Saturday, 11 February 2012

Carnethy 5 Hill Race

Today's racy delight was the Carnethy 5. The team were very sleepy this morning and I had to brew an extra cup of strong coffee before I started to feel up for the thing. The sky was bleak and grey and the wind was cold...

At Beeslack school we met up with Michael G. and Robert K. and headed up to the start. Warming up was just that - an attempt to get warm. At first the thought of stripping down to a vest was unthinkable...after about a mile of bog-hopping it became possible. Robert K. meanwhile slipped away to the refreshments tent to warm up with tea and biscuits...tut tut.

MacMillan arrived fashionably late having been late to pick up his number...was he on the bus that had a contre-temps with a car? I'm not sure.  David Allwood was there from Portobello and also Richard Sneddon and at the last minute we spied Gareth Green who had appeared to be missing in action up to that point.

The juniors went off first and then shortly after it was our turn. The usual surreal rush through the bog, much too tightly packed to make decisions about where you're going - just getting carried along in the tide of people. Where I was in the field we strangely got stuck in a bottle-neck between two gorse bushes and had to stop and queue for a moment or two - I don't remember that ever happening before! Then we were off again. Similarly, it was very busy on the narrow path up to the foot of Scald Law and there was no way to go at full stretch here. Nothing to do about it but enjoy getting a bit of a breather - plenty of room for overtaking later on. Likewise there was a huge queue going up Scald Law making me think for a moment that maybe the queue snaked over the whole course back down to Penicuik and we were in actual fact already queuing for our school dinner.

It was good to top out at Scald Law. The ground was fairly hard, with icy patches just under the surface. I think I saw more people slip and fall this year than ever before. Especially coming down off West Kip...The difference between running Carnethy nowadays and running it way back at the beginning (I looked back today and we first ran it in 2001 and today was my 9th time and it was Peter's 12th) is that it now seems very short. Before you know it you're swooping down to the Howe and you only have the ascent of Carnethy left. Its tough but its the last ascent so you can throw everything at it. A few people passed me on the last wee bit before the ascent, including Robert Kinnaird, and I vowed to get them back on the uphills. I think I mostly did.

The hardest thing I find about going up Carnethy in the race is refusing to settle for anyone else's pace and getting going again as soon as you are able. I ran the first 200m and nearly winded myself, but then tried to get moving again as soon as I'd got my breath. I mixed up running and walking the whole way up to the top and it was brutal but it didn't seem to take very long. I knew I still had the last hellish descent ahead and I've not been running any downhills so I am about as bad as I get at the moment. Hesitant and stilted. A good stream of men went past me as I lolloped about in the long heather and when the women started to go past I started to curse. All that effort on the uphill only to throw it away on the downs...never mind. It was a relief to get back down to the stinky bog and hoof it as fast as I could in case anyone else caught me. Nobody did and I overtook a couple of folk so I was pleased.

1.18 which is my 4th fastest or 5th slowest time, depending how you look at it. Not too bad I thought. Gareth had stormed into a sub 55 minute time. Peter just missed the hour again - by 6 seconds - but was cheery about it because its a Carnethy pb anyway. Not bad to still be improving after 12 attempts! Michael Gegs was off his usual pace because he's injured but ran a perfectly respectable 63 mins. I think Mad-dog MacMillan ran 66 mins. I sneaked over the line just ahead of Richard Sneddon and Robert Kinnaird which wouldn't happen in a road race so I was chuffed. I don't know what happened to David Allwood yet.

One of the highlights of the day was sitting eating our school dinner and rabbiting on about running with Geggers. Hope that knee of yours gets better soon.

I looked back over the old results just out of curiosity. Seems like the Carnethy race has always been a part of February. The first year we did it was the year of foot and mouth and so not a good year to start hill racing. Everything got cancelled pretty much. I had to miss 3 because I was on a course in Glasgow 3 years in a row from 2008 to 2010. Peter's done it every year since the first time despite never missing an opportunity to say what a deplorable race it is. It is...truly deplorable. Great day out! Well done Porties. Tomorrow may be a long run if our moral fibre proves stiff enough.

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