Stuc a’ Chroin — the race I love to hate. Start with a long slog up the forest track, followed by a walk-jog up Glen Ample with its rewarding but brief descent, and then the day really gets underway with the seemingly endless climb up Beinn Each. By the time I reach the summit I’m just about ready to sign a pledge never to go hill running again. The “ridge” across to Stuc is a technical challenge, rough enough to prevent settling into any sort of rhythm. It’s only on the return past Bealach nan Cabar, with a grassy slope, that I get a chance to stretch out and pick up a few places. Glen Ample provides a late challenge, and then it’s all down hill to the finish. One by one, I pass exhausted runners as my legs find unexpected reserves of energy. I pick up six places before the final turn, and come in at 3:38, a seven minutes improvement over last year.
It’s been a good day for many, although Prasad’s victory by 14-minutes pushed all the percentage times down. Manny posts an impressive PB of 2:28 (and second M40), just ahead of Iain Stewart (2:31). James is third Westie home, in 3:09, then Murdo (3:20, first M50!) followed shortly after by David Aikin (3:33) and Alasdair Duke (3:36) before I brought up the tail.
After soaking my legs and a ritual immersion in the Balvag, I enjoy some late afternoon sunshine with a satisfying feeling of tiredness. It may be excessively marked and marshalled, but Stuc is still a great race.