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Meall a´Ghiuthais race report
Jul 18, 2022
Meall a’Ghiuthais race report

What began as an informal short but steep informal club race during Covid blossomed into a cheeky extended “short” to one of the finer viewpoints in the Torridons. The weather was perfect – the rain, cold and winds of most of the last few weeks in the NW Highlands were pushed out of the way by the deadly heat wave further south in Britain and mainland Europe, and the air temperature reached a sweltering 20 degrees in Kinlochewe.

Originally, one of the motivations for this race was to get lots of hill runners together who had not seen each other for a long time and to have a great weekend. To make it attractive enough for people to travel all this way, it was fixed up to be a championship counter, and paired with the An Teallach race the following day. The ploy worked. The terrain offers a bit of everything – except for bad tussocks, a river crossing or anything remotely drivable. Route choice for most of the middle half of the race is never obvious, and many different lines were enjoyed. If you enjoy descending steep hillsides with turf, some rocks, a bit of scree, followed by a relentless downhill rocky track, this was a descent to die for.

There was only one retiral with a sprained ankle early in the race, but most notable – and unfortunate – was when Lisa Blackley sprained her ankle quite badly (understatement - it turns out she had fractured her tibia, and was in significant pain, but did not want to call out the MRT!) on the descent near the bottom of the steep hillside. Two young women, Madeleine Watson and Tilly Hamilton, sacrificed their race to help Lisa back at least as far as the Pony Path, made sure she was being attended to, then continued. They would accept no praise and said they had really enjoyed the run. Lisa made it down – and finished.

Unless you are a finish marshal or timer, you never get to see Finlay Wild haring across the line. However, on this occasion, he had not even started his lunch when only 2½ minutes later Alistair Masson came flying down. They compared notes for a full five minutes before James Espie arrived, closely followed by other top runners, with Andy Fallas coming in at 9th, first V40, and achieving his objective of being in the first ten.

Zoë Harding produced a brilliant run to win first woman, followed closely by Fiona Bunn. First woman and first man will both receive a garment from Mountain Equipment, one of our sponsors. There was a special prize of a cashmere scarf donated by Joy Moran (Martin’s wife) for the first woman over 40, Veronique Oldham. All other runners on the prize list received two beers from one of our brewery sponsors, Black Isle Brewery. Category winners received a wooden trophy carved in the shape of the race profile.

It is clearly a course where experience counts. The first two W40s were over 50 and the first two M50s were over 60. Mentioning no names as it is too worrying.

Thanks to every single runner who contributed to a most enjoyable event.

Graham

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