Cairn William at Monymusk Sat 29th Sept

Results of last Saturday's race are at

http://www.shr.uk.com/RaceResults.aspx?RaceID=RA-0100&RaceYear=2007

Cairn William saw a great day for running, sunny and still but not too hot. The start in picturesque Monymusk is 100 metres above sea level and the first mile of the race along relatively flat tarmac shakes up the field before a mainly narrow path with few passing opportunities takes the runner / walker through trees and half way up Pitfichie Hill. The top half of the hill to 379m is surmounted by a wider track then a descent through short heather takes you to a 'col' at 280 metres and a dirt mountain bike trail that zig-zags (rarely is the word more appropriate!) up to the top of Cairn William (448m). From there a descent through short heather then a grassy trail through trees take the runner to a forestry track which is followed back to the tarmac that leads the mile back to Monymusk and the finish.

A 55 minute jog in the countryside

40 started. My pre-race thoughts revolved around whether trail shoes or fell shoes would be best suited to the mix of surfaces and gradients that awaited. I opted for trail shoes as did several others although the reduced cushioning, increased grip and lower ankle position of fell shoes for descending seemed to be favoured by many. On the initial road mile we were passed by a cheery wedding cortage driving their way from Monymusk Church to Pittodrie House Hotel, the bride possibly having selected her entire outfit in less time than it took me to decide on footwear for the race!

At the end of the tarmac I was sitting around 10th although Graeme Bartlett powered past me early in the climb on his was to 2nd place. By the top of the climb up Pitfichie Hill I almost caught Hayden Lorimer who was in 8th at that point but he took around 30 seconds out of me on the short descent and pulled away thereafter. On the climb up Cairn William Sonia Armitage (fell shoes) and Barry Ingram (road shoes) were close behind me. We were all a long way behind Dan Whitehead who was on his descent when we were still some way from the cairn, Dan ultimately winning by over 2 minutes in a new record time for the current course. My hold of 9th place was lost just before the top as Sonia, who is in fine form, ran impressively on the descent and to the finish to finish 9th and win the ladies race in a new record time.

My descent with Barry was enjoyable as he is as bad at it as me! However as soon as we reached the landrover track he was off leaving me in 11th. 400 metres later the sound of a steam train that is Dave Hirst approaching grew louder until he had passed. I knew that Owen Bass would be close behind and by the tar road he had also passed. Could I hold onto 13th? The string binding me to Owen was lengthening but behind me Steve Smith was reeling me in. He zoomed past me but then seemed content to hold 13th leaving me to finish 14th and glad the race was over.

Ultimately the shoes probably didn't make any difference, fitness is of course far more important. Thanks to Dave Armitage for organising Cairn William. I am looking forward to this Sunday's Bennachie race and whether I can again occupy as many different positions during the same event.

Richard Lang

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