I took a trip to the west today to run the Criffel Hill Race. Six miles and 2000ft. No probs.
|sullied rear quarters|
After some fun and games by the race organiser during the kit check, we set off with half a mile of tarmac. Half of the field were ahead of me, but I had my camera and the only way was up, so what was the rush. Soon enough we were hitting some early gradient through the woods cutting a narrow path over the red brown clay and kicking conifer cones.I moved up and settled into a steady pace. The wood soon opened up as we began to climb and we were faced with a hillside of soft black peat, black mush and a few straw tussocks. Sometimes there were reeds and peat. Sometimes moss and reeds and peat. ...and so it went on. I saw Ian Sills about half a minute ahead, and a few others. Nice to be in a group, I thought. I had worked out at an early stage that if this soft boggy ground kept up, I may as well descend on my backside as there was no way I was going to stay upright on the way down. There seemed no clear runnable path up the hill. The best of the peat was soft, but more often than not I lost a foot, ankle or calf. Very difficult to find any rhythm.
As we got higher into the grey, damp and windy clag, a Dumfries runner came past. I stopped to take a couple of snaps then moved on and kept him close. He went down, I went down. I went down again, but at least the gradient had eased. Next minute, Al Anthony is coming down past me, then a collective of Carnethies (what is the collective noun?) and I’m hoping we're near the summit.It wasn’t too far ahead and I got the top and turned and had lost Dumfries man sooner than I’d wanted to. On the way down I stopped a few times to take a really close look at the reeds and peat and at one point beside the Mountain Rescue guys, did a double face plant which wasn’t my finest moment, catching my knee on a gritstone cobble. It added a bit of red to the otherwise blackened legs. What a state.....
|The Hill takes another victim|