Saturday, 3rd May saw me back at the Stuc a’Chroin 5000 Hill Race, having had a rather interesting experience of the race in 2013. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that, in 2013, I abandoned my race and helped a distressed, hypothermic runner off the hill. You can read about it here. That was actually my second unsuccessful attempt at Stuc a’chroin: in 1996 I walked up its neighbouring Munro, Ben Vorlich, in near white-out, and discovered I had left my compass at home, and so took the wise decision to go back down the way I came up, rather than carry on to the Stuc!
Conditions for this year’s race were, once again, not typical of the very good conditions it often has. The summit temperature forecasts were similar to 2013; 3 degrees Celsius. However, there the similarity ended, as the winds were rather light and, although it was rather murky high up, it wasn’t raining.
The route is more or less an out and back from Strathyre, climbing up through forest on rather runnable tracks for a few miles, crossing over a very boggy ridge, making a steep descent into Glen Ample, then an even steeper, and longer, ascent out of the glen to the Corbett summit of Beinn Each. It is then ‘simply’ a matter of following the path over to the summit of Stuc a’Chroin, before turning around to follow the same path back towards Beinn Each, to join a path that missus its summit and makes a traversing descent into Glen Ample, where the outward route is rejoined back to the start/finish.
I certainly felt faster than last year, as much a anything because I wasn’t wearing tights! I felt the lack of hill running over the winter and spring in my legs on the climbs, but really enjoyed the descents: my core strength is improving and I was wearing very grippy Inov8 Mudclaw shoes, both of which made the ‘technical’ downhills feel doable at speed!
The last few fast miles through the forest were a real test: I was nearly caught by Colin Wilson, from my club, the Lomond Hill Runners, which made me really push right up to the line.
The sun was out when I finished. I lay on the grass, panting and grateful that it was over. At last, I’ve summited Stuc a’Chroin!
Please don’t forget why I’m blogging: