Saturday, 22 January 2011

Devils Burdens Relays, Fife (2011)

It was all just a blur...
Driving north, we ignored the thick mist over the Forth Road Bridge and made our way to Falkland. It was my first appearance at the Devils Burdens Relay, a relay race across the heather clad Lomond Hills in Fife.
It's run over 31 km and consists of 4 legs for teams of 6 (2 legs run in pairs).
I was on Leg 3 with Steve Mason with 6.4 miles and 1800ft of ascent (and descent) to contend with. I took a couple of snaps of the 9.30a.m. start for the 'slower' runners and then cleared off to Scotlandwell where the third leg started. There was a great buzz around the Falkland HQ which I guess is becoming the Scottish club opener for the hill running season.

Having ran Simonside the previous weekend and only having 20 miles of light training this week, I felt quite fresh but couldn't decide on what to wear. Eventually going with the gloves and hat, base layer and tracksuit top, we were soon off after the kit check up Bishop Hill as bodies arrived and left in a constant stream of sweaty (or is that glowing) humanity. There was a vast array of techniques, fashions and club regalia on display today and the weather was calm, mild and thankfully clear on the high ground.

We sat behind the Ochil duo of Andrea Priestley and Catriona Buchanan for a while and then saw 2 Portobello's come past; then we passed a Lothian team. Many of the pools of water and puddles were frozen which made jumping across them a bit tasty if you happened to catch your heel on the edge of the ice. We were overhauled, in turn, on the main climb of the day up West Lomond by John Kay, one part of the Fife team. Being the local boys, we followed them and careered downhill before traversing the North face of the Lomond (really just an impossible traverse along a steeply cambered grassy slope) for a mile or so. This was tricky as my Salomons are just about to give up the ghost.
Overheating on the low ground I stopped and gubbed a couple of handfuls of water from the burn before we headed into West Kilgour Forest as a Lomond runner and 1 or 2 others came past. We managed to haul in a Bellahouston team as my partner for the day found another gear on the mile of tarmac which led to the end of the stage.

Strangely I had been happy on the hill, but like Simonside, I struggled with some calf muscle tightening when the gradient levelled out and was happy to see the line and smiled at the melee of coming and going at Strathmiglo. It was a right old stramash. Sorted a lift back to the car and then soup at the finish.

There are always plenty of club entries for Carnethy from Ireland and south of the border so I reckon this is an excellent team day out and should attract good runners from down south. What else is there to do in January anyway. I'm sure I'll be back!
Ended 24th of 100 teams. It was a cracking day out. Results now up at
(Photos of Stage 2 finishers and Stage 3 runners coming soon).
Thanks to the photographer, you know who you are!

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