Report from Al
Sunday morning, 21st of October, I woke early with a fair amount of intrepidation about a long looked forward to race called ‘Run of the Mill’ in the Ochils. Over the year, I’d done quite a few races in the Ochils, The Law Breaker and Dollar, and had come to really like the steep but runnable terrain.
After fueling up on silly amounts of pancackes, and a few hours of pre-race faffing, I headed off north to Alva. Late morning the weather was getting better and better and the mist on the hills lifted above the tops. It was sunny, warm and still. That, with the lovely autumn colours, made the 102 runners that gathered at the bottom of Alva Glan rather pleased that they’d decided to get up for one of the few remaining hill races of the year.
Having lacked some zip in my cross country efforts the day before, I wasn’t too confident about how I’d do, but my warm up went well and I decided to give it a really good crack. One of my goals was to beat my pal Gary Fraser from Ochils hill running club. He’s a verteran of over 100 hill races and an incredible decsender. At Dollar and Ben Venue this year, he’d whizzed past me in the closing stages. I was going to beat him this time. Needed to get further head of him on the ascent – that would be the plan.
It was good to see Mark Johnston and Matt Williamson at the race start. The race began, and a fast leading group with Mark and Matt in it shot out ahead. The course begins with a straighforward 150m climb then a fast easy descent over 3km down towards Tillicoultry and the beginning of the Law Breaker hill race route. After tracking Gary for a while I felt the pace was a bit slow and pushed on faster, overtaking a bunch of guys on the stretch to Tillicoultry.
Now the ascent. The first bit is super steep up the Law Breaker route. Some, included me, managed to keep running on this bit. This tends to be the best bit of my race and I steadily overtook more runners until I got to 8th place. Matt was about 150m ahead of me at this stage and a over the course of the next 40min remained about the same distance ahead until I lost him completely on the descent.
With the bulk of the ascent done (which seemed to take forever) we had the traverse of the summits to do – Andrew Gannel hill, Ben Cleugh and Ben Ever. On one of the descents between these tops I came flying off my feet and landed with a squelch in the mud. No harm was done but I was now covered in black stuff.
The descent was physically really really hard. I felt like I’d used up all my energy going uphill and spent the whole descent thinking I was about crumple into the ground at any moment. This is where I lost four places. About five minutes from the end, Gary, on que, came flying past me. ‘Come on Al’ he said, ‘Dig in”. I tried to keep up but didn’t have much luck. Fortunately the end wasn’t too far off and I was really pleased to hang on to my 12th place.
Matt finished 6th and Mark 25th – well done guys. Thanks to Romy and Ayden for cheering the Bella guys on, and the team photo and the banana bread too – yum. Dumyat Dash next…..