I was cheering in the Falkland Village Hall when it was announced that the Westies Men had won the Devils Burdens for the first time, that cheer was pretty good and then so was the cheer for the V60 Men repeating the feat a few minutes later…I got trashed on the prize keg on the Westie-bus home from Carnethy 5…I was running along the canal in the dark, running along the canal in the rain, running along the canal in the snow, running along the canal in the ice, running along the canal in the wind, running along the canal with the cyclists and deer and dog walkers and masked-kids on motorbikes…I passed the Montjuic Fountain and realised with horror that, even though there was only 150m of marathon to go I might not be able to finish…I was waiting in a blizzard for Gordon McCaffrey to get his prize at Chapelgill, hello frostbite…

 

I ran the Ultramarathon Caballo Blanco, I flew to Chihuahua via Mexico City and Amsterdam, then there was an eight hour train ride to the small town of Bahulchivo, had a night at my pal Mario’s place followed by an early morning Temazcal (sweat lodge ceremony – Mario is a Shaman), during the race it was a privilege to share fifty miles of trail with a mix of Gringos, Mexicans and Tarahumara runners on stunning single track sections linked by dusty roads, if the canyons are cold in the morning they quickly heat and by the early afternoon we were running in the high 30s (not ideal for your average Scotsman), the 2018 edition took a fair bit longer than it did back in 2013 but still the very best of times…

 

I was at Gwyn and Outi’s wonderful Westie-wedding…I was running up Ben Dubh on a Wednesday club run and the moon was so bright no-one needed a head-torch…I was drinking wine in a tree-house in Glenshee at 4am on the Sunday of the Extravaganza……I did my first race at Kaim, all this and a t-shirt for £6…I was on a boat going no-where for twelve hours on the sail to Arran for the Scottish Islands Peaks Race, I could hardly put one foot in front of the other but felt amazing on the run up Goat Fell, I was Billy Big-Baws on the sail over to Troon, cracking open a cold Tennents, c20 minutes later I turned green and spewed it back up…

 

I was on Jura and the race was SO HOT, I had a dark moment when Ruth overtook me as I was desperately drinking out a muddy puddle, I know – we all know – who really won the women’s team-prize, in the evening I was dramming whiskey out a prize cup on the pier with the Westies crew and then I was in the bar at the Craighouse Hotel watching Real Madrid winning the Champions League for the third time – YASS, I had managed a PB on the race but lost my orientation during the ceilidh and had to be directed back to my tent, I was loving the new Captain of Nicol’s boat…

 

I was chilling at the wild and beautiful beach camp during the LAMM on Harris with loads of other Westies, I was mostly grateful that we hadn’t got too terribly lost on the first day and someone had brought a pot for cooking, my tiny Swiss army knife was in much demand, the women wanted it to remove ticks and the men wanted it for pedicures, I felt so smug having hauled my inflatable mattress around the course as I watched my partner fail to sleep on a flimsy mat, I still get nightmares about the hills on Harris…

 

I set off up Dumgoyne at 7pm on Thursday 21stJune for my 477thascent of this little hill sitting at the edge of the Campsies, this was going to be the first of 24 ascents over the next 72 hours joined by family, friends and Westies, for the last climb I had 25 people running with me and about 100 waiting on the summit to cheer me on, in 68 hours I ran 48 miles, climbed 9500m and raised £7,600 for charity*…

 

I  did a pre-work run up Ben Dubh on my birthday, how does anyone hide a whole birthday cake in their running shorts…I didn’t even know what a Whangie was…I ran the Cort-Ma-Law race, it was an excellent summer evening of sun, bog and Westie-support…I was in the car park after Cort-Ma-Law wondering where the f**k James was with the f**king car keys because I couldn’t even with the F**KING MIDGES…I enjoyed running the Munich Marathon and tolerated the Highland Fling – it’s just a lot of shuffling…I had a great day on a 7 Munro tour of Ben Lawers…I was sitting on top of Ben Narnain for three hours in perfect summer weather with good food, great company and spectacular views for the Arrochar Alps race…I was running in Knoydart and it felt very remote…I enjoyed a glorious Wednesday club-run up Ben Lomond in the summer heat followed by a refreshing swim in the loch with mass-nudity, who wants a naturist run…I ran around the Pentland Skyline course with Niall in the summer heat and we were saved when we found a hidden creek 2/3 of the way through as everything else was dried up……I was watching a flustered Chris McKiddie frantically looking for his lost wallet, he eventually gave up on locating it and we went to the Ben Sheann Hill Race anyway, only to find he’d left one of his shoes at home……I found out that Glamaig is bloody steep and arriving on Skye at 8pm the night before and then doing a recce with Sam is NOT a good idea, going for a swim in the pools after the race was wonderful, the day’s photo of Brian Brennan is the photo of the millennium…I started my Westies membership at the start of the Ben Rinnes Five Tops to the blare of 100+ bagpipes, if that isn’t a stonking soundtrack to empty the tank, I don’t know what is… I was doing laps of Glasgow Green with the Thursday-lunchtime crew in the rain, in the wind, in the snow, in the mud… I was eating pizza with Will after we didn’t get round the Scottish 4000s…

 

I was [link to Strava account]…

 

I decided to run up a via-ferrata on the Jeggihorn (3206m), my ‘run’ turned out to be a 400m vertical rock wall, with endless ladders and crimpy climbing made all the harder by my flexible running shoes, I had to cross the ‘bridge of death’ a few cables holding up some wobbly steps over a 200m ravine, luckily nobody was there to see the clusterf**k of me crawling painfully slowly over the bridge, steel cables cutting my arm and swearing profusely, a bit of exposed ridge got me to the true summit, there was little time for water or food as a massive thunderstorm was heading my way…

 

I ran the Mhor 84 Marathon, at mile 22 my left leg took on a life of its own and began shaking and then cramping up, a cheery couple of marshals at the next aid station convinced me that I only had about a mile to go, the next bit was in a boat and I could have as much Pimms as I wanted, the Pimms tasted good but it definitely made it harder to get out the boat and hindered my efforts on the final uphill mile…I thought I was going to overtake David D at Red Moss, and then just watched him pull away on the road…I did my fifth (or was it sixth?) face-plant at Caerketton…I was pleased  that the organisers had the Braveheart soundtrack playing on the PA at 5.30am when we arrived for the start of La Via Di Annibale Sky Marathon in Italy on no sleep and a weird breakfast…I didn’t understand why anyone thinks Ben Resipole is a good race, it’s just a miserable muddy path…I had to wake Kris up at midnight and bunk up with him because my tent flooded the night before the Skyline…

 

I found out the hard way that I wasn’t fit enough for the Two Breweries…I learned the hard way at the Hodgson Brothers Leg 2 that everything looks the damn same in the clag, I will be back next year…I was on the winning Westie boat-race team in the Ambleside pub after the FRAs – that’s where the real competition was that day, I also enjoyed P***r M*****s’ dibber-toss on Leg 4…

 

I was at  the Westie trip to Loch Ossian for the fabulous Greek meal, Owen running up Munros in a dress, one poor French tourist being recruited to dance the Grand Old Duke of York on platform of Corrour Railway Station because we were short a woman, I’ve been going there since 1990 and it’s gone from hand-pumped cold water, gas lamps and condensation running down the walls to heated showers, mains electricity and heated dorms, pleased to see that the running, drinking, partying, banter, conga-lining and laughter and the awful weather has remained constant…

 

I kept seeing Ally and Kirsty’s faces at the side of my internet browser…

 

I volunteered at the Helensburgh cross-country relays, got put on to prize giving duties, watched the races, hung around the club-rooms for ages, only to be subbed-out at the last moment by more expert old buffers, oopsadministrators, to be fair I got a grand bowl of soup to sustain me – perks of the job that never was…I ran up Earl’s Seat on the 1stDecember, after the inclines and the declines I was told “it’s very boggy”, engaging in deep conversation, I had not fully appreciated the lay of the land, the grassy way had little pockets of black mirror surfaces, however the chat was too interesting until !SPLASH! synchronised bog-dip, waist deep, very refreshing…I was reassured that the group psyche for a long run through Glen Nevis was diminishing as the rain got worse and worse…I got a pair of blue shorts…

 

I did lots in 2018 and have lots of Westies memories but not that many because a lot of them involve some inevitable erasure of memory by not going home in time, but I love the Westies and am so excited for 2019 doing good things in cool places with great people…

 

*You can donate to the My Name’s Doddie Foundation here – https://www.myname5doddie.co.uk/donate

1 reply
  1. JD says:

    Brilliant!!!!
    In 2018 with Westies I be mostly (yet again)……having fun with old pals, young pals, smiling pals, curry pals, dancing pals, drinking pals, hill rep pals, Xmas run pals, Resipole pals, FRA Relay pals, marshalling pals, tree house pals, Loch Ossian pals, Extravaganza pals, Committee pals, timed-out pals, BBQ pals, gin pals, prizewinning pals, Lakes pals, Arran pals, bivvy pals, Brussel Sprouts pals, Pub Run pals, 3 Lochs Way pals, Glamaig pals, Loch Ossian pals……..WESTIES, definitely probably the best small to medium size fun club in the known universe.Roll on the 2019 Westies year!!!!!!!

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