Sunday, 21 December 2014

Heart of Midlothian Run

Shortest day, Longest Distance, 21/12/14

Technically that might not be the case in both instances but it was a loose description of today's ultra, designed, improvised and led by Graham H. Last time we ran this route was in January: this time we did it anti-clockwise to ring the changes but the route is always tweaked, never exactly the same. I saw various parts I recognised from last time but often we were coming at them from a different direction.

Up at 7am and off up the road to meet the crew at the titular Heart for 8.30. RD was nearly late and sadly a few weren't able to make it at all. New to the business was Nick from Dunbar, his first time running much beyond 26 miles. 6 to start off: Graham, other Graeme, (Kathy was busy taxi-ing kids around), Nick, Richard, Steve and myself. Steve hadn't run in 3 weeks due to a chest infection. I asked him if he had a bus fare. Yes, and would probably use it but that was preferable to dying of cabin fever. Good man. Kill or cure!

First stop, to qualify this run as December's Tynecastle Bronze, was the war memorial at the Usher Hall. Not sure if I think a recruitment drive to lead young men to their deaths in France was a good idea, but their sacrifice is certainly worth recognising and remembering.

Richard couldn't be encouraged to do more than 15 before retracing his steps taking his day's total to over 30. Good marathon training for the 31st and 1st - good luck with the double, RD!

The weather deteriorated as we climbed into the Pentlands. Stiff wind and drizzle with low cloud.

You can see the srength of the wind on Graham's jacket

About 16 miles in and no avoiding the sploshy ground. First obligatory wet feet of the day. Not the last.

Graham had suggested road shoes would be fine and Steve took him at his word. His Hokas were like skis or roller skates and I was hooting with laughter as he danced over one particularly wet section each foot slipping about 8" every step. No idea how he stayed upright - it was magical.

Never been here before. North Esk Reservoir, the source of the north Esk, although the true source appears to enter the Reservoir from the north west which may well have been the stream we were running along.

We stopped for lunch at "The Boathouse" behind which Graham had stashed some goodies. Due to the rats robbing previous stashes he stored them in a 10lt Crown Paint picnic hamper.

It was far too cold to hang around long and we set off again pretty quickly after eating.

It was warmer once we came off the hill around Nine Mile Burn, or at least signs pointing towards that.

Quite heavy going through this field as Graham recalled where the path went.

Plenty more mud.

The Carnethies, out for the Eskapade, a shorter route from the estuary of the Esk to Carlops, covers some of the same ground and comes across this bridge. We anticipated bumping into them at some point. They set off at the same time. If we had planned it better we might have been able to poach some of their bacon rolls at the pub in Penicuik they use for lunch.

Riverside trails along the (North) Esk

Second stop with Henry's Outdoor Catering providing more rat proof snacks.

Second best sports bar I took along were these "beond" bars which claim to be Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Soya Free. However entirely free they are not, and probably due to the large price and small size were discounted at Run and Become. I say small, but if they were a suppository, which they resembled, you might regard them as substantial. However they had a pleasing texture and taste and were a blessed relief from the many other oaty-flapjacky bars I was carrying.

Somewhere around Penicuik we passed the backend of the Eskapaders.
Graham hi5s Digby.

No wigwams, no chanters, no chip pan fires

Now if it had been sunny and not drizzling all over my lens this could have been a good photo. (As my grandfather used to say, if we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs.)

Apprentice Pillar, Da Vinci Code, blah blah blah.

At 30 miles Steve got that bus fare out. He did a great job up till then but called it a day having knocked off another TB run.

zipping along towards Craigmillar castle

I was on the brink of throwing a whitey as we climbed those awful steps up from Duddingston, so resorted to the best sports snack of the day, a Star Bar. Oustanding.

6 started 4 finished. 

Christmas shopping - if this is the alternative, give me the Heart of Midlothian every time.
Clock says 3.50pm. Home by 4.

Home to home just over 40miles, St Giles to Calton Hill 37.5ish. 
Big thanks to Graham for organising this and I look forward to the Boxing Day Run (9am Commie Pool all welcome) and the 7 Hills / Skyline mash up on the 28th. Again, come along if you like your sandwiches in a paint tub.

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