David Shepherd Memorial Glamaig Hill Race 2009

A record one hundred and fifteen runners took part in this year's classic, tough little race. For a short race, Glamaig has it all. The race started on a sad note, however, with news that Ian Campbell had finally succumbed after a very lengthy and typically—for Ian—feisty, battle with cancer and died on Monday of race week. Along with David Shepherd, Ian’s family came up with the concept of the race (realised chiefly by Robin Morris) and have supported it strongly since 1988, with Ian not only facilitating the race but also competing several times. With Ian gone, we all struggled with the dichotomy of the past and the present. Following on from the death, in March, also after a long fight with cancer, of the long-term Glamaig marshal Shirley Wishart, it was hard to go on with the race, except we had the knowledge that it was what they both wanted … and so the race did and will go on.

With the hill wrapped in thick cloud up until about half an hour before the race, the mist lifted in time to give a glimpse through my binoculars of Keith Burns arriving at the mullach for his lonely vigil before enshrouding the upper part of the hill again.

From the start Carnegie's Andrew Wright forced the pace to give last year's first and second placers Brian Marshall and Alec Keith a run for their money. With the rest of the field stretched out in their trail, Andrew held the lead as the frontrunners disappeared into the summit cloud. But as a pack of around four tightly packed runners closed on the summit Brian moved into the lead and the rest is history, for less than twenty minutes later Brian stormed across the finish line – having picked up a one and half minute lead - to notch up his seventh consecutive win! Having lost the lead, Andrew was recompensed with second place, half a minute ahead of Alec who picked up third place and first Vet.

As always, a healthy contingent of Carnethy runners travelled up to enjoy the weekend and a mix of old hands (OH) and first timers (FT) had some good runs. Old hand, Steven Fallon just edged out first timer John Mitchell to place 6th and 2nd Vet, although John picked up 7th and the first local trophy. A jubilant Shane Bouchier (FT) breezed in at 31st. Chan eil saoi air nach laigh leòn [1], however, and Andrew Shepherd (OH), David’s brother, crossed the line at 39th with a nasty gash on his arm to join the ranks of a few other scree battered and bloodied competitors. He was quickly followed in by Andy Millard (FT) at 41st. Michael O' Connor (FT) was 56th and Helen Bonsor (FT) was not only 60th but after sorting out a cock-up I'd made in the results – she eventually picked up the prize for second lady. Sorry for getting it wrong initially but congratulations Helen!

Brìgh gach cluiche gu dheireadh [2] and on reflection Glamaig confutes the argument that short races are not worth the journey. It is a race which encompasses a tough, steep ascent, mixed with serious scree descents, a need for some navigation and a variety of route choice out and back and some amazing history. Oh, aye, and in these parlous times, it represents great value for money, especially for Carnethy members who get free entry, but even for those other entrants who only pay £3 for the race, a meal and a drink and with some good craik and a post race ceilidh thrown in too.

Thanks to all the marshals and all the people at the Sligachan Hotel for their unstinting help and support which made it such a good day. Mol an latha math mu oidhche [3].

Nick MacDonald

[1] No hero is proof against injury.
[2] The essence of a game is at its end.
[3] Praise the good day at the close of it.


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