March 1, 2008
Peter Sullivan 55:45 (Andy Symonds 1:24:39)
Heather Thomson 1:03:39 (Alison Wyllie 1:42:19)
No. of Finishers
A new adventure run slipped into the calendar last year when the first Mighty Deerstalker took place from Traquair House, near the town of Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders. Word quickly spread and this year's race was full, with 1,000 entries for the 5K (ish) and 10K (and a bit) races.
Many of those arriving heeded the race motto to 'Do it in tweed' and arrived in deerstalkers and tweed jackets. Among the highly technical race gear were also cloth caps, kilts, hunting horns and more exotic costumes, such as full Army kit and stag parties in pink dresses. There were many sets of antlers too, as befitted the race name. But despite being one of the best-dressed races of the year, the event was not just a 'fun run'. These could well be the hardest 5K and 10K races in the country.
The 5K race started with a dash to leap over a wall of hay bales, soon followed by a waist-deep wade through a murky pool – the first of several dips in the
water. The race made full use of the surrounding natural features and the
route climbed very steeply up prepared mountain-bike trails, taking in the zig-
zags and various other obstacles.
For those unused to hill running, the forest descent was a hair-raising experience, especially as parts of it were off the trails (this was reflected in some of the ratings, as some runners felt the race website didn't give sufficient warning of the nature of the event). Anyone wondering just how steep
a descent could be should take note: there was even a net to catch runners at the bottom of the hill.
After crossing the bridge over the swollen River Tweed there came a long wade through a flooded tunnel known as The Sump. Then it was back to Traquair House to finish.
By the time the last 5K finisher arrived, more than two and a half hours later, the 10K racers were getting ready – they all had to wear head torches, as their race would take them into the dark. They faced the same course as the earlier runners, with an additional run through the centre of town, and through the Leithen Water and then
up onto the hills again.
This second climb was steep and took runners straight up the side of a large boulder field. Dusk was falling as the leaders climbed up, only to find some
logs to shimmy across on the top of the hill. Looking back across the valley they could see a string of bobbing headlights
on the mountain-bike trails on the first part of the course, and more crawling
up through the boulders towards them. Then on the fast descent, the lights of
the town below beckoned as they raced back along the river, through The Sump and to the finish.
It's no surprise that the winner of the 10K race was an elite fell runner, Andy Symonds, in a commendable 1:24:39 and Tim Martin was the first 'Bambi' (first-time) finisher in an impressive 40th place. The last finisher took more than four hours, but some still had plenty of energy left for a night of partying in the race marquee, fuelled by Traquair House's own-brew beer, and entertained by the brewers themselves who double up as
the local band.