Friday, July 31, 2015

Scottish Adventure / Cafe Holiday 2015

We left work late as TSK had to finish his last day at his old job.  He will return to a new one.  By the time we reached the A66 we are tired and ready to stop – somewhere on the way, but where?  We cruised past the place that we had in mind and continue, eventually noticing a campsite sign at the last moment, braking in the car and swinging in.  They had room for us.  Can we book in tomorrow when the lady of the house is in? 

She clearly runs the show.  I clearly do not as I have forgotten the tent pegs.  I fixed it though and blagged some off a caravanner to save us the embrarrasment and inconvenience of trekking to Keswick, only to come back and proceed again tomorrow.

It was such a nice evening we pitched the Tentipi without its inner for the first time.  We layed the Thermarests straight on the ground because it was so dry.

I went out to do the dishes and captured a rising moon, bigger than I have ever seen in the UK.  It’s glowing orange.

We had a sleepless night.  It was windy and stormy and the tipi flapped uncontrollably (we later fixed this issue - User error!) and it lashed it down.  We survived dry and we cooked breakfast at 7 whilst the storm raged outside.  It got closer and at one point we heard crack-boom.  The closest lightening strike we’ve experienced since Quebec 9 years ago. The stablehand thinks the shed was struck.

Once things dried out a bit, we took the tentipi down, bundled it into the back of the car and returned the tent pegs with great thanks and an appreciation of the weather we’d all endured.  I was glad we tested ourselves (and the tipi) before we committed to Scotland.

Next stop: Gretna Green for tent pegs from the Sport Direct store where I was offered a magazine with Mark Cavendish on the front.  I explained I’d better pay my husband some attention whilst I’m on holiday. 
Karrera Island.  Always sunny when we're there
We’ve been to Oban before and really enjoyed it.  This time we signed up for a 4 hour wait at the ferry terminal.  Unknowingly, we were sold a standby ticket, with no more promise than guaranteed on the 8pm sailing.  We arrived at 3:30pm.  Personally, I’d have chosen a night in Oban and crossing the next day but I didn’t get a choice from the clerk on the desk.  There were a lot of disgruntled people - and not just me.

The Ferry to Mull
We arrived on the Isle of Mull at 9pm and set about choosing a campsite.  We had at least, by now, figured out where they all were and gradually discounted them.  If we’d turned left out of the ferry terminal we’d have been OK but I had to chose to be near the mountain so after rejecting a few as mere fields with no sign of sanitary drinking water, never mind toilets, we settled on Tobermory which I thought would be over-commercialised but was far from it.

The caravan site may have been but our tent field was occupied by one cycle tourist and he shared his midge coil with us.

After a lot of swearing putting the tent up and unpacking the car, we eventually burned all the little feckers to death before settling down for the night.  Dishes were done indoors.


Mull’s only Munro, Ben More.  We were surprisingly organised and on the hill by 10:30.  We ran up as much as we could.  The top was surprisingly cool but we persevered in shorts and fleece and ran to the top, waving to a couple who got so far with their baby then had to turn back down because it was cold and steep.

From the summit of Ben More

We stopped and ate and enjoyed the view and we reached the top in time for a late lunch.  There were plenty of sitting places on the way down.  I’d earmarked a pool in the stream for a swim. Realising I was wearing my shorts with the knickers sewn in and I didn’t want to get my only teeshirt wet, it turned into a skinny dip with me getting full-on in for a swim and Andrew making it in up to his nipples.

TSK hides from the breeze

As far as I know we weren’t seen but I didn’t care, it was immensely freeing and I swam up and down whilst Andrew got dry then prepared to give me my clothes, item by item. 
We were down at the car by 3pm and watching the cows mootch around on the beach.  I wrote in my diary that I was happy with that day and anything else was a bonus.

First real day of holiday and we chose to tell the legs to shut up and set out for an 85 mile ride as a leg stretch.  That leg stretch was around the isle of Mull.  We set off in shorts and tees and headed for Calgary – one of the campsites we’d passed on Sunday.  In the village however was a café which (of course) we had to go in and admire the sculpture and art. 

There is no basking shark in this photo, honest

 We particularly loved the basking shark.  We photographed the beach at Calgary for later then made our way over to the pass leading back to Ben More - the road we had passed along the day before, stopping at the wall to watch two otters playing with a mollusc in the sea.  After a time, we reached our first col of the day, passing over the ridge that rolls down from the top of the peak we had climbed the day before.

There are otters in this photo, honest

We arrived safely on the other side, turned inland again and found ourselves in the widest, most open valley.  We stopped in an Audax hotel (bus stop) for a bite to eat whilst watching the traffic (occasional car) and then, noticing the hotel’s air conditioning was a bit keen (window missing), we set off with knee warmers / leggings and waterproofs at hand.

We had a long climb out of this valley to go.  Half way up I started to bonk and helped myself to the sesame snaps I’d been saving (forgotten) all day.  They are packed with energy!

Beautiful single track of Mull

Down the other side and back to the ferry terminal where we found the worst café on the island (early closing and surly staff) and then went on to discover there were two cafes and we missed the better one.

We soldiered on fuelled by a bad coffee and a twix each.  One inconsiderate trucker later and we were in a rainstorm.  It didn’t matter though, we hadn’t got far to go and we pushed our speed to make it go away.  We were fast into Tobermory and set about enjoying cooking our dinner in the cool air with the wind keeping the midges away (mostly and finally).

So by Tuesday we were properly worn out.  We did what every tired tourist should and headed to the whisky tour at the local distillery.  Happy that it was a small, local place steeped in tradition and interest, TSK enjoyed his first tour.  We paid to taste both the Ladavuglin and the Tobermory.  We walked away with a bottle of the stuff (though not the finest on offer) and a respectable shot glass to boot.  It beats the free, plastic one we have at home.

Ice creams and lunch in the cheese factory later, we could hardly walk but we climbed in the car with my wetsuit and headed over to Calgary bay for that swim I’d promised myself.  Andrew went for a brief paddle but it really was much colder than the stream.  I got properly in there, despite the grey skies (though no rain) and did three lengths or so.  Sadly, there was a little too much weed so I kept getting freaked out and wasn’t really able to put my back into it so got cold.  We dried off and sat on the benches enjoying the evening before heading back to camp for a late (small) dinner.

On Wednesday it was time to move on.  Our legs were still too tired to do anything major and we wanted to find a site that was a little more exposed.  Resipole is just the place and in the past my family’s caravan has almost blown away.  Never mind tents.  I sent a brief belated birthday card to my dad saying that is where we were going with the tipi and trepidation.

The drive to Resipole from Mull was beautiful passing through places I have not been before.  We arrived in good time and good weather and spent a lot of time trying to find our exposed, midge free spot.  We didn’t really, the lure of a quieter area of land overcoming our desire to be in the breeze.  We carefully avoided the multi-person tents that probably housed large (or multiple) families or indeed and entire scout troup or university group.

We did well to get away from the electric as later, stereos did arrive and children were terantering at will.  We snuggled into our quiet corner.  Once installed, we took a brief walk down to the pub which is now an art gallery (boo) before going to sit out on my old hideaway place, one of those places where kids go to get away from their parents, sit on a rock and watch the tides and the sea birds and dick about with seaweed… well you do if you’re an only child.  We sat for ages watching a little girl play in the tide, watch sea birds and dick about with seaweed and razor shells.

My old happy places - now shared

On Thursday we set out rectify our earlier mistakes and ride before running.  I would’ve preferred to do it the other way round because a clear day on the mountain is more rewarding than a clear day on the bike and a wet day on a bike is less dangerous than a wet day on a mountain but then, I remember Ben Resipole and have seen it on perfect days.  I do not, however, remember Ardnamurchan point that much so we set out to ride there.

There is a real shark in this photo
It was 60 miles to get there and back.  The road is not flat.  By the time we reached the turning point for Ardnamurchan point we were ravenous.  A café / craft / leather shop was our first available fuelling point.  Served by a man who looked more like he’d just come ashore from a month fishing at sea, we weren’t expecting great coffee but it was out of this world, topped up without thinking or charging and scrumptuous brownies which he proudly told us were made by “May” were proffered. 

They were moist and delish!

The lighthouse and perfect picnic spot at Ardnamurchan Point
We arrived at Ardnamurchan point in fine fettle and set down to polish off our lunch, saved up until that point.  Andrew did the most westerly trackstand and I insisted we went and walked around the lighthouse.  So glad we did as I don’t remember the fog-horn and 150m of cast iron compressed air pipework that feed it.  No longer necessary but highly attractive to engineering types.  Who can argue with a big red horn?.

This image, badly shows that my Gamin maps run out and that there is nothing East of us other than the Hebrides

Finally, we went to the visitor centre for a pee and more coffee before heading home on the bikes.  I saw another sea otter, though unfortunately TSK missed it.  It slinked into the water before he could come back.  We went up to Acharacle for provisions and cake to get us home then back at the campsite went in search of an ice cream to accompany our only laundry session of the trip.

On Friday it was mountain day.  I packed more food this time and both map and Garmin.  The old path had been replaced by new but thankfully I noticed the key turning point and instead of following the new quad-bike tracks off across the hillside and beyond, remembered to turn alongside a deer fence and cross the stream to access the higher ground.  I say “tracks”, more like, “crushed down ruts through the bog and heather”.

I snap a photo before I lose TSK in the incoming weather

We continued with our wet and sodden feet – no need to seek out a stream for a swim this time.  It was satisfying enough to hit rocky terrain so we could stop wading.  We ate some food before the weather truly turned then started to take bearings as the cloud lowered and we carried on up.

The plan to follow the stream to a lochan was formed then done away with as the lochan was not forthcoming.  We had missed a fork in the river and followed the eastern branch.  We headed North West as best we could.  I dispensed with low-tech and switched the Garmin on to get the day over with more quickly.  I didn’t fancy roaming about in the murk in waterproof trousers any longer than I had to… and TSK had just shorts and leggings.

We found what was the top – no higher ground around - and the technology concurred.  We pretty much headed straight down.  To be honest, we needed to look at something – anything – other than grey.

We found the old path to the lochan and got ourselves back on the original stream we had hiked up.  We’d already scanned a couple of lunch rocks which we made use of before re-swimming through the bog and heather to safety of the descent trail in all its rocky glory.  We even managed a bit of a run, after all the trudging it seemed so fast.  Mainly we walked all the flat and climbs though.  It had been a really tough morning.

Happy to have found the summit, keen to go and find some dry

Back at the campsite for lunch more or less, we enjoyed some really good food in the evening.

Saturday was still forecast to be a bit off, with things improving the day after.  For all that I wanted to move on on Saturday, our bodies were not going to allow decommissioning the tent and moving all that stuff so we resolved to take a rest day which may include some swimming.  It was dull and so was my mood in the morning.  I was having one of those days where I didn’t want to do anything but was on holiday so I felt pressurised to do something. 

A claggy and frustrating off-day

Andrew wanted to see Tioram castle and go for a swim.  I knew I had seen Tioram castle and didn’t want to drive (but I couldn’t remember Tioram castle and not driving would mean doing nothing now, wouldn’t it).

So we drove to Tioram castle.  All I took from it was how jealous I was of the kayakers, skirting around on the beautiful clear water – water that I wanted to swim in but just couldn’t be bothered.
We went to Kentra Bay and suddenly I was in the mood for a swim.  I remember the singing sands being great but couldn’t remember them exactly.  It was a long time since I had been.  We parked the car and packed the bags for walking in but stupidly I took the dry bag – not my rucsac so had to haul the damn thing on my shoulder for ages – probably 1.5 hours.

After umpteen false summits along the track which I didn’t remember at all, we finally found the path down to the beach.  It was sandy and promising looking.  Of course, it started to rain as soon as we arrived but, since we had the place to ourselves, I immediately unpacked the dry bag of my wet things, took all my clothes off and put them in the dry bag and then ran around in circles on the beach in the rain.  It was brilliant except I wasn’t wearing a bra so my boobs hurt.

A rain drop on a 180 degree view of our private beach

Finally, I got dressed into swimming clothes (and then noticed the yacht moored offshore).
Andrew had a little paddle as the sea was still very cold.  I set out in my wetsuit.  After skirting around the rocky patch, the sea at Singing Sands is perfectly clear and there’s no rocks or seaweed at all.  It is a tropical heaven in Scotland.  

I could’ve swum for miles – temperature permitting – but also I kept going so slow because I was completely mesmerised by it all.  Pure heaven. Pure bliss. As I got out, I quickly recalled that it had been the sight of my only otter sighting so far.  No otters today. 

I got out to get dressed and the sun was shining.  If we had any more food with us (lunchtime had passed) I would have stayed a while and gone back in the water and made the most of it this time.  I was kicking myself.  We had to walk back to the car still energised.  If only we’d taken our bikes… the list goes on.  I need to remember how much I love swimming in clear and beautiful water.

After our (seemingly much shorter) hike back to the car, we hit the café again for a lunch (at 3pm this time) and hearty coffee to rewarm.  A shower awaited at the campsite.  I went back to sulking because we’d run out of things to do in the area but had to travel on a good weather day the next day.
Indeed Sunday dawned clear and we packed up quickly and drove upwards through Fort William and into the Great Glen.

We visited a number of campsites along the way, in search of a gem  that we hadn’t seen before on many a visit. 

We drove through three campsites which managed to look both expensive and unkempt all at the same time.  They looked like residents campsites and we scurried away.  Our second-to-last hope being Invergarry.

Invvergarry was a haven.

A farm campsite on a steep hillside where little camping nooks had been chiselled and shorn into the slope to accommodate more tents than the open field at the bottom of the hill suggested. Let's skip over the old-aged Geordies with their TV on loud in their trailer tent and focus on the pitch that  we moved our entire camp to, just to get away from them.  (Let's just say that I do not want to be woken up at 7am on my holiday by the BBC Breakfast theme tune or hear Eastenders whilst I am eating my dinner).

At Invergarry the good weather finally returned so we sat outside, licking our wounds really - mending a puncture, yoga, preparing meals in the open air. TSK's wheel was not only punctured but thin-walled on the rim so we waved goodbye to going any farther North and accepted a day of blatting back to Fort William in the car to do bike shopping.

One shiny new wheel later and I set out for a run around our local lake.  TSK joined me so got to appreciate all the navigational wobbles that go with my running followed by a good hour of running, sodden footed across quad bike tracks in the heather, accompanied by the gentle swoosh of wind turbines which, to be honest, weren't turning that much. The lake didn't look too tempting for a swim, too brown and peaty. Eventually TSK left me to run on while he took the map to find his own way down.

My experience of the return journey stuck with how interesting this and that looked but I didn't investigate because I didn't want to leave the path and 10k felt far enough for a rest day thanks very much. TSK on the other hand, took the map and went off to have a look at what that was. His own particularly strong way of recovering.

This all left me back at the tent worrying that I had lost him, running 2 more miles to offer him company then coming back to put the tea on just in time for him to arrive back, happy and muddy.

Our sunniest day at Invergarry was a ride to Foyers on the East side of Loch Ness. Originally starting out as a ride to Inverness and then around Loch Ness, it got shorter as we realised how hilly the road was and how tired we were. Our first diversion from the main road along the Caledonian Canal was a big mistake of unrelenting crushed stone surface. It wasn't that crushed and on road bikes was uncomfortable and skittish. 4 miles of bone shaking gave way to lunch in Fort Augustus with all the tourists.

Then peace again along the quiet side of Loch Ness. We climbed one big hill for over an hour, I am convinced. By the time we reached the top, we couldn't even see Loch Ness. The descent looked fun but all those little rises gave for poor fun factor with a head wind also applied. I stopped half way down to put on a coat and watch a tree harvester making short shift of trees in the forest like a giant yellow girl picking daisies in a forest-sized meadow.

The Rolling Descent

 After we battled our way down the rolling hillside we turned onto more pleasant B roads for Foyers. Sure there were some sharp climbs but they were short and forested and enjoyable. The café couldn't come soon enough and was the most beautiful lodge in the middle of a field with a view of mountains, a farm and community of highland coo who were having a paddle. Almost everyone sat outside in the sun.

Face off at the cafe in Foyers

We felt good as one does after cake so continued North, both looking to find the best way out of the valley back to our A road home.

TSK suggested a route. I countered it with the next, which seemed to take us a little further North, thereby extending our lovely day out slightly and it seemed to avoid climbing straight over the big hill.

In fact, the way it tackled the big hill was a series of 8 switchbacks, inching over the steep face of the valley. We found our little Alpe.

To add to the intrigue, the road got narrower, the grass started to appear in the middle of the road and the trees overhead hung lover and lower. We persevered because neither of us wanted to go back down to do the other road as well. Just as it started to feel like a desperate off-road track through a sheep field with a farm yard at the end, the farm road appeared again and the surface improved just in time for the long descent to the main road.

A big, sweeping, open, freshly tarmacced surface took us back, at speed, to the long rolling hillside we had descended earlier.  The road surface a side effect of the wind turbines development just outside the Cairngorms national park.  Suddenly my legs felt good in the tail wind and we road raced back to the top of our journey for the second time.

The morning's climb was pure bliss on the way down, with all those freshly tarmacced bends and this time we hovered in Fort Augustus only to pick up desert and emergency bonk cake for the ride home before avoiding the Canal path and riding down the road instead where we were treated to seeing the cruise ship pass through the swing bridge (what else to do but eat the cake you just picked up).

Picnic bench and a boat garden

Afterwards we were treated to a display from Scotland's emergency services when an incident somewhere in the highlands had scrambled every emergency vehicle on offer from Ambulance to Fire Services HAZMAT truck and, by the time we arrived at the campsite, the rescue helicopter. This duly landed in the shinty field to take a poorly but thankfully not visibly injured man to hospital somewhere.

Excitement of the day offset by the pleasure of arriving back at our haven but the displeasure of discovering my first tick of the holiday chomping on my forehead.

Our last day of Scotland was reserved for mountains. Specifically Meall Na Teanga and Sron a Choire Garbh.
On Meall Na Teanga, proving that Treps are happiest on Mountains

I like a mountain where having a bike takes a good 7 miles off the day. Parking at Laggan Lock we cycled 3.5 miles along forest trails to the path. This time on a decent surface. We locked the bikes to a tree then hiked up to the saddle, passing no-one other than a mountain bike in the long grass and a tent pitched down by the stream.

We dressed like runners but after a week or two of beating ourselves up, walked most of it, even stashing our weighty rubbish of banana skins in the heather for collection on the way down.

TSK, getting into this fellrunning thing

The view from the top of Meall was worth the effort. Overlooking Ben Nevis with its sizeable compliment of snow and with a 360 view from the top. We lingered for some time before running back to the saddle and zig zagging across the moorside fell to Sron a Choire Garbh where we could look down on lochs and the campsite and tempting pathways that led into the depths of Moydart. There was no Lord of the Rings feeling though. It just looked like the Shire on acid.

360 off the top of Sron a Choire Garbh

With cold legs we descended back to the saddle. I felt like I had more left and should be on a longer day but it was about a good day out, no epics. We ate chocolate and drank coffee on a floating pub then returned to the tipi to contemplate the weather strategy for our remaining 4 holiday days.

Eagle's in charge cap'n

It was set to resort to gales and torrential rain on Friday but Thursdays forecast was clear and bright but we would be too knackered to do anything else. The forecast for England was 2 days behind so we made the controversial decision to screw Scottish weather and head for the Lakes to climb Blencathra.

Controversial you say?  Driving through Glencoe in fine weather was seriously distressing me.  Unable to live in the moment I wanted to go and run up every hill - despite being exhausted from the day before.  We stopped in Tyndrum and contemplated renting a pod and braving the weather for one more mountain day on Saturday in the pissing rain but the lure of a clear lakes day drew us onward. 

Once through Glasgow and into the Pentland hills I spent my time sitting in the passenger seat checking the weather for Scotland.  SURELY if the Lake District is going to be fine, then Durisdeer or Dumfries is going to be clear but no!  There was an invisible weather line that extended right across the Scottish border.

We arrived in Keswick and went shopping for some waterproof trousers as I had decided I wanted an upgrade.  We bought good food and set up our camp and went to the pub to eat fine food, drink a beer, play scrabble and enjoyed the sunshine.

On Saturday the day dawned clear and we set off up Blencathra again, wearing an illegal amount of running clothing for the quantity of speedy-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other we were actually doing.  It was a stripped down walk.  Fine.

As promised, from the top of Blencathra we could see the forceful showers sweeping across the Scottish foothills.  We experienced the occasional spot of rain and as evening drew in, winds, not gales buffetted the site about a bit.

The Tipi is actually in this photo
We walked down to the other pub to try some different beer and toasted the end of a rather fine holiday.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015 Sheldon Fell Race

It was only on the way to the Sheldon Fell race that I remembered where we were going. I got confused with another race beginning with S. I have done Sheldon before. It was my first fell race in 2010 when we first arrived in Sheffield and I mentioned to a friend that I wouldn't mind having a go at a fell race.

Not only did she suggest trying but also convinced me that I could do it by reassuring me that although there would be plenty of old men in RonHill Tracksters, there would also be marshals at every turn and no way for me to lose touch with the runners in front. I didn't believe her on the last point. While I am not concerned about my mountaincraft skills (my mistakes are generally embarrassing not dangerous), a last minute decision on a Tuesday is no preparation for a navigational race and I had no idea where Sheldon was, never mind what it's hills look like.

I met TSK and Sam in the car park at Waitrose. I had only met one of these people before but was soon to find out that Sam's road shoes have run a few marathons before.

We registered, got dressed and I made gestures towards warming up which were more concerned with trying to squeeze some fatigue out of my legs from yesterday's fast run (planning fail!). We explained the rules of fell running to Sam ("don't quit unless something is falling off" and "there might be shirtless people about")

We huddled about half way through the field at the start - an open expression of my new found confidence in my feet.

When the start horn sounded i was immediately struck by the need to get around the woman whose bony elbows fired outward, seemingly in endless possible jabbing directions.

This pretty much meant that I had to keep up with the group. It's still hard to watch the masses of the group stretching out into the road ahead of you but it's easier when you are with the group rather than last time when I was already detached from the group with my inability to even try to run down hill fast.

The first flat field felt hard after the downhill sprint but by this point I was committed to trying to keep up with TSK. I had him in my sights but it was too much to concentrate on him with the steep downhill approaching.

I had forgotten to bring my new fell shoes with me and instead brought trail shoes in which I have no confidence on grass. Thank God it wasn't wet.

Some Dark Peak boys shot past wailing/singing/giggling so I decided to keep the side up and go with them. I had soon lost complete control of my feet and my confidence flailed when i thought, "it doesn't really matter if I fall here it's just a grassy field", then noticed the rocks sticking out from under the grass below. Sam later told us that he was passed by someone rolling down this hill.

Some of us took the sting out of the descent by adjusting our path through the long grass on a sideways slope but there was no avoiding the steepest section down to the river where I just turned my feet over as fast as I could and flailed my arms to keep my balance. Somehow I came out at the bottom upright and thought, "well, that's over for another year".

In retrospect I am very pleased because usually on the descents i am picking off all of the slow, nervous people but I clearly*was* the slow, nervous person last night so I have obviously made progress. Partly due to doing more fast run training, partly down to TSK playing carrot.

This time I picked a few off on the flat run along the river. One Dark Peak team mate passed me but I followed him and we picked off some more.

Disaster almost struck when my trail shoe slipped off a rock sideways causing me to go over on my ankle and yelp like a wounded puppy. I was so into my position which I had worked so hard for that I just kept hobbling along, swearing at and coaching my foot to bloody sort itself out. I momentarily thought of the impact of running on a sprained ankle prior to the expensive Liverpool Triathlon on Sunday but put it to the back of my mind because, honestly, I was having too much fun fell running. TSK turned around when I yelled to see if I was ok and I waved it off, saying, "I am ok" then as the pain failed to subside, thinking, "am I though?".  I still passed him anyway. A big achievement since to date i haven't beaten him in a running race.

Eventually the endorphins washed soothingly into the joint and I was able to run normally again. Me and Dark Peakie got on with it.

By the time we got to the big hill climb I was either alone or at the front of a big group and there was nothing left to do but maintain my position and try to gain slightly on the runners in front. I am a positive thinker (in racing) so I found it quite easy to imagine me stretching ahead of the struggling runners behind and reeling in the people who are going to collapse with exhaustion at the top of it. Of course it never pans out that way.

I had to try really hard to stay ahead when I heard breathing at my heels. Yes it is that steep. I had to concentrate on every step to stop my crappy trail shoes slipping on each stone and when I reached the top the people ahead only re-opened their lead on me.

The lady ahead had been in front of me on the start line, telling her friend that she was just going to follow everyone else so I had a suspicion that I could catch her on the final descent to the line.

I immediately passed a guy in a blue teeshirt that I thought I would be able to stay ahead of but who hounded me for a while before passing me back. I asked if i had woken him up. He just replied that the hill nearly killed him. That was a mistake because I just sat on behind him and waited for that final small rise across the field and hoped i could hold him off on the descent to the line.

Sure enough I stormed past him but that was all I could manage.  The lady in front who was "just going to follow everyone else" remained illusively ahead of me and as we hit the descent it became clear that her legs were just as long as mine and she had more reach or speed in hers than I did.  I heard someone approaching at speed and was about to be disheartened.  Fortunately it wasn't the guy in blue but someone different who rocketed down the hill.  I sprinted for the line in case anyone else was approaching but  I don't think there was anyone.

My watch said 37 minutes when I eventually stopped it and I couldn't wait to get home and see just what damage i had done to my 2010 time.