Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Meall a Bhuachaille Hill Race

Usually one of the last races in the hill running season the Meall A Bhuachaille hill race starts at the Badaguish Centre in the pine forests between Glenmore Lodge and Aviemore and takes in three hills of 810m, 732m and 687m above the Badaguish centre from whose summits you can look across to the Cairngorm Mountain range. The race route has changed slightly since it has moved from its original start location at Glenmore Lodge but the race still takes in the summit of Meall A Bhuachaille and fortunately for me the downhill section is considerably easier than it used to be, much less steep and not strewn with fallen trees.

 From the start line the route follows a wide land rover track through the forest before climbing a well made hill track to the summit. Within 10 minutes of starting I was regretting wearing thermal kit as despite really enjoying the late autumn sunshine, I was in serious danger of melting however on the hill summit it was a different story with a very strong cold wind blowing through. I spotted Karen on marshalling duties and she was well wrapped up as were the spectators who were brave enough to come out on to the course. It took me a few minutes to realise that it was Ruth Naylor shouting my name as she was so hidden by layers and a big hat.

 At this point I remembered to look up and across at the impressive view of the Cairngorm mountains with the dark clouds gathering above them ominously before picking my way off the summit and following the long line of runners along the ridge. There is a section towards the first summit where runners are going up and coming down the same section of track so I could spot who was ahead and who was behind me. I passed Maggie who made some cheeky (but well justified) remark about my lack of downhill running ability.  I spotted Megan and Morag on the skyline to the left of me and could see Sandra up ahead but failed to spot Robin Livingstone taking a sneaky route down the hill and didn’t see him coming past me until I spotted him jump back on to the path about 20m ahead. Meh! Now that is just not cricket! But I suppose it is hill running...

We were diverted through some tricky tussocky stuff to protect the hill track from further erosion but fortunately after such a dry summer it was nowhere near as boggy as it could have been. After a wee bit more climbing and ridge running it was time to turn down the descent which was a bit wet and boggy and very slidey after all the runners have trampled along the path. Managing to stay upright I didn’t lose many places and could even say that I enjoyed the descent which is unusual for me and i was soon back on the wide forest tracks. At this point I tempted to say that that last miles dragged on more so than usual and that it was a long 5 mile race. Thats because it was an 8 mile race and I hadn’t realised that before I started. Ho Hum. But fortunately that last stretch was on runnable sheltered forest tracks and I began to feel warm again.

 The race entry included a fine dinner of beef stew...just what was required after crossing the finish line. The race also coincided with Megan and Phil’s joint birthday celebrations and so HBT were out in force both competing and supporting and the day was topped off by a celidh in the evening....after an extremely soggy mountain bike ride from our digs in Aviemore back to the Badaguish centre - those dark clouds that I had seen gathering over the Cairngorms earlier in the day held off for the duration of the race but delivered as promised later in the evening but its got to be said I really didn’t notice if it was raining or not on the cycle back to Aviemore after the celidh...