Red Wine Runner

A Scottish Running Blog

Tag: hill race

Mud, Hills and Adventures

In the three weeks since the Great Glen Ultra I have kept myself very busy, both in and out of my running shoes. Oddly I haven’t suffered anywhere near as much fatigue as after the Cateran Trail 55 in May, and as soon as my joints stopped aching I was gagging to get back out running again. After being in a state of constant taper/recovery since the end of the Highland Fling in April, I was really ready to get back into a structured training regime to get me in the best shape possible for the Glenmore 12 hour race in September.

Heart of the Park Challenge route

Heart of the Park Challenge route

A week after the Great Glen on the 13th July, Kynon and I drove out to do the Heart of the Park Challenge in Braemar. This is a small and low key off-road 12k adventure race around Braemar, with three river crossings, some sharp hills and lots of mud. I’d had a run the day beforehand to make sure my legs were ok, and they were mostly fine apart from a sore bit on my foot. Kynon and I decided to run together for fun and just enjoy the race together in the sun – something that never happens as we’re far too competitive if left to our own devices in races.

Picture - Kevin Masson

Picture – Kevin Masson

I unfortunately suffered from a bit of car sickness on the drive out and my stomach had not quite settled by the time the gun went. I hammered it up the first hills without doing a warm up and I quickly felt decidedly rough about the guts when I got to the top. Across a cooling river, over a field, through a deep bog and up another sharp hill was as much as my stomach could take before I had to adopt the tripod stance against a tree and puke what was left of my breakfast up. I wouldn’t normally have been too bothered about this, but the poor young marshal who couldn’t have been over 12 years old looked utterly traumatised so I felt a bit guilty!

Kynon showed no concern whatsoever and was happy to get a move on once my periodic retching had stopped, and we sailed through the rest of the course enjoying the technical terrain. The route is beautiful and well worth an explore, if you can figure out how to dodge the thigh-deep mud baths.

Photo - John Mill

Photo – John Mill

Photo - Heater Barnett

Photo – Heather Barnett

The rivers were lovely to run through and felt great on my throbbing left foot which felt like someone had hit it right across the top. This was the pain which had been bothering me through the week and running on rocky trails had really inflamed it. Since I was favouring it whilst running, I unfortunately then managed to somehow kick the underside of a rock like a football and go flying face first onto some grass. I’d hit the top of my second toe on my left foot which was now throbbing painfully as well.

Photo - John Mill

Photo – John Mill

Photo - John Mill

Photo – John Mill

We made it to the finish in 1hr 32m 6 seconds and then enjoyed sitting on the warm grass eating crisps and drinking coke whilst the last finishers came in. The top of my foot was swollen and throbbing and my stubbed toe was swollen and purple and blue – that in itself was less concerning as the day went on than the loss of movement in my toes, which I couldn’t lift off the ground or clench. With great annoyance I arrived at A+E later that evening and was assessed by a Doctor who wanted to x-ray, but the Department was closed for the night. On my return the next morning I was seen by a nurse who had treated someone just a few days prior who had come in with a post-Great Glen injury as well, so at least she wasn’t surprised as the Doctor when I said I ran 72 miles, not 7 point 2.

In the end the x-ray revealed no breaks or stress fractures, and it was just a bad thump for the toe. It remained lovely shades of blue and purple all week and the swelling on the top of my foot went down with a course of anti-inflammatories. I’m glad I went to A+E to get a definite answer and am grateful that I live in a country where I didn’t come home with a bill for several thousand pounds for the hospital’s time.


With no lasting significant pain, the next Saturday it was time to take part in the Laurencekirk Gala Tower Hill Race again. This is a 3.2 mile race up and down a hill to a tower and back, which takes place in Laurencekirk, during Gala week. The clues are in the name. Last year I ran to Laurencekirk with Vikki and Kate which gave us a total of 21 miles for our long run that day, but this year we took the car as I didn’t trust my foot with that distance.

It was also absolutely pouring with rain. The Howe o’ the Mearns was filled with mist and surrounded by thunderclouds which rumbled ominously around us. After paying our £4 each, the 25 or so runners lined up behind a line drawn in the mud on the road. After a short period of dryness, the heavens opened in time with the starters’ whistle and within 200 meters we were all soaked to the skin. The rain was heavy and tropical, and as lightning flashed and thunder crashed around us, I wondered if running up the highest hill around towards some power lines and a tower was really in our best interests.

However I got to the top and ran around the tower to return, to see that I was 4th last and performing fairly poorly as usual. I am really tremendously crap at running up hills and I struggle to get any speed or momentum going. One day I will actually train properly to improve myself in this area rather than churning out poor result after poor result and moaning about it, but that day will have to be when I get bored of running ultras which I don’t see coming very soon.

Laurencekirk Hill Race

Very wet SRC runners

I finished in 34.39; 4th last and 4th of four Stonehaven ladies for 17 SRC Championship points. I am currently 3rd in the Club Championship; this is about the time of year where my excelling in points due to presentee-ism is overtaken by those who are actually decent runners. There are three more races in the Championship series but I am only around for one of them, which will complete my five finishes to be eligible for the Championship. It’s a 5k, so there is no danger of me threatening any Championship podium positions this year, unless no SRC ladies turns up for any of the three remaining races…


After a very enjoyable weekend at the Commonwealth Games (we saw Rugby 7s, the marathon, and athletics) I am feeling very inspired for this weekend’s Callanish Stones marathon. Naomi, Rachel and I are driving to Ullapool on Friday before getting the ferry over to Stornaway and being met by Jemma for a fun weekend in the Hebrides. I have no desire to hit a particular time in this race, but I’d like to think I could cruise under 4hr 30m without too much bother. I’m not feeling the Great Glen in my legs at the moment but it might be a bit different after running 20 miles; on the other hand I might just be able to lock onto a pace and use my endurance to ride out a time nearer 4 hours. Either way I’m looking forward to a great weekend away with my friends in a place I’ve never been to before.

Here’s to marathon number 6!

Cheyne Hill Race – RACE REPORT

15th August 2013
Cheyne Hill Race

44m 45s
42nd/47 Finishers
8th/11 Females
4th/6 Female seniors

Last Thursday I ran the Cheyne Hill Race which is a tiny, old-school hill race ran by the Cosmic Hillbashers running club. It takes place about two miles out of Stonehaven and is in our club championships so I had no excuse to miss it.

I picked up three girls from my club and we drove up to save our race legs. We paid our £2.50 entry and hung around with the 47 other entrants waiting to start, who were mostly tough and weathered hill runners with arms and legs like knotted string. Despite living so near I was not familiar with the route at all and was a little concerned I might end up going off piste, but following the runner in front – how hard can it get, right?

The start was straight up hill from the first step and not having warmed up, my calves and lungs were quickly burning. I overtook a few on the single track path and continued my effort to start my races more assertively and try and place higher up from the early stages in small races like this. After a mile the field had spread out a little and I could no longer see the person in front, nor hear footsteps from behind. The path I was on broke free from the forest and I was running on a narrow path through heather and after a moment or two I realised there was not another runner in sight ahead or behind me. Having studied the course map before I knew roughly the direction to head in so I kept on going along the path, hoping to see someone else at some point and then rejoin the race. I caught a glimpse of a neon disappearing behind some trees about 300m below me, so I started galumphing (there is no other word suitable) over the heather to follow them. Unfortunately there was a fence to climb over, and some rocks that I tripped over, and the heather and bracken was up to hip height at times so my legs were being scratched and torn at. I eventually saw a piece of tape tied to some heather which showed me I had rejoined the route, but when I paused to catch my breath I heard or saw absolutely no-one near me.

Well, shit. Dead last it is then. I had been pleased to have got ahead of the other Stonehaven girls at the start and was hoping to be the first Stoney lady home for the maximum championship points available, but the opportunity for that had clearly come and gone. I jogged on pretty annoyed about the situation, and baffled as to how I’d managed to get off course just over a mile in to a 4 mile race! I cringed with embarrassment of the thought of finishing in last place and having to run in with everyone waiting for me, but still; a dead last finish finish trumps did not finish, which greatly trumps did not start…

I tried to run as hard as I could, but I assumed I had run a lot extra so I didn’t know how long my race would be. At about 3.5 miles I caught a glimpse of someone ahead of me and that spurred me on to sprint and try and get past them – anything to not be last! Not long after I came across Vikki and Geri from the club who had also had a bad race and were very surprised to see me coming past them from behind as they thought I would have long finished. I wasn’t in the mood for hanging about so blasted on and managed to overtake two more people to vaguely salvage my race, but I couldn’t quite catch Rebecca who finished one place and 59 seconds ahead of me to be first Stonehaven lady.

All the lads in the club had wondered what had happened to us and why we’d taken so long. Unfortunately we’d set ourselves up nicely for some terribly sexist jokes about female navigation and our ability to read a map. My only defense is that I hadn’t ran the course before and some of the course markings weren’t particularly visible due to thick summer vegetation, but in the end it’s my fault I took a wrong turning.

I finished in 44m 45s and 4th of 6 Senior ladies. Having ran my maximum of 5 club championship races to count towards the competition I’m now in 2nd place behind Vikki (who has also run 5). I can’t do the next two so I’m hoping I can finish higher than 7th place at the final race in the Championships, the Fraserburgh Half, so I can use that to replace my poorest scoring race, the Aberdeen Beach 10k, and improve my points a little more. I very much doubt I will place in the Championships by the end of the year, but I’d like to finish with as many points as I’m capable of.

No pictures to share unfortunately, as we were all so cross at getting lost and so scratched and covered in mud that we all wanted to get straight home to a bath and a beer! I really liked the course though and will return to recce it in more detail soon. Thanks to the Cosmic Hillbashers for putting on a  great, friendly race to break up the working week!

 

© 2019 Red Wine Runner

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑