Kirroughtree Hillbilly Duathlon 2019

I was hoping that my strategy of simply not doing this year’s Kirroughtree duathlon as a solo participant would amount to a more pleasant experience than last time.

It couldn’t be much worse than last year’s hellish cramp-fest. I suppose I could be squashed by a falling tree or attacked by an angry osprey but to be honest a race-ending wildlife incident last time would have been a handy excuse to go home early.

I’d been introduced to a handy local runner, Jamie, a couple of weeks before the event. We didn’t know each other before then but I was hopeful we’d make a decent team. At the very least I hoped he’d turn up because once I’d put our entry in, he owed me twenty quid….

“I’ll be in the changeover bit, waving my arms around”, I said, expecting a large crowd for Jamie to negotiate. Luckily he returned from the 10K looking like he’d not done a 10k run at all, in 7th place. So I was easy to spot and feeling a bit of pressure to perform just as well as he had, I got cracking.

I was riding the Blur this time because it’s ideal for a fast lap of the red trail at Kirroughtree. Riding fast is obviously a bit part of it, but knowing the lines and being able to just sit down and pedal over lumpy rock obstacles is just as important. Fortunately I caught up with Sam, who’s probably ridden the red route more than my 4 or 5 times and so I kind of just followed his wheel (and may have learned a bit about the best ways to ride some of the more awkward bits of the trail). Following Sam’s wheel wasn’t a bed of roses either, I was feeling ok but wasn’t sure if and when I’d have to slow down a bit…

3 seconds separated us at the finish, me rolling across the line also in 7th place. So that was tidy. I don’t ‘do’ short races as a rule so I was chuffed with that.

Jamie and I finished in 4th place overall, 3rd in our category. As a rare treat for me, I was placed in the young person, non-veteran category because Jamie’s about half my age. In fact I was the oldest person on our podium – easily old enough to be everyone else’s dad in fact.

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10 Under the Ben 2019

After our pairs win at the Strathpuffer, Sofia and I decided that we’d take the Christiansen/Miles Steamroller to Fort William for a crack at 10 Under the Ben.

Just 5 hours each. How hard could it be?

Thanks to the Clan McGowan our accommodation in Fort William for the evening before the race was all sorted and after a surprisingly healthy-looking veggie burger (and chips) in Tyndrum we rolled the Breakpad Tranny into town just before it was time for bed.

Oh look, it’s my turn AGAIN to do the first lap. I thought I had the last laugh when we were told that lap 1 was going to be a short one – straight up the fireroad to thin out the pack. If it was more than a mile shorter than the regular course I’d be really surprised, for some reason I was expecting a 20 minute zip around the woods rather than an 8.5 mile painfest but I tumbled into the transition area with a smile on my face and the taste of blood in my throat. At least I’d warmed up a bit and had left some pastry in the van for breakfast.

Sof’s adventures in South Africa and the hard training she’d been doing recently had all paid off as her lap times were nice and quick, so quick in fact that I had to deny myself any kind of easy laps throughout the race just to make sure I was putting in similar times. It’s so important in pairs racing to have an evenly-matched team mate, even when you both seem to be driving each other to the brink of destruction 😉

In between laps we were kept entertained by the junior downhill practice – the race was due to happen the day after and our local downhill superstar, Katy McGowan was going to be racing.

A crash on a Root Of Doom (TM) on my 3rd lap had me wincing for a while and reaching for the ibuprofen but other than that we both had a reasonably flawless race and while we both tired towards the end, we maintained a 20-30 minute gap and took the mixed pairs win, finishing 6th overall.

This was the 17th 10 Under the Ben, which is both super-impressive and a credit to No Fuss Events but it’s also made me feel very old indeed….

(photo – Keith Fawcett)

A McDonalds and cramp-themed drive home through the glens and forests of Scotland in the wee small hours rounded off a good old-fashioned smash and grab weekend.

The awesome Katy McGowan finished in second place the day after!

Something in the water in Newton Stewart I think…