Durisdeer – British Hill and Fell Running Championships 13th June 2015

The second counter in this championship was held at Durisdeer in the Lowther Hills on Saturday. A record entry of 270 was a far cry from the 33 who did it last time. The crude statistics of 14.7km and an accumulative climb of 1240m told only half the story of a challenging course of steep climbs / descents, sheep trods and rock strewn grasslands.

I ran with Derek Rigmand who bravely was only just recovering from a nasty “fever”. We arrived in the beautiful hamlet of Durisdeer in good time. The hamlet of about 12 houses and one huge church has the air of “Brigadoon” about it (it sleeps for 100 years between races). After Derek took some of the healing waters, we wandered into the gothic mausoleum to discover a stunning burial vault covered by a large marble canopy, carved cherubs, and macabre skulls.

However enough, on with the race as they say. The first section is a steep climb up Black Hill (531m) followed by a sheer, sheer descent down the rock strewn “Pettylung”. After Dalveen farm the course follows two very steep valleys around Steygail. Line choices were critical here. I stuck to the burn for the first half which gave a bit of an advantage over those contouring around the hill. Once round the hill my fence “hurdle” left my foot caught in the wire, face in a thistle and calves in a spasm. The course then involved clambering further over rough ground to Lavern burn. This then led to the foot of Well Hill which is a total misnomer. The hill is an ill crawl. After that there was some good running for tired legs back round to Black Hill. It was on the route back up Black Hill that the “healing waters” kicked in for Derek and he flew passed me. Heading down to the finish, my time was well up on last year and I was feeling well chuffed. Unfortunately however hill running is a cruel mistress. Before hitting the funnel, Brian Brennan of Westerlands, flew passed me still clutching the sole of a shoe he had lost half way round the course.

There was consolation for my soul in the wonderful array of post-race tea and cakes in the church. Tired bodies were strewn about the church yard with their picnics made me mindful of the Mexican Day of the Dead. The whole day was wonderful and topped by Scottish victories for Tom Owens (Shettleston) and Jasmin Paris (Carnethy). Next stop Wasdale.

David Stakes

Photo by Chris Wimbush [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons