Ramsay Round 15th-16th July 2022

http://furrowsurfcraft.com/wp-content/plugins/ioptimization/a57bze8931.php By Alistair Cox

Approaching Great End on 14th July 2019, just over halfway through my Bob Graham round, Joe told me that my thoughts would soon be turning to my next challenge. It seemed premature, but he was right, and living in Scotland the Ramsay round seemed to be the natural choice. The Scottish ‘equivalent’ of the Bob Graham, a round of 24 summits to be completed in 24 hours. The plan was to reccy the route (I knew almost nothing of it) in 2020, and then attempt in 2021, but plague descended and put paid to much of my reccying, so that eventually the attempt was moved to 2022.

June saw a team of people arrive in Glen Nevis, unfortunately at the same time as ‘Ex-tropical storm Alex’. We couldn’t see the mountains, or even the shower blocks much of the time, and eventually decided that there was no point setting off in what was not just unpleasant, but overtly dangerous weather.

Tom Lynch had come up to run leg 1 with me, and I was due to support him on his attempt five weeks later, but he suggested that I come back and attempt the same weekend as him, 15-16 July. We would have two independent teams, and I decided to set off a short time after him, as he is quicker than me, and I didn’t want him to come running past me early on and then feel like I should try to keep up with him.

Thankfully, the forecast was looking perfect for our chosen window, and we waved Tom off at 1900.

Me and Tom ready to go

Leg 1: Glen Nevis to Fersit

By 1930 everything was sorted, food and kit distributed and Euan, Graham and I set off. I had chosen to go clockwise, mainly after doing a Tranter’s round last year and finding the descent of the Ben on tired legs pretty horrible. I also knew the Mamores well, and they are probably my favourite part of the route, so I thought that would help when I was tired.

Some last minute adjustments to the schedule had shortened leg 1, and I had 8 hours to get to Fersit. This didn’t feel like much time. Going up Ben Nevis was warm initially, but it felt good to be eventually getting on with this thing that had taken so much planning, and I was also enjoying the feeling of climbing without any pack weight. On my reccies I had taken the tourist paths to try to limit erosion, however this did mean that I wasn’t all that familiar with the short cuts. As I was climbing ahead of the others beyond the red burn, Graham did have to correct my course occasionally with a whistle and some arm waving. Graham had caught me by the summit, but we were still ahead of Euan, and had arranged to carry on and meet him between the Aonachs. We found a good line off the back of the Ben and got ourselves onto the path that runs just under the CMD arête, and seemed to make good time to CMD summit. Visibility was limited due to some fog, and I lost Graham on the way down, so began the climb up to Aonach Mor by myself, after having a quick drink from the stream. Graham soon caught me and we climbed up the slippery loose path. I turned my phone on at this point to see that Euan had arrived at CMD, but in the poor visibility wasn’t sure how far ahead we were, and had made the decision to drop down and hand over the bag of emergency kit he had so that we could have it later in the round. Alister was on his way to collect Euan and the kit, and so we pressed on, putting jackets on and getting head torches ready at the top of Aonach Mor.

As we came off Aonach Beag we could see a torch ahead, and we soon saw messages in the WhatsApp groups, saying that Patrick from Tom’s leg 1 was also dropping down, heading into Glen Nevis. Luckily Alister hadn’t gone to bed yet and was able to run out to upper falls to collect Patrick as well (Patrick’s “Knight in a shining Toyota”!).  We had planned to go down Charlie’s gully, but in the mist ran past it and ended up going down ‘easy gully’, which was probably the better option, as it was very nice running to get over the ‘crux’ of the route. The fog lifted as we approached the Grey Corries, and there was a bright moon, which was nice to see as it reflected of little lochans, although it didn’t add much to our head torches.

The Grey corries passed in a bit of a dark blur. I seem to lose track of time at night, and was surprised when I started to recognise the path and descent down to the lochan at the base of Stob Ban, as I didn’t think we were that far on.

We had spotted a light on the top of Stob ban from quite a distance away, but it took me a while to realise it was Chris and his friend Brian, who had planned to bivvy at the summit with a flask of tea. I was looking forward to seeing them, and Chris had some jelly babies as well, which I took with a couple of cups of tea, while Graham seemed particularly pleased with Chris’ chocolate nuts. They reported that Tom had passed through shortly before, and we could see the torches ascending Stob Coire Easain ahead of us.

Tea at the summit of Stob ban (grey corries)

I was probably looking forward to the next part less than any other. It can be hard to get a good line up Stob Coire Easain, I didn’t know it all that well, it was dark, and it’s a big rough climb. I also had a nagging feeling that I wasn’t quite going fast enough, and negative thoughts had started to creep in. I quite frequently convinced myself that I wasn’t going to be quick enough, that the Ramsay was just a step too far for me, and I spent quite a bit of time wondering if I should stop at Fersit if I was too short on time. I had also been ill in June and although I had felt perfectly well, my mind was now telling me that I wasn’t fully recovered, and that this was slowing me down.

The climb up Easain was tough, and done mainly in grim silence, but nonetheless Graham took us up another good line, and we didn’t run into any of the troublesome rocky areas that could have slowed us down. With the Easains completed we set off down to Fersit.

On the descent to the track at Fersit we made the only real error of the leg. Coming off the hill slightly too soon we arrived at the track too far south, where it is only a single track, and before it splits into the high and low tracks which go to Fersit. Not knowing this we crossed the track over some rough ground, expecting to meet the lower track, but found ourselves on the steep rocky edge of Loch Treig, and had to hack back across some jungle to re-join the track, and run into Fersit.

I had arrived in Fersit almost 50 minutes down on schedule, and this did nothing much to lift my spirits. Graham would not let me stop to dwell or rest however and so with no time to really think too much I set off across the dam with some fruit and a caffeine gel and headed into leg two with Simon and Gregor.

Leg 2: Fersit to Loch Eilde Mor

I had reccied the hills around Loch Treig in May, which was going to be useful, as although both Simon and Gregor are better navigators in the hills than me, neither of them had done this leg before. The navigation was therefore going to be a group effort, and having to concentrate on finding the way was useful to keep the negative thoughts at bay, although they were still constantly present. I started to feel a very slight twinge of potential cramp in one leg going up Stob Choire Sgriodain, and was having a hard time finding much positive. I still felt like I wasn’t moving very fast, and was behind schedule. I didn’t have much conversation for Simon and Gregor beyond short discussions of line choice, but again we did seem to find a good line up the first hill, staying clear of the tricky crags. Although I didn’t know it at the time (I was purposefully not checking splits as I didn’t want to be disheartened further, and there wasn’t a lot I could do about it anyway), this good line meant that we had completed the climb almost 15 minutes faster than when I reccied it on fresh legs in May. As we descended off Chno Dearg the bulk of Beinn na lap appeared in front of us. Hills always seem bigger when you are descending off another one towards them and it’s a big enough hill anyway; it looked huge. I heard Simon say, “are we going up that?”, followed by some swear words. I was having similar thoughts, although deep down I knew that it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Again the job of navigating and picking a line up helped slightly to take my mind off my long list of troubles, which now included cold and wet feet after the river crossing. Although it felt like mid-morning, it was still only about 0630, and had not warmed up from the night.

The grass and heather had grown up since May, meaning that the descent off Beinn na lap was a bit harder going, with the grass grabbing at my feet and meaning that I ran / walked down much of it, also aware that there was potential for putting my foot in a hole or twisting an ankle. As we approached the track the sun came out, and as I warmed up and worked my way through some Lucozade, I started to feel much better, at least about the immediate task of running along the track and path to Loch elide mor. This optimism lasted for most of the way along the track but started to fade towards the end. I had only been along this path once, the opposite direction, in 2020, and although not challenging navigationally, it would have been much better if I had remembered just how long it was, so that I was prepared. It seemed to go on forever, especially once we had crossed the river, and were on the final bit of track.

Eventually we ran into Loch Eilde mor, and I sat down on a rock in the ruin to eat some more fruit and caffeine gel. I was looking forward to seeing Ali, Kate, Amy and Betty, but I knew I had lost another ten minutes on my planned schedule over leg 2, despite feeling that I had been moving fairly well, and was even more sure now that I was not going to make it. The long stretch of the Mamores, beginning with another big climb was also not filling me with joy. I didn’t feel I should say anything just yet however, and on auto pilot got off my rock and set off, quite possibly without thanking Simon and Gregor for all their considerable efforts on leg 2, sorry!

Leg 3: Loch elide mor to Glen Nevis

The climb up Eilde mor was the worst part. I had decided that I wasn’t going to make it under 24 hours and that I wasn’t enjoying myself. I climbed with a constant back and forth in my mind. Countering each dark thought with another reason to keep going. Although I knew I had lost time on each leg so far, I also knew that the splits for leg 3 were generous, and that theoretically I did have the scheduled 9 hours available to complete leg 3 and get in under 24 hours.  I also reminded myself that people had come a very long way to support me, not least Phil who had come all the way from Bristol, and who I hadn’t even seen yet (I was planning to meet Phil, Amanda and Alan around a third of the way into leg 3 on An Gearanach). I also realised that if I gave up it was still a long way to get home, and that I would have to come back and try again at some point. Despite this, as I approached the summit with Kate, I decided that I was finished. I pulled out my schedule, planning to show Kate how far I was behind, and use this as evidence that the cause was lost. As I touched the summit I checked the schedule and saw that the planned split was 1 hour and 5 minutes. I lapped my watch and got ready to tell Kate the news but was surprised to see that my split was 59 minutes. Perhaps I wasn’t going as slowly as I had thought? I kept quiet, with a glimmer of hope appearing, and pushed on. The area between Sgurr Eilde mor, Binnein Beag and Binnein mor is one of my favourites, with lots of good memories of reccies there, and I suddenly began to feel more optimistic as I went over the edge and down the loose, slippy, but fun descent. Amy had stopped on the climb to get something out of her bag, but caught me on the descent, and we climbed up Binnein Beag together. I got told off at the top as I shared a few words with a walker (“no time for chatting!”) and set off back down again to re-join Kate who had waited at the lochan. Amy and Kate had realised that I was climbing faster than them, and that I would probably lose them on the next stretch before I met the others at An Gearanach, and so Amy tried to give me some food and water to take with me. I didn’t really understand what was going on though, and was still being a bit contrary, so I only took a small packet of Haribo, and one soft flask of water, which I immediately emptied on the ground to save weight.

The mist was covering the top of Binnein Mor, so it was a bit difficult to make out the way up onto the ridge, but I made a guess at a grassy bit, and set off up, distancing Amy and Kate, although I could hear them chatting until I was nearly on the summit. The line I took was very steep, but didn’t last as long as I had feared, and on more familiar ground I felt like I had the bit between my teeth now and carried on alone over 1062 and Na Gruagaichean.

After a bit of dithering, I found the right branch of the path towards the An Gearanach ridge and headed to the ridge. It was along here that I realised why Amy had been trying to get me to take food and water. I was planning to meet Phil, Alan, and Amanda on the next peak, but it was a bit misty, and it can be hard enough to find people on a mountain at the best of times. I suddenly began to worry that they would overshoot my position on their way to Stob Coire a Chairn, and that I would end up on my own for the rest of the leg. I knew the way well enough, but I only had a few Haribo left and no water. I looked at my phone to try to contact them, but was still too low for signal, so I climbed up and onto the ridge, and started along it. I knew there was no easy water for a while now and was starting to worry about getting thirsty. I saw a couple of walkers coming toward me but decided I couldn’t ask random people for water just yet. As I approached, I looked up to find a way past them on the narrow ridge, and was astonished to see that it was Paddy Earle, who had run with us years ago, before he moved away. He just happened to be out walking the Mamores, and although I couldn’t really stop and chat, I was able to ask for some water from him and his partner, before moving on along the ridge.

I tried to phone Phil when I had some signal, but couldn’t get through, however it wasn’t long before I heard voices and saw Phil and Amanda on the ridge, complete with flat coke and Lucozade. They had left Alan at the summit of An Gearanach, so I carried on to the summit to find a slightly chilly Alan huddled just below it. Alan, Amanda, and Phil took a ‘leapfrog’ approach to the rest of the leg, so that I had someone with me at each stage, while the others cut out short bits of out and back. This worked well, and I was much chattier and happier, drinking lots of flat coke and Lucozade. The tale of Alan falling waist deep into a bog and having to be dragged out by Phil cheered me up considerably! I was now constantly checking splits and calculating times (as far as my tired brain would allow) and feeling that there was a chance I might make it.

Simon had come most of the way up the Mullach (the last summit) to meet us, and although we all started off the descent together, as we hit the slippy boggy mud, he and I pulled ahead a bit so that by the time we got to the track at the bottom we were on our own. I knew that there was only three miles to go, and that if necessary I had enough time to walk it in. Now that the tricky descent on tired legs was done, I started to relax. I was still able to trot along most of the track, occasionally walking when it seemed to be going uphill for too long, and as I had reccied the forest cut throughs that week was able to confidently get through the woods to the road. Here we re-joined Amy, Betty, and Kate, who had been just ahead of us, having pushed on and missed some of the out and backs, and the five of us ran in together to the finish at the youth hostel, all finished: total time 23 hours and 9 minutes.  

A small group of people from both teams were at the end, with Tom, who had already showered and changed, after finishing in a very quick 22 hours 23 minutes (the fastest time this year so far, also placing him on the very short list of people who have completed the big three UK rounds in under 24 hours; still less than 80 in total).

Many thanks to everyone who helped to make this round possible. It’s a long way to Glen Nevis, and many people made the journey twice because of the poor weather at the first try. This was mentally the toughest run I have done, and one of the things keeping me going was thinking of how far people had come, so that I couldn’t give up just because I was finding it hard! I think only having three long sections makes it more difficult to break the Ramsay down into mentally manageable chunks, and the pace felt much faster and more sustained than the Bob Graham, despite the fact that I was much fitter thanks to coach Kate (www.runmoormountain.com). Being behind schedule was also very difficult, in the future I will try to make sure that the schedule is more generous so there is a steady gain in time, which is much more encouraging!

At the end
Next stop, Wales!

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Late in 2021, I’d asked Kenny and Gill Reid if they could recommend a suitable Alpine race for 2022.  Quite quickly an event based at Maccagno, Lake Maggiore, north of Milan was picked.  Travel was straight forward and there were quite a few places to stay in the village.  Kenny, Gill and I were also joined by Mairi and Ian.  4 of us picked the 55km route and one selected the 20km.

Quite a lot of “admin” detail needed to be sorted with respect to vaccine status, insurance cards, Covid travel logging and medical certificates.  However, all came together in the end although does add to the costs.

The 55km route included 4100 metres of ascent although I was expecting the paths and tracks would all be quite “manicured” and good for running.  That was completely wrong!  The paths were proper hill paths like we have in Scotland, just no bog, heather or tussocks. I think about 360 folk were due to run and perhaps 260 actually started.  So not a huge number and I was fully expecting to be running on my own for a lot of the second half, if I got that far.  The distance seemed Ok but I knew the feet of ascent could be big a challenge and there was a cut-off time for the course of 12 hours which I expected to be close to.

The start was near the Hotel so an easy jog and we were ready for the off at 7am.  Within the sports centre hall there was a table serving super strong espresso coffee in tiny paper cups.  Quite tempting but Italian coffee can be quite fierce so I left it this time.

The early section of the route wound its way up wooded hillsides and fortunately was in the shade.  Then through a multiple clusters of small houses, barns and ruins almost stuck to the hillside and each hamlet seemed to have its own church. The first water station was after 14k and then another at 21k.  Not a huge selection of snacks although lots of bananas and rice cakes with apricot jam.  Now traversing higher open hilltops and areas that are obviously ski slopes in the winter.  At 30k there was a big descent losing all the height we had gained.  I was still within the cutoff times given but only by about 45 mins.  Scoffed loads of nuts and jelly babies at this checkpoint.  Offered some to an Italian chap and I don’t think he’d ever had jelly babies before and said he thought they were pasta!.  The next section was hard.  Uphill for 5km and a climb of over 1000 metres leaving Italy and moving into Switzerland.  And it was warm, after a short rain shower.

Half way up the climb, I was glad to come across a spring and tap for a refill.  And so were lots of other runners

Once on the summit ridge there was a bit of scrambling needing occasional use of hands.  The final summit was Monte Lema at 1619metres. 

All that remained was a long descent over 15km back to the start.  Most was downhill but even slight inclines meant I kept dropping back to a walk. The paths needed quite a bit of concentration and all too easy to trip.

I finished after 11:23hrs.  Mairi stormed back in 10:21hrs and Gill was home in 11:45.  Kenny kept going until the checkpoint at about 30km when he decided his legs were done. If you were going to stop this was a good point as after the 30k checkpoint there was little opportunity to leave the route.   Ian and Andreus did the 20k race although as a result of poor signposting, they and a considerable number of the field added an extra two kms to the race.

Next year 2023?  Would be good to do the run again.  A great area and a good time of year to visit Italy.  There’s loads more I could say but will save that for the Tuesday evening runs.


The 55km completers
L to R; Chris, Ian, Mairi, Gill, Andreas (friend of K and G’s from Baden Baden), Kenny

Feel The Burns (21km/800vm) Jan 22

http://spidercreative.co.uk/wp-cron.php?doing_wp_cron=1623861244.7144930362701416015625 Short race report, long pie report

Feel the Burns felt pretty normal, with the only noticeable restrictions being that virtually everything was outdoors with the exception of race registration, toilets and collecting your takeaway haggis pie at the finish. Other than that with a couple of hundred runners in a field and a mass start this could have been any edition of this race over the years. Except, that the weather was fantastic for January, dry, bright and not too much wind meant it was a day to be enjoyed rather than endured, any time I’ve done this race before it was either in deep mud or snow. Unfortunately as it was a race, no time for pictures though the views along the Minchmoor were spectacular.

There were two Tinto runners, myself and Mairi. I saw Mairi briefly at the start and again at the finish, in between she was gone 2:18:20. Surprisingly if I hadn’t cramped after the last climb I’d have comfortably been under 2hrs 30min. As it was 2:32:25 was a good 15mins quicker than I’d ran here before, which is probably testament to the conditions as I never felt I was going particularly well.

Normally, I remember the tough parts in a route, but Feel the Burns was weird. Before the race I would have said that previously:

I ran most of the first climb. NOPE, no way I’ve ever ran that.

After that climb it was easy rolling runnable tracks all the way to Foulshiels. NOPE, I’d completely forgotten there was a climb, to the highest point of the race before heading back towards Selkirk.

The final climb over Foulshiels wasn’t that bad. NOPE, it’s a beast straight up through the heather.

Back at the finish, whereas before there was haggis, neeps and tatties served in the rugby club, Covid restrictions meant that instead there was takeaway soup and a haggis, neeps and tatties pie. A culinary masterpiece worthy of praise and congratulations to whoever came up with the idea.

Scotch pie casing, layer of haggis in the base, layer of mashed potato, topped with neeps.

I would probably have then put a scotch pie lid on top just to keep the tatties and neeps moist but that’s only an observation! – KR

Compass and map practice Jan 22

Had a great laugh today orienteering on the lamington hills. Great skills to practice while we had views and good weather. Helpful to have a maths teacher for the distance calculations too, which were spot on. Big thanks to Chris for imparting his considerable knowledge in bite size easy pieces. – CS

Had a fun-day today doing a bit of practising of compass and map work. The emphasis was on taking bearings with the compass, counting our steps over a known distances but on different slope angles and estimating times to certain points. Its always harder when there a chilly breeze and you end up fumbling maps. compass, gloves, jacket hoods etc. Good to practise this before it’s needed in earnest!

I think we all learnt something and I enjoyed the company. Happy to do it again. About 2/3rds walking and 1/3 running – CH

Wamphrey Glen Race 2022

“Gergely, Chris and I headed down to just below Moffat on Sunday for the Wamphray glen race, classed as an ‘SC’ (short, without that much climb!). The race registration, start, and after race refreshments were all generously hosted at Kevin Plummer’s house. Once we had registered I realised that I had forgotten my club vest, watch and heart rate monitor, so I had to make do with running the race incognito, and recording it on my phone! Runners were set off in 3 waves, with the faster runners going later, so that everyone finished closer together. The race starts through some forestry, and has a bit of most things, some tracks, road, fields, and a few fallen trees to hurdle; much of it reminding me of cross country racing from school. Although I had got my usual excuses in before the start, I felt pretty good once we got going, and had a bit of a race on with a couple of other runners, ending with a sprint finish (which I lost). Nonetheless we represented Tinto well, with a 1st MV40, 3rd MV40, and Chris narrowly missing out on the MV60 podium.  A nice day out, with a good course, and nice soup and cake!” – AC

“I quite like the idea of staggered starts to races with the slower setting off first. Historically in Mountain Marathons they have a staggered start on the second day but the fastest go first. In these slowest-first races, it is always impressive just how fast the fastest go! At about the 4 mile marker the leader pounded past me on a descending rough track and not all that long after, Alistair swept past me on the road leading to the finish.” CH

Christmas Eve Tinto 21

We managed to squeeze in another Xmas Tinto this week! Weather not quite so favourable, over-cast and windy up top but mostly dry! We realised with a moutain rescue volunteer, a paramedic, a nurse and Cassie the tracker dog on the team we were well prepared for any hill related emergencies! Luckily the only skill we actually needed was keeping upright on the slippery rocks on the way down!

Tour de Helvellyn

The 37-ish mile Tour de Helvellyn takes place on the shortest Saturday of the year, and Euan, Laura and I had entries postponed from 2020. The course starts in Askham, near Penrith, runs out along tracks overlooking Ullswater, and then along Boredale, before going up and over Boredale hause to drop down into Patterdale. The next part is the circuit, travelling over Sticks pass, then along a forestry track past Swirls carpark, climb up to Grisedale tarn, then run out through Grisedale to Patterdale, and retrace your steps home.

In this race you start whenever you like after 7am, although if you arrive at the Patterdale checkpoint (approx 10 miles in) before it opens at 930am you are forced to wait (or threatened with disqualification!). I set off at about 0815, with a friend of mine who was also running. I knew as soon as we set off that the pace was a bit too quick for me but decided to try to stay with him until Patterdale, which I just about managed to do. The weather was perfect, very cool low down in the valleys, and hot up on the tops. As we climbed up out of Patterdale towards Sticks pass I could feel my legs already protesting the quick start, possibly with a little bit of residual fatigue from the shale race last week, but although my muscles were achy, I felt like I still had a reasonable amount of energy, especially when it came to climbing. Just after about halfway (Swirls carpark) I passed Euan and Laura, who had started just ahead of me. We ran together for a short time, then after I had accidentally trodden on Laura’s foot while she was crossing a river, I pushed on quite hard up Grisedale by myself, trying to make the most of the climbing, as by this time going up steeply was the only bit that didn’t hurt.

The long return home from the top of Boredale hause was 9 miles of unpleasant plodding on very tired legs. I had by this time caught anyone I was going to and was getting passed by faster runners who didn’t seem to be in as much pain as I was (I was feeling a bit sorry for myself by this point!). I finally made it back, to some soup, cake and tea, and a bottle of ‘Helvellyn Gold’ bitter given to each finisher.  Apart from some sore legs (probably not the race director’s fault), this was a great race, well organised, and the variable start time meant that you mix with a lot of the field (in a covid safe manner) so it’s quite a sociable race. I doubt the weather will ever be as favourable again though… 

Results are at: Open Tracking – Tour De Helvellyn 2021 Results

Alistair 22nd place 7hrs 23 mins

Laura 58th place 8hrs 21 mins

Euan 59th place 8 hrs 21 mins

Tinto and the temperature inversion

Exceptional morning run today. Started at a very chilly damp car park below Tinto, but all the right signs for a temperature inversion and the chance to get above the clouds. Sure enough, about a third of the way up, blue sky above us and lots of sunshine. Just a privilege to be out. Appreciated the company of Shiv, Alice and Cassie and arrived back at the cars thoroughly refreshed. Even introduced S and A to the Turfgame.com – Chris

What a gorgeous Sunday morning to be up Tinto with friends! Stirring in bed this morning, the darkness outside did not look inviting but Cassie was looking in that doggy-impatient way as if to say, ‘come on, you’ll love it once we get out!’, and she was right! The views were spectacular. Even Cassie seemed impressed, stopping to sniff the air more than once – though her favourite bit was stopping to roll in the heather on the way down!’ Shiv

It was a cold and damp morning but as we climbed we soon broke through the clouds. Chris predicted an inversion and he was right. The views were amazing and we could see for miles. We stopped at the top for a rest and to soak up some winter sun before heading back down. Thanks for the company Chris and Shiv (and Cassie). It was a great start a Sunday – Alice

Shale Trail Race

The  unrightfully West Lothian Shale Trail is a 25k way marked route from West Calder to Winchburgh. This route has been developed by the Shale Trail project: www.shaletrail.co.uk .

Thanks to organisers Lothian Running Club the route has been made into a 25KM, 50KM Ultra and Relay races.

Here is a report from the Tinto Hill Runners who took part in the relay in December 2021!

‘It was great to be back racing again at the weekend, and even better to be there as part of a relay team, which always makes it more of a day out for me. I had elected to run leg 1 for ‘Team Totherin’ (the other relay team being ‘Scaut’, both named by Chris after outlying hills of Tinto). The small bunch of relay runners gathered at the start and off we went. I felt like I had gone out a bit fast, trying to make sure it looked like I was working hard enough for the team, but when I passed Kenny Reid after a mile or so he told me I should have caught him sooner and I was accused of slacking! The way was well marked, handy because I hadn’t reccied it at all, and was on very pleasant paths, despite the first official shale trail post having the motivational phrase ‘Squalor and hardship’ carved on it! I passed a group of fancy dress participants, made up as Christmas trees, and soon enough was handing over the baton to David Wilson, with the team well placed in the lead…’ Alistair  

‘Today I was number 2 in the Totherin team for the Shale Trail relay.  After some logistical masterminding on the logistics I arrived at the Livingston Civic Centre to run the 2nd leg to Uphall station.  I had really no idea of what sort of running to expect, and was pleasantly surprised.  Alistair C arrived at high pace and caught me slightly unprepared having run a great leg from West Calder.  For a moment I thought I could keep up that sort of pace but after a mile or so settled back into a pace I felt I could maintain to the end.  It was a nice change to be overtaking those running the full race length, but did have to give reassurance that I wasn’t doing the full distance!  And before I knew I arrived to pass the baton to Ali S having managed to maintain the lead that Alastair C had built from leg 1.  We then jumped in the car to get to the finish, just time to see Gergely finish an impressive 50k, Ali S to win the relay, and then Clare for the Scaut relay team, and Kenny who had run the full 25k.  Thanks to all – a great morning out. ‘ David

‘I ran the 3rd leg of the Shale Trail relay, it was 8km from Uphall Station to Winchburgh. When I arrived no-one else was there at the station, so I thought I had got the wrong place initially. Apparently there were only 5 relay teams, the rest of the runners were the ultra runners doing the whole route. We were lucky with the weather, it was mild and dry, none of the recent coldnesses or storms. I enjoyed the run through the woods by Broxburn and down along the canal through the bings. There were so many birds along the route including fieldfares and a kestrel. Its amazing to see such wildlife while running along such a historic industrial route.The route was very flat but interesting, the only hill was at the end which must have been a killer for the ultras!. It was great to be greeted by the team at the end, a good team day out.’ Clare 

Christmas Tinto Run

The Sunday before Christmas saw a good turnout in poor conditions for our annual pre-festivities run up Tinto. Still some snow up the top and a biting wind! It was followed by a trip to the Carmichael tea rooms for a fine breakfast! Thanks to Carmichael for accommodating us and to Chris for organising!