Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Baddinsgill Round 2017

photo John Brown

If I'd known how my glute would feel shortly before the start of this one I'd not have bothered. I pulled something and could feel a weakness after Saturday's sprint along the beach - nothing serious but when I tried to run I could feel it was in need of a good massage or rest. Not 10miles of swampy hills. However I have been to all but one of these (today was the 6th) and for me they epitomise a quality event: you can turn up on the day, get an entry for a £5 and get out on the hills away from all that shite in town, get a bit muddy and be home by late afternoon. Brilliantly organised by Nick and marvelously low key. Hill running as it should be.

photo Graeme Reid

Mary had thought about going but decided not to. I put a message on facebook and Marcin volunteered to give me a lift there. (See, facebook is good for some things!) Good to meet a fellow Porty who enjoys events like this. He was surprised there weren't more PRCers going. Others have done the event in the past but not many. Hopefully the current interest in the Skyline will encourage a few more to try running in the hills. That was another reason for me to do this. Training for the Skyline in Oct. I haven't done a hillrace in a while and wasn't really relishing it. Especially the long climbs. I relished it even less when I met Des C before the off and he confessed to being in reasonable shape. Well there goes first 50! 

photo Graeme Reid

Now these last 2 photos are telling. Taken by Graeme after about a quarter of a mile of tarmac, the only road section. The rest was all hills and mud. I was in 11th place and between Ross (ahead) and David (behind). Which (spoiler alert) is where I finished, in 11th and between these 2. However the top ten did change places a bit.

The start (after the small road section) is pretty much all up hill. I didn't push too hard knowing it's a long 10 miles with plenty of soft ground. The ground was particularly soft this year, probably the most soggy the course has been over the 6 years, and this made it pretty horrible going. It is quite a lumpy course anyway and with plenty of swamp and splosh. Probably the reason this end of the Pentlands is visited considerably less than the Flotterstone end. After topping out there are 3 smallish descents with splosh at the bottom of each before a long haul up to East Cairn Hill. The last pond I took a running jump at, and went up to knees or deeper. It took some effort to extract my feet with shoes still on.

Then head down and climb for what seems a long way. (It's only 400ft.) Towards the top some folk went a new way. I would have followed blindly but Ross suggested he usually went the other way and I woke up and agreed yes the usual way was probably a good idea. I think it turned out to be spot on and the others taking a short cut found themselves behind our group of three. After the summit of East Cairn there is a horrible descent. The tourist path seems worse every year - a steep and rutted run down blocks and boulders with deep hillshoe footprints in the black mud. Get it wrong and you could wrench a knee or leave your teeth there. By now you are half way having done the out and are on the way back. However there is still plenty more fun.

photo Graeme Fletcher

I thought it an excellent idea to keep Ross and David in sight as they seemed to know what they were doing. Good to see the marshals at the Caulstane Slap checkpoint and get a small cup of water. I carried a couple of gels and half a soft flask of water but was too busy watching my feet to consume any of that. After the stile there is a long climb up to West Cairn Hill. I managed to just stay in touch with the other 2 but they were looking fresher than I felt. My glute was holding up ok and I was looking forward to the next section which I had enjoyed in previous Rounds. However it seemed a bit more lumpy and wet than I remembered and I was beginning to doubt whether I liked this course at all. 

photo Graeme Fletcher

photo Graeme Fletcher

There follows a pretty hellish descent towards Wolf Crags as most cut the corner and you are lifting legs high in deep heather. You rejoin the path by the fence all too briefly before a long climb through more knee deep heather. I have looked and looked in previous years for a better line but there doesn't seem to be one. It isn't that far, it just seems that way on tired legs. Around here I noticed Marcin was marching up behind me, having worked his way through the field. I was pleased he was going well, while hoping he wouldn't overtake anyone else! It kept me pushing on.

The climb looks like it ends at the stile at the top but it goes on after the blind summit and over quite a lot of swampy ground. It is hard to find the will to keep going but after the last high point I knew it would be all downhill to the finish. Previously there was a last wee climb but this year the route was diverted due to a bull in the field. Good call! So it was a mile shorter and a small hill less.

The route was kind of weird though. I had presumed it would be a nice straight line down a hill. But there were a couple of marshals to point us around a trail that snaked by some woods and had I not got glimpses of Ross ahead would have been worried I'd somehow got lost. A couple of folk did summersaults in the grass by way of celebration. I overtook David, my Thursday evening buddy, much to my surprise. Just before a nasty turn and some sharp stones just beneath the grass. A quick slalom through the trees and all of a sudden we popped out at the finish line. Oh!

photo Graeme Reid

photo Graeme Reid

My previous times had been between 1.43 and 1.54. This year the increased splosh and shorter course slowed things down and speeded things up respectively. So I was ok with 1.45. Marcin was right behind David and enjoyed the course. Which is pretty upbeat - if it was always this wet I don't think I'd be quite so keen. It's a while since I've been hillfit and although I intend to sort this before the skyline, it is a long road full of hard work. Not sure how appealing that is. Think I sometimes prefer dicking about taking photos of butterflies!

Salomon S Lab Speedcross

One thing I got absolutely right. The shoes. Currently massively discounted in Run 4 It from £145 to £75, these are the best hillshoes ever. I hadn't even broken them in on a training run. Straight out the box today! Previous ones were Fellcross. These S Lab Speedcross are nearly identical and very confidence inspiring. Grip is at least as good as Inov-8s. And fit and feel is really comfortable. Even on the worst of terrain. I wore gaiters to keep some of the bruck out. That worked too. 

Big thanks to Nick B and his family and helpers. Really relaxed and very well organised event. Everything went well. Loads of prizes and beers given away at end. Which is always appreciated. Peter H at the front managed to get a minute ahead of Liam. And very well done to Michelle H, who arrived by bike and won, beating all the women from both the younger age groups! Way to go! Big thanks to Marcin for the lift there and back.

Monday, 28 August 2017

love is like a butterfly

Love is like a butterfly
It lives for a day and then it dies, 
This is such a terrible lie,
Wendy Wendy Craig


New shoes this week. All my shoes were feeling a bit flat so I hunted around the interweb and got a pair of (trail) Challenger ATRs 3 (second pair in orange and black colourways) and NEW (road) Clifton4s. Former off Ultramarathonrunningstore, latter Pete Bland for £95 which is pricey but £10 less than full price. They didn't have them in black, only that blue but they are kind of summery and bright. I picked up the Cliftons from Telferton which is why they were in the car for the Saturday Gullane run.

Also on the shopping list this week were a pair of Salomon S Lab Speedcross. Although Pete Bland had them reduced from £145 to £95, Run 4 It shop in Lothian Road, a place I don't really go to, had them at £75. My previous hillshoes, S Lab Fellcross (pretty much identical) also came from there and have been feeling thin, so felt it best to warm up a new pair in plenty time for the Skyline. They are super fantastic and my feet survived unscathed, unblistered and in great nick after the straight-out-the-box-and-racing Baddinsgill Round on Sunday. More of that later. First, the usual...

Saw this dragonfly (Common Darter?) on the Sea Buckthorn down the JMW beside the golf course. Given there are no bodies of water nearby, I was surprised. But they are strong fliers. This one (as many others were today) was sunning itself on the red dirt path between passers-by.

another darter on a fence post, posing for photos

A ladybird you say but look closer and there is more than one beastie here. Many of today's photos have an accomplice as well as the primary subject - keep your eyes open for them, see how many you can spot.

So, to the Butterfly Bushes at toad corner again. I have to say thanks to Mary for being extremely patient this week. The light was good but the subjects very similar to last week. I felt nostalgic for the Blues so ran around the shorter grass to kick up a couple and chase them. The one below had lost a lot of his scales and looked a bit washed out. But still scolding and chasing the Small Heaths as they flew into the Blue's airspace. Geroff my land!


Then I waded into the thistles and nettles to have a chat with the peacocks and admirals.
Hah! you forgot to keep an eye out for doublers!

accidentally cropped out this bee, bottom right

But keen to get in on the act it obliged.

There doesn't seem to be a pecking order or rank. I've seen bees chase butterflies from their perch and vice versa. They all get along and don't mind each others' proximity. There's a cheesy meme right there, and lesson for us all.

too easy no points for this pairing
But did you spot the fly below the peacock 4 photos up???

Mary said this photo looked like heaven.
Not sure if she meant when you get to the pearly gates there is a large butterfly sternly looking down and measuring you up.

less welcome wildlife
after gadding about in the undergrowth for a while I checked my legs and removed 4 or 5 ticks

In search of dragonflies I went over by the other pond, but there were no joys. I had seen a large blue monster earlier but it was moving too fast and didn't land as I watched it fly 300 yards away in seconds. I did spook a deer and it took a line that I thought would bring it out directly in front of Mary. Unfortunately there was a rise in between and it disappeared unseen. Photos of me bushwacking on Mary's blog along with some very similar shots of dragonflies and pretty flowers HERE. No deer though.

no sure what's going on here

often below fence posts or perches you can find these

They are collaborative art projects between owls and mice although mostly to the benefit of the birds and decidedly not the rodents. Mr Owl, possibly Tawny, eats mice and shrews and then re-imagines them into furry bone sculptures, which are spewed out while perching on a suitable viewing point. You could tease apart the multi media sculpture to analyse the audience (4 shrews, 2 field mice, 1 vole) but we left this one as found. They often have an uncanny essence of mouse about them, implied but not stated.

We did some ill advised tempo pace running along the beach.
Mary won a groin strain, I went home with a tweaked glute. 

another fabulous run - right, off to Tesco's