Race reporter:  Bill Breckenridge and others

Five complete Shettleston teams with no last minute changes or anyone having to run more than one leg (imagine Jethro’s disappointment!) turned up to this year’s edition of the Devil’s Burdens relay, in the Lomond hills of Fife. Quite the achievement to be fair! Captain Kenny beasted (or coerced??) the organising of the teams and logistics, getting everyone safely onto to the playing fields in Falkland on a dreich Saturday morning along with 144 other teams. Welcome changes to the event by the organisers Fife AC this year meant that all legs started and finished at the same spot, somewhat making up for the rather unadventurous route planning. While some might bemoan the loss of some of this event’s more quirky aspects it did made logistics on the day much easier and contributed to an exciting handover spectacle.

The 5 teams representing the club were as follows; Shettleston Assorted Nuts, Shettleston Dibbers(A), Shettleston Punchers(B), Shettleston Gals Luath & Shettleston Aging Gracefully. Here follows a composite report from a member of each team…perhaps a Shettleston first!?

Assorted Nuts (Rodrigo Reis)

It was a true assortment of abilities, ages and even countries of birth in the Shettleston Assorted Nuts team which came a respectable 75th place out of 155 teams. Matt McGuire running his first hill race for Shettleston on a tough Leg 1, going over East Lomond, came 102nd, in 1:08:29, handing over to John Duffy and Bill Breckenridge for the first paired leg of the event, Leg 2. John and Bill gained the rest of us a bit of time to play with, despite a hard route climbing West Lomond in strong winds, finishing 37th in 1:14:14. This took a bit of pressure off Myrtle Breckenridge and Rodrigo who ran Leg 3 along the exposed cobbled track to the ‘cube-like boulder’ on the north side of West Lomond, in 1:21:14, finishing 74th on the leg ranking. In Leg 4, up to the Tyndall-Bruce monument and all the way to the edge of the forest, Susan Breckenridge (you’d think that was a prerequisite to be in the team) came 101st in 1:03:54. Good performances all round, less drama than in other teams (ahem!), always room for improvement but let’s do it again.

Dibbers (Ross Gollan)

Our bid to retain Ultra Jedi Owens’s unbeaten record at the Burdens got off to a solid start with Lloyd Clayburn battling hard to keep up with the golden oldies and the ‘B’ team! Next up the apprentice and his master took up the chase at a steady pace alongside Kenny ‘Cruiser’ Richmond and Jethro ‘big mouth’ Lennox. Ultra Owens kept his powder extremely dry but managed to fix his gearbox in time for a last minute surge that put the Golden Oldies into the red. Free from the incessant verbal abuse of ‘big mouth’ Lennox we galloped into the changeover and handed over to the dream team of Spongey (Ali Mcleod) and the second fastest Simpson(Robert). The dynamic duo romped around the ‘nav’ leg taking the time to meet and greet the teams in their wake as they reversed the route for the return. Spongey soaked up all the pressure on the ascents and Robert let rip on the descents, free from the shackles of fatherhood and his hyperactive dog Meg. All was going well as they entered the changeover expecting to see Mike ‘the trackstar’ Deason raring to bring home the vegan sausage rolls. Unfortunately ‘the trackstar’s’ talent on the running track did not translate into an ability to take off his trackster bottoms, even with the help of old man Winter. Alas Deason still put down the second fastest leg 4 and brought home a well deserved silver for the ‘A’ team. We would like to extend a heartfelt apology to Tom Owens for ending his unbeaten run at the Burdens, Mike ‘the trackstar’ Deason has offered to give you some free coaching in the art of running fast by way of apology.

Punchers (Iain Pender)

Being the B team we’re no strangers to running for pride, but as with all hill racing, nothing is set in stone. Almost catching us off guard, a most embarrassing act in relay racing, our leg one runner Walter Henderson storms in just 5 seconds after the A team, and a tantalising 23 seconds after the tough old boots veterans. As a veteran himself, Walter gave us every opportunity for an upset, within the club at least. Our leg two (paired) runners, Ross Cruikshanks and Iain Pender, went out with a fighting chance, right behind our A team pair. In lightning form, Ross did the heavy lifting, but with natural order restored the A team leg two runners put daylight between us. Despite our leg two pair passing four teams on the hill, and finishing a credible 14th in their leg, by the time our leg three runners were tagged in, we were all but dust with a 7 minute gap on our A’s.Our leg three runners, Matt Sullivan and Paul Cornock, put in a tough shift on what seemed to be the fastest leg for Shettleston, keeping us in the running for a top 20 finish. They handed over to our leg four runner, TJ Pringle, to bring it home in the battle of the B’s – A close run race between Westies, Carnethy, and us. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. We were third B. Like the A’s we were just pipped to the post and ended our day in 18th place. To put a positive spin on it, a B plus performance, but a brilliant day out.

Shettleston Gals Luath (Victoria Leiper)

A new intake of talented female runners, ensured that for the first time in years, Shettleston Harriers entered a ladies team to the 2020 Devil’s Burdens Relay Race. In her hill running debut, young gun Lilly Evans got the team off to a great start in Leg 1. In her first official hill race, Lilly completed the leg in 01:02:10 (16th fastest female). Although she described the experience as “pure hell”, she finished with a smile on her face! I’m sure we will be seeing big things from Lilly in the hills over the next few years. Next up in Leg 2 were super star runners CJ McPhail and Ruth Stanley. Having just moved from Fife to Glasgow, CJ had local knowledge of the hills on her side and put this to good use when choosing the route between checkpoints. Well matched in terms of speed and experience, the duo set off looking determined. A fast and confident run saw them complete the leg in 01:15:33, the 5th fastest leg time in the Open Female category. In Leg 3, a slightly more nervous duo prepared themselves for the handover. Last minute changes to the checkpoints meant a decision regarding running an ‘out and back’ race or returning via the forestry track had to be made. Dominque Lynch and Victoria Leiper took the ‘out and back’ option which proved to be the preferred choice for most teams. Although not so well matched in terms of speed they worked well together and finished the leg in 01:15:41 (9th fastest ladies duo). Feeling the pressure to finish the race and maintain our strong positioning, Bryony McLeod set off in Leg 4 clutching her check card and map. The ‘any route choice’ leg was no problem for the experienced orienteer who had a fantastic race and led the team to an overall 5th place position. Bryony also ran the 5th fastest leg in our category with a time of 00:51:47. Overall, the Shettleston ladies team had a braw day out. With smooth transitions and no dibber/checkpoint card mishaps, we showed the guys how it’s done! With a strong team of ladies now running proudly for Shettleston in the hills, this was a great start to the year and a sign of things to come for the team!

Aging Gracefully (John Connaghan)

We were hoping for more of the same this year after winning the Male V40 category in last year’s Devil’s Burden. Not an easy proposition against a very strong Carnethy team. First leg duties fell to Peter Mackie, who in spite of a slight nav error – the same one that befell the Dibbers and Mixed Nuts coincidentally – still managed to get home in 21st place on the leg. He was always up against it, as Carnethy’s leg 1 runner is in blistering form at the moment, as demonstrated by him posting the 2nd fastest time on the leg – and he didn’t cut across any fences to get it either! This left our leg 2 runners playing catch up with a 5:40 gap to overhaul. Jethro Lennox and Captain Kenny Richmond emptied the tank to run the fifth fastest leg 2 of the day. Unfortunately for us, the Carnethy team ran the 3rd fastest time. This gave them a comfortable 6:16 lead over us at the start of leg 3 (they were also in 2nd overall and ahead of their senior team by 3:35 at this stage, which gives you an idea of how fast they were going). Surely too much of a gap to be bridged over the last two legs? At the furthest away point of leg 3, on the descent off West Lomond, one of the Carnethy runners slipped and injured himself. By all reports, he did some serious damage, but somehow managed to limp back home. Shettleston’s leg 3 runners Chris Grant-Pantrey and John Connaghan, oblivious to the drama, were nevertheless able to capitalise and finished 7th fastest on the leg, and turned the deficit into a 58 second lead for Steve Winter, who expertly navigated his way to the 14th fastest time on leg 4, thereby increasing his lead and the winning margin to 2:03. Quite a turn around.

Results: http://www.fifeac.org/events/fife-ac-events/devils-burdens/1347-devil-s-burdens-2020.html

Photos (courtesy of Fife AC)

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMnTsHEC4F8l4sMrfqFZS7DJL2NRsvCCxaNES4w3we1yk6W2oyN7Ek6KMqqHJ7oMA?key=M3pfblJyVmt0MGV1cUZLMFQxSVJVbDhCVUE0WU5B

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