Sunday, 15 June 2014

Traprain Law Hill Race

Race number 2 in a three race weekend

Another very fine race. I had plotted with Michael G that we might do a 3 race weekend. Sadly MG has injury issues and in a bid to regain some sort of fitness to accompany his pal round the 7 Hills next weekend tore up his dance card for this weekend. Gutted for him as I know how much he likes a stupidly ambitious weekend.

Keith Burns is involved with this one. (It says Trevor Collins on the Carnethy website but Keith is involved.) I haven't spent much time in Keith's company but when I have done (Alternative John Muir Way etc.) I have found him to be very good value. This race goes through a river - not because there isn't a bridge, there is - it's just MORE FUN to have everyone splosh through a stream and if you're lucky you won't go your length on the very slippy rocks under the water. 

All the action shots by Willie J
(except the ones by Bob and James A!)

I wondered how the orange ballet shoes would cope with this as they require a slightly more precise foot placement, being very flexible. But first a bit of road. Willie J came along to spectate so I gave him my camera and he posted himself along the road just before we divert onto the riverside trails that form most of the race. I had arrived with Steve who gave me a lift, and there was another car load of Porties as well as a number of the usual suspects.

Stuart and Ann were just back from a holiday in Bruges. 
(And they had re-watched the film just a couple of days before going, to get in character.)

Bill G bringing up the rear.
And he didn't finish last.

So the riverside paths go humidly up the Tyne and under the A1. There are a set of steps and then after a bit more some tape directing us across the river. I normally charge through but was a bit more cautious this year, given the orange shoes and also Keith warned me the rocks were slippy as fun - he had either taken a dooking or very nearly himself while checking out the course. Then up a steep partly muddy bank and a continually rising road / trail / field / road crossing / dirt trail and a hike up Traprain Law itself. 

I overtook Kent, first local who always runs here but never anywhere else that I've been. Sometimes he's ahead, other times just behind. Last year he was 50secs ahead. This year I went past, as usual, at the stream crossing but managed to stay ahead. After the road crossing it gets properly steep. Up until this point it has been runnable but now there is a bit of a hike, a gate I scaled noticing the stile to walk through as I landed, and then onto the fixed ropes. It helps your trashed legs (though isn't obligatory) to employ your arms hauling you up the rocky scramble. After considerable wheezing and puffing the gradient eases off and Bob M takes a photo of you jogging like a gimp because your heart rate is a smidge under 200 bpm. No idea how Robert (first photo) managed that summit conquering pose. Impressive!

James W first home.
(Also in orange shoes.)

I had warned Steve and anyone who would listen that the track off the hill seems at a fast angle but has some dangers lurking in the grass that will twist your ankle given half a chance and much better to save your strength for the safer ground of the tarmac immediately afterwards. There are now ponies on the hill for grazing and grass management, and they have churned up a couple of swampy areas which was new for this year. About time I took the radioactive orange shine off my shoes. I could see the guy ahead and hmmm is that a shock of impressively curly hair? I am getting a feeling of deja vu.

After a bit of road there is a right hand turn down a farmer's track and some long gradual downhills on nice trails. Bit more road, bit more trail and then over a bridge and back onto the riverside trails. This always feels tough  and longer than the outward journey but I was closing down Dave with the hair so had something to chase. He was unsure of the route and I knew it well so I felt I might have an advantage. 

photo James Addie
full set on flickr here

This is as close as I was to get - what I didn't know was Dave had run a parkrun earlier(!) which was probably why I had got that close. 

It was great that East Linton got such fine weather for their fair. Callum (3rd) said he's never sweated so much at a race and right enough it was warm and very humid, especially in the greenery along the side of the Tyne. 

See that small plate of goodies - I could have eaten 4 of them easily.
I was very pleased to come 5th overall (faster than last year) and first m50. (More bottles!)
It is a great race, a real gem and highly recommended.

Big thanks to Willie for taking the photos and cheering us on.

Bob's photos here
Results will eventually be on Carnethy website here

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