The sound of the piper drove the lingering mist away from the hillside, exposing the Carnethy Five in its full glory. Across the lowland the initial climb and final descent awaited and called upon the 500-strong clan of fell runners to do their best. The gun released the rabble and the onslaught began. Across the grass, through the bog, around the thistles, through the gate, and then to find your place for the first of the 1000 feet climbs over just under a mile: up, up and more up. Stubborn mist made its greeting at the summit, along with a light but unforgiving breeze, cooling the sweat on the brow. An ever so slight decline permitted the legs to momentarily build momentum, until the next incline. Fast and furious the terrain went from up to down, back to up, and then into a glorious, several hundred foot rapid drop into a short-lived valley bottom the legs free wheeled. Funnelling through another gate, the final slope encounter beckoned: another 1000 foot climb in just under a mile. Steepening gradually with every step, it was now time to dig deep. Volcanic rocks marked the summit that was ephemeral, as was the plateau at the top. Over the top all went, down down down. Eight hundred feet in a few hundred meters. Across the scree, over the heather the thighs burned. Finally the finish line was in sight, all that was left was, once again, through the gate, past the thistles, through the bog and across the grass.
… Rachael Bullock
Having known Susan and Geoff for a while, I’ve realised that they are fairly selective about what races they enter. So seeing as they’ve both done the Carnethy over 20 times, I figured there must be something special about it. It’s also a ballot entry – pretty unusual for a fell race – another sign that it is popular and worth the journey up to Edinburgh. The race definitely didn’t disappoint. There were hills. 5.7 miles of some of the hardest and most unrelenting hills I’ve ever faced during a fell run. Hands on knees jobbies for much of the way. The penultimate hill was a killer, a long drag on rather tired legs by that point. Sadly, I thought (well really I was just hoping optimistically) that it was the last hill and I gave my all. It wasn’t till I reached the top and saw another monster climb ahead that I realised it was not the last hill. Heart-wrenching stuff. The final hill was a struggle, but pure determination, knowing I had put so much effort in already and that it would be a shame to waste it, kept me going. It was such a relief to get to the top….but only to be greeted by one of the nastiest descents I’ve ever encountered. Very steep and covered in slippery heather. As usual, the more hardy and experienced/senseless, fearless fell-runners skipped past me, as i dithered and tried not to fall. I really didn’t enjoy this bit, but sadly, it was the only way to get to the finish, so it had to be done. Once the skidding and sliding was over, it was a nice flat stretch of boggy, tussocky ground to stretch the legs out towards the finish. Here I tried to capitalize on recent Harrier league training to pass a couple of other ladies before the finish line, where Geoff cheered me in, and I was followed shortly after by Dave and Susan. Then it was back to the local high school for a good feed of pie before heading home! Despite the pain incurred, I would not have to think twice about doing this race again! It was pretty damn awesome and I can’t really think of a better way to spend Valentine’s day?!