Wednesday, 22 February 2017

crocked, and the C5

Strangely it wasn't the Carnethy 5 taking revenge and putting me out of action for a couple of weeks, it was work. I probably spend more time on my knees at work than a porn star. After a week on vinyl floors painting skirting boards without sufficient padding under my knees I had a bit of an ache. Just as the glute weakness was leaving, as well. Other knee so (probably) not related. Then the stresses of the C5. But I was still feeling ok until I started running on Sunday and realised half a mile into the run I shouldn't be running. Still had another 7 and a half to go. I left the working parts of my right knee somewhere along the way. Sigh. Haven't really felt like blogging the bits in between but might as well. It was a remarkable Carnethy 5. Probably the worst conditions ever. 

Never noticed this shop at the top of Easter Road until today.
That is some alteration business.

So the forecast says BAAAD and Ollie sends out warnings and instructions to wear or carry extra leggings and thermal tops as well as the usual waterproofs. I have run on the Pentlands in much deeper snow - there was only a dusting on the tops - but the wind was a killer. It made standing around unpleasant. When we arrived it was really quite testing and difficult to know just how much to wear. I opted for shorts and pinned my number to them as I wanted flexibility on top layers. I had thought I would take my jacket off but couldn't face it and for the first time ever raced in a waterproof. Up on the tops I was glad of it as the wind was sharp as a knife and was blowing folk over at times.

"warming up"
photo Mary H

chaaaarge! (not many in shorts)
photo Danielle G

photo Steven Fallon

photo Nick Schierloh

photo Nick Schierloh

photo Alan Renville

between Scald Law and S Black Hill
photo Mary H

Happily there wasn't too much hanging about at the start. Shortly we were sploshing through the particularly soggy bog and up to the open gate. There were a couple of fallers on the muddy path down to the burn but I managed to get past that section unscathed. I felt I was further down the field than normal but I usually get overtaken by loads on the long climb up Scald Law so maybe this was a better tactic. A few known faces went past. The first large hill was slightly protecting us from the worst of the wind. By the time we slithered over to South Black the gale was howling and the cold numbed the side of face and head exposed until we turned the summit mound and started downhill. Another 2 fallers ahead on the icy path round the top. 

photo Chris Busby

It was somewhere around the Kips that I became aware of Des and Harry. We are all in the same age group and have battled out manys a hillrun and cross country. Harry is the strongest climber, Des is a legendary descender. The three of us were swapping places, and the race evolved from just being about survival into something more competitive at that point. Or it did in my mind. Harry got to the top of W Kip first and I was ten strides behind. I squeaked past him quickly, and towards the gate at the bottom Des went past me. I thought we must have left Harry a long way back but he quickly appeared and went past me again. Normally this is the only decent running on the route, down to the Howe but on this occasion the howling gale and horizontal snow made it more challenging. Harry wasn't shy about bumsliding down the last of the descent - he was wearing leggings, possibly waterproof ones. I was reluctant, wearing shorts, to sit and slide for any distance although the wet snow was extremely slippery and this was the best option. 

After a bit of flat, the awful ascent of Carnethy begins. Des and Harry are 20~30 yards and 2 places ahead. I slowly make the ground up between us and after the first long stage I'm about 1 place behind Des, and closing. Harry is gaining ground. I am not delighted to be so close to Des as he is wearing tiny shorts (a 'tactical error trying to out-psyche Alan S') which reveal far too much of the top of his legs and beyond. An ochre-ish shorts liner saves everyone's embarrassment, but it adds to the general pain to have to climb a long slippery ascent with this flag of mild obscenity wafting in one's vision. 

photo Chris Busby

photo Chris Busby

The eventual summit of Carnethy is grim. A brutal wind tries to tip us off our feet and more than once I staggered sideways. A supporting hand from behind steered me back, or maybe just out the way of the guy behind. I had the windscreen blinkers going double time but even then you were only getting a stop motion version of reality. I ran past Mary L who said "well done Peter" and I didn't find out it was Mary until much later. I was about an arms length away from her. She reported getting a "micro hug" from another runner who was blown into her. Top marks to all who marshalled on such a hideous day. I tried to give thumbs up or shout thanks to as many as I could. On the tops the visibility was down to 20 or 30 metres at times and the wind on exposed parts was freezer cold. Alleged 40mph wind with -15 windchill. Happily we didn't have to hang around. 

I threw myself at the downhill in an effort to catch Des and Harry. At some point recently Harry has learnt how to descend. It used to be a fairly safe bet I'd catch him on the downhill, even with something of a lead, but today I only caught glimpses of him haring off. Des was nearer but goes downhill far too well to expect to catch. I did overtake Grieg G who was having a hellish descent. And it was awful. The heather-roots and stones seemed worse for a bit of a frosting and the snow wasn't deep enough to help. Alan S overtook me before the finish line demoting me to 12th v50. I was just glad to finish in one piece. Last time I did 67mins was when I had manflu a few years ago.

descent off Carnethy
another great photo by Nick Schierloh

I had told Mary I prob wouldn't wait but get straight back to the school for a shower. I hardly slowed much after the finish line. Just pleased to have survived, I dashed for the bus (might have been on the first one) and got back for a shower before the hot (warmish) water ran out. 

I know I usually say how bad this race is but I could hear my Inner Angela Mudge saying "If you don't like it, don't run it". Which I haven't been able to argue against. Really I shouldn't. Run it that is. I don't do it very well and I don't like it. But having done it every year since I started racing there is a tradition established which I am powerless to deny. I am glad I was fit to run it, and would have been a bit sorry to miss such spectacularly awful conditions. Hats off to the marshals and organisers though, they were the champions - especially those taking photos in conditions very hazardous to electronics and humans. Big thanks to all whose photos I stole. 

And Olly, the organiser. What a man. Not only does he oversee this behemoth of an event; including hot food and shuttle buses, mountain rescue and bagpipers, he actually puts on his hill shoes and races as well. So I'll try not to complain too much about it.
It is shit though. (Smiley face.)

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