This is really just an excuse to try writing a race report the no’s which have been a bit scanty of recent weeks. Having never swept before (even at home as my wife keeps reminding me!), i thought it would be fun to try it at the Arrochar Alps race. Commitments on Sat night meant that i only had time to sweep to the lonely coll between Ime and Narnain and Snake Riach kindly offered to do the second half.
Numbers on the day were low so to increase them, somebody got counted twice at the start suggesting we had 33 starters and not 32. I slotted in at the back, as the race got underway in a very humid Glen Loin. By the time we got to the dam road, the leaders were long gone. It was a relief to get the breeze on the summit ridge of Ben Vorlich as i chatted to the last runner Richard Townsend, all the way from Luton.
I had forgotten how steep the direct descent down to the dam was (the last time i did this race was back in the 90’s) and its definately not a race for road runners. Had a quick chat with Graham et al at the dam who were counting race no’s and this was when the confusion started. Graham had only counted 31 runners over the dam but i was 100% sure i was behind the last runner with no retirements that i was aware of.
Ok, i headed off again after Richard who was still last. I caught him up fairly quickly on the brutally steep climb up the side of Ben Vane and we chatted all the way to the top. I went slightly too far to the left initially on the descent to the coll but eventually found the snake and Owen patiently waiting for the last man. Same thing again, only 31 runners through! However Owen commented that David Houston of GHH had not passed through the coll. The snake took over the sweeping and Owen and i enjoyed a sociable jog back to Arrochar.
At the finish line we had a laugh at the site of a knackered David Rodgers lying whimpering in the ditch at the side of the track. It was not a pretty sight! We also discovered how we had a missing runner. It turned out that David Houston had crossed over to Ben Vane south of the dam and did the same thing going over to Ben Ime, missing out both checkpoints and causing much head scratching, not to mention giving himself a lot more work to do.
On reflection, it might be worthwhile making the dam and the Vane-Ime coll a proper punch check point that runners have got to pass through. It would certainly make sweeping the course a lot easier.
The hospitality back at Arrochar was great and Rob did a good job of organising the race with a very small team of helpers considering the size of the area it covers! I thoroughly enjoyed my day out and might even try racing it next year!!

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