Saturday, 29 October 2011

H&H Cashel "Trail" (Hill) Run

Julia's dog-bite. Get your dogs under control!

This photo of after the race - stolen from HAAC website.

Today's racing fun was the H & H Cashel Trail Run - a handicap race set up by Julia Henderson and Gordon Howat of Helensburgh AAC for fun and to raise some money for a cancer research charity.
We drove through to Helensburgh the night before and stayed at Julia's and drank maybe a little too much wine with Julia and her parents who entertained us tremendously.

7am this morning therefore seemed very dark and a bit surreal. We had heard the rain battering down sporadically over night and the roar of the wind in the chimneys. As it slowly and reluctantly got light it seemed pretty clear that it was not going to be a dry day.

At 8.20 we went and picked up the eponymous Gordon, and also Kevin, president of HAAC and made our way on flooded roads to Cashel Forest.

It was wet but it was very lovely - nice Autumn colours, the air temperature was pretty mild and it was too late in the season for midgies - which is always a bonus. Gordon sorted out some last touches to the course marking, runners started arriving, Kevin went to the top of the hill, and Julia's parents manned the timing. Pretty soon we were being set off up the hill.

We'd had time for  a recce so we knew that at least the 1st 1K was  steadily uphill. I was  happy with this as going uphill has been suiting me well. Jan Fellowes was setting off 1 second after me - so I knew I had to capitalise on this as best I could! I hadn't run since Wednesday so felt pretty fresh and eager to get going so I went off fairly hard. I could sense that I'd pulled away from Jan quite quickly and started to sight others up ahead. I followed Alistair Wiley for a  while but then when we turned off the stony path onto soft muddy trail I caught up to him. Likewise I went past a few others. Road runners who had been tricked into running a hill race! I wasn't sorry to see the top and Kevin was standing on a bench up there shouting encouragement. We ran round him and then headed off down. My only real issue was 2 out of the 3 knots on my right shoe had come undone and I was praying that the last one would not give way and make me have to stop. It held on though and the stony track gave way again to off-road trail. It was a great fun down hill. Near the end I passed the 2 guys who had set off first and I started to think that maybe I was going to win this thing! But then I heard the unmistakable sound of someone gaining effortlessly on me - in the form of Damien Theaker, closely followed by Helensburgh's Julia Henderson. When I made it to the finish line, three were already in so I was 4th but Julia disqualified herself as she was an organiser so I was honorary 3rd - for which I got a generous £20 token for Achilles Heel running shop in Glasgow. There were lots of prizes - I didn't know all the people so I haven't got the detail.

Julia's empire biscuits were absolutely delicious and some people had brought flasks with hot water so there was coffee and tea. If you were going to have a flash race, like a flash riot, it would be like this. Then we were going on for lunch near Balmaha so we tidied up and were away in minutes.

Its a great route and deserves to be run again before long. We've promised if its happening again we'll bring more Porties along with us.

On the way home on the motorway the heavens opened over Glasgow but the sun came out too so there were rainbows  everywhere - getting thrown up off the surface water on the road and double-arching across the sky. I had to harangue the Buchanan to get out his darn camera and get snapping. The driving was a bit tentative and the visibility was hellish but it was beautiful. Unfortunately we never got the shot I wanted    which was all the cars appearing to drive down a mirrored road, with the low golden sunlight and rainbows over Easterhouse. Oh well. Great wee adventure West.

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