Winter arrived in Scotland’s Central Belt this week. We’ve had tricky conditions out on the trails so Run and Become‘s book event on Tuesday was a perfectly timed reason for staying indoors in the warm and talking about trail running instead of heading outside.
Sleet was falling on Tuesday evening as I hurried through the darkness to Run and Become‘s store on Queensferry Street in Edinburgh. Bright lights and a warm welcome from Adrian and Arpita soon dispelled the winter chill and set the tone for the evening ahead. Edinburgh’s runners are clearly hardy folk and in spite of the wintry weather the shop was soon full and we were beginning to wonder if there would be enough chairs to go round. It was great to see such a good turn-out of old friends and runners who had helped me research the book combined with lots of new faces who were keen to find out more about Scottish Trail Running.
After a brief introduction by Adrian it was over to me to show a few slides to help explain what the book was trying to achieve and how I had gone about writing it. I started off by showing photos of the Braid Hills, Union Canal, Pentland hills and East Lothian beaches to illustrate how each chapter progresses from short and straightforward to routes which are longer, more hilly and trickier to navigate. These routes are also good examples of the range of landscapes which I tried to find for each chapter. I mentioned that I had been enormously helped with route finding in the Edinburgh area by Iain Morrice. Clearly there were a number of Harmeny Pentland Runners in the room as this raised a knowing chuckle. Just after I finished talking about him the man himself arrived.
I shared some of the lessons I’d learnt while out running the routes, one in particular being ‘don’t mess with the bonxies [great skuas] on Hoy’. Later, I learnt that the way to deal with this particular threat from dive-bombing birds is to be a short person and run the route with a sacrificial tall person on either side. (I suspect that some will appreciate this method more than others!) After a whistle-stop tour of a few of my favourite trails to run across Scotland it was time for questions. I have been at talks where getting the discussion started has been slow and awkward. Not a problem with this particular audience! They were fantastically enthusiastic (thank you!) and keen to learn more. We chatted about everything from the type of shoes I wore [latterly Asics Moriko Goretex trail shoes], to the range of route distances [3.5km to 60km], to how many miles I drove [not counted!].
I thought we were finished but then Iain stood up. Completely unexpectedly, he exhorted everyone in the room to buy not just one, but two copies of Scottish Trail Running – one for the glovebox and one to ‘keep nice’ for reading in the armchair at home. To have someone stand up in public and so wholeheartedly recommend the fruits of your efforts for the last three years was just a little bit overwhelming. I was unsettlingly close to tears, not a good look in front of your first ever book launch audience! The photo of me with Adrian shows that I managed to recover from that wobbly moment!
I particularly enjoyed chatting with everyone afterwards. It was great to learn more about some of the routes I had chosen, to discover shared enthusiasms for investigating paths on maps and to learn about plans for first steps into trail running. These are just a random sample of the many conversations of the evening. It was just great that everyone was so enthusiastic and interested. I would have loved to spend more time chatting (perhaps I should have shortened my slideshow)! I’m sure Run and Become were also very pleased to sell their entire ‘just arrived’ stock of Scottish Trail Running books. There was just one book left at the end of the evening which I understand was going to go home with the manager! Hopefully more are on the way.
I am very grateful to Run and Become for inviting me and hosting such a fun evening. I would also like to thank Hunters Bog Trotters, Carnethy and Harmeny for publicising the event amongst their members. And of course, to everyone who came, I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thank you!