It all started back on 14th May 2000. A lone figure approaching along the Ben Dronaig track like Omar Sharif in that haunting scene from Lawrence of Arabia.
With tension rising, and wondering whether to stop for a chat, I realised I'd bumped into this chap on Cairnkinna Hill about 6 months previously. He was one of those elite hardy folk known as "fell runners" who do things called "fell races". At that time I had absolutely no idea how you would go about entering a fell race, but this seemed like a good time to pick Eddie Dealtry's brains for top tips on where to start.
So, I came away with a short-list of Borrowdale, Glen Rosa and Jura as good entry-level hill races.
Jura was in 2 weeks time, but race organiser Andy Curtis quite rightly wouldn't let me race without previous experience. I therefore begged Paul Emsley to allow me a run at Glen Rosa 3 weeks later. I finished 5th last out of a field of 32 runners with only one male runner behind me: the legendary Drew Turnbull. My back was in agony the whole way round, and I missed the turning below the deer fence coming off Goatfell at the end, and got lost in the woods above Brodick Castle at the end, but at least I'd finished the race and left plenty of room for improvement.
So, fast forward 14 years, and I've just completed my 800th race (of sorts) at Glasgow Victoria Parkrun on 5th July 2014. I've used the term "race" loosely to include club handicaps, grudge matches, time trials, etc., as well as officially organised events.
Events have ranged from Scottish National Indoor 1500m track race at Glasgow Emirates Stadium (shortest and highest number of officials), to 10-stage high altitude Everest Sky Race in Nepal (longest, highest and worst organised).
Possibly the most enjoyable was the Defi de l'Oisans 200km stage race in France, which I've completed 4 times (2004 to 2007). 6 fantastic scenic stages around the Ecrins Massif on the GR54, starting and finishing at Les Deux Alpes.
|Defi de l'Oisans|
|Ben Nevis Race|
I've completed more than 330 different race routes or courses, and have raced in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, France, Corsica, Slovenia and Nepal.
So, having not been sure how to enter a race in 2000, I'm quite pleased to have managed to complete a variety of races now over most distances and terrains from indoor track to the horrors of Glamaig.
Scottish Hill Racing races
Power of 10 races