Sunday, 1 May 2016

Up to Traquair House for The Mighty Deerstalker

The Deerstalker is the first Rat race event of their calendar and after last year’s enjoyment was looking forward to going back and having another crack at it.  This time Liam gets to play on the course and see what he thought of it.  With me continually running outside all winter which is considerable more than this time last year I was aiming to do a good performance and enjoy the views.  

It had been said that was snow on the ground a week before the event which got me worried would my trusty Sondico compression top be warm enough?  I decided to purchase some cold gear clothing there are many brands floating about the OCR scene and with my body shape keeping on changing with my intensive CrossFit winter training I went with Under Armour woman’s cold gear compression roll neck top.  It seems after the Dirty weekend I suffered with water and calf cramps I am now accustomed to wearing calf compression sleeves and these are perfect.  At this moment in time I am using Skins branded ones.   For the last two years of racing I have used a pair of New Balance Capri bottoms as dubbed “racing bottoms” which sadly no longer fit properly so  This year I have a new pair of Capri bottoms from Karrimore in a Jemma friendly dark purple colour with a perfect zip pocket in the back for a gel too. 

A first for this year we drove up to Innerleithen as a trio. As our friend Mark who likes to marshal decided he wanted to join us on a trip up north and was placed on the finish line.  Liam was booked onto the 1st wave and me the 2nd wave so I got to see him off as such and cheer (nice to give myself the illusion I am going to chase and catch up).  I got a different head torch this year from last year which in the night run tests seemed to do the job  though on the packaging didn’t give me how many lumens bright it was (oh dear).  As we I got started finding a pace we came to a field of sticky mud which I managed to almost lose my shoe last year.  Doing a fast pace as best I could again the same thing happened again and trying to get my shoe back on in a sea of runners was hard going.  Which meant at the river under the tunnel crossing I was at a back of a cue?  With the stronger currents we were to go in twos and that cold water just hits you.  No sooner as you get out back to running again and knew would need to warm back up again as the climb up would be a killer.  

Going up the familiar hills was no easier than it was in 2015 but as the sun sets the torches came on.  We were advised there were course changes from last year due to the forestry commission doing felling works.

One major difference this year was treated to halfway round a disco rave in the woods with lights, smoke and music which did bring a smile to my face.  With time pressing on and the usual single file parts of the course started to notice my head torch wasn’t as bright as it once was and this didn’t come too apparent to till the scramble up the scree has started to find it hard to see where I was and finally got to the top i made a slow decent down as couldn’t see too far in front where to put my footing.  This was fine as gave me chance to catch my breath and enjoy the spectacular views.  

Coming to the end of the course we was treated to the sliding finish which most people seem to enjoy bar me don’t know what it is water and slides just don’t seem to hold that fun factor as once did in my younger years but was happy to finish yes slower than last year but with 2016 course feeling like the big brother course to 2015 course.  Only downside this year is where is my Frontier Beer? As that’s a much better pint than Coors light sorry Van Damme it just is!

Liam's Mighty Deerstalker 2016 on Strava

Jemma Takes on the Spring Ram Run

After Marshalling for 2015 autumn ram Run I got to see and play on the course myself as a payment for giving muddy hugs.  I wasn’t disappointed one bit I opted for the Sunday run at 24km giving me good distance in my legs for Rat Race dirty weekend which is fast approaching.  I do like how it’s all been organised.  I went in the Fun runner’s category which started 1st before the trophy hunters eventually would catch us up and overtake.  The 12km wave was then set off midday with the idea we should all start to finish around the same time and can enjoy more of the after race events.  This I think should where possible adopted elsewhere.

Coming to this race the only worry on my mind was the chest/head flu I had just recently get rid of had left me with a persistent cough and my running miles beforehand considerable reduced almost similar thing happened to me when doing 2015 Deerstalker race. I was aware this course is making use of the natural environment and its obstacles with others which was man made.  Some of these man made obstacle came in the shape and form of approx. metre high yellow hurdles which you jump over which also was used as course markers wherever possible I estimate I saw over 50 + of the now known as Little Yellow Bastards.  The 1st 12km loop these was a sore point till fatigue set in on the 2nd loop round and these LYB could have been two metres tall for how you felt getting over them.  Kudos to the Iain and the team for those.  With farmers spraying fields with fertilizer we didn’t have to swim in the river like I saw in the autumn ram run which was great fully pleased for but instead  had to shimmy across bridges with rope which was tricky as with MHSOF knew if you fell was onto concrete but falling into water wasn’t something I wanted to happen.

The man made obstacles wasn’t easy we had varying types of walls to complete in different heights too and the inverted wall one which was for the mere mortals aka fun runner and a massive something like 8 ft one for those trophy hunters was good thing to get teeth stuck into or my case have my bum shoved up and over.  By the 2nd lap I about mastered the run and launch self over wrapped hay bales which was something nearly 4 ft tall with larger one for the trophy hunters.  The rig which was the new creation as the spring ram run is the 1st one where you could get qualifier for the OCR championships later in the year so this rig to complete was a must.   Thankfully for my level I was able to get across the parallel bars and crawl under cargo net quite well but hats off to the guys who had the harder section to complete without touching the floor.

The course personally thought was well marked with marshals at every point would want to see one and they was armed with enough haribo sweets to keep any runner happy.  There was reasonably priced food and drink at the end of the event which was still serving hot fresh food right to the very end which some events been too in the past started to pack up before the last runners have come through.  The biggest bouns there was showers to clean up at the end as been one of the last runners I didn’t experience cues for these magical showers and got hot water.  (the boiler must have just heated back up).  This alone makes me want to come back again.  If was running both days there was optional free camping and an event where free car parking on hardstanding floor is great for the inclusive price tag will I be back again defiantly and recommend this to any OCR or newbie runner