Baddinsgill imagined and delivered

Very happy to report that the inaugural Baddinsgill Round Hill Race was a great success. Never having ran on the far outreaching Western Pentland Hills i was not sure quite what to expect. However there were two things i became very sure about in the buildup; 1. Nick is known for his uncompromising and meticulous preparation - this race was going to be well planned
and 2. Tommy had signed up to run. A move which is not dissimilar to the weatherman giving you a golden guarantee for fair weather. He has somehow never stepped out onto a hill race course in inclement conditions.

West Linton and turn right was the first bit of navigation we had to undertake. Rolling up the road we were soon welcomed by the CAAC flags fluttering at the Finish and then in turn the CAAC cave marking the Start. Obviously the Start was far too well marked as a large cloud of midges also mustered for a meal-on-the-go (Nick had prepared an array of Midge repellent for all entrants use). It wasn&;t too long before we toed the line, a start line punctuated by a huge puddle that no one was keen to enter despite Nick&;s encouragement that we will get out feet wet anyways. With 2 days rain and the relatively flat summit ridge we were soon to find that out for ourselves. Go!

600m up the road, past first race marshall Sarah and onto the soggy hillside. It was at this point the undertone to the whole race as it transpired for me became very evident. A group of 3 in the shape of Tommy, Fergus of Gala Harriers and John scampered away up the hill and a into the wrong direction. A select group of some fine veterans Chris from Westerlands, Graeme, Peter from Portobello and I spotted the folly of their ways and ran straight to the first checkpoint - a waving Mr. Peggie, picking up the hares as we did. Past the CP, off went the hares again easily taking 10-20-30 metres out of us before Tommy dropped off the duo to a more controlled pacing. I was trying to keep my strides short and well continuous, with half an eye on keeping pace with Tommy and the other on PeterB and ChrisU as they moved past me. Graeme i lost track of, but as a man in form i knew he wouldn&;t be too far off us.

Mount Maw was our 3rd checkpoint and as we reached it i had managed to overhaul Peter and was gearing myself up for closing down the 30m gap to Tommy and Chris who seemed to be keeping pace with each other. Fergus and Johnny were long gone with a gap of ~200m. Usually up high the running becomes a bit better but it was quickly evident eyes and mind were still needing to be in 4th gear, as between bits of wire fencing remnants and dodging soggy bits in hope of the better running needed ones full attention. The distraction proved useful however and i was soon easing past my targets whilst still trying to keep some semblance of a the lid on my efforts. Tommy wasn&;t for partaking in my appreciation of the scenery so i wondered if his hill legs were wayward already. Following the fencline down we were then treated to a glorious purple heather adorned downhill - after years of trying to keep up with my wee brother i seem to be relatively capable now at just switching off and chucking myself down and with a wee bit extra weight around just now gravity did its job to. The downhill made a big difference and as i reached the bottom i was within 50m of the leaders who looked like they were having some bother getting through Henshaw Mouth. I soon found out why as i took my third step in and lost my right leg up to my groin.. thankfully the rest of the way across it was only knee deep! With new targets on the horizon and knowing the damage id done on the downhill i started to enjoy it a little bit more.

There was a slight breeze in the air, adrenalin was coursing through my veins and i had some better ground under my feet. Fergus was making light work of the hill ahead but John was beginning to look back down at me as we headed up to East Cairn. Fergus then started following from the front with regular checks over the shoulder to check he was going right. They weren&;t and i caught them at the dyke pointing towards the cairn. With each of us on either side wondering if the other had better ground, Johnny shouted over to ask if my path was better. A juncture which caused me immediately to go head over heels and partake in a Peat sandwich. I loudly cursed his curse! We reached the top together and despite the race instructions not requiring it i felt obliged to touch the top, hell i wasn&;t running all the way up there not to go to the top ;]

Again Fergus was waiting unsure of our next turn. It was a sharp left down a deep heather steep to Cauldstone Slap and the halfway point. I let go. The descent very much reminded me of coming of West Lomond and was only punctuated by a Hare darting out mm from under my foot halfway down. I reached Tim, Steph, the water and the jelly babies leading the race as was rewarded by a walker holding the gate open for me to pass. Given the nature of if all i stopped almost for a chat only for Fergus and Tommy to eat and run sharpish. I&;d better go then... Tim&;s warning of the harder half stinging my ears. Chris and John had closed right up to so all 5 of us were within 100m or so of each other as we started for home.  

The ascent to West Cairn was the beginning of the end for me, my legs questioning the logic of going back uphill again. Fergus got away, Tommy got away and then Johnny sporting his track spikes passed. We quizzed him on logic of doing so at the start he replied emphatically that they were like &;Dynamite! on the hills&;. I could do with a few sticks of that to knock 100m of the height of this hill now i thought. Moray offered some keen words of encouragement near the top and steadied myself to hopefully get back onto the pacemakers. As i watched them weave away from the obvious contour up to Byrehope Mount i wondered if a bit of savvy could get me back into the race. I spotted a lower path and after a quick map check left the fenceline to get over to it. However it was misguided and as i got closer to it i realised it was nothing more than a acute strip of blazed heather - not a path. Thigh deep in heather now i was off track and the running wasn&;t easy. Chris had closed up on me and realised before i, that i wasn&;t doing myself any favours. We both made it up to the fenceline again for the subtle descent to Wolf Crags.

In the pre-race briefing we were warned this section was rough and without paths and it did not fail to deliver. We could see the leaders reach the fenceline on the rise above, however the gap was definitely misleading. Chris was still moving well and i was beginning to struggle to put any power through my legs at all, the hands on knees power walk had become more an upright keep on moving task. I glanced behind. I probably shouldn&;t have but i did. Peter, and Rob of HBT and the familiar white vest of Graeme must&;ve been salivating at the decline of my forward movement. I was ripe pickings for the vultures - hanging on.

Byrehope Mount is a tough hill, i don&;t know its exact dimensions but it felt akin to Black Hill in the Pentland Skyline race. Defintely not as steep but with each successfully conquered pull up you are met with a half mile drag up another rise. A hill with a sponge mattress, maybe great for sleeping on. Maybe i could stop? Walking seems hard enough? It was as i pondered this Peter caught me, and i could do little to fight it. Thankfully though i was thrown a bone, we hit the fence junction at which we need turn to Kings Seat and Peter slightly overshot it. I could also see the Finish. A great wee path downhill, short grass and good running led us to the last hill. Despite its diminutive size the rise again was still at odds to my head and legs. The battle with Peter was lost. Buoyed by the fluorescent raver that was Grant giving welcome support at the top, i spun round and headed for home seeing and encouraging Rob, Graeme and Bruce on the last wee bit of climb. It was just before Lamb Rigg on the descent that Rob moved past. Punchdrunk i focused on finishing, following a nice wee trod which delivered me to the flags - and the finish. I don&;t think it needed any explanation to those around i was knackered.

Haribos, Water and a Banana were gratefully scoffed and i came to. Without knowing the result i felt it would have come down to between John and Fergus for the win. Apparently it should&;ve been Fergus but his navigational mistakes had caught up with him cruelly at the last. A detour downhill towards the enticing finish flags proved the straw that broke the back. After which Tommy doggedly got away from John and with the CAAC vest on his back giving him fleet foot scarpered down to finish to take the win. Chris Upson had kept up his good progress after i lost sight of him to also profit from Fergus&;s error, finishing 3rd overall and 1st V40.

There were a couple of DQ&;s as two missed the last CP and 1 DNF but otherwise all negotiated and thoroughly enjoyed the route. First female home was Susan Johnston, 1st V50 was Graeme Fletcher. Nick will post the results and photos in due course.

Thanks to Nick for a great idea delivered and to his helpers on the hill. I felt it was a very successful event and one that im sure will become a staple of the CAAC Events calendar for years to come.
Nick's picture

Fantastic race write up Chris

Fantastic race write up Chris! I&;m glad you enjoyed the course and found it challenging. As I mentioned on my race introduction page, it&;s in an area of the Pentlands that I particularly like, and having run round those hills many times was keen to get others out on it. While the course on paper may only be classified BM, it&;s far tougher than it appears due to the rough and wet nature of the terrain! And after several days of rain and a generally wet summer I knew you were all in for a treat.
As you mentioned the weather was near ideal for racing, and this greatly reduced my apprehension about people getting lost, as in thick cloud several areas can very tough to navigate, and also the chance of heat/dehydration or cold injuries.
I think the race was a success, with no major issues happening. I had been very careful in my planning. All 22 runners returned safely, with only 1 DNF due to illness and 2 DQ due to missing a checkpoint. I believe that start and finish areas worked well, though I&;ve already noted a few improvements that I can make to organization (table for entries, better rubbish collection, portaloo if numbers increase, etc). I&;ve noted the navigation mistakes made by a few between checkpoints 8 and 9, and will work to have this clearly marked or marshaled in future, as it&;s very much meant to be a hill race and not an orienteering race.
I&;d like to thank Sarah, Chris, Tim and Grant for helping marshaling the race, as without them it simply could not have gone ahead. Their help controlling checkpoints, registration (I believe Susan and few others may have help with this as well, so again thank you), finish timing and handing out water/bananas is much appreciated. In particular Grant and Tim for heading out to remote checkpoints and spending a long time standing in lonely spots. Finally I&;d like to thank Gavin Marshall, the owner of Baddinsgill Estate, for his kind permission to use his land for the event area. If anyone has any feedback on the race and it&;s organization then please get in contact with me, so that I can make the next time even better.
Well done to everyone! And I look forward to reading more reports of what you all thought of the route. So which is the fast way from Kings Seat to the finish line?! :-)

Tommo's picture

This was definitely some of

This was definitely some of the hardest softest hill running I&;ve ever done, with each successive bog plunge threatening to suck my shoes clean off.  Took a fair quantity of the hill away with me inside my socks too!

Well organised Nick and a fine choice of route.  The final ascent is a nice touch - teasing us with a full on view of the finish flags only to swing away to Kings Seat.  It&;s further than you think from the top too!

Most enjoyable, although after failures at Comrie and The Skyline in years gone by I&;m not sure why Johnny and Fergus were waiting for me to catch up with the map!

Bruce Malcolm's picture

Well done Nick for organising

Well done Nick for organising a great race and I hope it becomes a permanent fixture.

I enjoyed the route, maybe a bit too much as by the second hill the leaders had disappeared into the distance. I picked it up a bit and latched on to running with Russell from Moorfoots with the lead swapping depending on who found the least boggy lines. It was tough going, easily the boggiest, swampiest course I&;ve run and found myself thigh deep in the stuff a couple of times. It was a challenge to stay on the correct route but that&;s half the fun so hope you don&;t mark it out too much next time. Maybe just that last turn to Kings Seat if that&;s where some went wrong this time.

It was a great run from the last hill with the finish in sight and for once a nice path to run on. Couldn&;t tell you what the line I took was but think it was probably over the top of Lamb Rig. What was the best line to take?
Nick's picture

A comparison of Tommy, Chris,

A comparison of Tommy, Chris, Graeme and Mike&;s Garmin logs of the routes:

Tom Ferrington:
Graeme Fletcher:
Chris Upson:
Mike Lynch:
Mary Lye:
Martin Caldwell:

It&;s a shame you can&;t have them all in the Garmin Connect player at the same time and watch an animation of them all together as places are gained and lost.
Martin H's picture

Chris Upson has adopted this

Chris Upson has adopted this race onto SHRacing site, which augurs well for it being incorporated into the SHR calendar next year. I hope so, but it means that CAAC strikes new ground with inaugural record holders Tommo and Susan. Mr F in particular joins that elite group of hill runners who have 100% of winning time by their name, and if the race appears next year in the official calendar it will probably rate as the toughest of all the relatively under used BM category, and definitely has all the makings of a classic. Nick has excelled himself with his creation, and he and all the others who contributed to the race route deserve huge thanks. 
Mark Nixon's picture

Hello CAAC,

Hello CAAC,

On Wednesday I went down to Baddinsgil with the Edinburgh Uni orienteering team for our weekly long run. Afterwards I thought it would make a great route for a race, and I was surprised that Carnethy didn&;t already host one. I was then having a look on SHR and discovered that CAAC held the first one this year, and I&;m gutted I missed it. It&;s such a fantastic part of the Pentlands. Well done to you for starting up the race on such an excellent route.

On one of the race info pages I notice that you comment on the desire to have some of Scotland&;s top hill runners come down and race the Baddinsgil Round. I&;d certainly love to take part. This year the race was held on the Saturday of the UKA/FRA relays. This certainly would have pulled some of the top trotters away. And with Carnethy, EUHH, Shettleston and Ochills all fielding teams on occasions, many other runners as well.

I really hope it doesn&;t clash next year, as FRA relays will always be a priority. For reference, the next year&;s FRAs are at Llanberis, Snowdonia on 20th October 2013. Maybe you could even get a team down with CAAC&;s new enthusiasm for the hills!


Mark Nixon - Edinburgh University
Pudsey & Bramley AC
Martin C's picture

You can watch all these

You [u]can[/u] watch all these routes animated together in Google Earth!

Log in to Garmin Connect, call up each of these routes and export it as gpx (using the Export button above the map). Now Google Earth can open all the gpx files and play them back. You might want to adjust each runner&;s colour property so you can tell them apart.

While you are looking, here&;s another one: