I was out at a dinner last night (the Commonwealth Games Scotland Awards Dinner - Chris Hoy won the main award) and the first I heard about the OMM problems was when I received a text from John K about 10.30pm. When I got home I checked out the BBC website and Sky News, both of whom were covering the story in some detail. I know Brian M was running and there were probably a few others taking part that I know, so it was a great relief today to find out that everyone was alright.
However that is not the main purpose of this post. It is to express my disbelief at some of the comments that appeared on the BBC website forum last night, from people who have probably never set foot anywhere near the countryside. For example: "I hope all these runners apologise to the emergency services". What is that person talking about? Doesn't he or she know that a lot of these runners ARE members of the emergency services, and if they weren't used to being out in treacherous conditions they wouldn't be much use when it came to some of the more difficult search work? I know a few people who do some of the more extreme mountain challenges (such as Brian, Marco and Pete) and these are amongst the most experienced guys on the hills you could find anywhere. If I was to be stuck out there in conditions like yesterday I would certainly feel happier knowing they were looking after my safety. It is no coincidence that there were no serious casualties - the people taking part yesterday were experienced and would not be allowed in to the event if they were not properly equpped and able to cope with the worst of the elements.
And while I am on my high horse, what about these comments:
Organisers of a Lake District fell run abandoned in treacherous weather had been warned about the risks, police say.
I don't know if any of you have had experience of organising a road race. If you have organised one in Scotland, you will know that a condition of getting a permit from the governing body is that you have to notify the police about the event. When you have done so, you receive a standard letter back from the police saying that they do not encourage anyone to hold any event on public roads, and if you do decide to go ahead then it is at your own risk and you may be held liable if anything goes wrong. Honestly, it's true. Just ask any race organiser if you don't believe me. Some encouragement to organise an event which will improve the health of those in the local community, is capable of boosting local tourism, and has been proved to play a role in reducing the level of crime, is it not? I know people who have cancelled races after receiving the police letter, which I think is really sad. However, as the police warn every event organiser about the risks, I am not sure there is really anything different about the warning given in this case - although the media seem to think it is a big deal.
Anyway, back to more mundane things. I went up to the WHW on Friday night and ran from Balmaha to Rowardennan and back. It was dark all the way back and I was completely on my own - I should probably have been "warned about the risks" in case I tripped over some stones or trees, fell into Loch Lomond, met some mad psychopath in the dark on the route, or met some other disaster. Thankfully nothing untoward happened, I really enjoyed the run, and finished off with a coffee and muffin in front of the roaring fire in the Oak Tree Inn. Had I not been driving I would have sampled one of their 39 malt whiskies which were sitting on a shelf at the back of a bar - maybe another time. I think we should organise some more 'Friday night runs' - it is good fun doing these in the dark, and would be even better with some company. Those not driving could finish off with a malt.
Then today I went to Kilmacolm, a small village in Renfrewshire near where I was brought up, and did the 10k. I finished in 40.26 which I thought was ok, given the strong wind and my run on Friday night. It was well organised and a nice route, mostly on quiet roads and the cycle path, which I am sure reduced the risks - except for the cyclists and people walking their dogs..