Being fairly close by at the weekend I decided to pitch up for this low key event in the Angus countryside (when I say close by, it was an hour’s drive each way!). The turnout for this year’s race was down on last year as it again suffered from a Scottish and British Championship race being held the next day, in Dollar. However, myself and another 38 racers turned out on a fine evening for racing to enjoy (endure?) both the race and the food afterwards. This was a Dundee Hawks–organised event but their turnout was eclipsed by both Dundee Road Runners and Forfar Road Runners who between them went home with most of the prizes. Indeed looking at the runners beforehand and the terrain (it’s a BM, the route is 6.3miles (6.7 for me!) and the climb is modest at 360m) mainly over paths, tracks and some open grassland, I knew that there wouldn’t be enough climb and rough stuff to handicap the fast road boys.
The race starts straight into a tarmac climb, leading into the hills and it’s probably about 2 miles before you get some respite. Thereafter it’s a series of undulations with wet bog thrown in, but mainly runnable. After 4.5 miles the main descent begins and this is where it went awry for me. I was sitting with a group of 4 runners and we were fairly well placed but blew it here as we took a wrong turning for a while and then had to stop and run back up a hill to join the correct route as we watched several other runners sweep past ahead of us. If it wasn’t for a couple of walkers telling us that we had gone wrong, then we probably would have happily carried on until we arrived somewhere unknown. As I continuously keep proving to my own frustration – if it’s possible to take a wrong turn I invariably do it – but some tape blocking this wayward path wouldn’t have gone amiss here. The runner leading the race at this section, George Foster of Ambleside, did the same, but not as badly, which allowed Brian Bonnyman of Westies to overtake him. They had a bit of a tussle before the end with Brian eventually overtaking him for the win in 46.21. I tried to regroup and get down from here as quickly as possible, but we had already been overtaken by a few at this point, and the order of the group of 4 (I was second) was reversed going back up again so I lost 2 more places here to finally finish 16th, sprinting to overtake David Duncan of Ochils near the finish (obviously having 415 races on the SHR register pretty much means you don’t get lost anymore!).
All was soothed with the magnificent spread on offer afterwards (hot cheese and onion pasties!) and general good banter. Interestingly, I got chatting to George Foster of Ambleside afterwards (wondering what he was doing in the badlands of Angus, so far from home) and it turns out he is in my Dad’s old artillery regiment (attached to 45 Commando, Royal Marines) based in Arbroath. Given he was a very decent runner I asked him how good he was in Army terms and he replied: Nowhere near the Army athletics team, on the cusp of the Cross Country team and there isn’t currently an Army fell running team.
A decent enough race worth doing if you’re nearby but maybe not worth traveling 2 hours to do.
Results here: white_tops_2014_results.pdf