A classic in the making.
It was a select (read “elite”) group of runners who turned up on this sunny Saturday morning to see what all the fuss was about with this new race “the Barck”, that everyone’s been talking about. And select is how it should be – you don’t want hordes of runners spoiling what is an absolute cracker of a race. There’s been talk alot of the “brutal climb” and “hellish descent”, compounded by Stanley’s very graphic description of the race route with mention of things like the bum-slide gully – “but don’t slide on your bum because there are big rocks the whole way down…”. Only one way to find out if there’s any truth to all this hype – don the fell shoes and away to go.
I have to confess I’ve been up the Brack a couple of times before, so I had a fair idea of what was in store. There’s a mile of forestry track (mainly uphill, much to my dismay), but after that it really is a brutal climb, hands and knee job for large parts, all the way to the summit. So I sprinted off to make the most of the mile, but was surprised to find James and a guy (Rob?) from Durham right on my tail for most of the track section. Then it’s just head down and pump those legs until you get to the top. Stanley had flagged the top section, but I soon lost sight of any flags. Not a problem – it was crystal clear which way was up, so I just pressed on. Off the summit you head for a small Lochan. Rubbish route choices here meant that I had to essentially do a whole lap of the Lochan, but the running was good so no prob. This continued for a while, before we hit the tourist path again and it was simply a case of get yourself down through the rocks and tussocks ASAP. Of course, I’m crap at this kind of technical descent, and I was aware that someone was making good progress behind, getting closer and closer. No surprises that this turned out to be Alan Smith, gliding down the hill as usual. Thankfully we hit the forest track just before he got me, so I could put in a burst of speed to finish in first place (as you can imagine, that last mile on the track is hell, after the long descent).
A great selection of cakes awaited us at the finish, looks as though the residence of Arrochar have been baking solid all week. On top of this, a table full (literally!) of beer as prizes. Westies did our share of helping rid Stanley of all this beer, which Val getting first lady, Brian getting V60 and the men getting the team prize (James, Brian and myself) (apologies if I missed someone here).
Fantastic short and (very) sharp race, which has the makings of a real classic – long may it continue!