Harry, Matt Jones, Charlotte, John Hammond and I took to the Ochils for the Dollar Hill Race on Saturday. The weather was bright, with showers, but warm enough to run with a vest despite the odd splash of rain. The route was a typical Ochils run – runnable hills once you’re actually on them, but getting onto them is usually a painful process. A quick headcount, kit check, and we were off along the road to Dollar Glen, John taking his position near the front of the pack. Harry, Charlotte and I not too far back, and Matt just behind. Ascending through the glen, we pop out of the trees and onto the hillside for the main climbing event: an unmarked trudge up the very steep tussocky section of Saddle Hill. Blurgh! I’m rubbish at this, and can only watch others stream past and hope that the summit comes quickly. It doesn’t. No matter, once onto the more runnable sections I try to reclaim some ground on Harry and Charlotte. Three hills come and go, and I’m still no closer to catching them, but finally make some ground on the second-to-last hill of Andrew Gannell. I get ahead slightly, but Charlotte has other ideas and bounds past on the descent to Kings Seat. Yet more slogging up the hill to catch her, getting ahead again albeit briefly.
Finally the summit of King’s Seat, comes into view. I congratulate myself on a race almost done, but it’s not quite that simple. It’s the last hill, sure enough, but the descent goes on forever, looking at my GPS afterwards I see that almost a third of the race remains after the summit – it’s a loooong descent. Charlotte skips by, lighter than air, making my previous slog seem utterly futile, while I continue my wobbling trudge down the hill. Not long after Grant Baxter of Ochils does the same, he’s certainly the better hillrunner having topped the tough climb before me and is flying down the long descent, but there’s still around half a mile of flat tarmac ahead before the finish. It’s sad to say that my hillrunning strengths are limited to short stretches of flat tarmac, but you can only play the cards you’re dealt, so I managed to sneak ahead to claim a better position in the queue for the cakes. John was 4th, Charlotte was first lady and 8th overall, I was 9th, Harry was 3rd Vet50 in 13th overall, Matt was 28th and 2nd fastest Jones. The 1st Jones, and overall winner, was Kristian Jones of Dark Peak, who romped round the course finishing around 7mins clear of 2nd placed Kenny Richmond.
Excellent race, great cakes at the finish – many thanks to the marshals and organisers!