Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Seven Hills of Edinburgh - Challenge

Somehow my hillwalking hasn't really got going this year (although there is now a weekend booked in at the start of July probably in Glenfinnan). When working on the elections I was either working at the weekend or was just too knackered to think about getting up and away early on a Saturday. Then I've been struggling to get going....

Didn't do much yesterday either - weather up north looked a bit dodgy and I had been out on Friday night. Today though I took the plunge and did something......the Seven Hills race here in Edinburgh. 14.2 miles with a total of 2200feet of climbing around Edinburgh's hills. There is no fixed course just a requirement that you need to visit each of the hills in turn, so the experts are always looking for shortcuts. It is an interesting race for that reason - you are not sure whether the guy you are following has a great route idea or is just lost.

I last did this in 2002 when I was running a bit more and was probably fitter for this type of thing. On Friday I saw it was on this weekend and started to toy with the idea of entering. Then, when I didn't do much yesterday I more or less decided to have a go.

The race starts on Calton Hill with a nice view of Arthur's Seat, the last hill, Edinburgh's own city centre mountain. After that it is

  • The Castle (esplanade)
  • Corstorphine Hill
  • Craiglockhart Hill (East)
  • Braid Hill
  • Blackford Hill
  • Arthur's Seat

I must have walked at least half of the course - all the uphills and then lots of times on the flat too - but I was happy to get around OK. It was warm and sunny too, a really nice day.

After the castle there is a long trip out to Cortorphine Hill, where I got a bit lost on the top trying to find the checkpoint. Then it is back through different residential areas before a stiff climb up Craiglockhart Hill.

Arthur's Seat at the end was a tough climb and dropping back down towards Holyrood Palace and the Parliament, my quads were sore. It is a great race though - really friendly without all the hype that goes along with many races. The support round the course was great too, including one house in Nicolson Street where a guy was giving out water and a little boy was happily spraying us with a hose.

I was about 25 minutes slower than the last time I did it, but with the total lack of training, I was happy with my time. Well....not a total lack of training, just a lack of distance running.

I tried to keep taking photos on the way round, some of which are below:


terrence said...

Thanks for the report and photos, Chris. It seems like a fair number of people take part in the Seven Hills of Edinburgh Challenge. Do you have any idea how many?

Chris said...

It was the 30th anniversary of the race and I think that attracted a few more runners. There were over 330 this year.

Methuselah said...

Chris - sounds (and looks) fantastic. Reminds me of the Langdale Horseshoe I once did (14.2 miles, 4000'). I am planning to do Skiddaw (Lakes) in a couple of weeks, but walk the whole thing. As you know, depending on the average gradient, this can actually make it easier, although probably not in this case - but I want to have the joy of fell running without the physical consequences of 90 minutes of sustained high effort cardio. The terrain for Skiddaw is mixed so I think I will manage to come about 2/3 - 3/4 of the way down the field... will report experiences on the Training blog.

Chris said...

Methuselah - It was good. Regarding walking, I think I walked at least 60-70% of the course. On the uphills I was faster than some people who were determined to keep running but were takign tiny little steps. If my running frm was breaking down - posture collapsing and bending over - I preferred to walk, keeping my posture erect.

To improve my time I woudl have needed to run a lto mroe on the flats. Still it was a nice day out. Quads are sore today though!

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

This sounds like great fun. The randomness of the route makes it seem like more of an adventure. I've done a lot of hill training for mountain ultrarunning this year, and my quads have gotten much stronger. They don't get trashed anymore unless there is a lot of fast descent. I'm often too lazy to run up hills if they're steep, but can manage for a while if the grade is modest. Short steps help, but walking is probably more efficient anyway, so why bother unless you are really in a hurry? Some people can powerwalk up a hill faster than I can run anyway! Alternating walking and running is a nice way to go, depending on how hard an effort you want to put in.

Anyway, my gluts and hamstrings are much stronger after all this hill climbing, but they are often sore. Any suggestions?


theorytopractice said...

...and fantastic scenery as well! Beautiful country!