Thursday, 16 May 2019

Adam Hayward at Dumyat Hill Race – Weds 8th May

Dumyat is not the steepest hill, nor the highest, nor even the most scenic, but it’ll always hold a special place in the hill running calendar for me. Dumyat, which overlooks the University of Stirling campus at the westernmost end of the Ochils, was the first hill I ever ran up. The first time I visited my partner in Stirling, where she was finishing her PhD, she pointed out this hill and said that folk used to run up it at lunchtime. Madness, I thought. Nevertheless, up we went one evening, and although we didn’t keep running all the way up, I was enjoying the descent until I slipped on a wet wooden bridge and fell on my backside: it turns out my Nikes weren’t going to cut it. But my goodness, it was fun. A few months later I moved to Stirling myself, bought some Inov-8s, and Dumyat became a semi-regular lunchtime run. I became one of those people that colleagues shook their heads pityingly at when I returned to the office muddied and sweaty.

I haven’t run Dumyat since I moved to Peebles almost a year ago, so how could I resist doing the race for the first time since 2016? The drive up from work didn’t fill me with optimism – rain lashed at the windscreen and the thermometer read 5 degrees – but by the start the rain had abated and like many people I was feeling happy enough to run in a vest, which for the first time was blue and red! Having learned my lesson from previous years that there was a risk of a severe risk of a bottleneck at the start, I probably went off too hard, but it meant things weren’t too congested as we slogged up the hill. The additional of a proper, hard-packed path to parts of the hill has possibly made route choices easier, although it did take away some of the fun of the descent, and put folk still on their way up of severe risk of being bowled over by a flying descender.

It’s a great run. The gradient is such that it’s very runnable most of the way up and absolutely fantastic to descend. I’d set myself a target of 40 minutes – with a previous PB of just over 42 set in 2016 before I joined the Ochil Hill Runners – and although I ended up with a slightly frustrating 40:01 I felt I’d had a pretty good run of it. That was good enough for 36th out of 360 runners, but still over 7 minutes slower than the winner, Sasha Chepelin, who has already won a hatful of races this year. Last time I did the race it was a fiver; this year it was £12, which got you a not-very-good t-shirt and some disgusting stovies back at the finish. The University seems to have decided that if there aren’t t-shirts, a sound system and an inflatable arch to mark the finish it just isn’t an ‘event’. Four years of hill racing and it seems I’m already turning into a grumpy old sod.

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