Formerly the Red Moss Revolution this popular midweek race changed route and now takes in West and East Kip missing Hare Hill and the rutted contour round Black Hill, taking the path from the Howe to Balerno and descending down the first climb of Beach Avenue back to the start / finish.
I have yet to write out all the races happening in June on my events calendar and so would have missed the race entirely had Jim H not mentioned it on facebook. Although entries had opened and closed (70 out of the 80 available places taken) if you turned up on a bike you could get free on-the-day entry. It helps keep the car park from getting absolutely log-jammed. I gave myself an hour to get there but the tailwind and strong coffee before setting off insisted I race at top speed and I clocked just over 55mins for what should have been an hours+ gentle ride. As I overtook the beardy Bicycle Works dude (his bike sounding super well greased and maintained) I realised I was inadvertently challenging him to a race and along with 3 others on bikes heading Red Moss-wise there was something of a time trial before we got to the start line. Beardy Bicycle Worker (very good shop BTW, Argyle Place) said "that was a good pace you set" as we stood in line to register.
There was 20 minutes to kill so I went round the prettiest half mile boardwalk there is enjoying the bog cotton and warm evening. Perfect running conditions. The old course was fab and I hoped the Kips version was going to be similar and equally fun.
When I got back to the start everyone was lined up and listening to Jamie give his risk assessment very much in the manner of YP at the Bog Trot, warning of gravity and also ourselves. Then off we went. I think the brisk cycle took some of the urgency out of the first hill and I was happy to let 20 or more folk go ahead. It's a hellish hill at any pace and I was glad to turn the corner at the top and get out onto the grass.
Gavin cheering us on at the Drove Rd.
There is a wee bit of respite from the climb after you go through the gate then it ascends all the way to the top of West Kip. I was pleased to keep Harry and Jim in sight and knew that things would improve in the second half.
I tried to take a sneaky pic over my shoulder to see if Des was nearby but all I got was the sun shining through my ear.
Des was indeed nearby and overtook about 2/3rds up West Kip. I said well done and he was about ten yards ahead by the top. Given his legendary descending skills, and the lack of Harry's, I though he maybe was in the most likely position in our age group. Which put me in third, but the views from the Kips were so joyous that it was a real pleasure just to be out and running in such surroundings.
I made a rather poor descent off West Kip. Several things were stopping me going flat out. The first was the camera. I had worn my Inov-8 race vest mainly to carry the camera in the front pocket. It was thrashing about in there and threatening to jump out so I had to run with my left hand on my heart. The camera was tied on a leash so it wouldn't hit the deck but I might have to refine the method before the next hill race. Also my toes were feeling scuffed. Not sure how that happened; it was either something about the toe clips on the bike or just curling my toes in anticipation of a spill but I seemed to have managed to take the skin off the knuckles of my 2 big toes and could feel it getting worse with both Kip descents. Maybe I haven't been doing enough fast descents. So I kind of trundled down the kips and didn't get really going until the flatter ground.
Around here things picked up and I stopped taking photos. I could see Des was catching Harry and that I might be making some ground. So the camera stayed away and I picked up the pace. I followed the guys ahead who cut the corner and I only just saw the fence at the last moment jumping it on the adrenaline provided by the shock. The other side I saw and clambered under where a line of wire was already floored.
The descent to the burn was similar to the C5 but we turned left not right and I could see Harry and Des just up ahead. Des had got past Harry but then ran out of steam and Harry moved ahead. Shortly after, I overtook Des who I think said "well done Pete" but we were both going at it petty hard and it sounded like "grunt grunt Pig."
photo David Wilson
David running as sweeper, had the time to take proper photos. He passed some on including this one of that fence. It was a beautiful evening, although not quite as much light about as I initially thought and I was disappointed a lot of the photos I took came out a bit shoogly.
Back to the race and I was trying to reel in Harry. I was a bit miffed he seemed to have learned how to run downhill since last we were racing and on the trail along to Balerno I had to really work to shorten the distance between us. I caught him just at the top of the last descent. Not feeling home-and-dry I cranked it from there to the finish line keeping an eye on my watch. I had been excited about the other main challenge of the race; beating your age in minutes. The race record was about 41mins making it tough on the younger guys, but I'd reckoned sub 53 was possible and sure enough I crossed the line just over 49 winning a bottle of beer.
I presume Andrew G is on the road back from injury as he would normally be a good bit ahead of me and his dad. They certainly both kept me focussed and when I apologised to Harry later for going past so close to the line he said it was no surprise as he could hear my breathing from some way out which he recognised from Thursday evenings. Ahh, the aeolian swoosh that is a combination of gasping lungs forcing air through a generous mouthpiece. Mary has remarked upon this. Not good stealth mode, although M has also suggested it might be useful in psyching out the opposition: I'm coming to get you! Anyway Harry seemed unperturbed about me dashing past at the last moment.
Michael romped off at the start and I never saw him again.
Not bad given he spent all last weekend racing.
Richard also enjoyed the race. I wasn't aware he was even taking part but Michael said he was one of the latecomers we were waiting for at the start! Good he made it along to add another Porty to the results. Not sure if they (the results) will be up for a while as Jamie is, ahem, relaxed about the process. Which was evident when a few of the field including myself went to the Grey Horse pub for free soup and bread afterwards.
My main reason for going along wasn't to pick up a couple more bottles of beer for first v50* but I'll get to that in a second. The prize giving was very casual and based around reasons for giving out some beer and wine to those gathered rather than strictly on merit. So you were as likely to get a bottle for having blistered a foot as for coming in the top ten. It was a fun and generous prize giving and pretty much everyone seemed to get something. There were about 20 folk went to the pub and I think there was soup and bread for 40. Ivor did his best to make up for absent numbers by having several plates of soup (was it 5 or 6?) I lost count!
But what also made it a great night is an old pal of mine Paul is the proprietor of the Grey Horse. I only realised this a couple of years ago when it was still the Red Moss Revolution and afterwards we went to the Gey Horse. I first met Paul and did artwork/signs for him in the mid 80s when he ran a Chinese Restaurant and night spot in Dalkeith. He now has the only pub in Balerno and plans to do a major refurb this summer. Not being the drunk I was back then I haven't been keeping in touch so it was good to chew the fat and catch up with this hard working guy. And of course his soup was excellent.
I cycled home in a haze of love-for-my-fellow-man that accompanies a good hard run and a moment or 2 in the pub afterwards. As Michael said "top notch Wednesday night entertainment." Difficult to beat the race that, for free entry, gives you 3 beers and as many bowls of soup and bread. And a spectacular run in the hills. Outstanding!
*v50: Jamie did the prizes on an ad hoc basis of giving bottles out to whoever was there, rather than exact placings. So first mv50 is more properly "fastest mv50 who was in the pub"