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Devil's Beeftub Race

11/09/2017

The latest race in the Dumfries Running Club Grand Prix was the Devil's Beeftub hill race, which is usually a small friendly local race. This year, those club members attending were surprised to find that it was actually the last race in the Scottish championships and so had attracted a much larger stronger field than usual. 

Those uninitiated in this event might think that a 2 mile race sounds relatively easy, but it is not for the faint hearted, as the total climb measures at about 900 feet (with a similar descent). The runners line up to start, holding on to the barbed wire fence (which had to be hurdled in early editions of the race) and then dive into the bracken to start their ascent. The hillside is so steep (most of the race's climbing is done within the first quarter of a mile) that even the leaders are reduced to a "hands and feet crawl" upwards. 

The reward for this climb is a rough section of alternating tussocks and ankle deep bogs, before reaching another fence that must be climbed. After this the route becomes more runnable with a few sharp ascents and descents to the final summit, so most people alternate between running and power walking. 

The final quarter mile is a lesson in controlled falling, which is why the race is known as the steepest one of the Scottish hill running circuit. A burn must then be hurdled on the final sprint into the (very welcome) finish before the legs give out completely. 

The race was won by Murray Strain of Hunters Bog Trotters (21:55) and Stephanie Provan on Deeside Runners (24:40). 

Joasia Zakrzewski had a steady start (ie started plum-last after a bracken-related tripping incident in the first few steps) but then worked her way up the field on the ascents and runnable sections, while trying not to lose too many places due to her fear of descent, finishing as first club member home in 28:13. 

Adam Dickie wasn't sure how his legs would have recovered after the Ben Nevis race last weekend, and so also used his bottom to aid his descent, finishing next in 29:38. 

Alan Baxter unfortunately fell foul of the ankle deep bogs, having to replace a shoe after losing it on the run off the first summit, but picked his race back up to finish in 35:24. 

Sue Jeffrey had run the race before and so was able to advise the others about lines off the starting fence, and was delighted that a day of celebrating her 30th birthday didn't hinder her performance, coming home in 36:08. 

Other notable mentions go to former club member Terry McCloskey who is returning to fitness after a long layoff due to injury, and gained several places on the final descent to finish in 27:30. 

Gelston 5 mile organiser Dougie Milligan raced having just returned from the World Masters Hill Running Championships, and crossed the line in 31:16 as the first V70 runner. 

The friendliness of the race organisers (Carnethy) was epitomised by the fact that the race director started the runners off wearing just his socks, as he had lent his shoes to ADAC member John Robson to avoid him trying to take part in his cycle shoes (having misplaced his fell shoes), though it must also be noted that one runner took part bare-footed. 

Thanks must also go to Doug Brown who traversed the race route in the opposite direction to cheer the runners on as they hit the final summit and headed off over the edge towards the finish directly below them. 

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