Thursday, 6 August 2009

Ben Kenneth Hill Race, S Uist, 2 Aug'09

We were on Uist, and wanted to try the Ben Kenneth Hill Race. After spending sometime on the Machair and the beaches, I went for a recci of the route. All I knew was that the race went from the hotel in Lochboisdale to Ben Kenneth and back - you could choose any route you liked ! The quickest times were recorded when runners swam over a channel - through seaweed ! Well I deliberated and thought about just going and taking photos. But a superb evening persuaded me to run, and seeing the list there were folk from everywhere - Cambridge, Dublin and of course many locals. I've never seen such quick running from the start (which was by shotgun) - two local guys really belted off and we followed them up the main street, over the causeway, and to the narrow channel. Nothing for it, just get in - it was horrible - seaweed tying your legs and a current attempting to pull you towards the sea. Tom Smith from Lochaber was just infront of me, then he was nowhere to be seen - he wimped out on the swim and ran upstream to wade over by a pipe. Through more seaweed and onto dry land, we headed up through heather and I gradually reeled in the other runners and was in the lead by the time we reached the first marshall. From there on I was on my own. About turn on the summit, back down and over the channel again, then a run back along Lochboisdale main street with hundreds of spectators, all cheering and sounding their car-horns. I'd won ! 2nd and 3rd place were taken by local runners. Tom had worked his way back up to second place by the time he'd reached the channel again, but wimped out of the swim once more, costing him 6 places. A great little tough hill race with really friendly atmosphere and a souvenir and certificate for every runner. More photos on my Flickr page and more info on the Ben Kenneth website.