Thursday, 10 June 2010

The Cort-ma law hill race

I started the race slow, and chatted with a guy I recognised from where I work. The start followed a decent climb up a grassy slope, populated by sheep. I knew from last year that this was a deceptively long race, so I didn't feel any need to go out too hard.

It was a little cool and breezy, and I wore a short sleeve running shirt, shorts, and my fell running shoes. I also had a bum bag with a waterproof jacket, running trousers, a map, compass, and whistle. Runners were required to carry this equipment for this race.

As we reached the top of the first climb, I eased past my work colleague. There was a flatter stretch, but the wind was stronger now. There was another gradual climb, then a little descent, and then a not-to-stiff climb up to Cort-ma Law.

From the Cort-ma Law summit I descended and started hitting bogs. A guy in front of me disappeared nearly up to his waste in the sphagnum(?). The bogs look solid, but they are immensely squishy underneath, and the water is cold. I try to keep dry when I can, but here there was no option. Once you went in your shoes and sox were soaked, and your legs a bit muddy.

We bashed through bogs and brush and climbed to the summit of a second peak, Lecket Hill. Here, the descent was steeper, but the ground was more solid under-foot.

I picked up the pace, and passed a guy who was running well. Now it felt like running.

A steeper descent followed, and in my eagerness to go all out, I took a tumble. It was, literally, a tumble, and I was quickly on my feet again, wondering if anyone had seen me.

After jumping across a small stream, there was another stiff climb. I saw a colleague a few place in front of me, and thought that I might try to catch him on the final descent. The climb was steep enough that it was walked by all of the runners.

After the steep climb, I crossed a fence, and was retracing my route back to the start. There was a brief uphill stretch, and then the long descent to the start. The sun was now out, and it was a lovely early summer evening in Scotland.

I tried to catch the runner in front of me, but he was a good descender. I picked my way through the grass and occasional rock outcropping in my soaking wet shoes, running as hard as I dared. Last year I had taken a tumble here.

I crossed the finish at 1:01. I was 39th out of a field of 79.