The Scottish Hill Runners and British championships started this month as well as a couple of completions of the West Highland Way. Here are the full reports…

Clachnaben Hill Race

The Scottish Hill Running Championship 2022 kicked off last weekend at Clachnaben on Deeside. with the first of 6 races. Despite a chilly wind on the day conditions were pretty favourable for the 10 Shetts who made the start line for this sell out race organised by Cosmic Hillbashers.

It was a chance to shake off the cobwebs and covid after the long winter season and stake claims for what everyone hopes will be a ‘normal’ year of hill racing! Unfortunately defending SHR champion Joe Symonds missed the race with Covid.

No cobwebs (or Shetts vest!) to be seen on relative new member Dan Dry who powered home in a superb 1st place in 1.08.58 over the 13.4k course. His recent speed on the flat translating seamlessly to the hills. Great effort Dan! Next Shett home was Harry Pulham, followed by Alex Clarkson and Iain Pender completing a strong team performance from the senior men.

Ross, Myrtle, Bill, Matty, Alex, Harry, Iain

Unfortunately, the ladies were short of a full team but characteristically stoic performances from Myrtle and Susan Breckenridge kept the blue and gold flag flying.

Full results here…Scottish Hill Runners :: Results

Round 2 is only just round the corner with the tantalising prospect of the Stuc a’ Chroin hill race on 30th April… 22k & 1500m of pure joy!!

Thanks to Bill Breckenridge for the report

British Championship NI counter – Mourne Seven Sevens

With only one company currently running the Cairnryan – Belfast crossing, logistics were a bit of a ‘mare’, queues at the port were long, crossing with a vehicle was pretty steep for a single traveller, and flights were limited. Luckily, Ballymena local and Westies runner Owen O’Neill was in the know and suggested we’d get the Hannon Coach from Buchanan Street to Belfast’s Donegall Square West which made smooth a potentially hellish trip as ferry was late leaving Belfast and departure from Cairnryan did not take place until well into lunch time.

Arrival in Belfast was celebrated suitably with a pint and then Ulster Bus to Newcastle, co Down. Who doesn’t love a bus adventure?! Town is beautifully well located in the SW of Ulster, and we were graced by what felt very much like a winter crisp evening – cold yet sunny… Good weather remained for the Saturday, but wind had picked up and race director Ricky Cowan warned runners about a  –9 C windchill on the summit of Slieve Donard, so yes… Gloves and hats at the ready.

177 Runners toed the start line for the NI counter of the British Championships, the race calendar opener: the  Mourne Seven Sevens Hill Race (cat. AL 30.5km/19miles, 2675m/8700ft ascent). The race get its name from taking in the seven highest peaks over 700m in the mountain range. It’s a beast and it would seem the route took its toll on some participants as only 163 finished.

For those who are not familiar with the Mourne Mountains, it’s a stunning scenery right by the sea. The granite peaks protrude from sea level up to around 700m (Slieve Donard being the highest at 853m, towering over Newcastle). The mountain range is rugged and the extension of the Mourne Wall is mind-blowing (for a more detailed description of the route see https://www.nimra.org.uk/index.php/events/event/british-championship-mourne-seven-sevens/)

A mix between Scottish and British Championship calendar openers clashing, and possibly personal choices meant that only one lonesome Shet made the trip to Newcastle, co Down, to fly the Blue and Gold flag.

Race route started at Donard Park, dibbers tested, forest track and course marked up to Ice House, point where most runners chose the black ladders to ascend up Slieve Donard. This was followed by Slieve Commedagh (765m), Slieve Bearnagh (739m), Slieve Meelmore (688m), Slieve Meelbeg (701m), point at which runners turned away from the Wall. Visibility was excellent descending from Meelbeg, and you’d think little navigation was needed but can safely say, in a couple of instances, should have got the compass out but live and learn… Follows the descent to Ben Crom Reservoir, crossing the dam and back on a steep climb up Slieve Binnian. First reaching the North Tor it was disappointing for many a runner (myself included) to find the elusive South Tor still meant a 120m climb and about a mile of running up to the southernmost checkpoint – Slieve Binnian South Tor (747m). Turned back on ourselves and headed North to start what was a long undulating descent down to the col before the last long climb to CP on the summit of Slieve Lamagan (702m). This followed a good runnable section along and up to the check point on the Donard-Commedagh col cutting across the initial stretch of the route pretty much at 90° and following the walkers path along the Glen River back to the Ice House, where the course was once again marked into and along the forest. The ‘sufferfest’ was not yet over as runners were presented with a ‘fun’ downhill mtb course with a lot of zig zagging and some jumping (hobbling?!) down, which in my cramping legs did not bode well for a strong fast finish, back into Donard Park for one last ‘dib of the dibber’… But still…what a day!!

Shett Rod Reis eventually made the finish line in 6:10:04 (44th V40; 129th Open).

Congratulations to winners: Lochaber AC Finlay Wild, breaking the course record in 3:28:17, 13mins ahead of 2nd place; Helm Hill Victoria Thompson (04:50:12). Worth a mention is a certain Kenny Richmond (of… Helm Hill, Ahem! ?) to win the V50 category, home in 4:09:23 (13th).

Many thanks to NIMRA, and Ricky Cowan, for putting up such monster of an event. All the marshalls (and their dogs!), whom I almost felt sorry for (‘almost’ as I was too busy questioning my decision of signing up) trying to keep warm on summit CPs.

For full results see: https://nimra.org.uk/liveresults/

For links to photos and RO’s race report see: https://www.nimra.org.uk/index.php/wild-breaks-record-at-seven-sevens/

Thanks to Rodrigo Reis for the report

West Highland Way completions

The long distance footpath of the West Highland way is always a popular route for runners and this month club members Stephanie Zihms and Paul Manson managed to complete the 93 mile route.

Stephanie was raising money for Shift MS, a social network and support site for people with multiple sclerosis. Along with Alison and Sarah she completed the route in 4 days in usual Scottish spring weather of 4 seasons in 4 days.

You can still donate here https://justgiving.com/fundraising/whw4shiftms

New member Paul Manson managed a solo effort in two days. Check out his video report here

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