Stuc ‘a Chroin Hill Race

Having spent last weekend in the Lakes as one of 100 runners shortlisted to join Berghaus and TORQ’S trail running team I was feeling rather optimistic about my abilities again after a long period of funk following a spell of injuries.

I had the pleasure of running down Helvellyn with Steve Birkinshaw that day who is about to embark on running all 214 Lakeland Wainwrights in under 10 days. A great down to earth guy juggling work, family etc too.

It was that false sense of security that helped get me to the start line at Stuc ‘a Chroin on Saturday. Myself and fellow Harrier Alasdair Hind enjoyed the journey up, got registered and waited for the off.

I kept reminding myself of the last couple of race reports from Rob and Duncan and praying it wasn’t quite that tough. Fool, there were 100% spot on!

In no time at all I found myself on the muddy descent into Glen Ample and, just like Rob and Duncan, knew I would be returning that way. Then came the massive slog up. This was more of a scramble for an inexperienced hill runner like me (Carnethy being my first one in Feb) and I don’t mind saying it scared the unmentionables out of me a couple of times as it was that steep.

Things improved once I hit the summit of Beinn Each, my first Corbett. Enjoying it a bit more now it was long walk / run from there across a ridge to Stuc. I was now firmly at the back of the pack but not really fussy about that.

Chuffed to have bagged my first Munro I started the descent and got chatting to a nice chap from Helm Hill Runners about classic Lakeland Races and generally keeping moving forward.



We motivated each other to keep at it all the way down. After a very long hard slog up I was really enjoying the descent but had found eating and drinking hard on the way up as I needed my wits about me. I felt the effects of that later on as we plunged back into Glen Ample.

Now there was just nothing left in me to climb back out but there wasn’t a plan B so head down and counted to 100 repeatedly to occupy my mind from screaming chuck it in. Thank you Paula Radcliffe 😉

More of the same continued along with horrible cramp which I’ve not really had much of before.

Fast forward and I ended up crossing the line in about 4:15 putting me in the very last dribs and drabs of finishers. Ach well, a good day out, some firsts achieved and I earned my tee shirt. Alasdair fared better around 45 mins before me, good on you!

A couple of reflections, train more, eat and drink more! Due to work and family I have only been getting out once a week for an hour or so which is not enough. Its been months since I put in a 4hr plus shift. I would also definitely have taken more food and drink on had I known how I would feel later. Should know better but sometimes you forget the hard way.

Its taken me a couple of days to answer a question from a marshall on the summit of Stuc…would I do it again? Yes, but with the respect it deserves!

Worth a wee note to say the organisation and support was brilliant. Route flagged all the way and you really could not go wrong. There were marshalls all the way and a ready supply of jelly babies and water. Big thanks to the Strathyre community for that and two helpings of much needed soup at the finish!

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6 comments on Stuc ‘a Chroin Hill Race

  1. sooz says:

    Sounds like my kind of hill race, having the unmentionables scared out of you and finding someone to chat to – will definitely give this race a go!

    Will done Alan & Alasdair 🙂

  2. Ellie says:

    Well done both! I remember scrambling up that Munro at about 13 years old, via Ben Vorlich in front of it. Steep work!

  3. Duncan says:

    Well done Alan and Alasdair! Stuc a Chroin is definitely a classic and I remember parts of it with immense clarity. Very tempted to do it again some day.
    Duncan (jelly babies no more).

    • athornburrow says:

      Thanks Duncan, I reckon a good few moments will be etched in my memory for a long time to come!

  4. Jan Dawson says:

    Well done Alan! You did it and finished it, despite all the odds, so you should be proud 🙂

    And you’re a Munro and Corbett virgin no more!


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