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Ben Lomond Hill Race

16/05/2017

On Saturday 13th May, Ranjit and I decided to head to Rowardennan and join a hundred or so fellow hill runners for a race up Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southern munro. 

This was a race neither of us had entered before so there was both excitement and apprehension in equal measures.

The race begins next to the Rowardennan hotel and is an out and back route, climbing 3150ft and covering 7.7miles. Registration was at the Clansman bar adjacent to the hotel. This was a great spot to catch up with fellow hill runners. Although the flip side was that when it came to heading out for the race, we found it a struggle to leave the cosiness of the bar especially given the wood burning stove was right next to our table.

Pre-race preparation for Ranjit invariably involves an in-depth discussion of various choices of footwear. On this occasion, a new variable was introduced to the equation which was the right choice of socks. As it turned out, as certain socks had been left in Balmaha, he didn’t really have a choice of what trainers to wear. 

The race began in warm conditions although accompanied with drizzle. The initial mile was on runnable paths with only modest climb. Around 1000ft up, the race route leaves the tourist path and heads up the grassy bank of Ben Lomond until you rejoin the path at 2000ft. This section of the race was slightly easier with a decent mile of running on non technical terrain with minimal climbing. At this stage, the cloud had come in and visibility dropped markedly. It was a fair bit colder too. The final mile involved a tough final section of 700-800ft climbing before running along the ridge to the summit.  After turning, it was for the most part a return along the route we had ascended.

Having run side by side until around 1200ft, I managed to lose Ranjit on the first steep climb of the race, and then managed to hold on to the lead until the end. I finished in 1h56m36s with Ranjit coming in, as always smiling (or possibly grimacing?) at 1h59m5s.

An enjoyable day was had by all participants, and we have to say a big thank you to Westies for expertly organising the event. The waymarking on the hillside was plentiful, and marshals were dotted all around, which is always reassuring when running in such variable conditions.

Mo Khan

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