Clachnaben is one of those hill races I have never gotten around to racing. With it being just outside Banchory it is an awful long way to drive for an hour and 20 odd minutes of running. However with it forming race one of the Scottish Hill champs this year it seemed like a good time to give it a go. It also falls two weeks out from the Highland Fling so there was no real need to be doing a long run this weekend. Perfect.
The race consists of 13.6km and 690m of climbing over two Hills, Mount Shade and Clachnaben. Terrain would have to be described as “gnarly”. Pretty boggy forrestry tracks, and some rough and tussocky hills. Good fun if you like that sort of thing, not so fun if you don’t. Most people finished with a big grin on their faces so most seem to fall in the former camp. Or maybe the big grins were for the Keg of beer from sponsors Deeside Brewery at the finish line.
The good people at Westerlands had decided to organise a bus from Glasgow to the race . They kindly let myself and Al from Bella and a few Shettleston big guns gatecrash their heavily subsidised bus. Thank you Westies. It was much appreciated not having to drive all the way. After a 3.5 hour drive we were deposited at the end of a track where we walked half a mile to the race start which consisted of a tent and a couple of marshals with clipboards, such is the delightfully low key nature of Scottish hill racing even at Championship races. After a bit of warming up about 200 assembled on the start line. The start was an entertaining charge through some rough forest with fallen trees and water crossings to negociate before we hit the 1st climb through the firebreak in the forest.
Here set the tone for the day where I would overtake people on the moderate climbs and go backwards on the steep stuff. I ended up in a bit of back and forth with fellow Bella Al. He was a bit stronger on the climbs I would claw it back on the flats. This continued until we hit the final climb up Clachnaben where he had a bit of a bonk. I reached the summit tor and promptly started to descend in the wrong direction, pretty stupid considering the descent was clearly flagged. Luckily a wee shout from a marshal stopped me before I descended to far in the wrong direction, but I still managed to drop about 5 places. I managed to drop a few more on the boggy descent which was a bit rough for my “skill set”. I took a couple of tumbles but didn’t come of as bad as one chap who disapeared completely in to a ditch where he stayed for a bit of a lie down. I asked if he was OK, which he said he was but he didn’t seem in any great hurry to get out so I carried on. Eventually we hit the forest track to return back to where we started.
I crossed the line in the dizzy heights of 50th place, only the 1st 40 score championship points it nill points for me. Still, it was a hugely entertaining race, which gets extra kudos for having a keg of beer from Deeside brewery on the finish line. I made a beeline for this since there was no driving to be done today. My Salomon soft flask does now taste decidedly hoppy though.