Monday, 18 January 2016

Feel The Burns Hill Race 2016

I arrived with hardly any time to spare at Selkirk Rugby Club for the Feel the Burns hill race. I had a late entry, the event having been oversubscribed initially. Getting a call out of the blue last Monday, I was looking forward to the race all week. Its a 13 miler that takes in 5 checkpoints and has around 2500 ft of ascent. With an entry of 200, I was also looking forward to mixing it with a decent crowd in the snow. I love running in the snow. Its no secret.  Mostly all club runners, with the assorted local entry peppering the list.  The hills were a white desert of snow and tussocks, trees heavily laden in places with frozen snow having fallen the previous evening..

With 10 minutes to the start, I paid my £10, put on an extra pair of socks and ran up the half a mile to the start. We had a brief briefing and we were off. I settled into the middle of the field as we climbed and climbed firstly through a wood then past a reservoir and up over the moors. It was soon evident that although it was about zero degrees, there was little wind and I had a big sweat on. Off came the hat, off came the gloves, the hat went back on, the hat came off again, then the scarf came off....

At the second checkpoint I was in between Kate Jenkins and the second lady, Fiona Dalglish of Gala. While I was gasping, they were chatting. I chucked my scarf and gloves to the mountain rescue guys at a checkpoint after asking if they were going to be back at the club. Over the next 2 or 3 miles there were a few surges but it was pretty steady punctuated only by Kate catching her toe on a wire at a style and going over. The pace was fast enough for me. The downhill around mile 7 and 8 was exhilarating and with a couple of stream crossings, by mile 10 I had moved ahead of the women but was dehydrated and looking forward to the drinks station. Just before the final climb which was a lung buster and having been passed by Fiona, I dug into my bum bag and fished out my cereal bar. However, as I walked up the monster slope with carefree, exhausted abandon I was blowing more cereal out than I could keep in, my mouth failing to gather together adequate 'slurp' for effective mastication.

The snow was deep at the top and I thought would have been great to walk over if I hadn't been flogging my own dead horse down the slope in my 3rd race of the year while trying to stay ahead of two chasers.  After the big climb I realised either the drinks stop hadn't materialized or I had missed it in the snowy wastes, and I took to cadging drinks off the marshalls wherever I could find them; another re-run of the latter stages of the Pentland Skyline in 2010, except then it was about 70 degrees...

I was soon back into the woods and then crossing the cut up field at the finish line where I arrived back in a time of 2:06 and 60th. I was probably 10 minutes down on what I expected, but couldn't have managed any quicker, other than I had wished I hadn't been over-dressed. Not sure how to find that elusive 10% I'm currently missing.

On my jog back to the rugby club I cramped up and again at the car  while getting into some dry clothes and I gave myself a good doze of salt. We were then treated to a burns supper with soup and lashings of tea and shortie, Had a chat with Brian Marshall and a few other lads and, all in all, a terrific day out thanks to the Mountain Rescue folk and Selkirk Fund Runners. Next up in the bleak north: Carnethy.

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