Very early on Saturday I left for Dufftown with Scott and the kids to enter the Ben Rinnes hill race. I’d read a little about it and Rob had assured me it was manageable! I’d also realised it would cover some of the much needed training for Ben Nevis. It’s described as the most runnable of the long hill races, with little real navigation, another plus for me. The race is part of the Dufftown Highland Games, so while I ran, the boys watched caber tossing amongst other things, and ate their body weight in ice cream and sweets.
The route takes you over Little Conval, Meikle Conval and up Ben Rinnes, then
back the same way. It has elevation of over 1500 metres, which my legs were really feeling by the final climb on the way back, and is just short of 14 miles. We set off just after midday, starting with a lap around the pitch where the games were taking place – and the sun decided to come out. I love the sun but the timing wasn’t great and I found the first half hour tough as I tried not to panic about the distance etc. Thankfully after that, I began to relax and enjoy the sections of running and walking as we went over Little Conval, down and then up Meikle Conval. There were some quite boggy sections here but still fairly manageable.
The descent on Meikle Conval was a bit tougher through heather and the recent rain had made it fairly muddy, so I had a bit of an undignified slide down. At the foot of the hill on the road crossing there was a very welcome water station, and some lovely marshals giving us lots of encouragement. Then it was time to start the climb up Ben Rinnes. We’d been instructed to keep to the rocky path at all times, which takes a winding route up the hill. I’d definitely found my mojo at this point and really enjoyed the climb to the summit. The ground had thankfully dried up there, and so I managed some decent running back down with no falls – phew. After this, we followed the same route back over the Convals, with lots of great downhill sections and back to finish with a lap round the playing field again. There was lots of support from the crowd watching the Games, and a great atmosphere.
The race is well organised, with great marshals and a well marked route. The Highland games are great to watch too. I so enjoyed it (despite the cramping legs), and definitely plan to return next year. Hopefully we could get a few Harriers to enter!