Jura has many fine attractions and the Craighouse Parkrun is no exception. One of the loveliest 5k stretches of road in Scotland, with a wonderful welcome and fantastic feed at the end.

So popular has this even become that the organisers decided that they needed to stagger the runner start times to avoid congestion. They therefore took the unusual step of deciding to hold the event on only one Saturday of the year and insisting that all competitors do a gruelling 14 mile/2370m hill course as a warm-up. Most runners arrive at the start of the race tired, thirsty, bruised, bleeding and cramping – making this a touch more challenging than most UK Parkruns.

I’d actually done the warm-up course the weekend before as part of the Scottish Islands Peaks Race. My quads were still feeling that effort so while going up and along was fine, I just could not get my legs to turn-over to descend at anything more than a snail’s pace. Coupled with some foul wind, rain & cold on the hill, meant my progress was slow. Not that I minded, I remained relaxed on the hill, happy to go at my own pace after last weekend. As the route was in my head, I nailed the route-finding throughout, though am grateful to Ally for finding a great line off the last Pap.

Thanks to all of the above I arrived at the start of the race fresher than I anticipated. I changed in to my road shoes (always a good idea) and set off at a steady pace. I could see a line of half a dozen runners just ahead of me and I was confident that I’d have the time to reel them all in.

I caught up with Roddy about half-way through. I’d last seen him on Bheinn A’Chaolais – we’d chatted on the way up before he shot off on the descent. On the way up the final hill I was shocked when I glanced behind me and saw him again. I gather that he’d had a bit of an adventure in poor visibility in the meantime. He overtook me for a second time after I made a weapons-grade navigation error by running 180 degrees in the wrong direction off the top of Corra Bheinn for a minute.

“Almost there Roddy,” I said cheerfully as I passed him. “F**k you James! I hate this f**king road,” he replied. Roddy’s one of the guys who actually prefers the warm-up to the race!

I made up a couple more places in the next km or so and was just beginning to feel a tinge of cramp as I the Village Hall came in to view. I heard some footsteps behind me and was shocked to see Roddy almost with me, motoring on with a look of intent in his eyes, he wasn’t going to let me get away easy like that. I picked up the pace and just managed to hold him off. I was surprised to see Ruth already at the distillery – a dodgy knee having caused an unfortunate DNF.

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the various Westies collapse across the finish line with a beer in hand. I was particularly impressed by Andrew Fullwood storming along the road, still looking fresh & strong after nearly 7 hours out.

The best Parkrun around? I think so.

1) Ted Morgan (EUHH) 03:20:27
12) Sam Alexander 03:39:04
41) Jill Stephen (HBT) 04:06:22
61) Alasdair MacInnes 04:21:31 [Wearing an awful-looking vest]
70) James Callender 04:26:17
71) Roddy Cunningham 04:26:31
102) Chris Butler 04:48:12
117) Alex Berry 05:01:52
148) Ian Thurlbeck 05:21:19
161) Kerry Cunningham 05:28:02
167) Sophie Philbrick 05:30:46
201) Andrew Mitchell 06:21:05
227) Andrew Fullwood 06:59:52

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