Starting with Resolution

 

Greenmantle
Photo stolen from CAAC website by Dean Carr.

The Scottish Hill Runners web site is coy about 2018 so links to the Hill racing web site.

1st January Aonach Mor Uphill (New Year) Remember it’s pre-entry only so needs preparation and resolution.

1st January Muckle Toon whisky run – Start when you want to finish at 11:00 on Ne’er Day… a wee hidden gem.

2nd January Greenmantle New Year Dash – Fun run and a great wee hill race; soup and refreshment is the hall afterwards.

The festive season continues with a load of interesting wee races and some not so wee races. Like a left-over fragment of the original Caledonian forest some of the races on offer at New Year vary quite considerably from “the very model of a modern Cat A hill race”.

That said, simplest of all is the eyeballs-out-all-the-way Anoch Mor Gondola Race on New Year’s Day. 610 meters of climb over a distance of 4Km says the blurb. 1 meter up for every 6 and half on average. I measure it (yes on my rear end at a desk) as only 2.85k with 560m of climb. An even more beastly/tasty 1 in 5 climb.

The views from the top station are stunning and you can get the Gondola down and any friends or family with you can get the Gondola both ways to still enjoy the views. The North slope varies from beautiful snowscape to something a little more post-industrial. The race is £15, pre-entry only and is understandably strict about full body cover and also a different course if the Gondola is closed because of the weather.

Now here’s one I’ve done a couple of times and to be fair it’s not much climb but a novel and “free and easy” approach. Langholm’s “Muckle Toon whisky run” is great. It’s on New Year’s Day. The idea is you turn up and select your own start time to run the 8 miles trail so that you finish just as the Langholm Town Band strike up a selection of seasonal tunes at 11:00. Shortest time gets a bottle of whisky and at £2 per entry it’s a wee gem. Langholm is a treat, set in the hills and resolutely independent. It still carries the air of a traditional borders mill town. That is partly because it’s not the easiest place in the word to get to. For me it’s the furthest point from home on a 100-mile cycle so I have, erm, “ambivalent” feelings about the area. The road out towards Eskdalemuir is a revelation. Getting there is a heck of a schlepp from most population centres so check out your travel times and pack a flask, warm blankets, a snow shovel and a pack of huskies.

Then we come to a wee race I’ve now organised for over 30 years always on the 2nd of January.  The “Greenmantle Dash” was started by Frank Smith and myself way back when. Initially it started at the Brewery and finished at the pub and the idea was a short “clean out the cobwebs” race. Very much aimed at participation for all but plenty of features; walls, fences, rivers, bogs, fields, hills and road.The principle has stayed the same but the pub is now a housing estate. So, the course has morphed over the years as our village has changed.

We’ve had broken ankles and broken hearts but as a race, it is still (in my biased opinion) a cracker. It’s got tarmac, rivers, bogs and a brutal wee hill. The hill has thin soil and grows a particularly mushy and sloppy moss so the descent is far from simple. The original course record was interesting. It was set on a relatively mild day with a south westerly gale that was almost gathered in by the hills around. It blew the runners up the hill and then you could run down faster because it helped you stay up better. The wind had also dried the usual slithery muck too. That flat funnelled valley towards Biggar also used to flood when the Clyde burst its banks at Wolfclyde emptying its waters into the boggy ground and eventually draining into the Tweed; demonstrating that even water knows the east is the best!

There is also a fun run to the bottom of the hill and for a fiver you get soup rolls and a gift for every child. The nice thing is there have been a real range of people over the years who have discovered that Yes! They can get to the top of the hill and Yes indeed the views are fantastic. I think there are also several hill runners for who this was their first hill race.

So whatever type of run you fancy there are plenty on the go. Not sure my Achilles is up to it but do your best to start the year with resolution.

The Scottish Hill Runners web site is coy about 2018 so links to the Hill racing web site.

1st January Aonach Mor Uphill (New Year) Remember it’s pre-entry only so needs preparation and resolution.

1st January Muckle Toon whisky run – Start when you want to finish at 11:00 on Ne’er Day.

2nd January Greenmantle New Year Dash – Fun run and a great wee hill race soup and refreshment is the hall afterwards.

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