Monday, January 26, 2015
Another big day out on the Lomond Hills in Fife for the fun that is the Devil’s Burdens relay. Assorted teams had made the trip in the weeks before the race to recce the various legs, including the new improved Legs 3 and 4, but even the best laid plans can go astray, as we discovered a few hours before the race.
We had three teams – men, women and mixed. Army planning came to the fore, with Andy Gr and Rachel G organising logistics and transport, and doing a splendid job of it. Unfortunately on the day, Phil and Liz were unable to run, and since they were key members of the mixed team, there was a bit of juggling required to keep the team running. Ruth Clark stepped in to take Liz’s place on Leg 3, I took on Phil’s Leg 2, and hats off to Maddy, who ran Leg 1 for the women’s team and then ran Leg 4 for the mixed team – performance of the day without a doubt.
The women’s and mixed teams started in the early start, which made for an unpleasantly early alarm on Saturday morning. Maddy ran a great leg to set Ruth H and Rhian off, and Fi came in a wee bit later, clocking almost exactly the same time as she did last year, handing over to Jim McC and me. Jim and I were picking off teams gradually until I discovered just how little hill fitness I have. Slogging up West Lomond was hard hard work. From the West Lomond descent, we could see Rhian and Ruth a wee bit ahead, but we could never quite close the gap completely – a helter-skelter descent into Kinesswood got us to within 10 metres or so, but they kept the honour. Ruth’s performance was pretty epic – this was her first real outing on the hills, and she demonstrated the same levels of strength and committment as she has to her other running exploits. She has declared a new love for hill running – there’ll be no holding her back now!
Fran and Cathy took over the women and Ruth and Julia took over for the mixed team. Leg 3 is largely new – there’s still the climb out of Kinnesswood, but after the trees there’s a cross-country hike to Harperlees Reservoir and a steady descent down into Maspie Den, taking care not to collide with the Leg 4 runners coming up the hill. Both pairs ran well, with Julia suffering some discomfort after a fall, but fortunately, she was still mobile at the end.
By this stage, the women’s team had opened up a gap over the mixed team of about 8 minutes, to the extent that Fran and Cathy were at the handover before Rachel was ready to go – cue a quick flurry of layers being discarded. Rachel was delighted to beat her expected time for Leg 4 and almost looked like she was enjoying herself as she whirled into the finish. The women’s team finished in 4.00.08, in 8th position in their category. Maddy made up a couple of minutes on a leg she hadn’t recced before and bought the mixed team home in 4.06.11. Special thanks to Matt for chaffeuring sweaty runners hither and thither.
The men started in the 10.30 start, and apart from a brief chat with Andy and Sandy at Kinnesswood, I have no real idea how their race progressed, but suffice to say they all worked really hard. Wattie had his usual storming run to come into the Strathmiglo handover in 8th position. Will and Roger showed how it’s done on the hard Leg 2, and apparently Sandy was cruising on Leg 3 before handing over to Charlie for the short sharp belt up and down East Lomond. The men finished in 3.03.04 in 15th position.
Oh, and the race was won by an outstanding team from Shettleston Harriers, in a blistering time of 2.35.18.
Pics are available here.