report from John Tollitt
Pentland Skyline 8th October
7 NFR’s lined up at the start line adjacent to Hillend ski centre enjoying the stunning views over Edinburgh, for this penultimate NFR championship fixture. The Pentland Skyline is billed as a 16 mile (although I clocked 16.8 miles) AL race with 6,200ft of ascent over 14 peaks in the Pentland Hills just south of Edinburgh. We were greeted with fine weather ( if a bit chilly) despite Paul Hainsworth’s predictions of doom and gloom.
The initial climb up onto Caerketton Hill was steep and single file (for the likes of me in mid pack). After picking off a couple more tops we descended down to Castlelaw to the accompaniment of rifle fire from the adjacent firing range. The route then regained all the height lost and proceeded along terrain familiar to anybody who has done the Carnethy 5 taking in the roller coaster of Carnethy and South Black Hills, Scald Law and East and West Kip. Approaching the summit of West Kip I was pleasantly surprised to be cheered on by my cousin Adrian who was out for a run in the opposite direction. He assured me that I was comfortably inside the 2hour 15min cut off around the half way mark.
The Pentland Skyline is a classic race of 2 halves with the first half covering a ridge of hills and the second returning on a parallel ‘ridge’ on the opposite side of the Logan Burn. The second half is much tougher going with plenty of boggy and tussocky ground draining the energy from already tired legs. At checkpoint 16, with about 4 miles to go I recalled the last time I ran this race in 2011. I nearly pulled out at that point as I felt that I had zero energy and recall John Telfer looking at me and asking me if I was OK as I obviously looked fit to drop. However, this year I had made sure that I had munched on dried fruit and flapjacks en-route, so despite my tired legs I didn’t have that horrible feeling of having nothing left in the tank. The last few miles seemed relentless as hills kept on popping up every time I thought all the climbing was over. The finish was the reverse of the start with a steep downhill descent and was most welcome. I was pleased to knock off nearly half an hour from my previous time and felt that I had done the race justice this time.
The winner of the race was Alexander Chepelin in 2.28.12 with Charlotte Morgan first lady in 2.59.13.
First home for NFR was Graham Simpson finishing in 16th place in 2.55.05.
The other NFR finishers were:-
Roger Sillito 33rd. 3.08.32
John Duff. 50th 3.19.30
John Tollitt. 88th. 3.32.56
Paul Appleby. 145th 3.53.51
John Telfer. 181st. 4.08.23
Paul Hainsworth 202nd. 4.28.27
Also in evidence from the North East was Jonathan Heaney of North Shields Poly who finished in 56th place in 3.21.50.