The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Sunday, 29 July 2012

7 Peaks

Tap o Noth 1 The Deer Runner 0.

DNF. My attempt to conjure up a personal ultra route did not pay off this weekend. A combination of bad weather, no defined route and lack of fitness meant an early retirement.

 Coach dropped me off 0900 Saturday morning at this obscure forest track west of Cairn William.

 It was uphill right from the start.
Once on the hill I took a picture of the forest track where I had been.
Bennachie range in the distance.
 Tap o Noth viewed from Cairn William.
 The river Don exiting The Lords Throat.
 First peak, Cairn William with the Bennachie Range in the distance.
 Pitfichie Castle.
 Crossing the river Don.
 The Flat Stones, a popular place to picnic and swim in the river Don.
 The Donview Centre where I hoped to refill water bottles before heading to the Bennachie Range. Unfortunately the place was closed, including the toilets.
 Steep steps on the way to Mill Stone Hill.
 City of Aberdeen in the distance.

 Second peak Millstone Hill with Mither Tap in the distance.
 This picture summed up the weather, hot sunshine and heavy showers.
Third peak Mither Tap with Craigshannoch on the right and Oxen Craig on the left.
Fourth peak Craigshannoch, next - Oxen Craig.
 Fifth peak Oxen Craig, the bad weather obscuring my destination.

 The Gordon Way seems unused and neglected, difficult to run through overgrown grass trails.
 Sixth peak Suie Hill with destination Tap o Noth in the background.
 Tap o Noth viewed from Suie Road, taunted me in the late afternoon sunshine.
I crossed Suie Road and entered the forest road pictured above. It looked like a super highway going in the general direction of Tap o Noth. Unfortunately after two miles it was a dead end with nowhere to go. I had to turn back to Suie Car Park. The weather closed in and with no defined route to Tap o Noth I had no choice but call Coach for a lift. Ironically the watch showed just under 26 miles back at Suie Car Park so i ran a few circuits to reach 26.2.

This is unfinished business, I'm determined to find a route from Suie Car Park to Tap o Noth in the future.

Wed 6 miles  Thurs 8 miles  Sat 26.2 miles  Sun 2 miles  Weekly total 42 miles.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Five Peaks

The "training" last week was rubbish. It was so bad I wasn't going to bother with a post this week but then decided I'd better blog the negative stuff as well as the positive. Fourteen miles, that was last weeks total despite being injury free. I entered and paid for another two ultras last week, even this didn't spark the interest to put in some higher miles. I'm clinging on to "ultra fitness" by my finger tips. I'm a plodder at the best of times but feel like I'm losing fitness week by week, eventually questioning whether enough has been done to complete an ultra comfortably.

An idea came to me a couple of weeks ago. I'm going to invent my own personal ultra, a run I can take on  mid winter or complete if my schedule allows during summer. I've studied google satellite maps and think I can come up with something mostly off road and fairly local.  This weekend I'll ask Coach to drop me off west of Cairn William where I will make my way to Bennachie before following the Gordon Way. From Suie Car Park I think I can run a lot of forest tracks heading for Tap O Noth. I'll have to wing it and see how to get onto the hill from the direction I'm approaching, I'll try to keep off the roads as much as possible.
The finish will be the summit of Tap O Noth where I'll call Coach and request a lift. I'm not sure how I'll get on with the lack of training lately but I'm up for a wee challenge to help get back on track.

Wed 6 miles  Thurs 8 miles  Weekly total 14 miles.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Survival of the fastest.

Last week my daughter and I went to Aden park for a training run in the rain. That was when I looked back at my childhood, running in completely different circumstances during the 1970's. Summer holidays were spent outside from morning till night playing the usual games that kept kids fit - football, cricket, hide & seek etc. but a few other activities meant you had to be quick on your feet.

Back then it was popular for gardeners to grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens, patiently waiting for the crops to mature. Unfortunately for them, so were the kids of the neighbourhood who knew exactly when to strike like a plague of locusts. Pea pods and strawberries were highest on the hit list. Some gardeners could be particularly vigilant, turning a well planned raid into a scattered run across the gardens.

The local golf course sometimes required a speedy getaway. The dogleg seventh hole meant players had to hit a blind shot down the fairway. They would play what would be a prefect shot, only to arrive at the area and find nothing there. Golfers new to the course would search for a wee while before giving up and using a new ball but the local and wiser golfers knew about the bermuda triangle that was hole seven. They were the furious ones that would chase kids off the golf course, no questions asked.

Crop fields provided a past time where alien circles were replicated in ripe wheat. Rumours of farmers with dogs and shot guns heightened the senses where even the sound of a barking dog, any barking dog would stop the flattening and start the fleeing.

As well as the added strain on the "grow your own"  gardeners, back yard camping meant there was more bounty to be had, delivered to doorsteps all round the neighbourhood. Not so much fast running required this time but silence and stealth to gather milk, orange juice and yogurt.

Ive taken a leisurely run through the area of my upbringing a couple of times lately with a tinge of sadness. The streets are quiet, play park empty, usually no-one to be seen. It's not the same bustling neighbourhood I remember as a child. Sure, if you can be bothered growing your own produce you'll probably reap the whole crop. If you hit a blinder of a shot at hole 7 your ball will be there waiting for you. The farmer will harvest the whole field of wheat and milk is bought in plastic cartons from the supermarket, the doorstep delivery is long gone.

If you come across someone running round the roads of Deershire, you'll know he's being pursued, chased by the memories of his childhood.

Wed 8 miles  Thurs 6 miles  Sun 12 miles  Weekly total 26 miles.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


A later than usual post from me, I thought I'd better get something logged, an attempt to try and raise the running spirits and get some higher miles in. I've no excuse for the lack of mileage, physically I'm ready to go but mentally can't be bothered. This morning I set the alarm for an early morning run but ignored it and didn't go. I'll put the lack of enthusiasm down to the rubbish weather we've been getting.

I did manage to get out on Saturday, full winter kit and off to the trusty Braes of Gight in the pouring rain. The trails were lush and overgrown, tall riverside reed beds meant I had to walk with my arms held above my head, I was well drookit by the time I got back to the car.

On the plus side, I've introduced my wife and daughter to the delights of off road running. We were all at the Braes in more favourable weather conditions last week where they both enjoyed a bit of trail running.

Once again I'll set my alarm early tomorrow morning, hopefully the motivation will be there to get up and do some miles.

Saturday 8 miles.

Monday, 2 July 2012

In the doldrums

After completing the whw race I felt a bit low last week, the usual drop in spirits after an event has passed and consigned to history. I intended taking a couple of weeks to recover but a family weekend away made me pack the running gear, I couldn't help it. I'm glad I did as I was up early on Sunday morning and ran round the beautiful surroundings of Comrie.

I need something else to aim for, I'm not sure where or when but I definitely need to set my sights on another big race. I'll enter the Speyside Way ultra soon and take it from there.

Sunday 9 miles.