Last year at Stuc a Chroin 5000 I watched Carnethy walk away with a mega whisky haul by default for being the only club with three women in attendance. So this year I was thrilled that seven Westie wimmin made it to the start… though not without drama en route.
The unfortunate passengers in my car were James & Ella. We left Glasgow with plenty of time for a Mhor pie pit stop and relaxed registration. Unfortunately Transport Scotland decided Saturday morning of the bank holiday weekend would be ideal to reduce the M9 to a single lane. We suddenly hit a gigantic tailback and my heart sank. NO! Was this the curse of the Westie wimmin’s team prize come back to haunt us again!? We were crawling and in a best case scenario would only just reach Strathyre exactly around the start time. F@@@@CK!
I phoned Captain Niall and asked him to please delay the 1pm race start. Niall called back a few minutes later. No joy with delaying the start, but he’d persuaded race desk to let us register in absentia. This was good news. A couple of race numbers would be waiting for us at the start line, even if the rest of the field had already set off.
It was a horribly tense hour in the car, spent refreshing google maps every three minutes. Google’s predicted ETA was consistently 12:56pm.
James nobly sacrificed his own intention to race and took over the driving so that I could get race-ready in the passenger seat.
To try and calm our fraying nerves I put a classical music CD on. Turns out a dramatic Wagner crescendo only cranked up the hysteria in my car. I was physically shaking with anxiety over missing the start. James was screaming “SERENITY NOW!!”. Ella decided it was a good descending tune and began chanting “quick steps quick steps light feet and hop! hop!”. This journey was a good cardio warm-up, if not muscular, my heart was pounding!
James’ best rally driving put us into the village at 12:54. Ella & I sprang out of the car and ran about in an utter tiz-woz looking for numbers and hugging team mates. Just in time for a Westie photo and then we were off! Phew.
It takes guts to race Stuc a Chroin. It is a hard-as slog, no two-ways about it! There were a few atmospheric snowflakes swirling up on the ridge. By the third hour I was a trembly mess. After one huge descent there’s the final kicker hill. I felt so feeble at this point and was surely anybody’s for the over-taking, but luckily no woman appeared on my shoulder and I managed to hang on and cross the line in 3rd.
Soon Ella was home in 5th. Then Michelle Hetherington appeared. So Westies and Carnethy were two a-piece. We were on tenterhooks to see what colour vests were dropping out of the forest. I asked the results guy what system he used to calculate team prizes. He awards to the first club with 3 men/women home, regardless of net times.
Suddenly there was a goldrush! Three westie wimmin crossed the line within three minutes: Alex, Ellie & Mairi in 9th, 10th, 11th. Crushed it. We had five women home. The next woman in 12th place was Carnethy. Kerry was back soon after in 19th, and Luci was 25th. Really impressive effort from all.
Special mentions for:
i) Newcomers Luci & Rob who have not long since joined the club and only done one short hill race prior to stepping up for this monster.
ii) Ellie for winning the 3rd V40 on the back of a few park runs. Still got it.
iii) Anyone who did this on Whangie legs!
Now. Let no Westie say that James Callender did not compete that day. Strathyre village hall ceilidh was the place to be that Saturday night and James won BIG at a game of sliding quids at a whisky bottle.