Let Battle Commence



I have checked it out and, at Ufford Park Health Spa (no, I have no idea where that is) you can have a half hour mud treatment for £29 all on your own! Why pay so much for so little when by entering Criffel Hill Race, for as little as £8, you can enjoy (in my case) 1hour 28 minutes of total emersion in black blog alongside 200 other head cases?!

It all started so well – dinner on Saturday evening with old hill friend Davey Duncan, in the very excellent Steamboat Inn at Carsethorn and mugs of tea back at his camper van. I left the van around 10pm for the cosiness of my sleeping bag and my wee tent which I had erected in what I thought, would be the shelter of the ruined Sweetheart Abbey. Not so - the night was spent revisiting my worst moments at sea as the storm raged outside until the early hours, threatening on several occasions to flatten the tent completely!

Sunday morning, feeling like I had survived a heavy wash and spin cycle, I joined others for reviving tea and scones before preparing my fragile old body for the next onslaught and at the same time getting a chance to eye up the over 60’s competition across the tea pot! It was still chucking it down and blowing a hoolie but after still more tea, the front passed through in time for a good warm up run around the village. New Abbey is such a pretty village with a waterwheel, a crannog, a cornmill, a saw mill, a mill pond, lots of blossom trees and a burn interestingly called New Abbey Pow; 200 plus fidgeting runners slightly lowered the tone and upset the tranquillity as we lined up at the millpond for the race start.

What can you say – after the fast tarmac and forestry track start, it was a bog slog to the summit and from the summit to the bottom it was a moving mud bath with a trip wire and slimy tree roots thrown in for added fun! A few people said that they enjoyed it - they were the perverts. The ascent required doggedness and the descent required total concentration in order to a) avoid being mown down by flying, gravity resistant youth and b) to resist gravity and an instant face pack! I pushed as hard as I possibly could on the way up, so hard that Mr Brennan, usually a speck on the horizon, only caught me at the summit cairn before then, fast becoming said speck.  It was great to get encouragement from descending fellow Westies all of whom who found the presence of mind and breath to shout out. I tried equally as hard on the descent but these days I’m pretty crap at it so it was more of controlled slide and damage limitation exercise than a respectful hill running descent. By the time my wobbly legs hit the forestry track again, I had only one question for any woman who dared threaten to overtake and that was – are you 60?! Luckily, none of them were, so round one was a wee victory for me – still 5 to go!

Well done to the other 16 wonderful Westies who ran, especially to our newest lady member, Sarah Cordeaux. Here are the results:

Gregor Stewart                 1.02.16

James Callender                1.03.38

Craig freshwater              1.05.14

Niall McAlinden                1.05.51

Owen O’Neill                     1.08.15

Alasdair MacInnes           1.09.23

Christopher Butler           1.11.53

Graham Kelly                     1.21.03

Gordon McCaffrey          1.22.05

Sarah Cordeaux                1.23.38

Alistair Boyer                     1.24.05

Maya Hernes                     1.24.28

Brian Brennan                   1.24.32

John Donnelly                    1.25.21

David Dickson                    1.25.48

Christine Menhennet     1.28.05


John Hamer                        1.31 47

Posted by Christine Menhennet on Mon 20 Mar 2017 | 9 comments

Category races


  1. John Donnelly said...

    Great report Christine and well done on your performance, and everybody else, it was mud, mud, mud and more mud.

    Monday 20th March 2017 10.05pm

  2. Graham K said...

    Indeed !

    A top day for sure. I spent of Saturday on the trails around Mabie / back of ma van vowing never to drink again. The night was wondering if the rain was actually going to come through the van roof so it was a pleasant surprise to race under blue skies.

    Went "base o'er apex" on the descent and still trying to get the mud out the beard (not actually trying hard since it appears to be hiding the ever increasing 50 shades of grey).

    Congrats to all who ran ....

    Ps was hard to spot the Trotter runners since they blended with the mud :-)

    Monday 20th March 2017 10.20pm

  3. James C said...

    Great race report Christine! What a class race, really enjoyed it.

    On the way down I caught up with a legendary figure in the Scottish hill-running scene who was slipping & sliding down the mud and making quite a racket.

    As I passed him in the woods I asked if he was OK, to which he responded: "NO! THIS IS F**CKING SH*TE! WHAT A FUCKING JOKE! F**KING HATE THIS! NEVER DOING IT AGAIN! FUCK THIS!"

    Each to his own I suppose. To be fair, it was quite muddy.

    Tuesday 21st March 2017 8.55am


    You had a great race James - well done indeed!

    Tuesday 21st March 2017 9.20am

  5. Helen Tremblay said...

    Congratulations Sarah! You represented Canada well!

    Tuesday 21st March 2017 10.03am

  6. christopher mckiddie said...

    ...wanders in late.

    Terribly sorry. Due to a mishearing at registration (19 and 90 are the cause of regular confusion to lipreaders), I was running as a 'boy named Sue'.

    All sorted now.

    1.20.06 C S McKiddie

    What a gloriously mucky day out. My mum went mad.

    Tuesday 21st March 2017 10.46am

  7. BB the elder said...

    Great report Christine although the norm, unless its a very small hill, is you beat me to the summit. I like a bit of mud and I like it a tad slidey but Criffel was going too far ......too many impossible-to-predict holes waiting to ambush you on the descent. Maya is a descending guru by the way. The only good thing was being able to pass a few much better runners on the way down simply because of the conditions .....proving that sometimes a tractor can beat a Rolls Royce.

    Tuesday 21st March 2017 7.20pm

  8. Helen Mac said...

    Well done, Christine. A grand start on the F60 champ pursuit for you. Keep it up, you can do it! As always, a great report.
    And well done to everyone else too. Sounds like epic fun.

    I did the Thrunton Thriller half marathon in Northumberland on Sunday. It was exasperatingly muddy too but maybe not just as bad as Criffel as there were some lovely forest footpaths and a little bit of forest road too.

    Tuesday 21st March 2017 9.59pm

  9. Alistair Boyer said...

    Well done Westies!! Never been down that part of the country before and it was pretty nice. However, it was probably ill-advised to have done the Chapelgil race on Saturday too. Ahh, well.... I really enjoyed the race up the hill!

    Thursday 23rd March 2017 1.07pm

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