As a fledgling hill runner an egocentric dyslexic professional juggler I’m uniquely qualified to write a race report for the An Teallach Hill Race.
 
I’ve utilised John Cage’s chance operations compositional technique to produce a non-linear narrative in an effort to break the predictable nature of the race (and to cement my public profile of appearing edgy and different). Sorry about that.
 
 
Visibility was rapidly diminishing and the figure out in front was fading out of reality. Sound and colour drained away. Everything but the damp had disappeared. I was on my own. 
 
The starting marshal went through the list of relevant information, delivered in a concise if not overly informative manner, “Well, just go where you want, it’s a hill race.” 
 
A curious group of runners appear from the right as I finally start my descent. They are clearly all much faster than I and look a little confused. It transpired this group had decided to tackle an extra top of An Teallach, Glas Mheall Mòr, instead of going directly to the race checkpoint on the top of Bidein a Ghlas Thuill. An efficient way to make full use of their trip up North and give me a sporting chance- very kind of them. A few moments later they sail past.
 
Noise dipped for a moment and focus settled as the representing members of Westerlands Cross Country Club posed for a photo; a couple of the group sporting impressive scrapes and bumps, some holding prizes, others just pleased to make it down off the top. All were smiling. Contentment took hold- we had survived. 
 
Social order is signalled through a ceremonial folding and pinning of race number to runner. Folding the paper to an ever decreasing size is the true mark of seniority and respectability in a hill runner. I don’t yet fully appreciate the subtleties of this ritual and in no way am I qualified to attempt it. I opted for six safety pins (drawing the surplus two from my own supplies, fearing I’d be disqualified -or worse, publicly ridiculed for surpassing my allotted quota) and attempt no folds.
 
I was in a general state of unpreparedness for which a Boy Scout might have been striped of his badges. Packing for a few days which would include several long runs, camping, cooking and who-knows-what was proving difficult. My solution was to pack everything and let my passengers deal with the puzzle of trying to fit their modest amount of possessions into the already crammed car.
 
The hotel bar looked far too clean and bright for a bunch of muddy runners but down we sat, sipping hot chocolate, beer and tea. Two runners passed the window travelling in the opposite direction to the race but headed to the finish line nonetheless. Most curious.
 
A voice bought me out of my head and into sharp focus. “Doing well, Arron.” I was searching for the mocking tone, waiting for the cutting follow-up but none came. Its intention sincere, pure and helpful. Perhaps there was another Arron close by.
 
A dollop of stags doing poor impressions of estate gates blinked back at us. No time to quiz them on local attractions, I had a tent to pitch. Mild anarchy had struck the campsite, the owner had exited early and left Jenn in charge. I was understandably concerned.
Wildlife seen on my whole trip, verified by pTomigan (AKA Tom Finch):
19 Deer
2 Merlins 
9 Buzzards
3 Frogs
6 Tadpoles
8 Ptarmigan
2 Red Kites
1 Raven
3 Bob-tailed weavers
8 Slugs
 
Wildlife unverified by pTomigan:
2 Lizards
1 Osprey
1 Tiger
1 Eagle
1 Toad
2 replies
  1. James Callender
    James Callender says:

    At some point during the day a guy with a beard and curly hair crossed the finish line and I yelled “Go Arron!” But it wasn’t you.

    This is brilliant report Arron – always a fan of non-linearity!

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