Monday, 6 May 2019

Stuc a’ Chroin 2019

‘Stuc’ is seen as one of the badder hill runs out there. Not because of its 13.5 miles – it’s the ascents and descents that does you in – just under 5000 feet of them. The after effects of the quad crushing downhills can last for days and many find themselves wandering around like kneeless Frankensteins - until the DOMS have departed.

My journey to Strathyre was planned with a spare hour at the village to get ready and warm up. Heavy traffic south of Stirling cut this to 7 minutes to change, register and get to the start. I made it…. as the 3-2-1 was announced, I joined the back of the pack. 

There is a 2 mile (850ft) climb on forest road before getting off on to the rough stuff. And it is rough! Between Meall Mor and Creag a’ Mhadaidh is tussock and mush and it takes an effort not to have your shoulder removed by the deer fence on the left.

Soon the big drop into Glen Ample is underway and the first of the quad testers is over - then haul yourself up the 1400 ft to Beinn Each – deep rooted heather comes in handy here.

From the top of Beinn Each, through Bealach nan Cabar, to the top of Stuc a’ Chroin, there is some fairly treacherous terrain – easy to misjudge - and end up with a major skelp on the rocks.

The top is a welcome sight and I take advantage of the jelly babies and water on offer from the marshals (big part of this run is the numerous marshalled water stations, chocolate and jelly babies!)

Cheeks full jellies, I am off on the return to Strathyre amidst a refreshing hail shower. It’s around 2000 feet of a drop to the valley of Glen Ample, and with quads screaming, it’s time to consider the 600ft climb out of the glen. 

Surprisingly no cramp on this section and I manage to keep a constant pace over the top. I have 4 runners just in front and by the fire road I have moved past them.

I know the forest track is a good downhill section and keep a steady pace on this picking up another 8 or so places. 

Final steep thrash along with a Carnethy runner - with 30 feet to go, I try to take the inside line on a steep banking – no grip, slip, hip hits ground, I rebound and cross the line 54 minutes up on my first attempt in 2016 (Roll on 2023!)

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