Saturday, 25 February 2012

Conic Hill Race

Results | Photos

The 2nd edition of Scotland's most scenic short hill race proved popular with the runners who turned up on the day, plus we were lucky enough to have Scotland's leading hill runners Prasad Prasad and Angela Mudge setting new course records.
The ridge off Conic Hill

Not surprisingly Prasad launched off into the distance straight away, but it was great to see new Westie Alastair Graves giving chase. I pottered along further down the field, and reached the gate to the open hill path level with Angela Mudge. You then get a short section of flattish running before hitting the steep section of wooden steps leading up to wet area below Bealach Ard. From here the race route picks up a small indistinct path that leads straight up the nose of the hill, with patches of steep and slippery conglomerate pudding stone.
Prasad in a class of his own
I was steadily dropping places all the way to the summit, which arrived sooner than I was expecting. I was jostling places with Craig Love and Damien Theaker as we turned to drop back onto the West Highland Way path. At first this was slightly uphill again, but on good surface, but as soon as you crest the rise and start descending the surface was impossibly slippery, and I suddenly realised I was aqua-planing down the hill on my back, going much faster than I could have run. Luckily I didn't smack into any rocks and got back onto my feet, slightly more wary.

Once on the lower section the running suddenly got a whole lot easier on smooth billiard table grass. I could sense I was catching runners in  front but tried to stay relaxed.  I worked hard to close the gap across the rough boggy section before the wall, and ended up in a walking bottleneck at the fenceline and clambering up through the forest. But this allowed me to get my breath back and time my final attack on the plummet to the finish.  Just as we crested the rise into the forest I jumped past Catriona Buchanan, Paul Thompson, and a couple of others before launching my kamikaze descent where I jumped Grant MacDonald and John Hammond just before the line, with 8 of us piling in within 11 seconds.
Dropping off the ridge at Conic Hill
I just managed my sub 30-minute target time, with 29:48 for 18th place overall, and enjoyed giving away a range of pot plants from Roots and Fruits at the prize-giving. And proceeds from the race raised £200 towards West Highland Way footpath repairs.

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