Carnethy hill running club

After president Jim posted the mountain weather forecast on Facebook I was seriously considering skipping out as well. However, due to upcoming travel for work and missing the first short race in the series this was my last chance to get my mug. And since in previous years I have never managed to even come close I didn’t want to miss out. So I accepted a lift (thanks Jane Jackson) and headed off into the misty morning unsure of what would come. Pleasant conversation besides the usual chat about of weather and maps made the time in the car pass quickly. As we approached Stirling Uni it began to clear a bit and we could even see the Ochil Hills in the distance.

Gradually a number of familiar Carnethy faces began to gather. Huddled around maps listening to Stewart Whitlie’s last minute advice on route choice (something I should have listened closer to).

Just before we started to walk towards the coaches waiting to take us to the start I noticed two rather dazed yet familiar looking faces. It was Matt and Mary Jones who had recently returned from holiday straight into a week of back to school and back to work and had clearly not recovered. I usually only see them at the start of the race and then at the end. On Saturday for the first 2/3 of the race we traded places back and forth which was a nice surprise. They passed me, then I passed them, then I stopped them from passing me by chatting about back to school and speculating if our kids were in the same class at school (I don’t think they are). Back and forth.

The other nice surprise was that most of this part of the race was cloud free. Unfortunately as we made our way off of Ben-Buck towards the second cut off the mist started to come down. Just in time for that lovely part of the race stumbling through the bogs. I heard people refer to them as peat hags. Not sure exactly what that is but they were unpleasant. Shortly after getting back onto a “real” track (on the way to Blair-something-or-other) my legs began to tire and as I ate my sandwich I watched the Jones run past me and move away into the mist. And then I was alone. Luckily (or unluckily much of hill navigation was done). A quick compass bearing, some fence following, the long decent into Menstrie and then up up up to Dumyat. I spotted the Jones’ far up the hill as I dragged myself up the final climb.

At the top someone said “Just follow this track, then that track, through the woods and the finish is at the Uni.” Right! The first three bits were ok but getting to the uni proved much harder for me. Seeing as we started at the other end and I have never been to the uni before and I didn’t know where the finish was, and, and, and… Suffice to say I should have listened closer to Stewart at the start. He said something about walls and gaps and trails, but after 5 hours my brain was not working very well.

In the end it took me about 20 minutes to get from the end of the trail to the finish. In an odd twist of fate captured on Strava the traily bit descent off Dumyat had caused the Jones’ to take a longer detour and we almost crossed paths at the point where I went wrong. If only I was 1 minute faster we could have been re-united and crossed the line together. Oh well. There’s always next year!

Carnethies had some great results on the day: Andy Fallas (1st overall and a new course record at 2:53:51 breaking the previous one by almost 9 minutes), Liam Braby (5th overall and 2nd U23), Stewart Whitlie (7th overall and 1st V50), Michael Reid (9th overall and 2nd V40) and Michelle Hetherington (3rd F50). Twelve other Carnethys ran too.

With several Carnethies signed up for the Tiree Ultra in September we decided that a beach run would be good training and an opportunity to have a day out! Talk after Caerketton focussed on the weekend weather forecast which couldn’t seem to make its mind up. However, our fears were unfounded and Saturday dawned bright and clear. In fact it would almost be too hot at times.

13 Carnethies (or should I say 11 plus 2 possible new recruits) set off from Longniddry Train station at 9am. To avoid the dreaded tarmac we nipped through Gosford Estate and headed for the coast. We were now on the official John Muir Way but we would soon join Keith Burns alternative route as we headed across the footbridge to enchantment and into Aberlady Bay nature reserve. Billy adopted Willie’s mantle and took us on a detour to some wrecked WW2 submarines for our history lesson of the day!

Gullane beach now beckoned, some headed over the rocks clinging to the coast while others followed the rollercoaster path above, their reward being a helter skelter descent down the sand dunes. By now we were feeling peckish so the first detour of the day led us inland to Archerfield and the Walled Garden. Bacon rolls were on everyone’s mind but typically Scottish customer service of the Morningside variety met us (as in “you’ll have had your tea”!) Breakfast was no longer being served. We could have coffee and cake or buy something from the deli. Luckily the deli staff had attended customer service training!

North Berwick and the Law were now in sight. We hadn’t scheduled a stop here but Fringe by the Sea was in full swing and it would have been rude not to have a look, especially when we spotted the Curious Brewing tent! A swift half (or more in some cases) and we were off. Chris left us here – probably a wise move as we had now covered 16 miles and none of us realised we would end up doing the same again!

There was to be no storming of Tantallon Castle today but luckily the combines had been out which made our descent to Seacliff easier. The tide was well in now so yet another detour up though the farm was necessary before we could rejoin the beach at Ravensheughs. Here was our biggest obstacle of the day. Crossing the Peffer Burn is usually a knee deep affair but as Michelle started to wade through she started to slowly disappear! Even Lucas was waist deep! Just as well it was warm.

Dunbar looked to be in touching distance but first we had to follow the secret trail through Little Binning Wood and then the Tyne stood before us. None of us were willing to swim (sorry Mark!) so it was time to detour again though a field of cows and across the condemned bridge. All safely over, the mileage was beginning to tell on some (it would be the furthest 3 or 4 of the group had ever run). So three made their way to Fox Lake and who do we meet now but Keith on his mountain bike saying what are you lot doing out here? Did I not get an email?