Saturday, 21 November 2015

7 hills 7 beers

This was already a terrifying prospect before I got the manflu. ie run the 7 Hills course but stop for a beer between summits. 7 PINTS (not shandy, not lemonade, no half measures) in 7 different pubs (any you like) and try and beat last year's record of 3hrs 8 minutes I think.

Then everyone who was in the car last weekend went down with the cold. Not just the snuffles or a couple of days of hanky, but full on fever and shuddering MANFLU; headaches, skin painful all over, I've been munching paracetemols all week and snorting lemsip. It's the only thing that has kept me out of bed and at work.

So I hadn't run since last weekend. I missed club and wintervals. I was falling asleep in front of the tv like a pensioner and warned Nick (my partner for this escapade) that I was unlikely to be able to run today. However On Thursday I felt slightly better and suggested if things kept going in this direction I would be well enough for Saturday. The race rules are that we travel in pairs for safety, although 2 drunks are only a tiny bit safer than one. Nick was very keen about doing the race (he had been doing all sorts of research and route planning) and I felt a need to be there on the start line even though I wasn't sure if I really should be. Friday and I had another BAD day and wondered how I could get out of the event. I just crossed my fingers and went to bed for 9hrs hoping I'd wake up feeling fresh and full of the drinking beans. I haven't drunk 7 pints in years. I haven't drunk 4 pints in years. The prospect was not welcome. However now I had to worry about the running as well. 

After dropping off kit bags at the Kilderkin Pub we went to Calton Hill Trig point where, slowest first, we were set off at intervals of 3 minutes. This was partly to avoid a log jam at the first pubs up the High St before the Castle Esplanade checkpoint. It was cold but the sun was out so just a single layer was fine.

Jamie T and Stuart B set off to put HBT on the map.
Jamie was doing all manner of scottish singing and malarky and he hadn't even started on the beers.

no fear, no sense

Eventually the moment came and Nick and I set off up the Bridges and High St. The latter was very busy and we had to zig-zag between wandering herds of tourists. Nick scooted across the Mound junction and I missed the gap. I stood waiting determined not to get run over in the first mile. By the time I got to the Ensign Ewart there was a freshly poured pint and I slung it down my neck. As we floated down the steps (above) Nick said the first mile was done in 8 minutes which included the pint.

I found any up hills very testing. My lungs seemed filled with glue, as did the tubes between ears and nose and I would have been headachy had I not been OD-ing on painkillers. We went the Bread St. Haymarket route (tm Dessie) as did just about everyone. Next pub was Murrayfield where Nick's enthusiasm to be served pronto surprised the barman. However before a fight broke out Nick explained our rush and the couple behind the bar warmed to the madness of our task. In fact nobody said it was a daft thing to be doing that neither respects drinking nor running. Which they would have every right to.

We made good ground on Jamie and Stewart and briefly saw Ross's team who had set off 3 mins behind. But they had to pull into a pub for a beer before Corstorphine and I think that was the last we saw of them.


passed Gio's team on way to Stenhouse

Nick was very much the leader in our team. When we got to within shouting distance of a pub he would charge off and order in the pints. This worked very well at The Pub next to the Corn Exchange where Stuart and Jamie went (wrongly) into the coffee shop and then had to wait while our pints were poured by the least speedy barmaid all day. As we left a whole group of runners entered and we rubbed our hands in glee at the prospect of a long slow queue for their beers.

Caiglockhart wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. We were up the dirt and beech nut slippery slope without too much bother although I was wheezing like a broken kazoo by the top of the hill.

Instead of the usual 7 Hills route (Flywalk and Braid Burn) we stuck to the road and climbed the steps to the Buckstone (next to Braids Hotel.) Gordon (- 3.08 record holder!) was there to welcome us. I raced the pint and left quickly by the wrong door. I had tried to gain entry earlier by the other one and found it closed but I think there was another yet. I followed Nick up the hill to the turn off then up the trails to the trig point. The next pub was likely to be the make-or-break and for a while it looked as if we would be forced to return to the Braids Hotel (no pub to be visited twice), however Nick had spotted Jim's survey of the area on strava last night and got in touch with the Thistle Golf Club which said they might be open if the weather was okay and there were a couple of members in. (Nick had been busy emailing the local golf clubs with a view to stealing a lead here, but without any luck up to this point.) So after the trig point we veered left to the orange tiled buildings where after a couple of circuits round the building we found a bunch of dudes upstairs swilling drinks. We bought 2 cans of their only beer - cans of Belhaven, then realised we needed to buy a third to top up to the full pint. While Nick arranged this I signed the visitors book, which would have been read with chagrin by Jim and Nasher a handful of minutes after we left.

Orange roof = Thistle Golf Club

3 cans, 2 pints

glug glug

visitors book

Hermitage to Blackford

Thanks to Olly who gave us a cheer and took these 3 photos on Blackford Hill. He commented on facebook later that we all seemed "impressively composed and spew-free." (Apart from the fact that I couldn't even say hello because my lungs were rattling so much.)

Jim and Graham hot on our heels

Quick pint in Swany's then through the Pollock Halls and limbo through the turnstile. Nick went through headfirst, I went feet first. Then just the climb up Arthur's Seat. I had been meaning to avoid any kind of steep sections as we would be 6 pints down at this point but it was Nick up ahead (as he was all day) and he just went the usual way. Wee bit of scrambling but happily nobody fell off.

Also he went down the Dry Dam rather than the Dasses but it's no biggie and he had committed to it before I could shout him left. In fact quite surprisingly I don't think either of us fell all day, despite being quite intoxicated. I can only imagine the running was burning off the beer. That said when we finished everyone went back to the Kilderkin and had more beer. I didn't. I got out fast and went home. You can get too much of a good thing. Nick had a further 2 pints bringing his total up to 9. I don't know if that is to be applauded or not!?

We were first back to Calton Trig point. But we had seen Jim and Graham in the Kilderkin (last pub) as we left, and knew that they would be ahead of us in time (having set off much later.) However for a moment there we were the new world record holders of the 7 Beers / 7Hills, finishing in about 2.32. Graham and Jim took 10 minutes off that. However if I don't have wet lungs next year I think Nick and I could take a crack at that.


Passing stranger Rachel was bullied into taking photos and congratulating us

Nasher and his laminate

back to the pub

Johnny Knox and son had a team

Before things get any worse, RUN!

Huge thanks to Jim for setting this event up.
And a grudgingly well done for running and drinking so fast!

1 comment:

  1. Haha amazing. The uni teams do a beer mile on a track (a pint before every 400m), but a beer hill race does sound pretty fantastic!