13 Westies toed the start line at the 2018 Isle of Jura fell race. Being a first-timer I was unsure how to pace it, so I asked Ally MacInnes for the secret of Jura. He revealed: “don’t even get started til the first pap”. I set off quite steady and tried to keep my calf-burn to a manageable level. In what seemed like no time at all, I was giving away my #74 race tags; one, two, three pips down, and the first pap was towering ahead.
I was relieved to see the black & gold ‘W’ target of Louise scampering up the slope ahead in a group of three women. They were only a few minutes in front. Louise was climbing strongly and dropped the others to reach the summit first. I put away a double espresso gel and thought I’d better throw myself down the scree pretty fast to have any chance of catching her. Some reckless descending later, I was able to surf past.
I set my sights on another lass in the distance, gained steadily and overtook her on pap 2. I was surprised to pass Rob whilst he was collecting precious water from a puddle, and then Graeme on the way to the final hill. A few bystanders shouted that I was 3rd lady at this point, so I began to happily visualize bottles of Jura on the prize table. But some complacency had crept into my head, and my pace must have eased up because suddenly that lass I’d overtaken half an hour earlier was at my heels again.
She and I pushed up the final hill together and had to laugh because we were simultaneously getting spasms of cramp in the same muscles. We kept swapping places and made polite small talk whilst trying to crush one another. Her name is Anwen, she’s a Dundee Road Runner, and she doesn’t even like whisky. I knew the final hour was going to be a hard battle for the last spot on that podium.
With the three arch bridge in sight, I suddenly came across James in downward dog position trying to rid himself of cramp. My own cramp was never far away, the legs seized up every time they disappeared into a bog. I dashed under the bridge and straight through checkpoint 8 a few seconds ahead of Anwen. Given the circumstances I didn’t stop to change shoes! I held her off for about 5 minutes but she eventually came cruising past me on the road and I had no answer, she was stronger. It wasn’t going to be a podium position for me, but I kept pushing and taking backward glances, knowing the topless torso of James Callender would be in hot pursuit.
I had such a brilliant day, I’m calling this my best race ever! Myself & Louise finished 4 & 5 and got the commemorative whisky glass. For the first time, the race awarded separate men’s and women’s team prizes. Together with Leyre, we were the fastest women’s team out of 9 clubs with three or more women running. However due to an administrative error at race desk (by their own admission) they had not updated Louise’s affiliation, and women’s team prize was presented to Dark Peak instead. This was a slight disappointment, but we know the true result, and there will be plenty more prize opportunities in future. Sam came home 12th, in 3 hr 47 also receiving the whisky glass. Margo James recorded another excellent result and took third place in the V50 category. Ally & Roddy took the John Dare shield for their boat race & Jura double performance.
Full results are here: http://www.scottishhillracing.co.uk/RaceResults.aspx?RaceID=RA-0044&Year=2018
Saturday night was party time, but that would require an entire separate report… suffice to say Westies owned the ceilidh. Well done everyone and thanks for a superb weekend!