An email from John Hamer prompted my entry to this hill race. There’s not many races going on in January and good excuse to blow away some Christmas excess. January approached and I thought it may be worth checking where Selkirk is, probably Loch Lomand/Trossachs kind of area… think it may be worth car sharing for this one. After many offers and counter offers two car loads of Westies headed to the Borders with a sprinkling of others making their own way.
The race was using the facilities of Selkirk rugby club so by hill running standards this was like staying at the Ritz as there was a changing rooms (with showers) and a large warm hall for race registration. Like a true pro I was so busy proving my worth to the kit check person that I walked off and left my number on the table, he would have been well within his rights to deny me entry on this basis alone.
Off to the race start and there was time for a bit of attempted Westies photo bombing of the Carnethy team photo before we were off (a quick look at the photo on the Carnethy website shows we failed miserably!). I thought I’d try out a new positioning technique at the start of this race, if someone looks old enough to be my grandparent then I’ll stand in front of them, sibling behind them but roughly at an age where they could be my parent then i’ll stand next to them. In many cases this could backfire (Gordan McCaffery) but it seemed as good as any technique I’ve used in the past.
Anyway, the race started with a dash through a muddy field with plenty of early race slippages and onto a track to get you warmed up before hitting the first hill. Having looked at the map before the race it seemed like none of the hills were particular monsters but as this race was a bit longer than previous hill races I’d done in the past I didn’t want to knacker myself out too early. Because of this and the narrow track I settled to the age old hill running approach of running when the person in front does and walking when they do. The cairn came along fairly quickly followed by a good few miles of brilliant running across first grass/heather, onto a track and then onto some open moorland and fields. Most of this was relatively flat and so suited me better than the really hilly technical ascents/descents that can be found in other hill races. The next major hill approached and this was a nice steady climb where if you were in a low enough gear could maintain a steady pace to the claggy cairn. The gradient got a little steeper at the top but unfortunately there were a few marshals standing there which meant the indignity of a walk for the final 10 metres wasn’t an option. What followed seemed like a never ending descent on a path that had turned into a stream with all the melting snow. I At this point I realised that I had neither overtaken anyone nor been overtaken by anyone for about the last 5 miles and had that happy place where you keep the person in front within your sights but the person behind was far away enough to not be annoying. With a bit of extra effort I managed to gain a couple of places on the down hill and then crossed the burn to start the final ascent. This started with a nice track and then proceeded to a pretty steep hillside where the only option was to walk. Having grown up down south where the highest hill to walk up was the upstairs toilet in McDonalds I always struggle on these kind of hills. At bit of cramp in my hamstrings meant I lost 5 or so places here which was pretty disappointing but managed to get a few of these back again on the final downhill run back to the start.
Overall a great runnable race which actually seemed to have more downhill in it than uphill. Special mention goes to the haggis pie at the end, Helen for winning the F60 category and Maya/Rob for helping an injured runner.
15 Gregor Stewart Westerlands CCC M 01:45:58
33 James Callender Westerlands CCC M 01:55:59
51 Marc Roper Westerlands CCC M50 02:01:00
63 Russell Crane Westerlands CCC M 02:05:58
73 Christopher McKiddie Westerlands CCC M 02:09:56
75 Val Houston Westerlands CCC F50 02:10:19
119 David Dickson Westerlands CCC M50 02:23:30
142 Maya Hernes Westerlands CCC F 02:34:23
143 Rob McQuater Westerlands CCC M40 02:35:14
151 Angus Farquhar Westerlands CCC M50 02:38:42
154 John Hamer Westerlands CCC M50 02:39:24
166 Helen Macpherson Westerlands CCC F60 02:46:41