Monday, 11 October 2010

Pentland Skyline

photo 1 from SHR website.
photo 2 from Carnethy Website

The weather report had said fairly bright and breezy for Sunday but the reality was low cloud cover for all of the route of the Skyline. I thanked my lucky stars more than once that I know the route inside out and still I had a few moments when everything didn't seem quite right in the mist.

I was hopeful that I would do better at this race than I have in a while as the 2 Breweries went fine and I've been enjoying the hills again. There was quite a turn-out of Porties for the race; Peter, Ben Kemp, Michael Geogeghan, Graham Henry, Paul Eunson and Michael Nowicki had already turned out the day before for the Manor Water Hill Race - and added to that was Johnny L, John Pickard, me, Richard D. and Rachel Berry (who I haven't seen for months but is looking very fit and well).

I went off a little too quickly and my legs started to ache early on so I backed off a bit. Its a long race. The mist was actually quite helpful at times. Some sections seemed shorter than usual, probably because you couldn't see how far you had to go. In the 2nd half going over Black Hill in the deep clag was pretty surreal. I felt I was further left than I would usually be but was on a good path so stayed with it though feeling anxious, and it turned out to be a fairly optimal route to cross the stony path and take you over to the waiting marshals.
I could just see the tall, orange and yellow vested form of Tom Bowie ahead as a reference point but I had to keep  in mind that he probably doesn't know the Pentlands as well as I do. In those conditions the urge to just follow someone else is strong.

On Hare Hill everyone had stopped at the kite (which was very near to flying away) and then run in a straight line on towards the deeper more difficult heather. At that point too I'd initially followed even though I've been up there dozens of times this summer and I know there's a pretty good path further over to the right. Realising what I'd done I headed over right again and Issy Knox and Stevie Cairns did too. For a while I thought I'd blown it and had missed the path altogether and then all of a sudden it turned up. High stepping through deep heather turned to easy running down a nice peaty trod...

Nothing much more to say. On Bell's Hill the runners around me were bewailing the number of hills to come so in response (I was trying not to weaken) I told them that what was to come was f*ck all compared to what they'd already done. They rallied a bit I think. Its very bracing being sworn at by a lady. A Lothian runner called Matt told me he knew Gareth Greene from Portobello and we had a bit of a chat going over Capelaw (running mind you) and pretty much stuck together to the end. We were both developing quite a paranoia that we'd missed the path down to the left which takes you down to the ski slope after Allermuir, but again it was just the mist playing tricks with the distances and the look of things - we were exactly where we should be and finished shortly afterwards.

Rachel B. had never run the full distance of the Skyline but got the better of me just before Allermuir and took a couple of minutes off me from there to the end. Damn. Only last winter this woman couldn't run down hill, which I used to full advantage in the Borders xc series. On a happier note, Isobel Knox, who really doesn't do hills, was out giving it a go, and was very strong and encouraging on the uphills but teetering down the other sides on her road legs. Sensing it was my one and only chance to beat her, and with her right behind me on the final slope down to the finish, I did my best to keep running hard, pulling faces and making funny noises right to the line!

There weren't that many ladies out and I knew Angela Mudge was going to be 1st lady so therefore wouldn't count in the V40 hung around like a dingo at the edges of a BBQ (what?) hoping to luck a prize and guess what? 3rd LV40 was me so I went home with a nice bottle of red which was surprisingly good and now is gone...and my mouth is as dry as the Sahara... round-up; Johnny Lawson was 1st Porty, coming in under the 3hrs yesterday but didn't look as chuffed as we thought he should... Peter was 2nd Porty and quite pleased with his performance. Michael Geoghegan came in next, having had to nurse a turned ankle all the way round and was thankfully none the worse for running. Next came Graham Henry...if the truth were told all probably quite enjoyed beating Ben Kemp who was back in 5th Porty spot having been concentrating more on his work and his son of late than training. This proved 2 important points - Ben Kemp is human and training DOES  make a difference, so well done Ben for helping illustrate these 2 points. Next, stubbornly in slippy road shoes was Richard "I'll just jog round at the back" Dennis, then newbie to the Skyline Rachel Berry closely followed by me. A little later, Michael Nowicki did a rather alarming nose-dive over the line and a while later in came John (luc) Pickard. We heard tell Paul had dropped out with a sprained ankle at some point round the course.

Well done the marshals and the organisers for having the Skyline on such a difficult day, it must have been deeply unpleasant standing on top of hills for hours in the wet mist and it must have been quite a worry making sure everyone got in okay...

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