Sunday, 1 December 2013

reservoir dogs

Seven Reservoirs Race 01/12/13

Mary and I were discussing tactics. I was going to drink at Ben's house because I had had a quick look at the 7Rs starting list on EntryCentral and had reckoned there wasn't a chance in hell of winning it, so I might as well kick back at Ben and Alison's. We hadn't had a chance to celebrate Ben moving up an age category so beer and wine must be taken to celebrate this. In moderation of course. We also ate dinner before going there, and (I) ate another dinner once there - it seemed impolite not to. And the chocolate pudding (with ice cream) would not only soak up the booze but was fabulous carbo loading for what promised to be a great dose of outdoors the following day.

"eco toilets"
What S does the bear in the woods?

Mary said I shouldn't be so defeatist. I probably described my chances as realistic. Andrew gave me a lift to Harlaw Farm in plenty time to warm up and share a flask of special brew I had concocted that morning at the crack of dawn. Not Special Brew but a special brew of strong coffee, hot chocolate and honey. Hotto Mocho Chocco. As a warming alternative to energy drink. There was a good showing from team Porty - seven of us; one for each reservoir. As we lined up I noticed there was no sign of last year's winner David F and also EAC's finest. Maybe Mary was right and I was being too defeatist?

seven brothers for seven reservoirs

daysack in the lead

As we set off along the waterside I felt really comfortable keeping up easily with the front 2 - neither of whom I recognised. One was wearing a small daysack and led the race for a bit till we got to the woods by Red Moss car park where the other took the lead. 

I thought the steep road up Beech Avenue would be telling and dug in for that steady climb. To my surprise I was first to the top and first over the stile out into the Pentlands proper, leading the way past Bob M's first photo call. I was feeling relaxed and strong and felt things were going very well. I could tell the daysack had fallen behind and after passing the Howe I challenged the remaining competition (Dessie Flanagan) by raising the pace to an almost unsustainable speed along the road, and down towards Glencorse. 

I knew the next big challenge was Phantom's Cleugh and when we turned off the fast road onto the slow muddy trail, thick with very slippy mud I planned to widen the gap between myself and number 2. I did this impressively but unfortunately it was himself out front and me falling behind, skating wildly on the muddy paths - most of the grip worn off my Hoka's outsole. I knew this slipping around would be the case but as nine tenths of the route is on roads and firm trails I felt the Rapa Nui's were as good as anything, and I'd do the same again. 

I went from feeling victory was looking good, to settling for second - well at least for the time being - as Dessie put about 100 yards between us on the way up the hill. I felt I may catch up a bit on the next part although I could see the gap wasn't getting any smaller. The Hokas with their thick soles are ideal for bombing down the gravelly path to Bonaly car park and I tried to make the maximum use of the almost-too-steep path to reel in some ground, not bothering to stop for water at the only water station on the route before turning left and up the winding path to Torduff Reservoir.

Dessie was just off the bridge by the time I was just onto it.

I was still feeling good but realised I was probably pushing it some when I called Neil, who was marshalling at the end of the reservoir bridge, Mike, because my brain was mush. The road then climbs and twists along past Clubbiedean then down to a hairpin turn and along to the last big climb. Moira was marshalling and said "you can catch him" to which I replied "I doubt it." Not negative, just realistic. I could see some walkers up ahead and they were kind and stepped off the path as I wheezed and spluttered past them.

Looking back down the path.

This was an ice waterfall last year.

Last year this climb was a frozen waterfall and almost impossible to run up. This year by comparison I legged it up the cobbles often just splashing through the stream running down the middle. The sun was now full in your face but I enjoyed it, and took some photos. When I got to the top I could see Dessie, well into the descent and felt that barring him twisting an ankle it was unlikely I would be catching up. I pushed on though, enjoying the views and the fact that there was nobody chasing me down. (Couldn't even see the next runner behind.)

I was about 1m40s behind Dessie and second across the line and reduced my own v50 record from last year at 1.32 to 1.27.40 this year. (8th race this year I've beaten first v40.) I thought I had taken 1.35 last time but looking up last year's report I was surprised to find it was 1.32 and also to find a number of similarities between the races: we had a spell of brilliant but cold weather, I was enjoying taking photos of the sun down at Aberlady, and also trees reflecting in the reservoir albeit from the other side than those this year. (And I missed the SoL christmas pub crawl.)

Thanks to Lesley Marshal for this: note funny shadow!

number 2

number 1 (with subliminal number) Dessie F

number 3

number 4

(daysack) number 5

The photos were taken after Andrew and I had enjoyed the tables of sandwiches (brown rolls hurray!) and CAKES galore. I asked Mark where the cakes were and he pointed "over there and take a bag". Sure enough there were more than seemed necessary. And the small cubes of white chocolate fudginess with embalmed cherries - I had to resist filling my pockets with them. I was in danger of consuming more calories than spent. The mulled (non-alcoholic) fruit punch was inspired, and really the whole event from start to finish was just outstanding. The prizes were dispatched as the runners crossed the line and I got a bag of goodies incl. an envelope. 

Bob M with his prayer mat.

Gavin's "pals" shouted on him that he was in danger of being caught at the last minute.
Plainly there is nobody near but he raised his game for the last 50 yards.

Anyway so Andrew and I are taking the scenic route back to his car (very romantic!) And I am stopping to take snaps of the brilliant scenery and trees reflected in the water. "Can't you just photoshop them in later" says Stavert. He also asked how confident I was about being on the right path back to the farm and car. I think he was keen for a soak in a hot shower. 

Can't recommend this race highly enough, although it could easily be horizontal sleet and ice underfoot next time which would make for a less delightful day out. But today was fabulous - thanks to all who marshalled and baked and organised, top event and a brilliant race to round off the year. 

Bob M's photos here
Harmeny 7Rs website / results will be here


  1. A photographic extravaganza! Quite convinced that you took more photos than Dessie did during the race. Nice result.

  2. amazing pictures taken at speed, well done .