By happy and inexplicable coincidence a huge squad of Westies (I counted at least 13), plus families and other hingers-on, just happened to be in the vicinity of Newtonmore on Saturday afternoon. This being the case, and having survived the lengthy delays of the A9 roadworks at Banknock, it seemed opportune to drop into the local Highland Gathering and participate in the well-established foot race up the neighbouring hill which just happened to be part of the festivities.

Manny, for one, seemed delighted, if a tad bemused, at the level of interest in his local event. For this reason alone I was able to forgive him when he mistakingly referred to me as Dave Rodgers. Unfortunately it was the first of three cases of mistaken identity for me during the afternoon; later I was referred to as Manny (worrying, as it was by Manny’s nephew), then Brian Brennan (apparently on account of our similarly sized-and-shaped backsides)!

It was a grand afternoon, dry and bright, and a total of about 100 runners eventually started, heading over the 5 fences before fording the river, which Muffy insists was in speight….hmmmmm! The terrain is varied but a bit rough and I was particularly delighted to be able to create a queue behind me as I pussyfooted down the steep rocky section. The narrow path and judicious use of elbows prevented the good descenders from getting past.

Manny was first Westie home, and first local, in 5th place overall, followed by the Snake and Cap’n Chris. I was well chuffed to be 5th or 6th Westies, finishing a shade ahead of Ellie who was second wumman overall. I was even more chuffed to beat Mindy in a hill race for the first time in years, he being caught up in the tailback behind me downhill. Serves him right for getting me and Mr Brennan mixed up!

Westies missed out on further glory when we failed to enter a team or two in the 4 x 200metre relay afterwards. I’m convinced that our excessive post-run consumption of burgers would not have impeded us in our attempts to demolish the winning Inverness Harriers team! And the haggis eating competition was abandoned for technical reasons although rumour has it that the real reason is that the locals were scared stiff of the prospect of Dave Rodgers taking part!

A few Westies ventured to the Glen Hotel afterwards for a quick drink. By even more staggering coincidence, who happened to be sitting at the bar but our own ex-Captain Courageous Charlie Campbell!!! What were the chances of that happening??? Spooky or what???

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