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Ben Nevis Race

08/09/2015

 

The first Saturday of September is always an important date in the hill running calendar as it is the day the Ben Nevis hill race is held. This is a popular event with almost 500 runners representing clubs from all over the UK. Lining up for DRC this year were Mo Khan, Craig Malcolmson and Jacob Tangey. Mo reports as follows…

 

 

‘ The route is an out and back run starting and ending with a lap of Claggan shinty park. The distance of 8.7miles includes 4406ft of climb. Once out of Claggan, there is a mile of tarmac (anathema to fell runners) to the foot of the hill. Most runners follow the tourist path until crossing the Red Burn halfway up. From there, it’s a slog straight up the scree slopes until the summit plateau is reached. Numbered wristbands are handed over to the marshals, handfuls of jellybeans are taken from them, and then you turn back for the descent.

 

 In keeping with the ethos of hill running, you can choose whatever route you want to head to the finish line. Most choose a route that takes you down a steep grassy bank, which is best tackled with bum sliding, before rejoining the tourist path. Local knowledge helps and it’s not uncommon to see the odd Lochaber AC runner veer off on less obvious routes, only to reappear way ahead of you!  

 

The sun was out this year, with no cloud or wind whatsoever. Perfect conditions for hiking or spectating. Not so good for runners! No complaints though as the views from the summit plateau were breathtaking. 

 

The race was won by Finlay Wild in 1h30m56s. In doing so, he set a record with 6 consecutive wins. Diane Wilson from Dromore AC was first lady finishing in 2h00m41s.

 

Jacob’s race strategy was to go out fast in the first mile and hold something in reserve for a fast finish. He was the first DRC runner to the summit, with Craig reaching the top shortly afterwards. Craig’s descending skills saw him overtake Jacob before the grassy bank. However he couldn’t open up a big enough gap before reaching the foot of the hill. Jacob’s speed on the road saw him overtake Craig and he finished his first Ben in a great time of 2h15m36s. Craig didn’t enjoy the hot conditions but still had a solid run finishing in 2h16m24s. Having completed 5 Bens, he is well on the way to being the first DRC runner to be awarded a Connochie plaque…he only has to finish the race another 16 times.

 

Mo really struggled with the weather and was not running well until the Red Burn. After halfway he did seem to feel stronger and started to overtake runners on the scree slopes. His finish on the final mile was better too. However the damage was done early in the race and he once again narrowly missed out on a sub 3h time, finishing in 3h00m39s. Well, at least he has a reason to return next year!

 

An enjoyable night was had in Fort William in the company of fellow hill runners. There seems to be a bit of a tradition developing, celebrating in a certain pub with Fife AC post-race. Big thanks to club chairman Peter and Zoe for their words of much needed encouragement. A  big thank you to the BNRA for ensuring the safety of all runners.

 

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