25 March, 2012


Record temperatures coincided with a record turnout for the last of Adrian Davis’s Highland Boundary Hill Races. Lounging around before the start in the spring sunshine it felt more like June than March and it seemed hard to believe that on the same day two years ago the race route had to be shortened due to snow. I’d fancied having a go at one of these races for a while and a rare Sunday without child-ferrying duties made Deuchary the default choice. And it was good to see fellow Westies Chris, Cam and John also toeing the line, with Chris celebrating a rare full night’s sleep by lining up for his second race of the weekend.

The route starts with a runnable single track climb snaking up and round the forested slopes of Carn o Barns, before heading north east along forestry tracks towards Deuchary Hill. As the leaders sped off, I’d started fairly steadily but after catching a couple of folk on the forestry track the next group in front were a fair bit ahead and pulling away, and I was beginning to feel the effects of the heat. I scooped a quick handful of water from the burn as the route left the track at the bridge crossroads and narrowed to grassy trods climbing towards Deuchary Hill, and I was surprised to see I was beginning to close in on some of the runners ahead. I made a bit if an effort on the climb and managed to catch a few runners on the final steep pull and was on the shoulder of a Moorfoot runner (I think) who politely offered to let me pass just before the summit: I could barely manage the breath to decline, realising I had overcooked the climb and had nothing left, and sure enough he flew away from me on the descent and I didn’t see him again. An Edinburgh Uni lad who I’d caught a few minutes earlier also skipped pass and was soon a few hundred yards ahead, but I’d been warned it was a long drag back and so just tried to take it steady and enjoy the lovely scenic route through the heather and pine trees, hoping I could recover enough not to lose any more places on the long drag back along the forestry track. Although it’s almost all downhill to the finish there were a few slightly uphill sections on the track and, encouraged by an over the shoulder glance of the Edinburgh runner, I began to pull him back on these bits until we were neck and neck going into the last checkpoint. We had a good little battle over the next few miles, with him stronger on the downhills and me catching on him the ups until I finally managed to pull away over the last mile, which seemed never ending in the heat.

By the time I’d collapsed in a dehydrated heap at the finish line, Robbie Simpson had already been cooling off for the best part of ten minutes: despite the heat and having broken his own record at Birnam the day before, he had taken over five minutes off the race record, with a time of 1:23:58. Matt Sullivan of Shetts was next in 1:26:30 followed by Cosmic’s Chris Hill in 1:29:53. Mark Harris was first vet 40 in 1:30:21, and Angela Mudge 1st female in 1:36:02, ahead of HBT’s Claire Gordon, who finished 1:45:04. I was 8th and maybe 2nd vet 40, in around 1:33:10. Cam, who’d dragged his dad’s dog round the course, finished not long after me, but I’m not sure where Chris and John came as I had to head off sharpish after the race. Thanks to Adrian and his team for organising such a great race.

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