I’d been thinking about possibly heading off to Harris to do this new race, organised by Stuart Simpson, for a few weeks but hadn’t made up my mind. However, I mentioned it as a possibility at last week’s Caerketton downhill and was told it was stupid and impossible to do it in a day trip ……well that was it ….gauntlet down …..checked the race was on, checked the Saturday night ferry was still due to run also and it was game on. left home just before 5am and had a great drive up to UIg, roads were dry and empty, so made it in under 4 hours …..caught the ferry, very smooth crossing despite the still strong winds…..arrived in Tarbert just before 11;30 and had plenty time to buy some vittles and a paper before registering at the Trust office just up from the pier. A small but very friendly group were doing the race which is part of the Harris Mountain Festival …..got talking to some of the guys and got a lift in Sean’s van to the start which is only a couple of miles along the road to Scalpay. The field of about 20 assembled for Stuart’s pre-race pep talk, including one lady, Abigail the physiotherapist at the hospital ……at least 3 or 4 other runners were also working at the hospital so treatment there later would probably be even better than normal. The route is the old postman’s route from Tarbert to Rhenigidale which he had to travel every day until the road was eventually built and is an absolute cracker. really good underfoot with only 2 or 3 slightlymuddy patches in the whole length of it ……starts with a long, gentle, but persistent climb for the first 2 or 3 kms then a set of zigzags, with fantastic views down the coast, down to sea level and then an undulating grassy path to the road before a few hundred metres down the tarmac to the village …….and then …..turn round and reverse your route ……going ok until got down to sea level but then I was really surprised by the amount of up and down there is in the grassy path ……hung on in …..got back to the bottom of the zigzags in reasonable order but then lost time on the main return climb …..by the time I got to the summit cairn nobody in sight, forward or behind, so battered on back on my tod. Definite advantage in knowing the route beforehand….I finished in 1 hour 36ish …….official winner did it in 1 hour 17 minutes and Stuart S was, I think, just over 1 hour 20 minutes. A young lad of 17 actually led from start to finish in a time of 1 hour 14 minutes but he was not officially in the race. Good bunch of people and after the last few runners had come in around the two hour mark Stuart held an impromptu and eclectic prize-giving ……not quite as mad as some of his Grandtully prize-givings of the past, in this one the prizes were all associated with caledonian macBrayne with fleeces, baseball caps and calendars dominating …..as the only’mainland’ runner I got a consolation CMacB bookmark. Then off to the pub with a few of the guys for a drink, later some food, then met some people from Aberfeldy and had a natter. The ferry appeared and managed to get a shower onboard which was much appreciated before landing and starting the long drive home. Got back at 2am after an uneventful drive and I was probably asleep before my head hit the pillow. The race route is absolutely fantastic and I heartily recommend it, don’t think I could recommend doing it as a day trip but if you’re anywhere near the island at the start of September its well worth the effort.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.