My 4th year in a row at the Westies Chatelherault Handicap, since inventing the route in 2007.
We had a good turnout of 18 runners, with Adam Gatens clearly the fastest of the bunch. I set off 2nd last with Ken Macmahon knowing that Ken would burn me off, but at least I could try to hang onto him for a while. My plan sort of worked, and I more or less kept up with Ken until White Bridge, by which time I was puzzled that Adam wasn't closing us down, after Green Bridge I caught Don at the top of the climb, and looking back several times still couldn't see Adam, which made no sense to me. I could see Tom floundering in the distance, so made a bit of effort to catch him, but it took until after White Bridge 2nd time around that I finally worked my way past. Then for the final 3km there was reasonable stream of folk to pass until finally I could see Susie just ahead on Duke's Bridge. I was pretty confident I'd close her down in front of the big house, but she kept matching each effort I threw at her, until I was going to have to all out sprint the last 20 metres which I wasn't prepared to do, so drifted across the line a second behind her in a massive PW for the course of 44:48, but pleased to get around without too much discomfort.
Adam was first back in 39:55, but seeing as he never passed me it took a while to work out where he'd been. My only conclusion was that he'd dived down onto the lower trail along by the river, thereby missing out the long steady climb that leads to the steep descent to White Bridge, such that once I reached White Bridge, Adam was already ahead. There's no way of knowing how much time Adam saved on the lower route, but I'd guess it must be 30 seconds to a minute faster. It was pity he went the wrong way, since I wanted to see if he could beat my course record of 40:22 set in 2007.