A smattering of 9 yellow vests were amongst those gathered on the start line at Glenshee ski centre on Sunday morning for the long and demanding Glenshee 9 hill race. The car had scraped the underside of a low lying cloud base on the drive into the glen prompting a certain amount of map referencing driven by anxiety of a navigational disaster in these featureless hills. Although the first climb along the ugly scarred ski area was in the mist, the cloud burnt off fairly quickly, allowing the usual sheep mentality to route finding for the rest of the afternoon.
I was surprised at feeling quite content over the first half of the race which covers 6 Munros to the east of the road, covering a wild, barren terrain of tussocks and peat hags. I took a slightly daft route off Carn a Turic, heading straight for the road crossing in my sight, taking me (and some others) over a boulder field and down a marshy, slippery burn. No matter, I popped out on the path just behind those I’d been with at the summit. Lifting a fresh bottle of juice, I began the traipse up Carn Aosda, suddenly aware that the five races of the week were taking their toll as a breakdown in communication ensued between my leg muscles and my brain’s commands. I was grateful to Alayne Finlay for taking the lead at this point through the deep and springy heather and fell in behind her step. Making a decision to ‘potter’ the remaining 2 summits, Alayne and I jogged along together, and I resisted the urge to visit the extra outlier that I’d summited in last year’s race. On the return leg from the 8th top, I encountered Chris, who had climbed to the ridge above the ski centre to take photos. With his encouragement, I was able to dig in to overtake the two runners I’d been following and who strangely decided to walk very slowly up to the last checkpoint. I managed the very steep and messy descent over rough ground without pranging either ankle and finished more or less intact and delighted at completing my second hill race of the year. Congratulations to Brian B, Manny, Elsie B, Steffen and JD who also completed the race and commiserations to those who gubbed out in various different ways.