Scottish weather and Trail conditions challenged Darren February 1st 2020

Being the Bornholm Runners web page editor I love when our runners are sending me histories from various runs. Recently I received the below one from Darren in UK. I think the story both explain the beauty as well as the struggles it can be being a runner 🙂 Thanks for the story and your thoughts Darren.

There’s a little bit of madness about wanting to run a half marathon on Scotland in the winter…. It’s a week before my fiftieth birthday so how am I spending my leisure time??? I’m not on a beach or in Las Vegas… I’m in a town called Crieff up in the hills in central Scotland ‚running’ 21km in the snow…. or that was my honest intention. The Strathearn Trail Festival was a weekend of events, centred on a hill called the Knock of Crieff and including a Saturday night party, all organised by Normally I stick to road running events but this fitted into my work schedule, it was in a part of the world I know and like and I thought it would be a good kick off to getting properly upto ‚speed’ for adding some runs to the list that coming spring. I don’t have trail shoes but the pictures made it look like it was mainly on woodland paths so the fool that I am, I fired off an entry. 

Years ago I set myself the target of running a hundred half marathons as a means of keeping fit. When I say running there is a bit of poetic license at work; I’m very much a jogger. On a good day I might get around the thirteen miles in 2 hours fifteen… and that’s just fine. I’ll probably be doing the same next week so it does keep the weight off and the body moving and when I get congratulated by the people that have finished before me or high-fived by a child I like it; it feels like there is some positive energy in the world. Being me though there has to be a downside and it is this… I can’t abide people that enter running events and walk around half of them…. it annoys the hell out of me. I know all the arguments for and against but for me, if you aint run it you aint done it. I often cross the line looking like a knackered middle aged man that has been jogging for over two hours, and that is exactly what I will be.

As I drove north that day the weather got worse, the snow thicker and my sense of apprehension more complete. It was a mile walk to collect your number and then, still with two hours before the start I headed into the town to fuel up for the afternoon. Being in Scotland meant that the obligatory pre run calories came courtesy of short bread in a nice little place called Cafe Rhubarb. Crieff is kind of wealthy and quiet and quaint and touristy and slightly run down in places with that typically British mix of charity shops, tea shops and boutiques… If people congregate in Gudhjem to sail to the islands they congregate here to play golf, relax at a posh hotel or walk over a few hills if they are younger. I know this part of the world is popular with Danish visitors and some well funded individuals have brought land there.

Suitably nourished I headed back to the start line to get changed and psyche myself up for what was only going to be a cold and wet afternoon. Due to the wonders of the internet and Jesper’s generosity I’m doing this wearing event a Bornholm Runners teeshirt sporting the Danish and Polish flags, my old leggings and some totally unsuitable road shoes. I then trudged over to the snowey startline and stod around with 67 other, better prepared, people waiting for the compare to stop talking garbage into a microphone and let us get on with it. When this finally happened I found out the true depths of the error of my ways … how I remained upright as much as I did over the three hours is beyond my recollection I soon found myself even closer to the back of the field than even I am used to. When I did my laps of Cristianso with Jesper and Kim last year there was cake and camaraderie to keep me going…. on this occasion there was little more than snow and that odd sense of determination you get at the weirdest of times. Just as I was wondering if I had accidentally stumbled into a selection exercise for Finnish special forces and it was time to quit an angel appeared out of nowhere in the shape of the man that organises the MacTuff ( obstacle course events that are held in Scotland. Seeing my distress he offered to give me an old pair of trail shoes he had in the back of the van to keep me going, it was a two lap event and he would leave them at the start line for me… so I had to keep going.

Being at the real tail end of a running event is not something that has ever bothered me, which Jesper and Kim will confirm is just as well frankly, but as I approached the start line that snowey February afternoon I discovered an aspect of it that did bother me…. The man with the microphone was still at. In Scotland they talk about ‚havering’ and in England they talk about ‚rabbiting’; how either of these translate into Danish or Polish is beyond me but if I say simply that he was ‚talking crap’ you’ll get the general idea. The problem of course was that he didn’t have much to talk about because just about everyone was miles ahead of me, so my distressed self became his subject of choice and the few people that were milling about got to hear him repeatedly mention that I was going the wrong when I was just heading to the porta-loos. After this I found the shoes I had been so kindly donated and resolved to get around.If you wondered why I bothered you with my grumpy attitude to jogging earlier on it is this… this event should have been half marathon number 72 in my quest but it wasn’t to be…. for the first time ever I had started a half marathon and could not with a clear conscience add it to my list. I did complete the course but couldn’t say I had run it – not in any way had I – walking much of both laps… so I was hostage to my own attitudes. I could put it down to experience but not down on my list of completed events.

At the end the only part of my body not caked in mud was the sock under the timing chip although I was so slow a calendar might have been more appropriate. I will always remember the kindness of the man from MacTuff, and the people from Wee Run events are great, but I will always remember this event as having taught me a harsh lesson.  Over the years I have perhaps developed a slightly relaxed attitude to my running events – knowing I can get around and just turning up and doing it… perhaps I need to remember to do a little more planning in future!

Thanks Darren and I would say you could still count this as a Half Marathon – it shows the dedication you (an many runners) has to keep going even when it look most difficult.  Greetings Jesper