Ben Resipole Hill Race – 2019

Resipole is a good 4 hours drive (+ ferry) away from Penicuik and therefore is not a race that one would often consider. However, as I had fieldwork on Rannoch moor the day before I saw an opportunity to run a new race. It is always nice to lose one’s “race virginity”. For me it does not happen very often now, but there is an added excitement to a race when you have no idea what is coming around the next corner. I asked around if anyone else was interested in coming up and I was surprised when Andrea, Duncan, Kate and Des were game. We decided to make a weekend of it so booked a fixed birth caravan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

The Ben Resipole Hill Race is ~12 kms with a hefty 845m height gain.

Ben Resipole – full route. Due to weather we did not do the loop at the summit.

The SHR Ben Resipole website also includes a nice video of the race from 2017:

To be honest, the video is a complete lie – it looks sooooo pleasant. In reality, this is one of the muddiest and more technical races I have ever run but it was a good crack.

So – last Saturday, we woke up around 7-8am (Race start 1pm) to the nice gentle shaking of the caravan. The gorgeous view of the previous day (see below) was now greyed out with heavy horizontal rain – explaining the rocking of the caravan. Luckily, we were completely offline because Twitter and FB were saying that the Ferry had been cancelled, and the race was in some degree of cancellation jeopardy. Meanwhile, Kate “zombied” into the living room looking like death and immediately returned to bed to nurse her migraine (we did admittedly drink perhaps too much while playing cards the night before). So – overall – perhaps not a good start to the day.

Long story short, we turned up to the race start at lunchtime (after completing a 500-piece jigsaw) with Kate feeling somewhat better and the weather much improved. The race had not been cancelled and the compromise was that the summit loop would not be run, and the race would simply go to the summit and back. Andrea – the “hip recovering Uber-Spectator” left about 20 minutes before the race started to get up on the hill to take some pictures.

Only 41 runners – a super relaxed atmosphere and initially fairly good weather although we could not see the peak which was clagged in. I wont go into a lot of detail, but the race started off pleasant enough, but after about 0.5 kms the route dived into the woodland beside the river with no real path – extremely technical with slimey rocks, vegetation and trees etc. It was initially a relief to come out of the wood onto the open hill side until we realised that the whole route was a huge mud pit until the steep technical slimy rocks of the last kilometre. It was a tough leg sapping climb. Des was battling with Angela Mudge with Duncan not too far behind. I could always see Duncan in the distance but lost him once we entered the mist.

Andrea seems to have been everywhere and despite her “not running”, was in fact often running up slope quicker than many of the runners.

Much of the race route was relatively sheltered from the strong southerly wind, but for the final kilometre once the route left the river valley, we were all exposed to the full onslaught of the wind (and now rain). It was all rather grim to be honest – thank god I put my contacts in. I was battling with two guys at the summit and on the turnaround, we sprinted off down through the slippy rocks and mud in a rather terrifying fashion. One of the guys soon fell back but all the way down to the final track I battled with a Lochaber runner – both of us not giving an inch – both of us clearly terrified about twisting an ankle but not wanting to give the other an advantage. It was fabulous fun and we both kept screaming at each other when we slipped or got bogged down but quickly got up to battle on. This is what racing is all about. I love it!

Alas – for the final kilometre the route joined a rocky track which my knees hated. My speed immediately slowed, and I quickly lost him. Meanwhile as I made my way down the track, I saw Des waving and shouting at me. To my embarrassment, I did not realise that Des had lost a shoe somewhere further up in the bogs. I had assumed he had already finished and had jogged back up to shout encouragement. So, I ran past gargling thanks for the support and focussed on the final half kilometre. It was only when Des crossed the finish line about 30 seconds after me (with odd shoes – a random person had given him a trainer to finish with) that I realised what had happened. In hindsight, I wish I had realised so we could have either 3-legged the final half kilometre together or, for more kudo creds, it would have been rather funny to have given him a piggy back. Next time.

I would just ike to add that we did make fun of Des at the state of his shoes before the race. He’s not a newb and should have known better. 😉

When conditions are so bad, it somehow makes the whole process much more satisfying when you finish. There was a buzz of “job well done” in the marquee at the end while we waited for the prizes. It was a lot of fun, but I am sure the organisers were happy and relieved that no one got lost or injured.

Final results:

Anglea Mudge – 7th – 01:27:27 – 1st lady

Duncan Ball – 8th – 01:32:54 – 1st V50 – taking full advantage of Des’ woes

Rob Wilson – 13th – 01:35:33 – 2nd V40

Des Crowe – 14th – 01:36:08 – 2nd V50

Kate Crowe – 32nd – 02:13:57 – 1st FV50

Kenny Cairns – 34th – 02:17:13

Andrea Wilson – did not race but still beat some of the slower runners – she’ll be back!!!

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4 comments on Ben Resipole Hill Race – 2019

  1. Bill Bennet says:

    A fascinating report Rob on an obviously challenging hill race. Well done all, including Andrea, for surviving it. A 4 hour drive seems a long way to go just to run up and down a hill. I do not understand why so few of us drive, say 2 hours to the Lake District, where there are some cracking hills and some very challenging Fell Races.

  2. Duncan says:

    Great report Rob it sums up the day brilliantly. Just to put the record straight – I drove up early on the Saturday morning and got to the Resipole campsite at about 11:00. I had my wee ‘Jura’ tent with me and pitched it there and then whilst the weather was not too bad. However, after the race the weather got worse and worse and I didn’t take much persuading to accept the offer of the spare bed in the spacious caravan.
    Great decision as we had a tasty meal in the Loch Shiel Hotel (who wouldn’t lend us a corkscrew) and a weird game of cards back at the caravan (not strip poker thankfully).
    Next day we cycled along the Ardnamurchan peninsula with a pleasant cafe stop on the way back. Lovely scenic, quietish single track road but lots of ups and downs.
    Much appreciated Des’s exploding shoe as I ended up with unexpected 2 cans of beer. I did think of handing one of them back to Des – but am far too stingy!

  3. Mark Dawson says:

    Brilliant report. Sounds grim but a lot of fun too. Glad the race went on and the summit was still possible, even though the loop was out. Great photos too. Well done all!

  4. Jan D says:

    Great stuff team. Sounds tough, but entertaining all the same! Would have loved to see you give Des a piggy back over the finish line 🙂

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