With the 3rd race in the Scottish Hill Running Championships at an action packed An Teallach (AT) already haven taken place, it seems a little late in the day to be filing a report on the 2nd race in the series. In comparison to AT this was a relatively routine affair…I refer to Alastair Pringle’s excellent race report on this website…however, the Alps race is anything but regulation. The route is one of the toughest in the calendar managing to squeeze 4 Munros and 2,400m of ascent into 25k of rough open hillside and can be a navigational challenge even in favourable conditions. Just ask Walter?
By the time the circa 150 runners had been served up like an ‘eat all you can buffet’ at the start line to the expectant midgie hordes the weather forecast had fulfilled all expectations. It was hot and sticky with the hillsides shrouded in cloud and the expectation of thunder and lightning later in the day still to come. Despite all of this it was a relive to finally get underway with what flesh we still had attached to our bones!
The first 6-7k is relatively fast and pleasant over undulating path to the foot of the first hill Ben Vorlich. That’s where the fun ends really, Vorlich is steep, very steep and the descent from the top to the Loch Sloy dam is even steeper…bum sliding steep! Once over the dam it’s all relentless slog up and down 2 more relatively indistinct Munros, Ben Vane and Ben Ime before the almost enjoyable and fast (if your legs haven’t fallen off?!) decent towards the final climb up Ben Narnain.
Despite the not inconsiderable challenges, all of the Shett contingent of 9 men made it back to the finish line at Succoth relatively unscathed. There were a few minor navigational errors but unusually it was the race winner, Finlay Wild of Lochaber AC who seems to have had the most interesting journey straying off line on 2 occasions. It is testament to the world class athlete in that he still only just missed out on a course record by 20secs finishing in 3.07.39. Angela Mudge of Carnethy was first lady in 25th place overall in 4.07.14.
From a Shettleston perspective, it seems to be shaping up as a year for the old boys…Jethro Lennox had an excellent run finishing first Shett in 5th place overall and 1st vet 40 (3.29) and did his ambitions for vet 40 champion no harm. He was closely followed by Kenny Richmond in 8th and 1st vet 50 (3.37) who likewise, full of smiles, seems to be on course for the Vet 50 title.
Jethro and Kenny were both speedy enough to miss the thunderstorm that duly transpired which made for interesting conditions on the tops! John Connaghan managed to squeeze under the benchmark 4 hour time in 13th and 2nd vet 40 in 3.57 with Peter Mackie (21st) and Bill Breckenridge (22nd)the wrong side of the mark in 4.05 (seen below trying to out run the lightning).
The only senior athlete competing for the club on the day, Ross Cruickshanks (cover shot) was next home in 34th place, 4.18. Course veteran Walter Henderson finished in 49th (4.35) followed by Alastair Pringle (56th, 4.44) who pipped, Steve Winter to the line after a late bout of cramp (58th, 4.46).
Despite the lack of senior athletes, Shettleston are still placed strongly in the team championship category’s after 2 races. As usual it is neck and neck with Carnethy, both clubs equal 1st in the male seniors and vets, although this can all change once the results from An Teallach are correlated.
The 4th race in the series is almost upon us with another trip up the A9 on the 3rd August to the Newtonmore Highland Games. The Creag Dubh Hill Race is also a counter in the British Champs. It’s short, technical and tight…it should be mayhem!
Full Arrochar Alps results can be found here: http://www.scottishhillracing.co.uk/RaceResults.aspx?RaceID=RA-0202&RaceYear=2019
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