Longest of the midweek Bog n’ Burn races (9.8km, 710m), this is one of the most enjoyable hill races of the year. All the hard work is out of the way in the first third and then it is almost all downhill – very runnable indeed. Of course, the first third is a bit tough :-).
Race Profile: http://chris-upson.com/raceprofiles/MaddyMossProfile.jpg
I last ran this race in 2009 – pre-knee-op – so I was hoping to improve on that last rather achy hobbly affair.
Harriers and Friend in attendance: Mike Brooks, Chris Downie, Kate Darlow, Andrea and Rob Wilson
Weather: Initially overcast but warm and sultry. Sun burnt through by the time we got on the hills. Good conditions albeit a tad warm on the ascent.
After a surprisingly steep walk/jog up from Tillicoultry to the beginning, the start of the race is an even steeper grass/gorse covered slope that makes the Hill End training slope look like Norfolk. Immediately the runners split – one group left and one right. I went right with Mike close on my heels. This route climbs more steeply. I guess a Carnethy bod would know which route is best. I think we may have had a slight edge, but the extra steepness really got the calves burning right away. Anyway – our group went a little quick for me, but I managed to keep up and I found myself as usual quite far up in the pack. Did not last!
After the initial ascent the route flattens off a little and contours into Mill Glen then drops down a few rocky steps to the burn crossing with a rocky scramble up the other side. There now starts a long (steep in sections) grassy ridge up to the Law and Ben Cleuch beyond. Mike finally passed me half way to the Law but I managed to stay close behind him pretty much all the way to the Cleuch. Behind us, Andrea was ahead of Kate with Chris coming up the rear (ooh er!).
From Ben Cleuch, Mike pulled away. My old knees just aint what they used to be and despite the nice gradual slope down, I appear to now have a finite speed that is slower than a few years ago :-(. Despite this, the terrain is non-technical, springy and fast. Bar a slight annoying climb up Andrew Gannel Hill, it is all downhill. For the kilometre from AGH, you briefly join the Dollar Hill race route, but at Gannel Burn, instead of climbing steeply up to King’s Hill, the Maddy Moss route heads SW and follows a narrow deep rutted track for 2.5 kms towards the finish line. I may have been a little slower on the open fell, but on this track, I seemed to find a new gear. The track is quite technical (very thin – no room for big feet!) and the gradient is very slight until the final km to the finish. I passed several people on this section (tip of the day: overtake on the upslope side so if you trip, you fall upwards rather than downwards) and even passed the first lady!! Whey hey – my curse is lifted!
At the end of this rather mad technical dash you come out above the start/finish line with that steep grassy/gorse covered slope to contend with. A mad rush down through the gorse and the screeching on of the brakes and you’re done. Phew!
There is some contention with the results. According to the Ochils website, our results from 90 runners are:
26th: Mike Brooks – 01:04:46
32nd: Andrea Wilson – 01:06:59
74th: Chris Downie – 01:19:20
76th: Rob Wilson – 01:19:58
79th: Kate Darlow – 01:24:17
I am happy to say that the Scottish Hill Runners site did not get their genders mixed up, and I am correctly placed at 32nd. However, yet again Andrea got a PB by almost 2 minutes. I did not. In fact, looking at my past results, most of my PBs were in 2008. How did I do Maddy Moss in 01:02:39. Gawd – getting old sucks!