A grand troop of Cosmics congregated in the location of Hogwarts Express last weekend to see how good their Expelliarmus spell was at disarming opponents to win prizes in the 2014 Moidart Highlander Mountain. The majority of the classes were covered with most taking part in the score category and clearly Ewen and Mike’s advanced winter spell classes at King’s have been working. The going was reported to be tough especially for those who opted for an earlier start. The low mountain mist lifted toward noon benefiting the late starts or maybe they just had more happy thoughts to help conjure their Expecto Patronum and keep the dementors away.  The clear views over to Eigg and Rhum later in the day certainly helped maintain high spirits.

Route choices were designed and available both north and south of Loch Eilt over the two days with overnight camp in a very civilised, midge free, spot at Lochailort, 11 miles west of Glenfinnan. Terrain seemed to be mainly ‘off piste’ through the usual mix of tussock, bog and stream with very few visible paths. Deer were seen on the horizon but clearly hadn’t done their job and put a few tracks in for the mere mortals of hill runners. However, there were plenty of hills to keep them in their place with a great selection of knolls and cairns in which to search for controls. Thank goodness we could see. The re-entrant made its anticipated reappearance on the control sheet and for once I could actually see it on the ground for what it is.

Overall, people seemed to report day one as challenging terrain hampered by the early low mist for some. It must have been tough as the boys in Aberdeen mountain rescue team said so. Or maybe they took their heavy winter packs with them. Day two was perhaps more of a smooth run home to Glenfinnan for most Cosmics. Some who were out late on Saturday night appreciating the stunning scenery returned quickly on day two to pick up first female vet prize in the ‘C’ class. Maybe their late arrival on Saturday was all part of the plan to get other cosmics to put up their tent (again!). A pair of ‘A’ class cosmic boys clearly thought they should be doing an elite course as they set out to run 10km (and back) to their first control but luckily realised they would have been in a class of their own. Seemed the opposite to a pair of ‘B’ class cosmics who were spotted on day two having a picnic by a lochan as two score teams shot past with an hour or so each in which to finish a large distance.

At the end of day one there was a tight pecking order in the score category with Steve Helmore, Colin Russell, Simon Pearce and partner lined up for the usual fight on day two, followed closely by Richard Lang and partner. But somehow Caroline and Linda had got themselves in the mix in 5th position….what were they doing there? Clearly spellbound by their achievement on day one the cosmic girls succumbed to a bad case of over enthusiasm and the desire to go over lots of hills, the result being that which cannot be named. However, they held onto their overall position of first female and first female vets (stealing it from last year’s winners, Katy and Rachel) to gain matching Haglof fleeces (but no cow bells!). Steve and Colin finally achieved the much coveted first position probably due to the synergy between speed and strategy, with Simon and partner moving into third position, and Richard and co gaining fifth. Clearly, the top score male teams had less combined years on their side or just someone else to carry their rucksack. 

The finale run of 900m along the road to the finish was made {slightly} less painful by the appearance of the grand viaduct bridge itself. Instead of stupefying it posed as a stunning end to a grand two days out in a very beautiful part of Scotland. Well done to everyone who took part and thanks once again to the organiser of a very enjoyable event.

Results of Cosmic people are:

A Class: Sean O’sullivan + Andrew McMurtrie (11th)

B Class: Matthew Brettle + Alisdair Shawcross (8th)

                   Ian Hamilton + Colin Larmour (2nd MV; 19th overall)

              Steve Addy + Sarah Lewis (1st mix; 14th overall)

C Class: Gillian Clunas + Elaine Stewart (1st FV; 33rd overall)

                    Brigid Glasgow + Martin Lister (2nd mix & 4th overall)

                Callum More + Kenneth Webster (28th overall)

 Score: Colin Russell + Steven Helmore (1st)

                  Simon Pearce + Andrew Sims (3rd)

                  Richard Lang + Alan Gilkison (5th)

                  Caroline Watt + Linda Smith (1st FV; 10th overall)

                  Katy Boocock + Rachel Provan (2nd FV; 17th overall)

Full reports available at: http://www.handsonevents.co.uk/?page_id=186