Carnethy 5 post-mortem: I was there

In the climactic scene of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Kate soliloquises on the nature of submission to a greater will – in this case, her husband. But now I see our lances are but straws, Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare. The words came to me as I strained up that…

The absurdly wonderful Carnethy 5

Every year, for 48 years, an absurdly wonderful thing has happened in a ragged field of sheep off the A702 close to Edinburgh. Every year, a group of hill runners assemble, facing the two highest peaks of the Pentlands, Scald Law and Carnethy Hill. The pipes fall silent, runners are brought to their marks, and,…

This is not madness; we are the lucky ones

‘Mr Muir!’ It was a colleague at school, hence the formal ‘Mr’ as pupils loitered nearby. ‘I’ve been reading your book,’ she said ominously, and then, her tone rising: ‘You’re mad.’ Another colleague chipped in: ‘You know he’s mad.’ ‘Running down hills at night?’ the first went on, shaking her head. I stumbled into a…

The fall and rise of the hill runner

Some years ago I was running in the Caerketton Hill Race, an eyeballs-out, up-and-down charge starting and finishing at Hillend, the north-eastern terminus of the Pentland Hills. I was descending the steepest section of hillside – a pathless slope of ankle-deep vegetation, dripping wet from afternoon rain. A woman catapulted by, almost clipping my left…

My favourite race – or something like that

I am running down a hill. I am running down a hill in Scotland. I am running down a hill while holding the hand of my squealing, skipping two-year-old daughter. I am running down a hill while wincing from a dull, groaning pain in my right ankle. I am running down a hill in jeans…

365 days of hill running wisdom: April

Day 91: ‘Every time you go for a run, take a stone from the top of Scald Law and put it on Carnethy. We only need 3 metres off one and 3 metres added to the other if that, taking into account glacial rebound and remeasurement by the OS. We can do it!’ New identity…

The call of the mountains

It is 7am on Sunday. A furious wind tries to stop me opening the car door. The forecast is for 50mph gales. I have scheduled a four-hour run in the Pentlands, the green and brown hills that back on to Edinburgh’s southern fringe. From the car park, the ascent of my first hill – 478-metre…

Carnethy 5: a humbling lesson in hill running

Having only lived in Scotland for five months, snow still excites me. ‘It’s snowing!’ I announce to the household whenever the stuff starts falling from the sky. ‘It’s snowing,’ I tell my daughter, frogmarching her to the window. ‘Look at the snow,’ I point. ‘Look at it!’ She shrugs and walks off.

A love letter to the hills from the hill runner

I am running down a hill. I am running down a hill in Scotland. I am running down a hill while holding the hand of my shrieking two-year-old daughter. I am running down a hill while wincing from a dull, groaning pain in an ankle. I am running down a hill in jeans and a jumper.