7th July 2012
Here’s my recipe for a successful long hill race. Please note that this is relatively advanced. Inexperienced cooks may wish to start with something shorter.
18 marshals and helpers
1 mountain rescue team
1 village hall
300 filled rolls
300 cups of soup
Tea and coffee to taste
A 2nd appearance in the British Championships
52 litres of prizes
2 new records
1. To make it easier, the village hall, rolls, soup, tea and coffee can be ordered in advance, for delivery on the day. A great hall with friendly staff makes a big difference.
2. Prepare your course. I favour an organic recipe of 4 munros, 25km of running, 2400m of ascent, 1 dam and a good seasoning of cloud. For a change, I tried it without the cloud this year and it also seemed to work very well.
3. Add in your marshals and helpers. Don’t skimp on quality here, use the best you can get. Westerlands, a small to medium sized club in the West End of Glasgow, do a particularly good range.
4. Take the entries you collected earlier on the internet, filter out the ones damaged by the weather forecast, give them all numbers and place them at the start of the course you prepared earlier.
5. Count the entries at this stage and write the number down somewhere safe. You’ll need this later.
6. Stand at the start of the course and shout ‘Go’ loudly. Start a timer at this point. You can now relax for a few minutes before preparing the prizes.
7. 52 litres of prizes may seem a lot, but Fyne Ales package theirs in a variety of handy formats, making them easy to deal with. The lovely people at Fyne Ales are also very kind and regularly take pity on the kind of unhinged people who attempt this recipe, donating all the prizes. Split the prizes into portions that look suitable for the runners you have and put them aside for later.
8. Return to the start of your course. This will also double as the finish, making logistics easier. Count the runners back, checking the number and noting the cooking time for each. Write down a big list of all these numbers and copy them into a spreadsheet. You can e-mail this to people afterwards to show that the recipe worked.
9. Compare the number of runners that have returned to the number you wrote down in step 5, deducting any runners that collapsed on the course. The numbers will be different. (You may find that a serious injury affects your calculations here. This is when having a high quality mountain rescue team on hand will make all the difference. My preferred brand is Arrochar, but if you buy British I think you’ll find they are all excellent.)
10. Store all the runners that are done in your village hall, stuffing them with the rolls, soup, tea and coffee. Don’t worry if they become quite boisterous.
11. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until there are no more runners on the course. Do some fretting and worrying about the fact that the numbers still don’t match. Speak to lots of people, chase up bits of paper, track down missing runners and finally make the numbers match.
12. Take a look at your spreadsheet from step 8 and pick the best runners you have.
13. Quieten down the runners in the hall (a JD can be quite effective here) and garnish your selection from step 12 with the prizes you prepared earlier. This is a good time to add in the British Champs and 2 new records. Use some of the prizes as garnish for the marshals and helpers.
Congratulations, you’ve finished and with luck have a lot of contented looking runners. Your village hall will now look like a bombsite. Take 5 minutes off to enjoy the aroma of success, before starting to tidy up. Take particular care with leftover hill shoes, which can be tricky to re-unite with runners. I don’t recommend attempting this recipe more than once a year!