Tuesday, 19 October 2010

UKA British Hill & Fell Relay Championships

The Build Up

When I woke up last Wednesday morning after Tuesday night’s club training session around the hills of Touch, Dunfermline, I was thinking that only having a Cross Country race on the Saturday would give me an easy weekend, oh little did I know that was all going to change in less than 6 hours time……

A phone call at 1pm whilst out for a bar lunch with the team from work from Allan Macaulay, Carnegie Harriers Hill Running Captain asking if I’d be interested in making up a team for a hill relay race in the Lomond’s on Sunday along with my brother (Kevin), a quick phone call to Kevin to check he fancied it and a call back to Allan to say ‘yep’ I’m in, Kevin will call you shortly, just ping me an email with the info on it. We’d get the email later along with teams etc but all the info was on the Fife AC website under the banner – UKA British Hill & Fell Relay Championships, oh dear this wasn’t a small local race then, this was the ‘big one’ UK wide with the best in the business of hill runners taking part – what had I done!!!!!

The race itself involved runners completing a four legged hill relay from Falkland village up into the Lomond Hills of Fife with legs 1 and 3 to be run in pairs and legs 2 and 4 solo legs, now the sneaky part was the website only showed route maps for legs 1, 2 and 4, leg 3 runners only got their map on the day as they departed the start/finish field and this was a navigational leg to find the checkpoint’s (CP). Having found out on the Thursday that I’d be paired up with Kevin and running leg 1 for the Carnegie select team we decided to do a bit of a recce on the Friday morning. So taking a day’s leave from work we parked up at Scotlandwell and walked over to Bishops Hill to check out the CP’s we’d be looking for as we didn’t see any point in walking in from the opposite side as we both new the North side of the area fairly well……

Pre Race

Four Carnegie Harrier teams were about to embark on a tough and very challenging relay race and they lined up as follows –

Carnegie ‘A’ = Leg1 Tom Bowie & Stevie Greer, Leg2 Sandy Bennet, Leg3 Andy Symonds & Pete Simpson, Leg4 Scott Bradley.

Carnegie Men’s V40 = Leg1 Neil Campbell & Dougie McGarry, Leg2 Andy Sim, Leg3 Allan Macaulay & Campbell Reid, Leg4 Pete Humphries.

Carnegie Select = Leg1 Kevin Davie & Barry Davie, Leg2 Chris Davidson, Leg3 Phil Smithard & David Greig, Leg4 Paul Davies.

Carnegie Ladies = Leg1 Alison West & Fabienne Thompson, Leg2 Morna Fleming, Leg3 Sue Walker & Gillian McCracken, Leg4 Melanie Sinclair.

Kevin had said he’d pick me up on the Sunday morning at 7:45; crikey I don’t get up that early for work! and head then so we were early enough to get organised for the 10am start. Just as we arrived at the car park, aka a big farmer’s field on the outskirts of Falkland, Kevin got a call from Mel, one of our Carnegie ladies team to say she’d just arrived with Adam, her Son, who had volunteered to Marshal at the event, okay volunteer may be a bit strong, had his ‘arm twisted’ springs to mind! and luckily their was a space next to their car, that’s saved a 10 minute walk from one end of the field to the other as we found out later. So between the four of us we humped all the gear including two gazebo’s around to the event field.

We met up with a few other Harriers, Chris, Fabienne, Stevie, Neil, Dougie, Alison West etc. mostly those on the early leg whilst we were getting one of the gazebo’s erected, the other one would go up later but we at least had shelter to get ready. Allan appeared with all our numbers, dibbers, maps etc and made sure all the Leg 1 runners were ready at which point one or two ‘choice’ photos were taken, more at Kevin and my expense I think, all in good jest though. The start of the 1st leg was a 10 minute walk from the event field so after last minute faffing around on my part we wandered up the road to the start with Adam in tow to bring back our coats, well okay mine, I didn’t plan on getting any colder than I had too! Now I’ve done a few hill races in the past where the rules have ‘talked’ about kit checks, but this event was on the ball, you weren’t getting into the field without a check, we’d already made sure we had our full waterproof body cover, whistle & compass packed away in addition to the dibber on my wrist and the map in Kevin’s bag I’d also packed a hat and gloves into one end pocket and a water bottle into the other end pocket of my bum bag.

The Leg

After a few more pictures of all four of the Harriers teams 1st leg runners we got the whistle and we were off, up through the field we went as we headed towards the 1st CP, leg 1 had 5 CP’s in total and the info showed it as approx. 11K. In every hill race I’ve taken part in I’ve had to have a fall at some point, well that happened around 1mile in, the funny thing was, it was on flat ground, just missed my footing, Kevin missed it as he was bounding of in front, and quite right too, but in true runner fashion the guy behind did shout to make sure I was okay, only mishap was a tear in my sock, up and onwards……

The CP we were making for was in a steep gully approx. 2.5m into the leg, we made this in 28:04 and from there it was nearly straight up to West Lomond for CP2 which we reached in 38 minutes. The descent down of the Summit towards Glen Vale was okay to start with and allowed for some good running before we hit a steep tricky section that even the Marshall warned up to watch our footing. At this point I think Kevin forgot what ‘be careful’ actually meant as he flew down the loose stones and dirt as I picked my way down gingerly, taking the friendly abuse from the Carnegie Vets team who were now hot on our heels at this point. Needless to say as soon as we hit CP3 at Glen Vale in a time of 48:57 we were off and heading up towards the summit of Bishops Hill and CP4 that we reached in 1:02:09 and putting some ground between ourselves and the Vets team in the process.

From Bishops it was a fast run over to the base of West Lomond again and for those folk, like myself, lucky enough to have competed over Leg 3 of the Devils Burdens Relay(another fantastic Fife AC event held in late January), this ground was very familiar, then it was straight up West again to CP5 which being the last CP we got their in 1:25:26 before descending onto the firm stony track that takes you towards Craigmead Car Park, a marshal directed us of around the back of the hill by the Fort and over the heathery field towards the gap in the trees and the start field. Kevin had literally just said lets be careful as we’re nearly finished when my left foot went down a wee hole and down I went making some horrible noise! but with the sense to actually just roll with the fall. Not sure who was more worried at this point as I checked my ankle was still okay, everything was moving so of we set again being slightly more cautious

Once we hit the start field we opened up the pace as we bounded down through the field to the farm road at the far end, down the road to the claps of spectators before turning into the events field for the 300 metre sprint around to the handover point where Chris was waiting. Kevin had been getting signs of cramp for a good mile already but in true ‘Davie’ fashion, he kept going right to the line before keeling over, I reckon the fact we were knocking in 6 minute miles over the last part of the run didn’t help his case. A quick slap of hands and Chris set of on leg 2 for our team….

Post Race

Once Kevin had recovered from his cramp and was able to stand again after we’d finished, we handed in our dibber and got our time check print out we headed back up to the Carnegie encampment to get some warm gear on. We had been wondering on the way round where the rest of our teams were lying, we knew Neil & Dougie had been right behind us at one point but had no idea about the rest, so to find out we were the 1st team back off leg 1 was a big surprise, however it was only minutes before the rest of our teams flowed in and some stories of the leg were swapped. When I got around to looking at my Garmin, it showed we’d actually covered 9.7miles – so much for 11K then! In a time of 1hr 53m, it was now time to support the rest of our runners……

The rest of the ‘select’ team had good runs, Chris clocked 58mins, Phil & Dave got around in just over the 2hr mark and Paul Davies clocked 64mins to bring the team home in an overall time of 5:58:12 and in 89th place.

Carnegies ‘A’ team finished in a very credible 44th place overall in 5:01:58, the Vets team clocked 6:04:26 to finish in 91st place and the ladies finished in 7:54:31 and 104th place. Well done everyone, fantastic day…………….


Having had 48 hours to reflect on the event, and let the legs and back try to recover, which they aren’t, well the legs haven’t but at least the back’s slightly better, I reckon when I fell near the end I’ve landed on my water bottle which probably also explains the underlying bruising, but hey, it happens! It was also the first time I’ve raced, paired up with Kevin but it was good fun, bouncing the laughs of each other as we ran, kept us going I reckon. I’m now really looking forward to the Devils Burden Relays in January and hopefully a few more team events that will get everyone out competing and supporting each other for the day….

Thanks to Allan Macaulay for pulling together the 4 teams and giving us both the chance to take part in the race…..

Big thanks have got to go out to Fife Athletic Club for hosting the event this year, fantastic job folks, and thanks to all the marshals who spend hours out on the hills at all the various CP’s, I know how cold it was, so it was appreciated.

Useful Links Below -

Barry’s Garmin Stats - http://connect.garmin.com/player/53372142

Mel Sinclair’s Photos – http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/Scottishmelbabe/UKAHillRelays2010

Fell Running Pictures - http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/alastair.tye
(Various sets available from different legs)

Chris Upson’s Pictures - http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/chrisupson63/FalklandUKHillRelays

Carnegie Hillbillies Site - http://carnegiehillbillies.org
(the Hill Running section of Carnegie Harriers Running Club)

Fife AC Bulletin Board – http://www.fifeac.co.uk
(for more photos from DavidS, and Devils Burden Relay info in the near future)

Race Results - http://www.sportident.co.uk/results/2010/UKAFellRelays/fell_relay_relayoverall.html

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Tour of Fife, the conclusion

Well its Tuesday evening, I’ve had 72 hours to reflect on one of the highlights of my ‘running’ year after the 2010 Tour of Fife drew to a close on Saturday afternoon. What a week of racing with a good mix of fellow runners, so well done to everybody who completed the Tour, or even took part in some of the races, it doesn’t matter whether you’re first or last, completing it is what counts.

Big thanks should really go out Brian Cruickshank and his family for all the time and effort put into organising this mammoth event. Also to Ron Morrison, Frank McLaren, Jim Close to name a few and everybody who turned out in some way to help throughout the week, especially the kitchen team on Saturday afternoon.

Hopefully see you all in 2011; I might even manage to drag a few club mates with me, who knows!! Until then….take care

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Twisted Chicken Run

We’re here, race 6, the last day of the ‘Tour’ we’ve made it, unfortunately Kevin couldn’t make this race, he had a fitness test he had to do and couldn’t get out of it, not through his lack of trying mind you…. This was the race that nobody knew the route, even after discussing it on Friday night where we had come up with 3 different connotations we still weren’t any the wiser.

I’d planned on taking the train up to Ladybank and cycling over to Strathmiglo on the Saturday but having got a call from Iain T, I opted for a lift, reckon he was ‘buttering’ me up to not take the 2 seconds out on him! Arrived at the Village Hall in plenty time to check out the route map, it was ‘nearly’ one of the routes we had discussed but you cut of the main path into a fire break in the forest which I previously ran in one of the Fife AC nightmare races so I knew what to expect in this part.

We started in the field behind the hall at 2pm, and headed up out of the field onto a narrow tarmacked path into the forest between Strathmiglo and Falkland, as soon as we hit the tarmac Iain put the foot down, he was going for it to get the time back on Pete, I was holding my own with Pete up to about the 2 mile point then I really started fading. I’d gone through 1m in 6:30 and 2 in 7:37, mind you this was a typical Fife AC race, we’d climbed from 216ft at the start to 592ft in the space of 1.5miles, even after we came of the steep climb through the forest we were still climbing, and I think we levelled out at about 642ft.

Mile 3 was more downhill and through the firebreak that I knew but Stevie and Bryce had also both caught and passed me by this point. We emerged onto a track just up from the ‘Chicken Farm’ and the pace levelled out here with mile 4 done in 6:34. I was keeping the gap to Stevie the same distance but I wasn’t making any headway, we were running into a stiff breeze though. After some encouragement from Jim Close who was directing everybody back onto the final path I managed to pick up on the downhill’s and I was conscious of Stevie up ahead. As we entered the field and skirted down the edge I could see him finishing and had a quick glance at the watch…….

All I’ll say is I’ve never ran down that field any quicker, I’m now glad I’d recce’d it before we started, rounded the last corner and even managed a sprint to the line, this time I was out of breath….. asked Steven what his time was and I reckoned he’d beaten me by 1 second, never mind. We stayed and cheered on the rest of the runners for a while before heading in for the traditional post race scram – CAKES, you can’t beat Fife AC for this. Probably the reason half us do the series (that and the camaraderie).

The prize giving was quickly on us with the Corstorphine pairing of Chris O’Brien winning it out right, not bad given he finished just in front of me last year, and his club mate Grant Wilkie 2nd. A few of us popped down to the local Inn for a celebratory pint before heading home. Obviously by the time I’m now typing this up, the full results have been posted, in the end I clocked a overall 2:57:02, and the best bit, that was for equal 12th place with Stevie – bonus……

Friday, 30 July 2010

Up Hell Time Trial

Call me a sadist but this has got to be my favourite race of the week, god knows why as it’s simply you against the clock, you just forget about what anyone else is doing, head down and eye balls out basically for 2.25km – UPHILL

Kevin took the car tonight as Karen was coming, well we did need a photographer!! Having checked in with Doug at Falkland again and checked to see if anyone was needing a lift up to the East Lomond car park we set of. Driving up the road to the car park I remember Kevin saying that sometimes it’s better not to know what’s in front of you. Ah well he shouldn’t have watched my Tour DVD from last year then…..

Having parked up at the top, we had time for a quick warm-up, which more consisted of Kevin ‘Tiger Balming’ himself up, reckon he was having a competition with Mel to see who could go through the most in a week; personally I’ll stick with Deep Freeze!!
The way this race works is that everybody is paired up with another random runner and set of at 30 seconds intervals from the bottom of the hill, where John Murdoch & Ron Mill have this part down to a ‘T’

Kevin had an early start slot of about 7:38 and I was of half an hour later, so just wandered down the hill later watching some of them coming up, knowing I was going to be looking that bad 30 minutes later. I was paired up with Jan Van Den Berg from Corstorphine, so after a quick good luck we were off. The legs felt heavy from the beach the night before but I just tried to ignore that, went through 400m in 4:02 and 800 in 8:05, slightly slower than last year but it a bit windier I reckon. Never looked at the watch from then on but as you near the summit everybody who’s finished is lining the road cheering everyone on which is a good boost.

Kevin had finished in 14:38 and I crossed the line in 11:38, the 8th fastest time of the night, and when you consider only 5 runners broke the magical 11 minutes I was quite pleased. After some more photo shots, a few of us piled back to Mel’s house for some Chilli, rice & nacho’s, still reckon she was trying to fill us up for Saturdays final race of the ‘Tour’, ended up rolling in the door at about 11pm, got to my bed about half 1, oh dear, racing again in 12 hours!!

As it stands I’m now sitting in 12th place overall with Iain Taylor 2 seconds ahead and Stevie King 33 seconds behind, talk about a Carnegie sandwich. Pete had 32 seconds on me which I thought would only be possible if he had a really bad day at the office.

Chariots of Fire Race

After a welcome rest day on the Wednesday, it was of to St.Andrews tonight for a short run along the West Sands, the beach made famous by the movie ‘Chariots of Fife’. I’d borrowed my maw’s car again tonight as I new Alexa wouldn’t be home in time, and that in itself was going to prove fun getting it home for her finishing work at 10….

Kevin again turned up at the house after his work and we headed of sharp as it would take the best part of an hour to get up their. We arrived in plenty time to allow us to check out how hard/soft the sand was this year as the tide was further in than normal. I managed a few strides on harder sand just to see what the legs were like, the thighs were a bit tender and I reckon the rest day didn’t help here. I was thinking this race was going to be tactical tonight too as their were 4 of us quite close at this point.

Anyway 7:25 we got the customary race briefing from Ron Morrison, who advised us we’d be running a ‘wee bit’ further than normal, why? That’ll be because the course was short last year! Oh yee…. so it was. No fancy start countdown tonight, it was just a GO, and of set 140+ runners across the beach, heading for hard sand.

The usual lead group started heading of into the distance and as I went through the 1st mile in 5:35 it looked like it was going to be Pete B, Iain T and myself again tonight with Stevie K and Bryce Aitken following us. As we approached the left turn up the estuary we noticed Fife’s Chris Russell head up the beach onto the soft sand taking the direct approach to the corner. I followed him this time with Iain coming too, Pete opted to stay on the harder stuff a bit longer, the longer route but easier running.

Heading along the estuary was fun as it was really soft and it meant the next couple of miles slowed to a 6:31 and 6:48 respectively as we went out & back. Iain took the lead and started running along the sea weed that was partially wet but it was better than the soft sand. Round the marshal we went and this time we headed a bit further down the beach to the harder sand, it meant running further but it was easier and Pete caught us up at this point.

Again I opted for the quick route around the corner back onto the main beach but this time I went straight for the hard stuff, Pete started pulling away and Iain followed at which point I was hanging on, I reckon though with a mile to go I was getting a 2nd wind and managed to peg back Iain, 800 to go and I was level with Pete and gradually got in front going through mile 4 in 6:15. Watching the shadows on the sand was interesting as Iain’s had disappeared but Pete was hanging on, the problem with this race is the finish never seems to get any closer, anyway managed to hold on to finish in 26:31, not bad over 4.2 miles of sand…..

The traditional dip in the Sea followed and it also helped ease of the calf’s a bit which was a bonus. The trip back down the road was fun, we drove past the chippy in Guardbridge to the site of a dozen fluorescent jackets waiting to be served, guess what the ‘Harriers’ had for tea then!! Made good time till we got to Kelty and found the motorway blocked by an accident and we all got diverted off. Good think I know the back roads then! Managed to get the car back for my maw only 15 minutes late – Oops!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Tour of Fife Photo's

All the pictures that I've managed to take are located here -http://www.flickr.com/photos/baza/sets

Quality pictures from Scottish races including the Tour of Fife from David Bauchop can be found here -

And Fife AC's very own Pete Bracegirdle who follows the 'Tour' every year snapping more quality pictures posts link to them via the Fife AC website -

Check them out and see if you can spot yourself.

Even more photo's appear via links on facebook, taken by fellow 'Tourists'

Lomonds Lungbuster Hill Race

Race 3 is upon us, my least favourite of them all it has to be said, this is the one that’ll sort the men from the boys, or in other words the ‘Hill runners from the Road Runners’, with myself being the latter, I wasn’t really looking forward to this one.

It was Kevin’s turn for the car so he turned up at the house again straight from his work and we headed up to Falkland arriving at the Community Centre around half 6 to get ourselves checked in with Doug. The bonus of Kevin using his car was that we could take another 3 folk up to Craigmead, step up Mel & Chris from Carnegie and wait for it… Kingdom FM DJ, Ali McLaren who is also taking part in the ‘Tour’ this week. I’ll look out the link to his podcasts, good listening when you’ve a free moment.

So of up to Craigmead car park we went, admiring the clear views of West Lomond and thinking that in less than an hour we’d be pounding our way up to it’s summit, oh great!! Didn’t bother with a warm up tonight as I had no plans on going off hard, I’d just use the run to the bottom of West Lomond as my warm up! After the customary briefing from Ron Morrison tonight (I reckon Jim’s voice was missed) and a head count we were set on our way.

It wasn’t cold but their was a bit of a crosswind on the way out, so much so that their was a bit of drafting going on again tonight “Eh Pete”, the 1st mile was a slow 7:11, partially due to it being up hill and the fact we new what was coming. We had been told we could take any route we wanted up to the summit but we had to follow the marshalled route down, so as we approached the base we spotted Fife’s Chris Russell head of on the steeper more direct route up, the thought had crossed my mind to follow him knowing that he knew the hill quite well, but something said to take the zigzag option, which paid dividends.

I remember my watch beeping at me, a 10:39 2nd mile, wonder why!! Anyway, I’d been looking back and new I had a decent lead over Pete B and Stevie K, but Iain T had disappeared. I crested the summit not far behind Chris in around 18:42 and shot of down the route we were directed to take, now this is the part I normally hate, I usually just ‘pussy foot’ down, but this time it was decent path so I just ‘pussy footed’ a bit quicker than normal, but not quick enough to stop Pete B, flying past me shortly there after followed by Stevie K.

We rounded the corner back to the base of the climb and some flatter ground and I managed to reel Stevie back in, Pete was disappearing into the distance at this point. Went through the 3rd mile in 6:32, pace was going the right direction at least, then Stevie picked up again and I was struggling, more from watching where I was putting my feet than anything else but I knew I had clear air behind so it was a case of head down and keep going. Managed a 5:36 4th mile before I hit the grassy area back down to the finish area with the last .4 of a mile covered in 2:16. Overall a 32:16 so very happy with that.

I stayed at the finish to watch the rest of the field finishing and was surprised to see Iain T come in over a minute down on me, turns out he had headed of up the hill behind Chris and paid the price, at least it’s narrowed the gap between us time wise. Kevin came storming over the hill and through the finish shortly after, he’d had a flyer too, easy seen who got the hill running ‘genes’ in the family then. After a few pictures in the car park we headed back down to Falkland to drop our co-tourists off before heading back home.

Going into the rest day on Wednesday I’m sitting 13th overall, still not sure if the rest day is a good idea or not as the legs are a lot stiffer today as I type this up, but at least we’re on the beach tonight, sandcastles, swimming oh and a 4 mile run…. See you all at St.Andrews