Saturday, 2 November 2013

Dumyat Dash

First blog in ages as I've had very little to write about since I ruined my knees in August. Running has been curtailed to a once-in-a-blue-moon event, and I've tried to maintain fitness with cycling (10ish mile round trip for the school run, with Solly on the back), plus some RPM classes, "Power Hooping" (sadly not living up to its potentially risque sounding name), and as of last week Body Pump. My last significant run had been the Pentland Skyline in October, which went surprisingly well: a PB in spite of a dearth of relevant training. Short races evoke a significant amount of angst for me, due to that awful stampede at the beginning but nevertheless I felt reasonably hopeful that I wouldn't make a pig's ear of Dumyat.

So, armed with my race banana, I was ferried by Helen to Digby's very lovely cottage. He was leaping about in a state of pre-race excitation. Unnerving. After a false start (OCD door-checking) we made our way to Menstrie, to uplifting strains from the Maass iPod such as "Deep Paranoia 7" and "Death Prod". A swift registration allowed for leisurely banana/caffeine consumption in the comfort and warmth of Digby's car, and we dolefully watched athletic types running around. I never usually warm up at races. I'm usually too late. Or in such a state of anguish that I just need to pace fretfully at the start line fiddling with laces and my Garmin. But this time, bolstered by Helen's enthusiasm, we jogged up the gravel path and assessed where it was best to take the (steep slippery) short cuts through the zigzags and where it was best to stick to the runnable path. This proved to be a soothing pre-race activity, and I joined the starting crowd with less angst than usual.

Graham's Pointy Finger. All photos courtesy of Digby!
 The start didn't feel too sprinty, which was a relief, and the first ascent around the side of Myreton Hill mostly felt runnable. The undulations relieved fatigue in the uppy and downy muscles in a timely manner. At some point in the first couple of miles, the wind seemed to pick up, and as we approached the descent into the glen, Dumyat was shrouded in drizzle. Coming off the track, we were marshalled towards a direct and steep descent over trampled bracken into the glen. It was muddy and slippery, and I found myself cackling with laughter as I alternately skidded and entangled myself in the vegetation. I sploshed purposefully through the two burns and psyched myself up for the long slog up Dumyat.

Realising that I was going to find the return leg of this there-and-back section a struggle (too steep, muddy and rugged for my courage-levels), I pushed myself to overtake a couple of runners on the way up. My legs felt pleasingly boingy, which I can only put down to the cycling and RPMing. By about half-way up, I passed the leaders on their way down. An awe-inspiring sight. I noted that the steepest, craggy, pull-myself-up-by-my-hands section could be avoided by bearing to the more runnable-looking left on the way down. The top of Dumyat was bleak, windy and freezing. Poor marshal! The descent was into a bitterly cold wind, with whipping rain (or maybe sleet? It was hard to tell.). The leftward, more runnable line was definitely a good choice, and the terrain was slightly easier than anticipated. I overtook a couple of runners, and was overtaken by a couple of others. The last section of the descent was a bit of a skid-fest and I dithered between leaping down and tentatively hobbling.

Caught between a rock and a hard place.

I thought my descent might look bolder than this :-(
 The route passed back over the two burns, and round to a lower traverse of Myreton Hill. The single track muddy path made for exhilarating running, particularly as I had Veronica of Troon Tortoises (1st F50) hot on my heels. At various sections I could see no one ahead of me, which was disconcerting...could I have deviated from the route? The bracken was scratchy on my legs, and every now and then I felt a slight chilly shiver, despite running as hard as I could. My gloves were worse than useless and were soaked with freezing snot  moisture. Approaching the zigzag path, I felt smug that I knew my preferred route, and thrashed my way down. The final stretch over the village green was an out-and-out sprint, complete with race-grimace, as I tried (and failed) to overtake the guy ahead of me.

I staggered about for a bit enjoying my endorphine high, and cheering Joan and Colin into the finish, before realising that I was suddenly very, very cold. And at this point things started to go A Bit Wrong. Putting on my waterproof jacket was an impossible tangly challenge, and I couldn't seem to string a sentence together while chatting to Joan. I decided to run back into the warmth of the Leisure Centre until Digby came back with his car keys.

I staggered about in the main room for a minute and with wildly shaking hands tried to drink a cup of tea. Harry Gilmore looked askance at me and offered me his towel to dry off. Graham Nash looked similarly concerned and donated his pre-warmed hoodie. I tried to reassure them I was okay, but couldn't manage anything other than teeth-chattery gibbering. I made my way to the changing room, bumping into another runner and spilling his tea, and fumbled with the doors. I stripped off my wet tops, got Graham's hoodie on and wrapped myself in Harry's towel. I tried my best to drink the tea, but my teeth kept clenching on the polystyrene. After a few minutes (by which time I was standing in a slightly bewildered state by the coffee) Helen came to rescue, ushered me to the showers and like a kindly, bossy matron generally sorted me out. Thank you were lovely :-)

Helen racing to rescue me.
Defrosted and relieved, I was able to enjoy the excellent post-race chat and mediocre biscuits, and watched numerous Carnethies collecting their well-deserved winnings: Graham was 1st M40, Harry Gilmore was 2nd V50, Jacqui Higginbottom 2nd F, Joan Wilson was 2nd (I think?) F50 and Carnethy whippersnappers won the team prize. There may have been others - apologies if so. I blame it on hypothermic delirium.

As always, HUGE thanks to the race marshals who braved the freezing, wet hill-sides. It was a fantastic race, with a little bit of everything (and a lot of mud!).


  1. Great write-up! (me by the way - Digby)

  2. I love your blogging name Digby. Made me smile.

  3. Great write-up Mary. A bigger adventure than was expected for a short race on a pretty low hill. One of the great things about hill running - you never know what you're going to get!

  4. Good write-up Mary, it certainly has been a bit wet in the Ochils recently, love running up Dumyat in the early morning half light. Had a bit of a wild time in the Pentlands Sat eve including fireworks show in the Windy Door Nick, alas error, stood down wind, we scrambled out of the shower of sparks and landed in the muddy pool, what a laugh!