A big James Callender race ……great weather……well organised ……laid back…..loads of helpers ….no problems. It doesn’t get much better than this. The sun was beating down when James arrived in his shades to make sure his cast of thousands knew what was what ……he handed the erection of the tent to JQ because of his vast knowledge of such things and around 10 of us managed to complete the task under his supervision …..the tent was needed to keep the registration team cool as there was a big burny thing in the sky which was a tad worrying. The amazing Lorna turned up looking dramatically better than the blood-soaked apparition that bravely completed Goatfell on Saturday ……shame that she fell when lying 3rd lady with most of the race completed …….well done Lorna.

Grim was also there which must have given Neilston a major problem …..presumably they just hired an emergency locum idiot while the big man was at the race. The banter was draining my low stocks of adrenaline and Leyre then informed me that she was going to beat me …..bad news is I thought so too. After some inspirational chat from JC at the start we were off ……..only a few hundred metres up the road and Leyre pulled alongside ……..No …….not yet at least…..pushed a wee bit quicker and she fell back. Off the track and the climb begins ……hard …..keep going …..warm …..hot…..roasting …..near the top Murdo cruises past……hang in there……chase him and get to the track only 2 metres back but ……I’m toasted…..gone …..dead …..it’s over …..then Leyre and several others pass the shambling wreckage ie me …….but what’s this? A cool breeze appears …..a gift from above ……as my temperature declines I determine to hang on to Leyre and not let her get away. Past Loch Humphrey off the track to follow the fence …….get past Leyre and we both hunt down Murdo ……I get past him at Greenside and I’m still just ahead as we pass JQ and his mate at the dam…..thanks for the cheery encouragement John. Murdo muscles past me going up the Slacks and the gap grows alarmingly……even worse Leyre is back and we push each other along on the ascent passing a couple of other runners. Past more cheery marshals at the top and down we go …….Murdo is 150m ahead and Leyre is on my heels …….can’t shake her but at the zigzags make a wee gap and Murdo is only 50m ahead. Pass him on the steep grass and get to the road just ahead but ……knackered ……done …..aaaaaagh ……just let them past ……I slow down but Murdo is obviously suffering as well and when he doesn’t immediately come past I perk up and start to push again which gets me over the line just ahead of both of them.

Murray Strain apparently won and Edel Mooney was first lady …..Niall was top Westie in 3rd place ……….lots of other people won prizes including Chris Upson V50 and Gordon ‘I don’t look a day over 70’ McCaffrey was V60 winner. I didn’t win anything ……other than several Westies scalps which I haven’t had for a while……and didn’t see any of the action at the sharp end …..being locked in a deadly battle of my own. James chose to hold the prize-giving when almost all of the prize-winners were 400m away which meant we had to cheer them twice …..did us no harm and the race could not have been better organised or run. Well dome James and all his helpers for doing an excellent job. Everybody I talked to will be back next year and will spread the word regarding this premier hill-running event. Thanks.

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