Just the four westies turned up for the Pentlands this year: Chris, new Peter, Eleanor and me. I can only assume the rest of the club were recovering from Manor Water the previous day, with no-one feeling the need to prove themselves in the “man-or-mouse” challenge. The registration desk had posted a forecast with the words “very good visibility” listed prominently throughout the day. The description was not one I would have chosen to describe the dense, low clouds covering the hills. The race set off up the steep climb beside the artificial ski slopes. I started far enough back in the field for walking to be an acceptable alternative to a simulated jog. The course levels out at the first fence, then drifts upwards along a muddy trod until it hits a farm road. A galloping descent down to a road, across a farm, then a climb up Turnhouse hill. By the top of Turnhouse, the wind had picked up. What would normally have been an easy run along the ridge to Carnethy was instead a struggle to stay upright. Conditions worsened by Carnethy, with some stinging horizontal rain to make things even more difficult. By Scold Law I had to stop to put on my jacket. I probably should have done so earlier, before my fingers became uncooperative! What the wind blows in, it also blows away. By East Kip the rain had eased and the wind dropped. Specks of sun appeared. West Kip, then the road — some easy running before the bog that feeds Logan Burn. This is my favourite part of the race — indistinct paths, deep patches of mud. i picked up a few places, but, by the start of Black Hill, my legs just didn’t want to know about it any more. Perhaps it was the chill earlier in the race, perhaps it was the absence of pasta the night before, whatever it was the final stages were a struggle of endurance. My hopes of improving on my 2008 time evaporated, the group I was running with disappeared into the distance, and I plodded on until the finish came mercifully into sight. As it was, I stumbled over the line only six minutes outside my PB. The consensus seemed to be that this was a tough year. Chris reported his slowest time yet, and the winning time was considerably slower than usual. That said, New Peter ran a cracking race, and justly streaked ahead of me in the Long Classics placings. Eleanor was predicting a 4:30 finish, but improved on that by a full quarter of an hour. I didn’t hang around for the prizes. Just a freezing cold shower to wash off the worst of the mud, then home. Yeah, for all that, it was a great day out.

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