The Brack

A classic in the making. 

It was a select (read "elite") group of runners who turned up on this sunny Saturday morning to see what all the fuss was about with this new race "the Barck", that everyone's been talking about. And select is how it should be - you don't want hordes of runners spoiling what is an absolute cracker of a race. There's been talk alot of the "brutal climb" and "hellish descent", compounded by Stanley's very graphic description of the race route with mention of things like the bum-slide gully - "but don't slide on your bum because there are big rocks the whole way down...". Only one way to find out if there's any truth to all this hype - don the fell shoes and away to go. 

I have to confess I've been up the Brack a couple of times before, so I had a fair idea of what was in store. There's a mile of forestry track (mainly uphill, much to my dismay), but after that it really is a brutal climb, hands and knee job for large parts, all the way to the summit. So I sprinted off to make the most of the mile, but was surprised to find James and a guy (Rob?) from Durham right on my tail for most of the track section. Then it's just head down and pump those legs until you get to the top. Stanley had flagged the top section, but I soon lost sight of any flags. Not a problem - it was crystal clear which way was up, so I just pressed on. Off the summit you head for a small Lochan. Rubbish route choices here meant that I had to essentially do a whole lap of the Lochan, but the running was good so no prob. This continued for a while, before we hit the tourist path again and it was simply a case of get yourself down through the rocks and tussocks ASAP. Of course, I'm crap at this kind of technical descent, and I was aware that someone was making good progress behind, getting closer and closer. No surprises that this turned out to be Alan Smith, gliding down the hill as usual. Thankfully we hit the forest track just before he got me, so I could put in a burst of speed to finish in first place (as you can imagine, that last mile on the track is hell, after the long descent). 

A great selection of cakes awaited us at the finish, looks as though the residence of Arrochar have been baking solid all week. On top of this, a table full (literally!) of beer as prizes. Westies did our share of helping rid Stanley of all this beer, which Val getting first lady, Brian getting V60 and the men getting the team prize (James, Brian and myself) (apologies if I missed someone here). 

Fantastic short and (very) sharp race, which has the makings of a real classic - long may it continue!


Posted by Gwyn Bellamy on Sat 18 Jun 2016 | 2 comments

Category Hill Race


  1. BB the elder said...

    Well done Stanley for organising this race which I suspect will be a championship contender in the next few years. Certainly deserves a lot more entrants. Where were you all on a weekend with very few other races and glorious weather?
    Gwyn neglected to point out that it was a bit on the warm side climbing the hill ......hardly any wind and the sun beating down typically Scottish.....if only it would rain? James was overhauled by not just Alan Smith but also another V50, Damian Theaker, in the gully.
    I was overtaken by a squad of 5 or 6 people on the long long long drag uphill .....including George Douglas, Lisa Blackley and Dandy Don honourable man .....of whom more later. I managed to be close enough to make catching them possible .....the runners ahead of them .....Trevor Shaw and Michelle Hetherington, now a Westie yeaaaay, were way way ahead.
    At the top ......thank you .....thank you very much breeze but gravity was now a friend and not an enemy. Battered down slowly catching the squad then out of the corner of my eye I saw a marker ....the others had charged past ......took the route and found Stanley's bum-slide .....and slid down it on my posterior as directed ......and came out ahead of most of them at the wee lochan except Don who had .....literally ..... disappeared.....but Don as I said is an honourable man.
    I had a great descent always searching ahead for sight of a bald head glinting in the sun but nothing other than a fleeting glimpse of his svelte figure leaping into the woods well below. Got a lead on my wee squad by the track and then hung on grimly over the mile or so to finish ahead of them.

    But Friends, Westies, Countrymen .......Donus Reidus is an honourable man .......he had inadvertently shaved a huge part of the course off by hanging a sharp left not far down from the summit ......he had realised this and .....did I say he was honourable? .......dobbed himself in to the organisers and had himself disqualified. We can be well proud of this young chap who demonstrates to other racers the spirit the sport should be run in. Well done Don ......particularly as that meant I was 3rd counter for the winning Westies men's team .....OK the only team. New Westie Michelle was second lady and we may get one or two more new Westies in the coming weeks.

    Where were the rest of you? McCaffrey, MacLeod, Dickson, Adam, Fleming etc etc etc..........this is a great race and Stanley organised it perfectly .....from registration, start, route, marshals, food and drink, prize giving .......couldn't fault any aspect of it. Well done Stanley new race in the last few years and it will get the punters next year I'm sure.

    Sunday 19th June 2016 7.47am

  2. Don said...

    Brian's right - where were you all? This is a cracking race and must go ahead again next year! Brilliantly organised by Stanley and his crew - well done.

    There can't be many races with such a steep climb, once the mile on the forest road is dispensed with!

    Despite my over eagerness to get back to the finish causing me to cut out a section of the course, I still had a great day out. A quick look at the map later revealed that I had not cut a great amount off the course and would probably have finished in the same position anyway, but I had defo missed a marshal, so at least my integrity is still intact.

    Sunday 19th June 2016 11.20am

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