Sunday, January 24, 2016
It’s the New Year, it must be time for the Devil’s Burdens race. For those who have never enjoyed the unique pleasures of the Devil’s Burdens, this is a 20-mile hill relay, run in four legs, starting from Falkland and run anti-clockwise via changeover points in Strathmiglo, Kinnesswood and Maspie Den, with a finish back in Falkland. Two of the legs, over West Lomond to Kinnesswood and back from Kinnesswood to Maspie Den, are run in pairs with navigation skills needed to negotiate the best lines on difficult terrain. Runners from all over Scotland make the trip, including some of Britain’s best hill runners. Fortunately, running conditions on race day this year were well-nigh perfect, with the ice and snow of the previous week all thawed. The snow melt did lead to an interesting water hazard that took the Leg 1 runners by surprise, and one or two of the Leg 3 runners saw more than their fair share of mud.
This year we managed to get four teams running, despite last-minutes threats of illness and injury, with Devil’s Burdens debuts for Gary Brock, Colin Lamont and Ben Murphy, and a very welcome return to racing for Angela Mackenzie. Three teams headed off in the early start with me, Kerry and Ali M taking on the straightforward Leg 1 on good forest trails from Falkland to Strathmiglo. Contrary to what Wattie might say, it’s not steep, although the mud on the trail near the start wasn’t the most fun, and the water feature near the finish was a bit of shock to tired legs.
I managed to open and keep a short gap ahead of Kerry, and handed over to Phil T and Gary at the bottom of the very muddy field in Strathmiglo. Kerry handed over to Emily and Cathy for the women’s team, and Ali handed over to Iain and Nigel for the mixed team. While the Leg 2 runners were making their way up West Lomond, Wattie was getting the men’s A team with a flying leg 1 on the late start.
The assembled masses at Kinnesswood were taking bets on the chances of Emily and Cathy overtaking Phil and Gary on Leg 2, but in the event, the men held their position and handed over to Andy and Ben who had the pleasure of the steep ascent back up the hill that Phil and Gary had just come down. (Wattie – this is what a steep hill looks like!) Emily and Cathy weren’t far behind, handing over to Ruth C and Maddy, with Iain and Nigel handing over to Julia and Fran. Needless to say, Will and Roger for the men’s A team ran a very strong leg to hand over to Andy Greaves and Colin L.
Andy and Ben had a great run, with Ben dragging Andy into and out of assorted boggy bits. University life obviously isn’t doing Ben’s running any harm whatsoever, and they handed over to Mark for the glory leg up and down East Lomond. Maddy and Ruth weren’t far behind, to hand over to Angela, making a very welcome return to racing for the club – great to have you back Angela! Andy and Colin made up ground on Fran and Julia and were next in to the Leg 3/4 handover, passing on to Phil M, with Rowan finishing things off for the mixed team.
Logistics for this race make it hard to get from handover to handover with time to support the incoming runners and welcome home the finishing runners, so unfortunately, Mark came home with no Harriers to cheer him in, but fortunately, there was a bunch of supporters ready to cheer Angela in, with Phil not far behind, and Rowan rounding things out.
So, results. The men’s race was won by an outstanding team from Shettleston Harriers, repeating their 2015 victory in a blistering time of 2.37.21, while the women’s race was won by a strong team from Deeside Ladies in 3.24.03. Our women improved on their 8th position last year to finish in 7th position in the women’s race, in a fine time of 4.03.07. The men’s A team finished in 12th position in the men’s category in a time of 3.06.32, up three places from 2015. The men’s B team finished in 71st position in a time of 3.58.41, with the Mixed team completing the race in 4.30.18.
Another terrific day out for the club, with only one “I’m never doing that again” (and even that resolution seemed to be weakening after a bit of a rest). Many thanks to Ruth H for transport and vociferous support.