An account of the Strathcarron Games
If I were writing this account from the perspective of the men in our group, namely the Silver Fox of Badenoch, the venerable Fleming of Loch Carron and clubless southsider Mr.Williamson, then the high points would no doubt include the skimpy fashions on display at the Friday night ceilidh and the panting of the supple limbed, dusky maidens of the Belgian girls’ tug o war team! But, I’m writing it from the perspective of a sun pinked, dodgy jointed, veteran female and for me, the Isle of Skye ice cream stall and the relief of the Brufen bottle were the high points.
The morning cloud blanketing the strath soon evaporated to reveal a high blue sky, a glass calm loch and the ancient, glittering, summits of Torridon. The thermometer was rising by the minute, 25 degrees by the time we were rid of any post ceilidh effects, with still 5 hours to go before the start of the hill race. We drank water, applied factor something and killed some time visiting an ancient ruin – no, not Gibby, but the stunningly located 15th century Strome Castle. We drank more water and made our way to the bunting and balloon festooned games field on the Attadale Estate where we soaked up the buzz of the stalls, rehearsals and warm ups whilst trying to avoid soaking up the sun by hiding under an ancient golf umbrella. The Belgian girls strutted their stuff; the thermometer and old mens’ pulses kept climbing. More water and more factor something. The 2k to the race hill began to look an awful long way away.
Thanks to Sharon for lending me a Westies vest and thanks to my first aid kit for the crepe bandage sweat band which I devised, expecting the worst! Around 4pm with the temperature now around 31 degrees, a disparate group of the young, the old, the bad and the mad lined up for the start of the hill race. Representing the small to medium sized running club of the gold vest were the Flemings, Sharon and me, joined by bold novice to hill running, Davey Williamson, a long term running pal (and retired tennis star) of Gibson and Sharon, with a great sense of humour. The Silver Fox of Badenoch had sadly to refrain owing to injury
The gun went and we stuttered off across the sun baked field. Within 100 meters it was clear that that two Munros , a 10 mile cycle and a ceilidh the day before had not been the bestest preparation but hey, some of us are known for our powers of recovery are we not?! The only trouble being – it was too hot to trot, my legs were like lead and a very fit Mrs Fleming was holding her own against me on the approach to the hill – where were those infamous powers of recovery now?! Hang on ‘til the hill then go, go go.
Well, it was n’t pretty but I heaved myself through the field, tried to encourage a wee sobbing junior, hoped the very overweight chap in what looked like his slippers didn’t have a heart condition and kept pushing to the summit (285 meters) where I collected my race token and, with Sheila still a little too close for comfort, took off a rate in defiance of dodgy joints. I hit the hot tar in a blur and picked up the pace for the last 2k. There was terrific crowd support to cheer all race finishers down the finishing straight, the bands played loud and proud and the shade of the beer tent welcomed. Westies done well with Gibson narrowly and ungallantly beaten by a new incomer as first local (time 28.46), me 2nd lady (time 32 something), Shelia and Sharon as 3rd and 4th ladies respectively, all of which paid for a round of drinks or two! Mr Williamson also put up a fine fight but from his finishing line pallour, I’m not sure it was a good induction to hill running.
Beers and tug o war ensued; OK the Belgian girls put up a pretty show but they didn’t stand a chance against the mighty Strathcarron Ladies’ Team. Sheila aspires for a place in this awesome team but it would take two of her to equate to one of them! Personally, I’d like to be coach for the Highlander men’s team!
Throughout the weekend we were royally entertained by the Flemings in their beautiful new home on the hill and a big thanks to them for their generous hospitality.