Champing at the bit on the start line, I leapt into the lead as soon as the gun went off. I held a 3 or 4 metre lead on the front runners up the first half mile of track, enjoying running on my own. So much for not starting off too quickly! The pack swarmed past once I hit boggy ground.
Angela Mudge and Stewart Whitlie got me halfway up the first hill – Stewart was to get lost later and drop out – Angela was to go on and set another new record. I clung on as best I could over the first 3 hummocky hills and the big drop across Glen Astaile despite getting a migraine where I lost focus in my left eye.
I made good ground on Beinn a’Chaolais catching a sociable group with Adrian Davis, Graham Schofield, Mark Shaw, Mark Higginbottom, plus others. We moved as a peloton till halfway up Beinn an Oir. The place was slowing. Ronnie Gallagher cruised alongside. I thought the sub-4 was going out the window. I made a move to go off the front again. Adrian was ahead. Ronnie and Mark Higginbottom came with me. On Beinn Shiantaidh, Alan Smith came storming through out of nowhere. I chased Ronnie and Alan down the scree. Adrian was on the traverse left, so I latched onto his route.
We all bunched up again for Corra Bheinn, and then the race started for real. The sprint for Three Arch Bridge. I was left trailing. Adam Anderson finally got past me and pulled away. 3:35 when I came out onto the road. I started to run, but was called back for the punch. Quick swig of water. Now 3:36. I reckoned I needed 25 minutes to be sure. 3.3 miles. 24 minutes. Uncomfortably warm. At the “Craighouse 1 mile” milestone I thought it was in the bag. Maybe I eased off slightly. I didn’t realise it was 1.7 miles from here to the end. When I reached the houses of the village I was getting stressed. The end wasn’t approaching rapidly enough. I looked at my watch. It was after 3:58. I’d thought I’d blown. I got angry and went into a full-on sprint. I burned up the final rise to the finish banner and stopped my watch. The time? 3:59:27
The glass in the bag. But a bit too close for comfort!!