Sunday, 10 May 2009

A Boot in the Trossachs

Last weekend it was up to the Trossachs for the Stuc a' Chroin hill race definitely my favourite hill race. It has special memories for me since it was my very first hill race back in 1998. I was convinced, by a few hillwalking mates who had dipped their toes into the mysterious world of going-up-hills-even-faster-in-a-competitive-manner, that it would be a good idea to just turn-up in my road shoes with a bum-bag borrowed from my Dad which he got so he wouldn't look like a tourist whilst on holiday in the USA. It was a lovely sunny day, as it always is for the Stuc, I remember the summit never coming, then when it did, wondering how I was going to get back down. I remember losing any power left in my legs just before the last chin-scraping climb and fighting off cramp all the way up it, then getting to the top of the two mile track to the finish and being in such pain all the way down. When I got home I felt too ill to eat and went straight to bed. I've been hooked ever since.

So for the 11th year, (I missed one due to a dislocated shoulder) with a car full of eager Hillbillies, I was battling back up through Callandar, fighting my way through the cars filled with excited bank holiday-ers on the hunt for the Trossachs' best bargain tartan blanket and matching fridge magnet. This years journey was without incident, unlike last year when I was spectacularly pulled over in the main street packed with thimble hunters after stopping about 5 miles south of Callander and taking a slash in a bush. Sherlock Holmes read me the riot act whilst blocking all traffic heading north and probably caused fridge magnet sales to hit an all-time low for a good ten minutes, it's reassuring to know they're on the ball though.

We quickly registered, picked up our souvenir mugs and got ourselves to the start line. It was a huge field this year because the race was included in the British Championship, there was runners from all over the UK here and I saw a few familiar faces like IainR who had ran the Fling last week too. Once we got going I took the pace nice and easy until the track levelled out then I tried to push on a bit to get a decent spot before the field narrowed into single file for some of the climbs. The 1500 foot climb up Ben Each was as hard as always with everyone nose to tail climbing up through the rough heather then when it eventually levels out a bit the legs are so thrashed it's hard to get some running rythmn going again. I felt fine on the climbs but I really lacked strength on the descents and my brain seemed to be lagging a bit behind my legs today which wasn't good with such tricky terrain to negotiate. I made sure I took on water each time I passed the marshalls because it was quite warm and I was sweating buckets. Up to the summit then a big effort to hold it together on the descent to Glen Ample before the chin-scraping, quad busting climb back up again. As I hit the track I could see I was catching fellow Carnegie clubmate Pete so I pushed on and passed him and made the finish-line with about 100 yards on Pete, but missing a pb by a mere 16 seconds.

We were both trashed at the end with Pete writhing around on the ground with cramp, so the only cure was 10 minutes sitting in the freezing river. The Hillbillies came down too but thought the river was for washing in and just looked at me strangely as I sat submerged talking of the therapeutic benefits I would be reaping in the morning....

1 comment:

Brian Mc said...

Great report and good run.

Thanks for UTMB DVD btw. Still to watch it - planning for this weekend.