Despite the less than appealing race description (or maybe because of it?!) afforded to this race by Chris’ Hillracing website – I decided this wee race could be a fun intro to hill racing for my son, Calum, visiting from Perth, Australia. Ok then, it’s proximity to Manny’s provided a great excuse to go drinking in the Highlands too…

No less than 7½ Westies (I reckon Julia is halfway here from Moorfoot!) lined up from a field of almost 100 at about 3.30pm to negotiate the “crazy obstacle course” and the hill proper. The gun sounds and Manny, OBK, Calum (in a borrowed SHR vest) and Julia disappeared into the distance in approximately that order. Having negotiated the first two barriers out of the games field, I resisted the temptation to follow Alan Smith up an alternative bank full of nettles and fell into line, hoping that my heaving rib-cage would settle enough to let me focus on the remainder of the “crazy obstacle course” of a lumpy field full of thistles and cow pats, 2 more barbed wire fences, a river, some wet rounded boulders, a very steep bank, another fence right next to a crash barrier, the A86, and we haven’t even run half a mile yet…

Through the farm and into the birch woods, I start making up ground, passing runners at every opportunity on the narrow path. Onto (all fours) the muddy, heathery, craggy climb and the leaders are cavorting down – a couple of wild Welshmen, tumbling and recovering away from the pack. Manny streaks past (no, ladies – clothed) exploiting local knowledge, OBK passes looking solid and I’m nearing the top of the climb. I slide (literally) past Julia and give Calum a shove to help him up to the summit, sliding around in his road shoes.

Down the craggy slopes, praying the deep heather doesn’t conceal too many ankle twisting rocks, shouts of encouragement from Rhona, directions from Brenda, jokes from Kevin, all on their way up. My scaredy-cat descending lets a Lochaber runner and AN Other past in the Birch woods, but my new found course knowledge (thanks Manny) pegs back those two places and I’m over the A86 and down the bank, parachute deployed, into the river.

Over the hurdles, to another encouraging games field finish in about 40 minutes (stopwatch not working). Julia is not far behind (I think) – Calum just another few minutes (very proud father moment), then Brenda, Rhona and Kevin (apologies if that order’s wrong – my chest was heaving for a good 10 minutes after….)

Manny has finished seventh-ish, is second vet (I think) but more importantly, first local. OBK is pleased with the restraint deployed – given his plan to race the big Glenshee 9 on Sunday. 1st and 2nd taken by aforementioned wild welshmen. After the marathon wait for results, a sprint to the Glen for a swift pint and then back to Manny and Brenny’s Kingussie Bothy for a perfect Bar-B-Q in the less-than-perfect weather. Thanks to Calum for manning the grill and Kevin for the Entertainment. Keep an eye out on iTunes for “Death by Mackerel”…

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