On Saturday 29 July, four Dundee Roadrunners headed to Dufftown for the Ben Rinnes hill race. This was part of the highland games so there was a big crowd to set us off from the start. After a lap of the games field the route set off up the first hill on a series of good tracks going past various fields one with some young bullocks who seemed to want to take part in the race (handily there was a fence stopping this). A brief spell on a golf course gave way to open hill with a single track cutting through the heather. At this point I realised I was higher than I normally am in the field and I started to dream of a top 40 finish required the score points in SHR championship.
We soon passed the summit of Little Conval and were descending the other side. Conscious of the long race ahead I was trying to avoid using too much energy by running down the hill either too fast or too slow. The descent soon gave way to a climb up Meikle Conval. My attempts at moving up the field were not super successful at this point overtaking various people but getting overtaken in return by others. The climbing soon gave way to descending with a long descent here finishing with the only real steep descent of the race where breaking was need to remain in control.
Next up was a road crossing with a water station and the long final climb up to Ben Rinnes began. The initial zig zags gave out to a flatter section where running was needed again. A the bottom of the final steep climb I saw the first descending running (Sasha Chepelin from Carnethy who had already built up a big advantage over second place). I optimistically said to fellow runner we might make the top in 15 minutes. As the climb steepened and became more zig zagged again I tried to count the men coming down the hill and reached a number 40 quite a way short of the summit slightly denting my hopes of a top 40 finish (Holly Page also of Carnethy had a similarly large lead in the women's race at this point). A very short pause on the summit for some photos and the descent began. I set a target of passing 15 men on the return leg which I thought I needed for top 40 finish.
The top section of the descent was a bit rocky but not too steep so made for a fast but slightly tricky descending. I managed to steadily pick off a few runners on this section and made sure I finished my soft flask in time for the water station on way back. After refilling water I set off up the steep section up from the road. Gaining a few more places on the climb back up Meikle Conval. At the top I had another 10 men I need to pass but not many in view ahead of me. The shortish descent between the two Convals passed without incident and I started the final climb with a better number of runners ahead to chase down. Luckily for me quite a few people seemed to be struggling at this point so I reached the top with a target of 4 people to overtake but only one person ahead rapidly disappearing down the hill ahead of me.
Starting the descent down the game field the downside of my regular eating hit and I started to suffer from a stitch. Tired legs and awkward ground also didn't help and my target had got away from me. Luckily they had passed one other person so I still had a rather distant figure to try to chase down. The track section made for faster running but every time it flattened out my tired legs and stitch resulted in my pace dropped off. Lower down I started to hear foot steps behind me which helped spur me on to close the gap to person in front of me. On the short road section I was passed (luckily by a woman so didn't matter for points) I managed to latch onto her briefly to take me the field but couldn't hold the higher pace for long. Round the final lap with a big crowd cheering on some concurrent junior races I managed to put on a final sprint to gain one more place before crossing the line happy to have finished in top 25% but outside of the points I had thought. Luckily my counting was not great and the results have me at 39th man so hopefully within my not at all a target before I started target.
There was then plenty of time afterwards to sit around recover and enjoy the rest of the highland games (though sadly no post run cakes).
First over the line was Sasha Chepelin of Carnethy at 1:58:30 First woman and 17th overall was Holly Page of Carnethy at 2:20:03
DRR results: 46 Dominic Williams 2:38:44 113 Dominic Hughes 3:03:07 159 Amy Tait-Westwell 3:25:02 182 Amy Gilligan 3:42:44