16.2km and 760m
Conditions: Sunny and warm to start with – clouding in later.
The Lomonds race is similar in distance and height to the Dollar Hill Race which boded well for my training for the longer races in September and October. As with Dollar, The Lomonds was “short” enough for me to keep pushing the whole race – something I never manage for the Skyline for example…………..maybe this year………………..??
From registration in Strathmiglo, there was a pleasant 2km jog on a tarmac track to the beginning of the race. It is an odd start – the track is rather thin, so everyone is bunched up trying to get a decent starting place and trying not to be stuck near the back. It is not possible to run off track and go around to overtake as the pine plantation is in a semi-state of being clear-cut, so you would probably break your neck.
I of course went off too quickly and as the route was almost a constant climb up to East Lomond, I was getting a little worried on the steep climb up to this first summit that I had overdone it. However, from East Lomond, there is about 4kms of relatively flat, but hummocky running while the route contoured along the north slope of the hills and I settled nicely into a good pace and managed to catch up a few people who had passed me earlier.
At Craigen Gaw, I suddenly realised I knew this part of the Lomonds very well. Every year in September, we bring our 2nd year students to this part of Fife to teach them about “slope process”. I am pretty sure that many of the runners did not realise that the cleft in the cliff we had to scramble up was formed ONLY in 1928 when a large chunk of the cliff gave wave and plunged downhill in a fairly impressive rock avalanche. What annoyed me later, when running back, was that I should have stayed high and gone above the run out zone, rather than follow the guy in front of me who took me through a rather tortuous rocky route through the boulder field. Oh well, next time I can possibly shave off a couple of minutes.
Once above Craigen Gaw, a flat boggy area brings you to the base of the last steep climb up West Lomond. The summit was populated by “normal” people who were obviously enjoying the weather and wondering why people would run on such a hot day. Descending from the summit was certainly eventful. I had been warned – I had even sent a video clip around – but the grassy slope between the dolerite cliffs plunged down at such an angle that it really is impossible to stay upright and sliding on your backside is definitely the best way to go. Did I take my friend’s advice to wear Kevlar underwear – No! Bad idea. My ass was so dirty that Andrea said it looked that I had XXXX myself. There was grass and moss in all sorts of nooks and crannies. I bet many a runner has nappy rash this evening.
Anyway – I digress – the descent was of course rather quick and a lot of fun. The race organisers, however, had one last sting in the tail. The route had descended all the way down to the Bannet Stane (wind/rain eroded sandstone landform that looks like a rock umbrella), and then immediately turned back on itself and went back up the bloody hill up to almost the base of the cliff – almost half way back up the hill. However, once back up, it was downhill all the way – the only complication being the rock avalanche below Craigen Gaw. Next time, I will go above it. The route finally works its way steadily down and then undulates through the woods until the final 1km of forest track for a sprint to the end.
The weather was perfect – albeit a tad too hot perhaps – although rain came in later and may have inundated some of the stragglers. The terrain was often much rougher than Dollar which explains the slightly slower pace and times of the runners. However, I managed to get in under 2 hours (1:56:32) and was 31st from 95 runners. As for my knees – well – thank god for Ibuprofen again!!!
Janice also ran – 80th (02:49:24).