April 3, 2015 George Foster

Fellrunning: A Punter’s Guide – The Scottish Championships 2015

The Man.......he may or may not look like this.

Better late than never. I have unfortunately missed the boat with this one though at least one of my predictions will be right….hindsight being the wonder that it is.

You’ve had the British Championships guide and so with the metaphoric alignment of the ‘lots-of-free-time’ moons and the ‘I’ve-started-so-I’ll-finish’ stars you will now inevitably and inexorably – and probably begrudgingly – transcend on such a flight of fancy (my inner voice), guiding one and all to sweeping assumptions on the state of affairs at the top of Scottish hill/fell/mountain racing.

Birnam Hill Race AS 4.7m 1,755ft climb (not on my watch!)

Yup, couldn't find a picture of Wegene so thi'll have to do...

Yup, couldn’t find a picture of Wegene so this’ll have to do…

I predict that Wegene Tafese (Ronhill Cambuslang/Ethiopia) will win this one….don’t ask me why, I’ve just got this feeling in my waters. Oh he did. Aren’t I amazing?! Yup this race has already been and gone. Wegene did win and won well in fact. It was a right “Who’s Who” of Scottish hill wads at Birnam. If I wasn’t so flustered at seeing them all there in one place I’d have got them all to sign my tits. Alas it wasn’t to be. To the race itself then……this year it took place on 28th March amidst some fairly breezy conditions though the sun did come out for a bit and it was actually all rather pleasant. Being a “Short” it was quite a mad dash throughout. Don’t ask me about the ins and outs of the lads up front….I was nowhere near them. I hear Joe Symonds (now with Shettleston?!?) was first at the summit? But then I hear lots of things so I wouldn’t listen to me. As for the laaaaaaayyyyyyydies I couldn’t tell you. I was doing my damnedest not to get caught by them (it was a close run thing!) but I think it was a Deeside runner (Clare Whitehead) who pipped it for first place. That bastion of knowledge at Scottish Hill Racing will tell you in due course.

P.S. the race is billed as being about 1,755ft (or 535m in new money) worth of ascent but my fancy GPS watch got it as closer to 1,361ft (not much spare change from about 415m)……..go figure.

Ben Lomond Hill Race AM 7.8m 3,149ft climb

The Man behind The Master....about to make his move

The Man behind The Master….about to make his move.

I’ve ran this motherf**ker once before as a training run in January last year and shamefully have to admit that I didn’t make it to the summit cairn because of the snow drifting off the top, pronouncing “Winter is Coming” before hastening down before the onset of the second stage of hypothermia……good drills I thought! So as you can see, for the length of it there’s a fair bit of climbing, think of it like an erection if that works for you?! The plus is that once you’ve done the first half you shouldn’t be getting lost. Win/win.

Records for this are held by two legends of the sport (well one…..I’m afraid I’ve never actually heard of Beverley Redfern….sorry!). The men’s is from before I was even a twinkle in Papa Foster’s eye, a surely unassailable 1hr 2mins 16secs from 1983 by “The Man” a.k.a. John Wild and them women’s from the ‘famous’ Bev Redfern (1990) in a pretty awesome 1hr 11mins 57secs…..I’m usually a sarcastic bastard cos I lack wit but that is flippin’ mega! I don’t know whether the course has changed at all in the intervening years….I’m gonna go out on a limb and say ‘not’….but no-one has even come close to that. Prasad Prasad (so good they named him twice) came within 4mins back in 2010 to the lads record and the women have been, at best (I think), within 10mins (also back in 2010….a good vintage obviously). So who’s got it this year?! Toughie but gonna say……….Hector Haines or Joe Symonds for the guys and a Carnethy lass for the girls…..Charlotte Morgan? It’ll not be on telly or radio but ‘tune in’ on 9th May to see who wins (or, if it’s the Highland Boundaries style race admin, find out at some point in the next few months).

Slioch Horseshoe AL 12.4m 3,871ft climb

Who's who......fellrunners are a stylish lot.

Who’s who……fellrunners are a stylish lot.

This one looks awesome as well (Scotland is blessed with gi-knocka-pod hills and mega routes!) and comes on the same day as the Duddon Valley race (an English Championship counter), which will make NO difference at all to the field to be fair but just thought I’d throw it in for your wider awareness. You’re welcome. It’s pretty much an ‘out-and-back’ run but with some incredible scenery….a good one to do if you’re wanting a glimpse of the formidable Celtman course (fuck that!)…………………..I’m looking at YOU Chris Stirling. It’s long and steep….what isn’t? One for the ‘engines’ out there and if you’ve got ankles like wet sugar cane then you may as well forget it. The last winner back in 2012 (must have gone out of favour?) was Finlay Wild (maybe The Man’s love child?!?….it would explain A LOT) with the course record dipping under 2hrs with a time of 1hr 54mins 17secs and I’d put my eggs on him winning again this time round. It was a forever young Angela Mudge in the same year who set the women’s bar at 2hrs 28mins 11secs. It’s gonna be the same old names for the winner this year……Jasmin Paris, Charlotte Morgan for sure or maybe the mysterious Deeside lady (Clare Whitehead)? See you all on 30th May for this puppy.

Durisdeer Hill Race AM 9.1m 4,068ft climb

8.5km.....knee-cap chewing time

8.5km…..knee-cap chewing time.

I feel like I’ve done this one before somewhere………here or here…….read them if you want or just skip to the next one on the list cos I’m not going to repeat myself I’m not going to repeat myself…….(too easy). 13th June  blah blah blah.

Two Inns Race AL 14.9m 5,807ft climb

The most welcoming sign in the land....till they find out you're English

The most welcoming sign in the land….till they find out you’re English!

The second of the long’uns is a proper point-point’er over some pretty hardcore terrain. It reaches the pantheons of the ‘perfect race’ in that it starts AND finishes at a pub, the finish being the best pub in Scotland?! Real men run it pissed up though I’d suggest the ‘athletes’ load up on a lighter ‘session’ ale rather than stouts or porters. If you’re fast you can make for some good old hair of the dog at the Clachaig 15 miles later.

Follows a great natural line ending at the foot/head (?) of Glencoe (a bit like Ennerdale but not as long and not a horseshoe…..so not really like Ennerdale at all). You’d be doing well to beat Shettleston’s Matthew Sullivan and his 2013 record of 2hrs 44mins 50secs though Alasdair Anthony is creeping ever closer like illness to old people. He’s my pick for this year….why not? I’m sensing a pattern, or maybe conspiracy, here with the women’s record also falling in the same year as the men’s…….Carnethy’s (snore) Jasmin Paris getting close to the 3hr mark with an uber-fast 3hrs 11mins 30secs. This one is a late summer affair on 8th August, giving everyone almost the maximum sunlight available to enjoy the midgies rampaging down the glen. Enjoy.

Morven Hill Race AS 4.9m 2,099ft climb

Her from Deeside....

Her from Deeside….

The last of the lot to reign in the summer season and signal the end of hostilities for the year. Be there on 26th September…..I won’t be. Short and sweet. 45/46mins should probably win it for you. Out-and-back with a slight detour on the way down to stop the carnage of the front runners ploughing into those enjoying the view. Alasdair Anthony‘s 44mins 04secs and Angela Mudge‘s 49mins 47secs 2013 (conspiracy!!) records look likely to remain intact unless……..step forward Wegene Tafese to beast it? Dare to dream people! Angela Mudge’s looks safer though, unless…….step forward Clare Whitehead who got very close last year with 51mins 39secs. If she’s running she’s my bet. Not much more to say about this one. Run up a hill, run down a hill. Simples.

That’s your lot. Go forth and race!

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