After running this fantastic race last year, I planned to make a weekend of it with the family again this year. The race is part of the Dufftown Highland games and is the ‘easiest’ of the long hill races. At 14 miles and 1500 metres of elevation, it’s still a tough one! We had to leave again early morning to get there for registration, cue grumbling children – but they settled at the memory of filling their faces with ice cream etc at the Games.
Thankfully the weather was really pretty good in Dufftown, after driving through horrible rain most of the way – perfect race conditions. I thought I was the only Harrier going, so it was lovely to see Des and his son Jamie at the start. It also meant that Scott and the boys were able to provide doggy daycare for their fab dog Haggis. This was definitely the highlight of the weekend for my boys.
It was good to know what lay ahead this time around, as last year the relatively fast start in warm weather had me panicking about the distance. So we were off to the sound of the pipe bands, once round the field and then to the hills. The route is an out and back, over Littlr Conval, Meikle Conval and to the summit of Ben Rinnes and back. There are some mucky and slippy sections but also some rocky ascent and descent on Ben Rinnes, which is not hugely technical and just great fun to run down. The climb up there is long, as you have to keep to the winding rocky ‘path’, but worth it for the descent! A highlight was being compared to a Gazelle by a runner on the way down – I have never ever been compared to a gazelle, so I’ll take that :-)!
I saw Des’s son Jamie coming down there in 3rd place (he caught a runner further on and came in 2nd overall), and Des passed me on my way up Ben Rinnes as he flew downhill. I spent a good part of the second half running pretty much alone, but didn’t get passed for a change!
I had a fairly comfortable run until coming back off Meikle Conval when some cramps started in my legs, and I felt my right quad pull. I definitely was not running like a gazelle after that, but thankfully was able to keep going and get myself through the remaining downhill sections with some mild sweary words under my breath.
This is just a brilliant race to do, and well worth the journey up. The marshals are lovely and for anyone worrying about navigation, there is little chance of going wrong anywhere on the well marked route. I really hope we can get a group of Harriers up there next year! Well done to Des on 15th place and to Jamie on 2nd place!
2 Jamie Crowe (Central AC) 2:02:34
15 Des Crowe 2:21:29 3rd MV50
51 Gill Cairns 2:51:37 1st V40