A fine day for a fitting end to the Scottish Hill Racing Championship. Everything crisp, clear and cool, and Lochtayside looking rather nice with the beginning of Autumn.
We parked & got changed up by the dam at the rave tent, didn’t expect to see one there and the big beats seemed out of place for the location; live and let live I suppose, runners aren’t the only folk who enjoy the countryside. On the drive up Gregor had been dispensing his top-tips for running success. All well and good, but I wasn’t convinced that the ‘six-sock-system’ he was showing off was the way to go, why not just buy shoes that fit?
We assembled at the start line for an expertly-delivered race briefing from Brian and a headcount. No-one bothered to tell us about the starting siren though, which meant that when it went off we all just stood still, a little confused until Manny said “I think that’s it!” and we were off!
The start was fast and furious, no-one wanting to get stuck in a traffic-jam at the turn off to the narrow trail. I overtook Gregor after about five minutes and eventually found myself in a group with Dave Eiser and Andrew Gilmore. The climb was unrelenting and I was busting a gut just to keep up with those around me. I managed a brief glance at the stunning views from the top of Tarmachan, but then it was head down, concentrating on keeping up down the ridge. Once we got to the col to start the descent Gilmore shot off at a superb pace, never to be seen again, and I wrenched every sinew to try and keep up with Eiser who was very slowly opening a gap.
By the time we hit the track I was close to done and was hoping that a steady run would see me home in good order. A glance behind revealed the menacing presence of Gorman & Stewart worryingly close by, and there was no choice but to keep the foot on the pedal. With legs like jelly following the descent, the hard-packed track was a morale-sapping grind. I managed to reel in a couple of places though and saw off a last-500m challenge from a speedy Deesider, crossing the line in 10th place.
It was nice hanging around the finish in the start line watching the numerous Westies come through and the soup back at the hall has got to be some of the best I’ve tried. And the prize-giving had an impressive haul, rewarding both fast running and the brass-necked cheek of those who nominated themselves for a spot prize. A cracking race and a well done to all those Westies who took part.