“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain and I’ve seen sunny
days that I thought would never end”—as James Taylor would have it—but
in a single weekend on Skye?
Aye, all of that and plenty more besides in this year’s memorable David Shepherd
Memorial Glamaig Hill Race.
It is all in the day, of course: 22 degrees of
heat, gentle zephyrs, the whole of the Western Isles in a chiaroscuro
of silver seas, robin’s
egg blue skies
and the occasional white, fluffy cloud and not a midge in sight. The only
problem was that was the day before the race and not the race day
itself. On race day,
the hill was initially in cloud which had burned off by 11:00 and looked
to be heading for a repeat of the day before as the temperature
rose but as I talked
to Sandy and Alison as they basked in the sun outside the Sligachan Hotel
and Sandy commented on how we were lucky with the weather again,
echoes of my old
heilan’ Granny came to the fore and I found my self saying a cautious,
“so far” for although the sky was blue I could smell rain.
one of the few hill races where you can see 90% of the action from
the start / finish and so only the section where the
runners leave the
taped. Just as well because just as I finished marking the early part
of the course big drops of rain started to fall and as I made it back
the heavens opened and sheets of rain swept over the island.
Throughout registration, it tipped down with the odd flash of lightning—nature’s
fire—to add drama but this didn’t put off the 105 hardy entrants who
lined up at the start— including Kaare Andersen who saw the race on TV
Germany to take part; 11 lads from RGS Guildford school in London who
had climbed the In Pin the day before and thought the race would round
and Martyna Bizdra on holiday from Poland who was looking for excitement.
Otherwise, it was the usual suspects with a smattering of new faces from
far and wide and
17 locals up for the challenge and the opportunity to take part in the
best value hill race in the calendar.
The debate—as always—was as to whether Brian Marshall could
notch up another consecutive win (taking it to an incredible 9 in a row)
Andy Fallas—one of nine of host club Carnethy’s runners taking part
take the title
in his first crack at the race.
From the off Brian and Andy were ahead with a small pack
of about a dozen chasing their heels whilst the rest of the pack were
colourful line across
the wet and muddy bog. For a moment the leaders dropped out of sight
and when they reappeared Andy was in the lead. Mercifully, the rain
stayed off briefly
to allow the sizeable crowd of spectators to watch the ribbon of
runners snake up the steep slopes.
On the final part of the ascent the runners disappear from
view but Matthew our local marshal on top was there to relay each runner’s
the top back
to Sandy on the PA system—and Andy Fallas was first to the top!
Brian lost his crown?
The runners choose myriad routes down off the actual hill and then
over the boggy moorland, so its hard for the crowd to keep track
on, so there was lots of excited scanning of the horizon—through
the recurring rain showers—to see who would appear on the moor
it be Andy
or Brian, or perhaps the consistent Alan Smith might steal a march
on them both. A runner
in a red vest appeared which wasn’t helpful as both Carnethy and
HELP’s vests are predominately red but the long-striding, loping,
style gave it
away—it was Brian on his way to his 9th consecutive victory in
51:54 as well as 1st MV40!
Andy stormed into the finish a mere minute and a half later to
take second in 54:21 and Deeside’s Alan Smith finished a strong
and 1st MV50
just over half a minute behind, followed closely by Francis Shepherd
in fourth and first local in 55:40. Alex Brett swept in at 1:16
to take the
position. Another incredibly close race.
A strong run by Lochaber’s Amanda Blackhall saw her finish
as 1st woman and 1st FV40 in 1:11, with Cosmic’s Liz Delaney and Lochaber’s
and third respectively. Elaine Stewart from Cosmic finished
FV50 in 1:26.
But the dramas of the race were far from over. Whilst the
individual drama of each run enfolded (or unravelled) we had reports
two casualties out
hill, both victims of tumbles on the scree. First, Tark Gunn
on the long scree with a dislocated shoulder and then Colin
scree with a
crocked ankle, gashed leg and “otherwise bloodied” according
the reports. As a race organiser your first thought is to
gear up and
get out there
but it’s not sensible with lots of other competitors out
on the hill whose safety
also have to ensure. So, for the first time in the race’s
23 year history we called out the Police, the Local Mountain Rescue
under-threat) RAF Lossiemouth who arranged to scramble a
helicopter from Stornoway. “Fantastic”,
a spectator said although I had a somewhat different view.
So juggling with helping with marshalling, the results and
finish whilst liaising with Police and MRT on the ground
and RAF Lossiemouth
the rest of the
race is a bit of a blur to me but thankfully both casualties
managed to walk out and finish the race and allow me to
call off the rescue.
that both runners were in, it was a great feat of endurance.
105 finishers … but no! We still had one runner out there,
our Polish competitor Martyna.
We could see no sign of her on the moor and we waited anxiously,
especially when Matthew our summit marshal arrived who
had seen her at the top
but not since.
Maybe I’d need to go out on the hill after all?
At last a figure was seen meandering over the moor and
Martyna ran along the road to the finish. Far from
being in any distress
at her completion
of the race but realises she’s got to do a lot more
training before she returns next year as she’s vowed to do.
My thanks to Alex Brett and Jean Bowman for assisting
the casualties. My thanks too to all who marshalled
lot longer than
they thought), to all at the
Sligachan Hotel for their support and to the rescue
services who understood the rationale and risks of
and finally to those at Broadford
who treated the injured parties.
The post-race meal and ceilidh, conversation and
conviviality were as usual superb. Mol an latha
math mu odhche.