Amanda was going down to Glentress for a run on the black run (c.15.5 miles running) and I had the day off so was going to go too and then Peter got the day off so we were going down as a troop. Scott's still recovering from knackering his ankle on the evil Lairig Ghru and declined our company, but when we were up on the trail and remembered just how rocky it is we were glad he hadn't come and risked a re-sprain.
I had done an amazing job of changing the memories I had of this run. When it came up as an idea I was thinking it was a bit hilly but very doable and felt no fear. Only when I was up on the trail and only in the latter stages did I remember that the last time I ran it, with Scott last year - I eventually cracked and begged Scott could we please take the escape route direct to the cafe rather than run anymore trail? He smiled ryely and pointed about 400 yards ahead where the cafe was in plain view. Damn. Exposed!
The time before that I ran it with Peter and we got be-nighted and then lost our way in the middle of winter and wandered like Hansel and Gretel, at the mercy of the wilderness, until destiny kindly showed us the way.
This time I was surprised from the outset how unwaveringly uphill it is, - 2 miles clicked by and we were still going more or less uphill although the angle was easing. Amanda is in fine form and Peter can obviously easily outrun me but they were both being kind and weren't pushing the pace overly much. The point of the run was just to be out and about, Amanda's serious long run'll be on Sunday. About 6 miles in you top out, at which point the memories I'd taken from before were that it's downhill all the way. I must say I wondered how this could be as there was still another 9 or 10 miles to go, but trotted on, my legs a bit weary now but in fine spirits.
The path is very stony at parts and it slowly takes a toll on your legs and feet. I guess there's not so much pounding on the uphill but on the downhill it started to tell. Peter and Amanda are both natural descenders so they zoomed off and I contented myself with keeping a steady pace and not over-braking, which can be as tiring on your legs as anything. I went from enjoying it to kind of enjoying it - then I came across the next set of uphills which I had carefully edited from my memory banks - and they went on and on and on. I topped out at the place where Peter and I had gone wrong in the forest in the dark and Amanda and Peter were whileing away their time by chatting to a father and son set of mountain bikers who were out for the day and the only bikers we met on the black run. (There were more lower down.) We set off again - uphill! - and so it went - and I got slower and slower and slower and all the time it was killing me because I felt I was holding the others up. Felt like a real slug. At about 13 miles P and A were waiting for me and I cracked again. "I think I'm going to take the most direct route to the cafe!", but they pointed out that it was uphill so I let out some verbal protest and teetered on. Shit my feet and legs were sore, and still are, and I am only somewhat soothed by the fact that Amanda and Peter found the same thing. That's a tough, tough route.
Thinking about it there's kind of a tradition of going into the woods as an innocent and having a nasty surprise; I'm thinking of Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks AND Little Red Riding Hood. Like all of them I survived, and my reward was that the cafe (excellent cafe) took plastic as I was praying it would and fried egg on toast and coffee and Irn Bru and cake went down like....like I don't know. It was the best thing. The very best.
The father and son mountain bike team came over and chatted and told us about a very interesting race. (After the son had shown us his war wounds from mountain biking yesterday. Ouch! Chopped up arm and shoulder and tummy and leg.) The dad runs with Saddleworth Runners and he told us every year they have a trail race called the cake race where there is a competition for the best cake baked by participants and then the race winner wins the best cake. All the other cakes get chopped up and eaten after the race. Does that sound good to you? Think it should be a championship race.
Another biker came over and hailed us as Porties. She's not been coming to club but has been running and was telling us she's doing the Monster Race soon. She knew who we were from the web-site.
Anyway - Beware of the Black Run at Glentress! It trashes your legs and then wipes your memory.