The week I joined the Westies, Gregor sent out a link to these nice prints. Can’t have a print unless you’ve run the race so my well-laid, best-made plan was to run Arrochar as my Scottish Champs long counter and then see out 2019 running the odd short race and watching faster, fitter Westie Women do the legwork for our attempt at the Scottish Champs team prize. I recce’d and trained and studied my map but, terrified of both steep descents and thunder, my race performance was poor.
With the faster, fitter ladies wheeling out the excuses (getting married soon? bike polo injury? living in France? marshaling so the race can go ahead!?) and a competitive niggle in my brain that I might be able improve my Champs standing in a more runnable race, it was off to Traquair House for me.
With a set of splits devised by Kerry for a 4:30 finish time scrawled on my hand, I set off in a crowd of Westies (and some other clubs) for a sociable first couple of miles. Reached Birkscairn Hill right on target and promptly surrendered a few places on the heathery descent. Ate an orange Club on the way up Hundleshope, caught up with Andrew Fullwood and cursed the contouring to Stob Law. Running down to Glenrath, Fife AC runner Hilary skipped merrily past. Caught her at the checkpoint and we stayed close for the next section. Found the firebreak up to the gummy spider aid station, got told off by Ali Boyer for chatting and enjoyed the descent to Stobo.
Wasn’t too worried about Trahenna (I like uphill) but I should have been. After some debate, Hilary and I took a poor line over some rough ground. Strava analysis indicates this cost us 5 precious minutes but there’s consolation to be had in that loads of people followed us and JD didn’t catch me up. More grim contouring, during which Hilary activated her skipping mode again and sped off to the finish line. Fell over a few times on the final descent, told a poor tired man-runner off for faffing with a gate and grinned for some photos on the final road section. Crossed the line five minutes ahead of schedule and got a beer. Brilliant.
An unexpected side effect of my lovely day out was winning the Elsie Baxter trophy for being the first Westie Women to cross the line. I didn’t know Elsie but I do know that she was a very good friend to many current Westies; I particularly enjoyed these race reports from Manny & Cat.