Around 25 Westies made the trip to Stirling for this one, with Paula spectating close to the summit.
This has to be one of my favourite races since it’s got a little bit of everything.
First up is a strecth of tarmac up to a hole in the wall, where I got boxed a wee bit in but wasn’t too bothered because I planned to start at a sensible pace.
Next is a muddy track that descends to another road section where the proper up-hill section begins. Not much to mention here. Handful of fast University Students ahead of Hector Haines and myself.
The next section goes through Hermitage Woods, this is where the fun begins. Rocks, roots, mud, streams and some nice wee technical bits before you hit a style and get to enjoy the open hill side. I took it easy in the woods too and stuck behind Hector whilst we worked our way past three or four runners who had evidently started a little bit too quickly (a lesson I learnt from last year).
Once your over the style it’s nice grassy tracks with plenty of twists and turns all the way to the summit, with some patches of eroded single track thrown in for good meausre. Having started conservatively, I now had the energy to move into the lead, overtaking Hector, and despite feeling tired from Stuc I seemed to find a quick and steady pace which I managed to hold until right before reaching the summit. At this point Hector overtook, despite all of Paula’s shouts of encouragement.
Downhill section was a total blur. It was tough, but I managed to take some good lines through the tecnical sections before getting overtaken by Ben Stevenson who was flying (a speed merchant, if you will). Managed to keep him in range until the steep muddy downhill section before the stream – the section I like the most – at which point I just went for it closing the gap to less than a meter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the right pace to contend with him for second place, but was fairly happy with third.
Hope that gives people who havn’t done the race before a bit of an idea about what to expect. Only other thing I should mention is that there’s actually a fair amount of bog about half way up, but don’t let that put you off, it’s not that deep. It’s a absolute classic. Well done to all who raced!