Monday, 14 May 2012

Dumyat Hill Race, Stirling.

After the Kaim Hill Race last month I had wanted to do another, but planned on waiting until after the WHWR as I had the 'Fling', 'Cateran' and the 'WHWR' ultras all within a short space of time and didn't want to risk falling down a mountain side on my face. So after the 'Fling' I was just going to spend the next few weeks, until the Cateran, running on the Glennifer Braes and over on the Kilpatricks. Then came a facebook post from Andy Johns about Dumyat. So I thought seeing as it was only over in Stirling and it was ten days before the Cateran, I'd risk it. I never really paid much attention to the hills around Stirling, so on the drive up I was struck by how beautiful they looked. However, when I saw Dumyat from the road my first reaction was 'Oh crap, that's a steep looking climb'.
The start was in the grounds of Stirling University and I was surprised at how many people were here to run. I lost count of the number of clubs I saw being represented.
I headed over to the sports centre to get my race number. £4, a bargin! Inside was a scene of organised chaos and bedlam. The queue snaked round several corridors but eventually with ten minutes to go I had my number. I rushed back to my car, got changed and was ready to go. I had worn my trail shoes for the Kaim race but found they weren't much use on that type of terrain, so today I was using my Salomon Winter contragrip shoes which have deep sole lugs (sounds like an Aretha Franklin song). There were a godsend today on the near vertical lower climbs and muddy sections. They gave me extra confidence when flying downhill over the rocky sections as well. I met Andy Johns near the start, he's had a fantastic year so far and flew up and down this hill today. I had a pre-race target time of getting as close to 1 hour as I could. I had no idea of the route or terrain so just take it as it came at me.
We were off. Right from the start it goes UP. No gentle warm up on the flat, just up and up and up! After a couple of minutes we ground to a halt as the path squeezes you through a small narrow gap in a wall. There were lots of narrow sections lower down on the route and a few times I had to cast aside manners and just barge past those sliping and sliding because they wore the wrong shoes. By god that was a brutal climb! I didn't fully realise just how tough this wee hill was. Lungs bursting and muscles screaming out from Lactic overload was the order of the day. The weather was fantastic and views were awesome, although I spent 90% of my time looking at where I was putting my feet.
Somewhere near the top I heard my name being shouted and looking around spotted that it was Karen Donoghue. I'll probably get into trouble for doing this so close to her race, the Cateran. Not long after, the first of the leaders came barrelling past on his return leg. Soon after it was like dodging missiles as runners came belting past. If you were on their racing line you either moved the hell out their way or ended up being man handled out the way. A bit like playing Donkey Kong avoiding barrells. Dumyat, I discovered has a few false tops and a dip into a boggy mire which involves hurdling a fence followed by more energy sapping scrambling and climbing. It just kept going up relentlessly. 418 metres? My arse! And then just when I felt I was going to expire, the summit. There was a wee crowd up here, including Ali Bryan Jones, we said a quick hi and as I ran around the summit beacon to start my return leg he took the photo below.
Now began the crazy and mental decent. Now it was my turn to find the best line, like a patriot missle I was off. That was a wild return, probably 70% out of control. After getting past the rocky sections I found I was passing people. Then the boggy bit, where I avoided the face plant, hurdling the fence like a grand national winner.  The lower section was muddy as hell as runners were sliding all over the place. One girl came bouncing past me on her backside! So between avoiding rocks, tree roots, low branches, muddy ruts and other flailing runners it's a wonder I made it down in one piece. Then I was through the hole in the wall and sprinting down the road to cross the finish line. Mental. I finished the 5 miles in 49.55 (197th from 372).
I met Norry at the finish and had a chat, hopefully we'll get a chance to have another at the Cateran.It's always great to put a face to a name.
I'm really enjoying these hill races as it combines a bit of speed work with some leg strengthening hill work. I'm hoping to do another couple after the WHWR. Next comes the Cateran, Bring it!

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