Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Stuc a'Chroin 2013 - Moorfoot Survivor

I had been running at the Stuc a' Chroin Hill Race. It was a Scottish Championship counter this year so a big field of 206 had entered. I left home in warm, sunshine but the forecast was for cloud and showers in the Trossachs. A heavy shower before the start had some runners nipping back to their cars for extra waterproofs, hats, etc.

The first half of the race was great, I was swapping places with Keith, Kenny and Craig from Teviotdale and all doing fine in the slippery conditions. It was probably raining but I didn't particularly notice. I could feel the strengthening wind at our backs going along the ridge from Ben Each to the climb up to the summit of Stuc. On the climb my legs felt pretty sluggish with the cold wind and sleet chilling the muscles and the Hawick boys took off, only to be seen flying downhill as I neared the top. A lack of feeling in my gloved hands told me it was pretty cold and would be much worse when we turned back into the wind.

 It was! I was so cold I could hardly run but I knew I had to keep going or I'd freeze !The marshals around the summit looked frozen too but managed to stay cheerful and were handing out water to all who wanted. On the way back along the ridge the conditions were the toughest I've run in in any hill race. Most of the other runners seemed very cold too and only a few seemed unaffected. Alayne Finlay came skipping down a tricky rocky section as if it was a grassy hillside in summer! I was glad and relieved to reach the point where we turned down into Glen Ample.

This part of the route was really slippery and most folk fall quite a lot. As someone overtaking me joked, it was great fun, just like being drunk but without the hangover! I've always lost places on the long descent into the Glen but this time I lost lots more on the climb back up the other side and on the descent back to the forest. Because of the cold I hadn't felt like drinking so hadn't had any of the juice from my camelback and was short on energy. Realising this and tempting fate, I was thinking that the combination of near-hypothermia and near-hypoglycaemia isn't that bad, when the cramp set in! Oh dear, I wasn't having a good race at all, at all.

 Well, the last part along the forest road was a dawdle and the soup at the finish was the most welcome ever. There was obviously a bit of a drama going on in the organisers tent with four police persons outside and some worried conversations involving summit marshals and mountain rescue teams. It says a lot for the organisers that nearly everyone completed the race and everyone got off the hill safely.


I finished 103rd in 3 hrs 21, almost half an hour slower than my last attempt in 2009! Oh well. Results here:


Cheers.  Russell

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