Slioch Hill Race Sat 21 May

This “Category Long” Hill Race was the 2nd counter for the SHR championship this year.  I’d been really looking forward to it – having heard reports from previous years of Dennis swimming on the lochan en route, not to mention the wonderful tea for after.  It looked like a real mountain route with wonderful views.  The first note of doubt was sounded by Jason who forwarded a link reporting 6 inch of snow on the top on Friday and gale force winds forecast.  Undeterred 17 Cosmics set off, including Simon Peachey’s stag party – Simon himself ran in the tutu and veil as is becoming traditional for these things.  Arriving at Kinlochewe to register, we found that the route had been modified to cut out the exposed summit ridge – the organisers were probably worried that people might be blown away.  No matter the overall distance was going to be about the same.  As we lined up for the start, a few rays of sunshine and warmth from fellow competitors gave a false sense of security.  The climb proper started after the bridge over Abhain Fhasaigh, and with it the rain.- which got colder and colder.  On the very steep heather – hands required – it seemed impossible top move fast enough to keep warm (even with jackets on).  A bit easier going after the lochans, eventually got to the top – where the marshal kindly punched your number for you (still a trail having to open your jacket for the short time required, the trying to run down on numb legs.  A nice grassy bit found me almost at terminal velocity (perhaps it was steeper then it looked?), then rocks and back at the lochans, the marshal pointed out the track leading towards the waterfall (I did have the bearing set up on the compass round my neck, but it was far too cold to get it out).  Colin thought the direct route from top to waterfall check point might have been advantageous?  Whichever way you went, the lower you got the wetter it got.  The marshal at the waterfall check point was being very diplomatic and only manhandling you through the burn (which by now was a raging torrent) if you couldn’t make it yourself – but all fours were required (thigh deep) clinging on to the rocks.  Don’t know what the guy was wearing but he must have heroically spent most of the afternoon standing in the water helping people.  Thereafter it was just wet wet wet – a kayak would have been appropriate, but eventually the bridge was crossed again, the undulating (and for me much too interesting path – I fell into a burn) negotiated to the finish.  What a relief!  And thank you to Cosmic friends for your support at the finish and after.


At least the tea at the hall well lived up to expectations!  16 of us finished the race – even if it was just survival for some – a great run by Kev who finished in 8th place, and Rob in 12th, was Simon compromised by the tutu?


I hope we all appreciate the difficulties in putting on the race under such conditions, and particularly the marshals who stood out in the weather for hours, punching numbers, giving encouragement and directions and standing on the burn to help runners cross.  We’ll just have to do it again next year to get the view!