Meall a Bhuachaille Race
Saturday 17th November
Report by Keith Burns

A vile forecast was ignored by the Loch Morlich weather. It was breezy, not too cold, and dry on the start line. A pity there was no snow on the ridge. It always enhances this race. An earlier reccy at 2300ft suggested it was going to be very windy up high – and it was. The Carnethy team of Joan and Colin Wilson, Steven Fallon, JBF and Keith Burns had a brief tactical chat, and rejected close packing as unrealistic. So we each pondered our separate strategies for this very tactical course.

The start merits a dash to get a good place before you leave the Ryvoan track for the steep narrow mud strip up through the forest. By the time we emerged onto the bouldery slopes of the south ridge of Meall we were being battered by a strong SW wind. MV60 Dougie Milligan was now well away and beyond reach. I gave up hope of repeating my flukey victory over him at Manor Water. I was passed by Tom Bowie; another contender amongst the MV60 gang. Tom looked as though he was going to get his revenge for my marginally faster run at Tinto.

By the time we reached the summit cairn, he was about 5 yards clear. We turned into the wind and staggered down towards the bealach swopping places as we struggled to avoid being blown off the track. A brief slide set me back a bit but I recovered and caught Tom again at the bealach. As soon as we started climbing Creagan Gorm he passed me again and slowly pulled ahead. I needed to keep him within striking distance for the rough descent through the deep heather on the south ridge of Creagan Gorm. At the summit I had another gap of 5 yards or so to make up. I needed to convert this into a substantial lead in the rough if I was to hold him off later on the fast descent through the forest.

The minor course diversion (to take us away from new planting) helped my plan through the heather because there were fewer hidden boulders than the older line. I pulled out a reasonable lead but wasn’t sure whether it was enough credit in the bank for the last climb up the forest road from the reindeer house, where he was bound to close on me. With Tom leaping across the last few yards of deep heather in pursuit, I shot off down the forest track.

I had a good re-ascent up the forest road from the reindeer house and hadn’t felt the need to look back. Just before the final slide down the muddy groove I had a quick check behind to confirm I could relax.
He was back again! – 10 yards behind. He had been closing on me all the way from the reindeer house. I sped down the muddy groove like a shit off a shovel and hit the Ryvoan track with a real sense of urgency. Tom’s Fife supporters made it very clear he was close. The last decision was whether to go for the main path or the short root-strewn sneaky track before the lodge grounds that avoids about 2 meters of re-ascent. I went for the roots and managed to get home with my lead. Dougie was well home and rested. I never got within sight of him. Dan Whitehead won, along with Claire in the women’s race. Steven was up with the leaders at 9th; JBF was 61st; KB 73rd; and Colin and Joan followed me five minutes apart in 84th and 106th – out of 141 starters. Colin and Joan clocked up yet another race in their wedding anniversary celebration streak.

The familiar presence of Dick Amour was greatly missed at this fine race. He was so much a part of it, and was gone forever, a very sad loss to Highland Hill Runners and us all.

Later, we dined and danced at the SHR Do at Badaguish and enjoyed the traditional wind-down to a good season. Thanks SHR.

Race Results


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