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

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