From what I had heard and read Ben Sheann was a short, steep hill race up and down through thick forestry and with a large midgie turn out. That was pretty much the case and although there was another good turn out of Westies the midgies definately outnumbered us. There were over 60 people lined up at the start and Owen advised I get a fast start because the path narrows quickly as soon as you enter the trees making it difficult to pass people. So with Owen’s words still in my ears I planned to head off quickly but I was not expecting everyone else to set off as quickly as they did. It was the fastest start to a hill race I have seen, a mad 20m dash in to the trees. A couple of Ochil runners got to the front but as the path quickly steepened I decided not to hang about and nipped past. So once again I found myself at the head of the field, I carried on as fast as I could but this became difficult as the track quickly deteriorated.
Once over a landrover track the route became a slippy mess. The steep muddy ground was a mixture of thick grass, nettles, thistles, tree roots, stumps and branches which made it hard to get any grip. It was an uphill scramble. Stephen Rawlinson of Lochtayside caught and overtook me midway up the hill and I just tried to keep him in sight as the route twisted and turned up the steep hillside. As we eventually came out of the trees the ground did not get much better with a thick and deep covering of tussocky grass, heather and blaeberries. As the ground was so steep it was hard to tell how far ahead Stephen was but as he disappeared out of the gully just below the summit I realised that he had built up a fair time advantage. From the summit and the whole way down I never saw him again. I had glanced back from the gully to see Alan Smith not far behind and knowing how good a descender he is I knew I would have to run hard.
It turned out to be a case of trying to keep upright over the rough ground as slipping or falling was likely to be a painful affair with so many trees, branches, roots, nettles, thistles and rocks about. So it was with some relief that I made it safely to the bottom of the hill and emerged from the trees still in one piece, in second place and in a time of 27:45. Stephen won by roughly a minute and Alan Smith was third. For the second Bog & Burn race in a row there were a number of over 50s in the top ten and also there were other good runs by Westies (with quite a few in or around the top ten). I think Alan Gilkison was 1st v40 and Sarah Adam 2nd female, but maybe best to wait for the official results.
The midgies were waiting at the finish and quickly started biting so it was not pleasant hanging about there, the Inn at Strathyre provided a much nicer environment. Thanks to the organiser and the marshals for putting on another great race (the same people that organise the Stuc a Chroin Hill Race) and enduring the midgies. Although running was tough for me it was a much nicer proposition than standing about in the midgies so I have much respect for the marshals.