I decided to do this race some time ago when I realised that the Orienteering and Hill-running calendars had managed one of their rare non-clashes. I was aiming to catch the 11 am train from Queen St with the 11.15 as my fall-back but the former train was cancelled (ash on the line?) and so it was 12.10 before I reached Waverley. Still I made it down to Holyrood Park with time to register, change, do a bit of a warm up jog and exchange pleasantries with Graeme Orr who was the only other Westie there. I’ve done this race once before in 2006 but had forgotten what a wee toughie it is. As we started up the side of Hunter’s Bog with the words "Radical Road" and "Salisbury Crags" echoing in my head from the prerace talk, it all started to come back to me. There’s the climb up from the Bog to the path along the top of Salisbury Crags, which you do twice, and the Radical Road, described in the Arthur’s Seat Geology walks as a "gentle climb". It might be gentle when you’re walking but when you’re trying to run up it, it seems never-ending. I confess that I did slow down to a walk for a bit but then the hill reps effect kicked in and I found that I was able to run the rest of the way. Graeme was ahead of me and in sight for most of the race. I did lose track of him at one point quite early on when he discarded his yellow bunnet in the Spring sunshine but that distinctive W on his vest helped me find him again. It was only on the final downhill that he really pulled away from me.
At the finish, there were impressive goody-bags which seemed to come from something called the Kilomathon. They included a long-sleeved black T-shirt which was an ideal change for the journey home – not bad for the £2 entry fee. I got a PB, 26 seconds faster than 4 years ago and was 3rd LV50, 14 seconds behind the 2nd LV50. Graeme was 2nd MV60 but had already collected a prize from YP and gone before they announced the race prize-winners.

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