thankfully, I happened upon Nicola Duncan from our team heading out of Wormit on the wrong road and figured how to steer her to the change-over point with Neil, saving more lost time which could have slipped us a place. One team DNF’d which helped us achieve 4th position which I am pretty pleased about since my leg time wasn’t great. Thanks to Sean, Alex, Noel, Nicola and Neil for a great team effort, and to Mike Lynch and all his helpers. Next year, let’s get a few more Carnethy teams together for a great event.
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
When your phone buzzes early on a morning and high winds and heavy rain is forecast, it is bound to be someone deciding they have better things to do than run a 30 mile route dreamt up in drier times. Quite understandable. Still, seven Carnethies made the 0744 train from Haymarket to Dalmeny for the inaugural Carnethy Sea to Summit as part of the winter 2016/2017 Ultra Series.
We got it bad. From stepping onto the platform to 20mins from the end, we were wet and battered by the rain-filled wind. Storm Doris may have passed but her tail was long. Why is it the day before is always nice than the actual day? Our route went down to under the FRB and dip our toes in the River Forth (the Sea bit) then followed the old railway line towards Newbridge, quite nice on puddle strewn trails. A fortunate wrong turn took us along the River Almond on a vague trail and a bit of bondoo bashing to hit a building site that looked like a battlefield. This was bypassed on account of an angry guy in high vis, past car salerooms and ways found to continue following the muddy torrent of a river, a bit of canal, then a lovely canal feeder stream till exiting the Almondvale Country Park to a great wee café at Almondell Garden Centre that Jeff Roberts had sweet-talked the owner to open on her birthday for us. He even took a present for her, nice touch Jeff, and we sang her Happy Birthday.
The next leg headed via tracks, waterlogged fields, woods, lots of gate hopping into quagmire, and the odd farmyard, wigwams and steadings out to Selm Muir Wood to pick up the Scottish National Trail to cross the A70 at Little Vantage where the Thieves Road starts. Graham Nash was struggling to keep up since he is not too fit (oh, tell I lie, that was me….!), and he decided to head for Listonsheils and back home to watch the Rugby. The remaining five thought ‘What a total lightweight, Nash can’t hack it’. After 100m along the Thieves Road the remaining five thought ‘What a git, he knew what was coming and didn’t fancy 4km wading through rivers and bog’. The wind was blowing, the rain not far from horizontal, I was weary and using poles to protect the odd niggle. Jim Hardie and Viv Busby were in shorts so wanted to push-on to keep warm. Wet slushy snow from the recent storms made the water very cold with regular wading through long sections cooled the toes till they were numb.
Then relief, or was it? The path climbing up East Cairn Hill was a waterfall. The wind did not relent. We ground it out and thankfully the cairn at the top gave shelter (the Summit bit). Jeff Roberts and Rachel has put their waterproof trousers on while waiting for me. Jim and Viv shivered in their shorts. A Summit piccy then off through wet snow and sphagnum moss holes and peat bog for the Borestane. I found it hard to run the tussocks and being so wet with the wind so chilling and decided to stop and put my Montane Primus (hollofil) jacket. Joy, some warmth.
Our route from the Borestane intended to drop North then head for Bavelaw Castle. We were going to turn right to head down the Cleuch, past the 2 reservoirs then up over Allermuir to the Steading. A team decision agreed to hit Bavelaw and turn left, not right, and head for Balerno. After 5½ hrs being wet and the pub closer that way, with the 44 bus back to town beckoning, we headed down Exponential Hill and on to the Grey Horse Pub in Balerno to dry out. A photo of a local outside is because the passer-by who I asked to get a team shot couldn’t press a button hard enough!
This route ended up about a marathon distance and just under 1000m ascent finishing in Balerno. The trails and paths are great and the scenery really nice with some great bridge architecture. It would be nice in the dry, or in summer, and of course various options from the Borestane to Hillend could add distance and add ascent by doing the the first or second half of the Pentland Skyline….if you want to make it ‘harder’.
Well done to the team for turning up and waiting for me.