Another week and another late call up for a hard race, this time it was the first ever Hillbilly 10k around the Dalmellington countryside, in aid of Cancer Research through local support group Butterfly Events. Whilst the drive down to Ayrshire was accompanied by wind, rain, sleet and large hailstones, the sunshine appeared in time for the 11am race start.
The pre-race briefing had revealed that the cross country route was to be more like a hill race (see profile).
I’ve never claimed to be a hill runner, or a cross country runner for that matter and with me still being tired from last week’s Strathaven experience, that wasn’t going to change today. However the race was for a good cause and I had a number of friends also participating in it, including Richard Cooper, who had done so well at the 3k on the Green and Sylvia Mulholland, who had also endured last week’s Strathaven Half.
I lined up with them and a further 80 runners at the edge of the Craigengillan Estate. We ran a couple of hundred metres and then turned right, through a small gate and onto a single lane tarmac road, alongside the River Doon. We turned left and south of the Bogton Loch and the fun begun as the path turned to muddy farm tracks and woodland paths, ice cold puddles, and of course those hills, climbing, not once but twice, to peaks of 240m!
Although the scenery was beautiful, it didn’t look that great when I fell into the mud but there was no harm done and I quickly got back to my feet and continued my race. I stopped for a breather before tackling an exceptionally steep hill, which was just as well as a few seconds later descending runners appeared advising me that it was the wrong direction.
I had head some marshals shouting “first lady”, soon after I had past them. At around the 6k point there was an out and back part, which allowed me to see some of the leaders ahead of me and also to see that the ‘first lady’ behind me was Sylvia. Whilst knowing she was chasing after me, gave me some added incentive to work hard there were still a couple of steep hills where I resorted to walking a little.
After 8k the route went down towards the village and I was hopefull that I would be able to hold off Sylvia’s challenge but there was a sting in the tail still to come, as we were then directed away from the village and back into the fields, over a wooden bridge and uphill though the moors by way of a zigzag path. I was getting confused and worried now, as not only was I tired but Garmin was indicating that I had already completed 10k.
Along a farm track I ran and then turned right by the sides of the woods and down to the River Doon, through a gate and over the bridge, with the Finish now in sight, a sprint took me over the line in 18th place with a time of 53:58 and a distance of 10.45k I just about had time to catch my breath before being joined by Sylvia, who won the women’s race in a time of 54:12.
I chatted with the other finishers, including Richard*, who had won the Men’s Race with a time of 42:18, and cheered some other runners over the line before warming down back to Doon Valley Leisure Centre, where a hot shower and a lovely buffet rewarded us for our efforts.
*Richard’s son Keiran Cooper won the Junior race and placed fifth overall, with a time of 47:47.
A great race, great scenery, great marshals and for a great cause too. Many thanks to all, especially Lorna Dempsey for organising the event. Here’s looking forward to next year’s race.
Pics by David Connell and Frank McHugh, more here.