Stitches, scratches, and bruises were the order of the day on Arran this year, but I was one of the few lucky goats that never fell.
I was determined to take part this year with my dodgy calf after having to pull out last year so despite only a 15min treadmill run the previous day under my belt I joined the other 80+ runners on the start-line. It was good to chat with a few familiar faces (having been out for a while) and a few not-so-familiar faces as ex-slaccie Drew Sharkey and his mate (current slaccie Ewan Calvert) appeared infront of me on in the queue. They'd been down on holiday, seen the race and thought they'd give it a go - brave enough for hardened hill runners, but Drew's first and last appearance on a hill race had been on leg2 for our Standard Life team on the Devils Burdens many years ago, and Ewan had not yet been tempted!
As the race started we toddled off along the road and I stuck back in the pack enjoying the banter. I left the fast guys fight it out to see if any of them could replicate last weeks visting American and give Brian Marshall a run for his money. Soon (well, after 12 minutes) we left the tarmac and headed up into the woods and onto the Goatfell track proper. I never saw who was up the front but Brian had the likes of Al Anthony and Kenny Richmond for company so the pace wasn't going to be easy.
Before I even reached the edge of the woods I could feel my calf tightening up so eased off a wee bit to let Des Crowe and Russell Anderson drift off ahead and Adam Anderson and a few others passed me. By the time I'd reached the open hill I'd come to terms with my calf and managed to get back to tracking Russell and Des.
The mist had come down to about 2000ft by this time so even if you could take you eyes off the path for minute you couldn't see very far in front and the first idea of who was leading was when the descending Kenny Richmond's Bellahouston vest came past, followed a minute of two later by Brian Marshall. There may have been others in between but by this time the path was weaving through the boulders, and just as I got near the flat bit before the final, loose, climb Drew came past (4th to the top is not bad going for an ex-steeplechaser who's last hill race was in 1999). Paul Ritchie and Steven Fallon were battling it out for the honour of first Carnethy in their first Goatfell, and Steven flew passed me down the loose clamber as I was making my way up and fumbling in my bumbag for the neurofen gel for my calf.
Just as I topped out the weather took a turn for the worse and I turned and headed into the wind and rain.
It wasn't long before Adam came flying past on one of his trademark Goatfell descents, I was taking it quite easy as the pounding wasn't helping my calf any but I put a bit of effort in as I heard someone closing me in. Only for a short while though before I let him go and soon after we dropped below the cloud level and into some views.
Only problem is that you can't take your eyes off the path for a second and as I reached the lower level marshalls they shouted a warning about an injured runner on the path round the corner. When I got round the corner the course was clear but by the time I'd got to the footbridge over the river I caught up with a limping Des Crowe. Apparently he was on the island for a stag-weekend but I don't think this was the sair heid he'd been expecting - a bashed nose and a nasty graze on his thigh after tripping and headbutting Arran's finest granite.
His accident was one of a triple pile up at the corner though - he'd been distracted by the previous one, and somewhere in there managed to bring down Adam too.
Sure enough not much further down was the limping red vest and bandaged head belonging to the first faller Steven Fallon. Looking like something out of a war movie, this was not the debut Goatfell race he'd been hoping for and he had managed to take a flier. At his descending speed the results were pretty impressive, with various grazes, gashes and bruises across his head and legs, but fortunately it appeared to be mostly surface damage with no breakages or dislocations.
As we came to the end of the woods I noticed I was getting closed down, so crossed my fingers and hoped the calf would hold out for the tarmac run-in. Fortunately it did, and as I'd not been pushing as hard as I probably should have been earlier had enough energy left hold my current place and even managed to get back the youngster who'd flown past me earlier on the open hillside.
At the sharp end a lightly grazed Kenny Richmond managed to hold off an unscratched Brian Marshall and lead Bellahouston to the team prize as well them scooping the MV40 (Andy Birnie) and first lady (Emma Birnie) prizes. Shettleston's Ian Butler held off Al Anthony and Drew (I hate descending) Sharkey managed to hold on to 6th place behind the Andy Birnie.
First Carnethy home honours went to Paul Ritchie who was 11th, just in front of 1st M50 Russell Anderson with Adam and myself following in 13th and 14th. Steven limped in 5 minutes later before being whisked off to Lamlash hospital to get his chin stitched up, Des took up the offer of a lift back along the tarmac.
I've put 2 or 3 photos on my flickr site
Blood shed over Goatfell
Some folk just want a ride in a helicopter like Jon. But with no dislocated elbows and only blood and stitches, all they were offered was a lift in the mountain rescue landrover. Shame. There are two rules in this hill race, one is "don't take your eyes off the path" and two, "concentrate on your footwork". Luckily for the Carnethy girls - Joanne Anderson, Debbie Monteith and Kate Friend we finished blood-free, with a rare (won't happen again) treat for me being first LV40! 81 runners set off for the top of Goatfell which sat in mist this year and felt very wintery, however once on the return out of the cloud the sun soon warmed you up and you began to wonder why you were wearing a thermal. The great thing about this wee race are the sandwiches, cakes and hot tea at the end! Many thanks to the organizers.