It was a great day for the race – lots of sunshine, a wee breeze and great views. First time I’ve done the new route and really enjoyed it, but then I’ve always enjoyed this race and the route tweaking seems to make it better each time. Realised that this year is the first time I’d done the race for a few years, which means I’ve probably not had my descending cycling shorts on since then. Luckily they still fit. Dodgy calf meant I’d taken the first track section pretty gingerly, losing all the places I’d gained by sticking myself near the front of the race on the narrow singletrack at the start. As we passed the leaders on the way to East Lomond I noticed that James Waldie was having a good scrap with Scott Fraser, with some impressive gate-louping skills on show as well. Pity he turned his ankle later on.
The new (to me) sheep-trod westward from maiden castle was quite enjoyable, well it was for Neil B and myself – think some of the others had different words for it. Bumslide off West was in fine condition, perhaps a little damper would have helped some of the heat build up in the lycra but my steering gloves worked a treat (just as well I had my full body cover).
Back at the hall it was good to see the Lomies managing keep up the fine North of the Bridge tradition of copious tea and cakes. With the results finally out it turns out that this was my best %age of the year on Scottish hill racing, so maybe there is something in this ‘starting easy’ lark.
Sunday was my first outing on the Lomonds of Fife hill race. I have decided that after Stuc a Chroin earlier this year that I am much more suited to shorter hill races but as I am on a mission to get my SHR mug this year I have to get round the Pentland Skyline in October so I thought that I should start running for more than my usual 2 hour limit.
It was a beautiful day and I think this brought out a lot more runners than expected so there was a bit of a queue to sign up with less than half an hour to go. As my mum lives along the road in Auchtermuchty Euan and I had got there early so wandered up to the start and munched away at the hundreds of blueberries in the forest. Several other Carnethies joined us and we set off a little late.
The first half of the race takes you up the East Lomond and is a mix of trail, fire road and a short ascent up the East Lomond and then back down again. I felt good at this point and it was good to see who the leaders were as they shot back down the East Lomond. James Waldie was in the first two and Iain Gilmore 4th at this point I think.
Past the water station at the start of the long drag towards the West Lomond. I was glad of the water as it really was hot and the wind was definitely contributing to increasing thirst. The Marshall asked how I was getting on and I said I felt fine but would let him know after the second half… he promptly told me there was still 60% to go!!!
The singletrack along the side of the West Lomond is pretty hard going (I think) and you need to watch you don’t turn your ankle. I was slowing up at this point and Gina came past me and kept going followed promptly by Mike Lynch’s wife. Then there is a very steep ascent up a gulley and the last pull up to the West Lomond summit. I was very glad to stop and help a fellow runner who had severe cramp and could not keep going… particularly as Lorna Ascroft was close behind and about to pass at any point…
One I had administered some medical attention, and increased my SHR percentage to an even bigger number, I had to continue on.
The best part of this race is the unbelievably steep grassy slope off the side of the West Lomond down to the impressive Bunnet Stane, where there is also the Maiden’s Bower (apparently some girl lived there and became a saint after her boyfriend was killed by her disapproving father…..).
Wearing the wrong shorts (I reckon leggings would be slippier and less likely to give you a wedgy!!!) I mostly slid down this hill trying to avoid the clumps of very jaggy thistles.
Round the Bunnet stane and then back up to the spring where my legs had lost all ability to run. Feeling very thirsty I was glad to accept a slosh of water from the Marshall
I was going to head straight down at this point and then along the bottom path rather than traverse along a very narrow path. Thirst and tiredness affected my decision making skills and I ended up in no-man’s land somewhere between 2 trods and lost ground on those sensible enough to stick to the traversing path.
Managed to get back to the trail in the forest after kneeing a very sharp stone sticking up in the path… ouch!! Then an easy trail run back to the start and a very welcome drink of water. Most people had finished but Euan had kindly waited for me and we headed back for a great spread of cakes, tea and more juice!!!
Not entirely sure of results… think James turned his ankle so ended up 6th and Iain was 3rd or 4th.
Great race on a beautiful day with great views of the Howe of Fife … just need to be fitter and do longer training runs. Thanks to Fife AC for organising… any chance someone could lug a crate of water up the West Lomond next year??!!
Thanks to Alistair Cox for Lomonds of Fife photos here