Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Devils Burdens Cake Raffle. Born: sometime, Died: 2012

The Kingdom of Fife, in general, doesn’t have much to offer the running community, a few nice hills, some pretty bridges and a few roads that take you out of Fife are among the highlights. Its generally a cold, lacklustre and soulless place where it is acceptable for people to enjoy dressing up in plus fours and tweed whilst wasting a nice walk following a small projectile round a well manicured garden.

On Saturday the 21st of January, we bade a tearful farewell not only to one of the few decent things that Fife has to offer, but, also to one of the last bastions of running tradition. For years the Devils Burdens Cake Raffle has grown in stature and status in Bella folklore and this year it was cruelly snatched from us…

The story of the fabled Cake raffle began with Helen Palmer (now of Bella’s Norway branch) having partaken in the Burdens race returned victorious with Carrot cake held aloft like an exalted hero. Helen told of iced carbohydrate riches beyond compare. In the years that followed legions of Bella’s followed in Helen’s legendary footsteps we all pretended that we were there for the race, but this was just a charade, we were all really there for the cake. Team Bella in the last years have fared well in the raffle largely due to spending more money than is required to bail out Greece on raffle tickets. Each year when our first victorious raffle winning warrior went forth to claim their prize the calls of “CAKE…. CAKE” could be heard in the hall. It was not uncommon for a Bella to forego a bottle of Champagne or spirits in order to satisfy their cake habit. Once all the cakes had been won we only then turned our attention to the wine, spirits, slankets and left over/unwanted Christmas presents.

The cake raffle made no appearance on Saturday, there was no mention and then it was all over. Some Bella’s were stunned, the others just shocked that something so loved could be taken from us without even a whimper.

The side show that was the Devils Burdens race was attended by one Bella Ladies and 3 Bella Mens teams.

The Ladies team was: Leg 1: Ciara Baxter and Romy Beard, Leg 2: Jackie McGuire, Leg 3: Elsie Downham and Sandy Brindley, Leg 4: Emma Birnie. Who completed the course in 3:37.28 and were 12th Senior ladies team.

The Mens A team consisted of Leg1: Grant McDonald and Craig Reid, Leg 2: Mark Johnston, leg 3 Matt Williamson and David Weatherhead, Leg 4 Russell Whittington. They were 17th overall in a time of: 2:44.02

The Mens B team consisted of: Leg 1: Bryan Lamb and Brendan Moriarty, Leg 2: Stuart Mathieson, Leg 3: Robbie Hayman and Andy Birnie, Leg 4: Nea MacInnes who were 30th overall in: 2:54.25

The Mens C team was : Gordon Clements and Alex lawther, Barry Edwards, leg 3: Steven Gilligan and Chris Brotherstone and leg 4: Nick Forrester in a time of 03.22.24

Notably there were a few close times between the teams and a few people were a bit burst at the end. Special Mentions to all of our Bella Burdens debutants, Davie Weatherhead who came straight off a 12 hour night shift and then ran leg 3 with Matt W. Bryan Lamb in his first competitive outing for Bella and Emma B on her return to competitive running after her dodgy ankle. 

I feel it is important to mark the passing of our beloved friend in some way, perhaps we could all post pictures of our favourite cakes as a mark of respect and to show our appreciation for the hero that was the DB’s cake raffle.

PS. apologies to anyone that likes Fife.

Thanks to Brendan for the report.

The Winter Feast Duathlon: “the appetiser”

This short but challenging event was the first of three mixed terrain winter duathlons organised by Fort William based ‘No Fuss’ events.

Set in the stunning mountain amphitheatre of Glen Nevis (moved from last year’s Glencoe route due to fallen trees) 84 duathletes turned up on Saturday 14th to do battle on mountain path, fire road and tarmac. The first leg was a short but steep run, (about 4-5k, they’re not sticklers for exact distances) up the single track path towards Sgurr a’Mhaim, followed by a rapid road descent back to transition. The dilemma with an event of this distance is whether it’s worth changing from running shoes to cycling shoes; figuring there may be some ‘technical stuff’ ahead, I decided to stick with the trainers. The 12k-ish bike section followed the fast, undulating road almost to the bottom of the Glen, before hanging a left and climbing back up a forestry road. Most people opted for some sort of mountain bike, but there were some pretty racy looking cyclocross numbers making short work of the dry, hard packed conditions – with thankfully no ‘tricky bits’ to reveal my woeful lack of bike skills.

Back at the transition, I managed to overtake a few of those whom had smoked me on the ascent as they struggled to change back into their trainers (always a nice moment, on a longer ride it would have been a very different story!) By this time I was in 7th; with the front three well out of sight, over the same run loop I managed to catch one competitor and squeeze 6th overall/2nd SV. Great result from Inverness triathlon’s Henry Blake, who came first by over 3 minutes.

The prize giving took place in the Nevis Centre in Fort William, where podium finishers received giant medals and a bobbly hat, courtesy of Big Bobble hats (

For anyone looking to try something a bit different, these events are nicely run, low key and friendly, and take place in some truly fantastic parts of Scotland (the second leg of the ‘winter feast’ is in Arisaig … ries/2759/).

As one who mostly runs, the challenge of a bit of mountain biking (and changing shoes against the clock) is quite good fun. Full results at … %20Nevis(1).csv

Report from Hamish

Great Winter Run 5k, Edinburgh

On Saturday I headed through to Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh to compete in the Great Winter Run 5k and then watch a feast of top quality Cross Country action with Kenenisa Bekele topping the bill.

The 5k started on the road next to Arthur’s Seat went uphill for two kilometers, levelled out for one and then back downhill for two. The first kilometre was sheltered and I found myself out in front. We were then met by a fairly strong headwind and I held onto the lead until two kilometres. At that point Adam Priestley from Corstorphine AAC and Sean Gaffney from Inverclyde AC both came past me and then got about 50 metres ahead.

I was feeling tired, but dug in and hoped for the best. At about 3.5k I caught Sean and moved back into second place. At 4k I passed Adam and had the amazing feeling of only having the pace car and 1k of running between me and a win.

I managed to hold on and for the first time in my life had the incredible feeling of breaking the tape at a race. Neil Thin of Edinburgh AC came through to take second place.

My split times should give a flavour of how hilly the course was. The first mile was run in 6:03, the second in 5:52 the third in 4:49 and the last 0.1 mile in 4:52 pace. The third mile was the first time that I have broken five minutes for the mile.

After the race I met up with Stewart Roberston and Bryan Burnett to watch the cross country. It was very entertaining and we witnessed the race event of Bekele being outshone in a cross country.

To finish of the perfect day after the races had finished we headed to The Royal Mile for a few beers.

Report from Russell