Enough has, I think, already been said and written about the Arrochar Alps Hill Race on Saturday, so you will excuse me if I jump ahead to Sunday, which saw me venture North to Oban and enter the little known micro-classic Lorne Highland Games Hill Race. First run in 2012, no Westie is yet known to have completed this event. My prospects of being the first were looking good until minutes before the start when Finlay Walton turned up. As I looked about, the international field was starting to look a whole lot classier than I’d hoped.
The race announcer introduced the runners by name, and we made our way to the starting line. Once around the field, then through the gate, across the football paddocks and up to the summit of Druim Mor. It’s a steady, slippery 100m climb to the derelict flag pole marking the turning point, then a rapid descent and return to a final half-lap of the field and the finish line. My hill legs clearly benefited from not having had to endure the climb up Ben Ime and Narnain the previous day, and I managed to keep my position up to the summit. I had taken the precaution of bringing a few ten pound notes with me to soften any marshals insisting on imposing any stringent, arbitrary cutoff times, but in the event there were no marshals and I was able to get through without any of the problems that have dogged me in recent hill races. I even picked up couple of places in the descent, and came in just behind the leading female to be placed fifth male and one place behind Finlay. It turns out the prize pool extended down six places for men, and I left the arena with a substantial cash prize that was soon converted to alcohol and consumed.
Given my nightmare experience of the previous day, Oban was just the ticket to restore my delusions of hill running adequacy. The only disappointment was arriving at the Games too late to enter myself in the Prettiest Bitch competition.