Ben Dubh feels like a ‘proper’ hill – the views of Loch Lomond, the ridges of the Luss hills around it and, oh yeah, the 2000ft of ascent in a little under 2 miles. For short race it packs a punch. Yet another brilliant Westies turnout – 27 runners plus more than a few marshals, will it go higher next week?
The start of the course had changed, replacing the twisty paths through the woods with a muddy track up to the left. Once you got past that it was the same old unrelenting Ben Dubh. Thanks to the rain it was more treacherous than usual underfoot and I was ruing my shoe choice – my well-loved X-Talons aren’t the best in the mud and I enjoyed a couple of slips and face-plants as a result.
I spent most of the ascent at the back of the top-10 staring at the tattoos on Stuart Crutchfield’s calves. He was <10s in front of me at the top but, as befitting a Lochaber man, he rinsed me on the descent. I lost one place right near the summit but managed to hold my own on the descent, opening up space on the more runnable sections. Andy Jackson from Shettleston caught me at the top gate, I was determined not to be beaten here and busted a gut to stay with him. This seemed to work until I went the wrong way on the final corner had to semi-double-back on myself and lost precious seconds. Brian Marshal passed me on the final slope (no shame in that right?) but I was able to hold off Micky Anderson to finish in 11th place. Given the conditions I was happy with my time, but gutted I lost those two places at the end largely down to my own foolishness.
At the sharp end there was Westies success galore. Sam won the race by a country mile and Gregor came in an impressive third. There was a ladies’ 1-2-3 thanks to Ruth, Sophie & Lorna respectively. Lorna was also 1st FV50 and Gordon took the V60 prize. Amazing results!