7 April 2012

There was a new improved route for the first counter in this year’s SHR Championship, a fair bit shorter and – by most accounts – a fair bit better than the original, with more runnable climbs and less ankle twisting descents. After the usual obligatory stampede with 200 plus runners jostling for places, I had a fairly steady run through the forest and up onto the hillside, although I seemed to be losing a bit of ground to the group ahead of me on the climb up Mount Shade and I just managed to keep them in sight on the descent down towards the forest above Miller’s Bog. From here the new route takes you up Clachnaben by the tourist path from the East via the Slack of Dye, which is steep at first but just about runnable all the way. This kind of climb suits me and I pulled in quite a few places, rounding the summit the tor hard on the heels of Graeme Bartlett of Forres, who I’d finished just in front of last year. The path on the way down that should have made for an easy descent was still filled with snowdrift and the best route seemed to be the peaty edge between the path and the heather. I found the soft edge awkward though, and was soon caught by most of the folk I’d passed on the way up, including Konrad Rawlik and Jon Ashcroft of Carnethy and Iain Whiteside from Edinburgh HH who went flying past. By the time I reached the track leading back to the forest I was about twenty metres off the back of the group in front having been caught by another Forres runner but I was feeling fairly strong and knew there was still a final short climb to come and, after a timely verbal kick up the arse from Manny – ‘pull your socks up old chap, there’s places to be had!’ or words to that effect – began to pull back a few bodies. I caught Graeme just before we left the track for the rougher ground leading to the last wee hill and by the top I was just behind Jon and Konrad, with Stephen Rawlinson of Lochtayside not far ahead. Whereas the old finish involved a hundred yard uphill dash, the new route ends in a mad downhill sprint and although I couldn’t catch Konrad, I managed to pull pass Jon before almost running into Stephen Rawlinson’s back, who moved across (thinking I was coming on the other side) just as I attempted to mug him on the line.

At the front of the race, Joe Symonds of HBT had had a great battle with Thames Valley Harrier Chris Smith, before pulling ahead in the final stages to win in 62.43, with last year’s winner and local lad Robbie Simpson finishing a fair way back in 66.54. Fife’s Mark Harris picked up yet another v40 prize ahead of Stewart Whitlie and Brian Marshall, while Catriona Buchanan of Ochil Hill Runners was the clear winner of the women’s race, finishing in a time of 78.05, more than four minutes ahead of her nearest rival, Claire Gordon of HBT.

Great to see a fair turnout of Westies too, with Mindy, Brian, Val, Peter, Ros and Brenda all running well, and thanks to Manny and Maisy for the vocal support.

1. Joe Symonds 62.43
2. Chris Smith 63.20
3. Robbie Simpson 66.54
15. Brian Bonnyman 73.48
109. Murdo MacLeod 94.22 (2nd V60)
117. Brian Brennan 96.31
166. Val Brunton 108.25
169. Peter Grassi 108.40
188. Ros Evans 114.08 (1st FV60)
213. Brenda Paul 135.26

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