I'm reluctant to get into all this. Sunday night is looming and the week's nearly starting again. Aaaaah! Anyway the 49th Carnethy Hill Race needs blogging and it won't blog itself. So here goes...
I was feeling unusually cheerful about running this Carnethy 5. We've had quite a lot of time out in the hills in January, so I guess I knew I'd be okay, and I had to miss last year due to injury, which puts things in perspective. At least I could run. And it was a cold and very windy day and it would have been a struggle to think where to run anyway. So why not go up some hills with a handful or 500 or however many it was like-minded friends? The forecast was saying much wind but also much sun so there was some hope it would be spectacular and so I took along my cheap'n'crappy camera in case there was anything to see.
There was a degree of uncertainty as the event approached and an email from the organisers said that, due to the forecast high winds, they'd only go ahead if they could get the marquee up in the field at about 11am. If they had to cancel they'd email everyone at that time. I didn't really think it would be cancelled (part of me hoped it might be)..and it wasn't.
Olly Stephenson, who normally organises it has been getting chemo and so Gordon Cameron had stepped into the breach as race director for this year. This is a big and relatively serious event and there's a lot of organising involved, so I didn't envy Gordon and the team having to make decisions about whether to go ahead or cancel. I knew that Mike Lynch and Jim Hardie had been out marking the course - quite a job! I'm sure there were a million other things going on behind the scenes. It puts our Porty summer beach race into perspective. I can't criticise though because I never help. Well I've marshalled a couple of times and helped with the results, but I got sick of it. Lol.
Anyway, Ollie Pound was coming along with us in the Berlingo. We had arranged to meet up at 11am to set off for the race so we were watching closely for last minute emails as we set off.
We had allowed ourselves enough time for 2 or 3 things to go wrong en route, mindful that the car-park fills up pretty quick at Beeslack School. We only had one minor nav error so we were there in plenty of time. Too much plenty of time really. I was feeling rather gloomy and nervous until Michael G arrived in full enthusiasm mode. He was just delighted to be there! His recent 35 minute 10K pb was a very welcome surprise after such a difficult year last year - having his own cancer and chemo journey. It was fabulous to see him so happy and well.
As we went out to get on the buses we discovered it was pouring with unexpected rain. Surely not! Happily it dried up by the time we got up to the starting field and never returned.
The wind was cutting as we got off the bus and a fair number of runners were already there and hiding in the lee side of the marquee. We were questioning whether we'd be able to find the will-power to take our jackets off before the start - and yet there's only been once or twice in a race when a jacket has actually seemed like a good idea. We went for a warm up run and did indeed warm up. As soon as you get moving you get more expansive and the whole thing starts to feel more like an adventure than a punishment.
I was just hiding in the gorse, plucking up the courage to take my jacket off shortly before the start when a north of England voice said "Hello Mary. Are thee alone?" Me - "Wha?" Other person - "Are thee by tha' sen?" Me - finally recognising Scoffer, despite the Mexican style facial hair and orange tights. "No, Peter's away for a pee." I probably haven't seen Scoffer since he organised and we ran the Borrowdale Hill race in 2007. They had to cut it short due to crazy weather and I wasn't sorry.
He appeared to be wearing one of the original, if not the original, Borrowdale vest, and some disco tights. It didn't slow him down though.
Most of team Porty - I think George Lupton had his running children along so he had his hands full, and I met Keith Harper during the race, where we had a brief exchange about whether we enjoyed climbing Scald Law or not.
At the top of Scald Law the wind was crazeee and I was fighting to stay on my feet. It was all quite good fun. Running was a full contact sport as no-one really had that much control. If you took both your feet off the ground on the way over to S. Black Hill - which inevitably you had to - you'd get blown side-ways - and if there was someone beside you, well you'd be getting blown into them. End of. I stopped for a walk going up S. Black Hill and it was the one and only time I got the wee camera out. It was just too much hassle.
The marshals were impressively cheerful and encouraging. They must have been freezing.
Photo by Joel Sylvester.
Photo by Kathy Henly.
Back in the day I remember getting to the white gate after the descent off West Kip in around 40 minutes. I took quite a bad line across the bog yesterday and so the first part was very slow. I was going steadily past people after this but there are bits where it's hard to get past, like going up Scald law. I looked at my watch before East Kip and it was already 41 minutes. Humph. The up-side was that I could feel January's training in my legs and I was walk-running up the kips where most people around me were walking. I found coming off West Kip better than usual and I actually overtook a few people. I got to the gate in 47 minutes, which didn't seem too terrible, and meant I really shouldn't have to worry about the cut off of 1hr 15 minutes at the Howe that the organisers had set because of the weather.
It was nice to get running on the way down to the Howe although there are rocks and holes to watch out for.
At the steep slope down just before the track to the Howe I could see someone with a Porty vest with a few others sitting at the top of the slope. I thought that must mean Ollie was injured, which was a sickener. As I was running along the track to the foot of Carnethy, the white rescue land-rover was coming in the opposite direction.
Then it was "just" the run up Carnethy to go. The bad news is it goes on and on, the good news is it really is the last hill. I'd never realised it before now, but looking at Strava, the run up from the Howe to the summit of Carnethy is pretty much exactly a mile. I walk-runned up as much as I could, and as we got higher, the wind was catching my back and giving an extra push. I straightened up instead of doing the usual hill runner's hunch, and that was actually helpful.
So anyway, too much detail. I got down the nasty, heathery side of Carnethy as best I could with the usual rising feeling of frustration as my legs turned to rubber, and was welcomed to the finish by the enthusiastic exhortations to "Come on Mary" by Kathy Henly, with which I joined in, because my brain was burst and I was glad to be finished. Then it was all biscuits and tea and chit-chat and buses and school dinners. To our delight our Ollie Pound turned up uninjured. He and George Lupton had stopped their races to help another runner who had broken his leg. There was more talk about running and kit and plans and races and eventually we dropped off Ollie in the Tescos Leith Car Park to see the sliver of a new moon in the sky and Ollie remarked that it seemed like more than one day since it had been the morning.
So today it was sunny and there was less wind and we went a run around at Gullane at low pressure pace. You can have a look at the photos and decide what you think happened, a la Rorschach - email me, and I'll tell you what's wrong with you. (But really you should be able to work it our for yourself. NOBODY should feel that way about their mother.)
Thank you. The end. X