Suggested by Bill, this was a new hill race for the Gran Prix. However, I think the 2 hour drive to south of Dumfries put many Harriers off and so only 5 intrepid harriers braved the mizzly weather and my driving: Rob, Mike, Chris, Stuart and Kirtsy.
New Abbey (start) is a nice wee village with a ruined (old?) Abbey and a nice little café. The race is 10.5 kms with 550m of climb. Details at this link:
Apparently this is a classic, but now in hindsight this is probably because it is a rather technical race due to the mud and a certainly a challenging race.
A fast start on a tarmacked single track road for about 1km, then a pleasant inclined track through conifer woodland. However, as the route gained height, the track got muddier and muddier and there followed about 1.5 kms of deep black peaty mud with hidden rocks and tussocks to the side. A torturous route – and that was going uphill when we were mostly walking. Thankfully, around ca. 300m, the path did dry a little but at the first peak (Knockendoch) we entered the cloud and there was a stiff westerly wind, so conditions were not ideal (no views of the Solway!). With misty glasses I stumbled up to the peak and back. On the downhill, although it was nice to be out of the cloud, we then had to navigate through the mud pit. This was hellish and was like losing your entire profile on your shoes – no control at all. It is amazing that no one twisted an ankle (or worse), although I did wack my knee on a rock and had my first bloodied knee ever in a race :-(. A pure joy to enter the woodland and race back along the dry track and road.
59 runners – winner came in at 56.06
Stuart Sanderson: 10th: 1:04:35
Mike Brooks: 15th: 1:07:35
Rob Wilson: 27th: 1:13:36
Chris Downie: 52nd: 1:29:17
Kirsty Loudon: 59th: 2:07:55
Hats off to Chris for jogging up to see Kirsty in. Stuart (+Lorna), Mike and I installed ourselves in the café and ate soup, coffee and cake and stayed nice and warm.
See you at Deuchary