This was my first full length Goatfell Race since the glory days of 2004, when Westies took the team prize with 3 runners in the top 10. Ronnie, me and Manny. And I clocked a PB of 1:27:32. And my good friend Bish McAra was running only months after being almost killed in a car crash beside Dumgoyne.
I'd completed a shorter version of the race in 2007 in truly awful weather on a modified course that missed out the road section, and instead included the descent at the end of Glen Rosa Horseshoe. So today I wasn't expecting to run as fast as 2004, but I was hoping to get close to 90 minutes.
The race begins with a lap of the sports field before trundling out onto the road. I set off with the intent of being first to the forest, and jogging down the road I soon couldn't hear any footsteps behind me. I had no intention of looking round to see the gap, so just kept a steady pace without over exerting myself until I'd turned onto the forest track just before 3 kilometres.
At this point I immediately slowed up to let Andy Fallas, Brian Marshall and Paul Faulkner past, shortly followed by Stewart Whitlie. At this point I thought I might be able to hang onto 5th spot for a while, so tried to maintain the gap with Stewart. However, it wasn't long before I was caught by the next runner who to my surprise turned out to be Paul Thompson.
I was slightly taken aback to have been caught by Paul so quickly, so redoubled my efforts and tried to match his pace, which worked until we were both caught by Charles Hutchinson (HBT), at which point I gave up to some extent and slumped back in 7th place.
I thought I might be safe in 7th spot for a while, but soon after the deer fence I could see Bruce Smith bounding up towards me, so I allowed him to go past in the hope that he would drag me back to Paul. Having Bruce to chase seemed to help a bit, but soon we were both caught by Alan Smith just before the shoulder.
Heading up the final steep slope of boulders and grass, I was trying to reel in Paul, Alan and Bruce, and was only a few metres behind at the summit trig.
Once plummeting back down, I got past Bruce on the steep stuff only for him to tear away from me lower down. I tried to chase but can't shift across rough ground like Bruce. I still thought I was descending OK, but obviously not fast enough since I got caught by Craig Stansfield (Rossendale), Gary Fraser and Adam Anderson lower down the trail.
I was fairly confident I'd catch Gary and Adam again on the road, and tried to pace my effort back to Brodick. My heart rate was close to 180bpm for the last kilometre, so I must have trying reasonably hard. I got past Adam with 1 km to go, but couldn't make any ground on Gary, so I finished 11th in 1:31:52.