Saturday morning saw me making the hop up the A9 to Newtonmore and the annual 10 mile road race.

The course is an out and back from the town out through Kingussie with a lot of the route being on the cycle track which not only gives pretty flat running, but also great views over towards the Feshie hills and further up towards the Gorms themselves.

Standing on the start line, I looked around to see a sea of brown surrounding me with twenty one runners up from HBT (maybe there is a tunnel direct to Newtonmore from Edinburgh ?).The only other representative from Westies was Rhona – apart from Manny and Brenda who were both on marshalling / herding duty.

Having been well and truly gubbed at last year’s Creag Dubh race by local boy Stuart Forrest, I was keen to returning the compliment but by the end of the first mile it was clear I was up for another gubbing. The views helped to take my mind off the fact that each mile was sore and there was an increasing quantity of drool filling the beard (keep forgetting how hard road races are). Approaching the five mile turnaround was greeted with encouragement (from Brenda) and abuse (from Manny). Within a few steps it was clear …we had been enjoying a tail wind for the first five and the second half was going to be emotional. Early attempts at drafting Ali Kennedy from Lochaber failed quickly and all that was left to do is keep the head down and keep moving. If the open section on the approach to Newtonmore was draining, the shelter of the town gave a rise in spirits since the finish was close. Particular highlight on the last few hundred yards to Manny’s boy Duncan playing AC/DC “Thunderstuck” on the pipes – braw stuff !

 I finished in 65:33 and Rhona had a great run to complete in a clean 84 minutes.

 Post race prize giving was time to refuel and the spread laid on for the runners ensured nobody went home hungry. Numerous spot prizes were handed out in a raffle style draw of race numbers (nae idea if I won anything since I forgot to write my name on mine and had no idea what my race number was – doh !)

 After helping Manny take down the race signage, we enjoyed a run round the Creag Beag race route which is another great excuse if one was needed to visit Kingussie.

Saturday evening was well …kinda messy. With the HBT contingent attempting to empty the Glen Hotel of beer and wine, we were made to feel welcome …very welcome to the point two of us (will let the reader guess who the other one was) ended up retracing the section of the earlier race route from Newtonmore back to Kingussie on foot at some point around 3:30am having been unable to secure a taxi. What occurred earlier in the evening remains a bit of a mystery but think we may have agree to join HBT !?!

 Still comfortably over the limit to drive and deep inside my sleeping bag, I missed the hangover mile which Rhona and Brenda made. Kinda felt guilty for not giving a Trottette (sorry Carrie) a lift down to the grudge match but when I did finally crawl out from the van, felt the decision not to get behind the wheel was the right one. With the epic hangovers kicking in, Manny and myself had a gorgeous afternoon running A’Chailleach high up in Monaliadth.

Given the massing of HBT folks in the area and the obvious number of potential routes, it was a shame the Sunday grudge match couldn’t have been held on either another date or better still …somewhere around Newtonmore or Kingussie – maybe a consideration for next year ?

 Huge shout out of thanks to Geoff Simpson and team for the Saturday race and to HBT, Rhona, Malcom, Brenda and Manny for company, laughs and somewhere to lay my sleeping bag.

 Would be great to see a big team of Westies up for the Creag Dubh hill race later this year. Great race and an awesome area to spend time in – braw times indeed !



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