Last year, the Devil of the Highlands clashed (well one was on the Saturday and the other on the Sunday) so I missed the first running of the Glenshee 9. This year I was really keen not to miss out on the fun!

For number of reasons, I have not done nearly as many of the AL races as I had planned to so I was a bit nervous driving north. Registration done, I grabbed a quick bit to eat and got ready. Had the usual flap about vest / long sleeve top but since the temperature appeared ok, opted for the vest with a pile of sunscreen. Loaded the bumbag with some food and a 500ml bottle then pinned the control card onto the outside pocket (and through my mapcase which was inside the pocket …grrrrrrr).

The start appeared controlled – even Captain Chris did not sprint into the distance. Over Meall Odhar folks were taking a contour line out towards Creag Leacach – personally, I hate contouring …and this route confirmed it. In no time at all, I could feel a burning sensation in my right foot as it rolled out with every step …I could picture the blister forming! Finally I got off the traverse and onto the ridge properly – much better. Got in with a great wee bunch of runners with leads rotating in an unplanned but strangely efficient Tour de France manner. Could see Chris in the distance but failed to close the gap in any way. Round the summit and we started to retrace the route back and out towards Glas Maol. It was about here I started to hold a steady position at the back of the bunch …another few folks joined us but I was really starting to blow a bit and with a long way to go fell back a bit – not a huge amount but enough. Starting the descent from Glas Maol itself the morale took a bit of a doing and I dropped well off the pace (and the now blistered right foot was used as justification to me anyway). Cairn of Claise came and went as did Tom Bhuide. I made a brief effort to rejoin the bunch heading over towards Tolmount thanks to what I thought was a cunning route choice but got snarled up a bit in bogs and tussocks. The section over to Carn an Tuirc took forever but I was really glad of the good visibility (loads of room for major error had the mist been down here). Following some information from JD, I steered clear of the boulders leaving the summit of Carn an Tuirc and was soon on the path heading down towards the river and out to the road (which still seem awful far away). Briefly thought about jacking the race at the road and heading home but realised that no matter how sore I was feeling …doing that would not help the head!

Used the long climb up Carn Aosda to eat and drink – both were overdue. Topped out and took the decision to follow a Carnethy runner on another contour traverse line heading over towards Carn a Gheoidh – not sure how sensible that was since some runners who looked to be a bit behind appeared right behind me when I finally got onto the main ridge again. Huge thanks to the marshal on the summit for a slug of tea and some Jelly Babies – both helped to raise spirits for the last hard push back along the ridge to the Cairnwell. With the last summit done, all that was left was to bounce downwards to the finish. Back in my ski days, I used to think the Tiger run was steep …and it certainly still felt that way on tired legs. Unusually for me, I even regained a place before crossing the line. Was happy to finish 5 seconds under my target in 04:29:55.

Other results included:

David Riach – 03:45:44
Chris Upson – 04:05:21
Ellie Holmwood (2nd lass home) – 04:40:08
John Donnelly- 04:45:47

Many thanks to everyone involved in the planning and marshalling – it is a big area to cover. Congrats to all Westies who ran – even if they were seem hanging about with Shettleston runners most of the day 🙂

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