‘Man who stand on hill with mouth open will wait long time for roast duck to drop in’
Sadly, as I gasped for breath at the summit of Dumyat hill after 2.5 miles of running (read: run/walking), I received neither roast duck nor other tempting food stuffs. Or respite. Or water. It is debateable whether I would have felt like roast duck given the glorious sunshine and sweat inducing temperature, but a longer break may have been nice to appreciate the stunning view which Dumyat hill race is set amidst. So thank you, Confucius, for providing enlightening hill running wisdom.
Given the stunning weather, it was hard not to get excited about the prospect of racing in such unusually nice conditions. Mike Diver kindly drove a minibus to the start which avoided having to look at Stirling campus much longer than necessary, as is the case when we normally walk there from Bridge of Allan train station. Some talk of exams and their needless infliction of pain on our lives happened at some point.
Upon arrival, race numbers were collected and then a very brief ‘warm up’ consisting of a couple of strides and dreaming of sunbathing happened. Personally, even a combination of saunas, sunburn or hot yoga would not have ‘warmed up’ my legs enough for the pain of continual ascent. Franko, Iona and Alice all headed up the course to provide much needed support. I am sorry for giving you dirty looks when ‘running’ past, hills and I have a tempestuous relationship.
The start was pretty crammed and folks jostled for position amongst a narrow, gradually ascending trail. As soon as the woods cleared, the vast stunning scenery was laid bare, but so was the rest of the necessary climb. I seriously questioned my life choices at that moment.
I lost sight of most of those running, but the men in particular ran incredibly well, gaining a fast start and holding onto it for the entire ascent and descent. Notably, ex-Harie James Waldie came second overall, an astonishing feat. A group of Harie men were soon to follow: Scott Stirling, who has had a really phenomenal season of racing, placed 7th, quickly followed by Elisha de Mello in 8th. Elisha had previously told me there “aren’t many hills in Rugby” so wasn’t sure how he would get on…Callum Smith, Will Rigg, Alex Leutchford and Andrew Lawler all followed in quick succession, placing 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th respectively. Leutch also sacrificed his hip for the cause by falling over and cutting himself, repeating last year’s self-harm through unnervingly fast descent. Jimmy Dunn and Mark Purkis swiftly followed suit, placing 19th and 27th. Mike Diver also ran very well, placing 32nd.
Georgie Cottle then stormed it and finished as first woman, and 34th overall! All those consecutive Pentlands runs evidently make you good at running hills/very good at enduring pain. Shortly behind her were Charlotte Watson and Calum McLeod, running home to place 43rd and 44th. A general theme of Harie hill racing dominance ought to be becoming apparent by now…
James Bryson then ran home and placed 66th. Which, by the laws of physics and physical stamina, was before Jack Luscombe…Ben Murphy also ran well, but for Strathearn Harriers, placing 68th. As future social sec, I hope more green vest wearing may happen next year, Ben…
Katie Reynolds, running her last race for the Haries (insert sad weeping noises here) finished one place ahead of Jack: Katie in 76th place, Jack in 77th. Next through the line was Sophie Collins, who chose to spend her 20th birthday with the most amazing people, this being us lot (ok by amazing I mean sweaty, green and a bit weird for wanting to run up a hill); I’m sure she had the best time of her life ascending that hill. She respectably placed 134th. This would have ensured bragging rights for any club entry that night, surely…Eliza Cottington, who has been training hard and performing very well after a year out last year, ran home to secure 150th position.
I came 183rd. More importantly I didn’t collapse at any point and actually completed my last Harie race. That’s good enough for me. Winning. Behind me was apparently Florence Haines; I didn’t see you at the race but I’ll trust the results (a risky strategy) and finished in a very respectable 241st. After Florence was Hazel in 249th, who rightfully pointed out that people didn’t have to cram and try and save 3 seconds when we had to cram through a narrow archway and steps. Preach. After Hazel was Jess in 285th, who bravely ran in long tights (normally it is the other way around, ‘bravely’ meaning running in shorts), as she forgot her shorts. I honestly don’t know how you didn’t melt over the course.
Post-race chat and birthday malteser cake thing was consumed, thank you Sophie! People were also very good at the catch a starburst in the mouth game, especially Franko and Scott. Hoping to see more of that talent on Harie Holiday.
We then waited for an inordinate amount of time to be told the wrong results. But instead of dwelling on that little saga, suffice it to say we are SCOTTISH HILL RACING CHAMPIONS! Again. A stupendous effort all around: from those who ran, supported, took pictures, baked, drove, or became injured in the process of running and walking a hard hill race.
It has been a phenomenal year of racing, training and socialising. The stunning weather of Dumyat and support for each other throughout the race really reiterated how fundamentally brilliant the Haries are and will continue to be. Bring on Harie Holiday; summer; and a future full of running, green, top people and top friendships.
‘It is one of the blessings of friends that you can afford to be stupid with them’
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
*As a post script… in terms of results, placings rather than times seem more apt, due to the inaccurate nature of the chip timing results (resulting in a marshal initially winning the hill race, an impressive feat of phantom running and persuasive hypnosis…). It therefore seemed fairer to runners to state where they placed as opposed to the time they got. For timings the results are up on files on the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/150756404955116/files/