29 people were on the start line for this one, including Alan, who finished in fourth place. Last year’s winner, Jim Haworth, was third, Owen was second, and I finished shortly ahead of him. First lady was Kerstin Leslie who knocked 10 minutes off last year’s time.
The race starts with a pretty rocky path that leads up to a bothy. Because of the path’s width most people start quickly to avoid getting boxed in. After passing the bothy there’s a short steep section through a forest before you gain access to the tourist path that leads to the sumiit via the Neive of the Spit.
The tourist path is is quite runnable and also provides a subtle hint about which way you should direct your feet, something that was handy in the thick mist that covered the majority of the hill.
In the past this race has taken a more direct route to Benyellary over the open hill side which some people prefered, and there was even talk of making it longer in future to avoid the first section of tourist path which doesn’t allow the fastest sprint finish.
My game plan on the day was to have a big enough gap between me and the runner behind me to avoid the need to race over the final 500m of rocky tourist path. Luckily I had built up a lead of two minutes or so at the summit which let me enjoy the descent without being under pressure.
The first section of downhill route was tough with a strong head, wind which might explain why I found the climb so much fun. Then, once i’d climbed back up to Benyellary, I was onto a narrow gravel track with loads of twists and turns that lead back to the bothy. Nothing super technical through the forest before you reach the path I described at the beginning. At this point I switched to super eco mode to avoid losing a few teeth or ankle from a fall before the finish line.
A really well organised hill race with some great prizes and a very nice trophy. Thanks to Girvan AAC for organising. This race definitely deserves more attention.