Report from Simon Anderson:
Being led to the starting line by a march of pipers was the first of many memorable moments of The Ben Nevis Race. This was on my ‘bucket list’, and many other people’s besides it would seem, which might explain why entries open in January and fill up in a day. If you know nothing about the race then it’s as simple as this: starting in a sports field at sea level in Fort William, you race to the top of Great Britain, and back down again. Will we still be able to say that next year?
Since being injured back in May/June I haven’t pinned a number on an Otley AC vest. However, when it came to ‘The Ben’ I had to make an exception. There were no ambitions to race this event, in fact I started at the very back of the field, literally standing there as everyone else charged off. Given my condition I took it relatively easy, but unfortunately the injury flared up after around 3,500ft climbing and I had to take my waterproof out and walk the summit plateau.
If the climb was quite mind numbing, the descent had entirely the opposite effect and was all anybody talked about post-race. The scree was like skiing off-piste through a boulder field, sans snow, and Red Burn made my legs buckle, then combust. In fact I’m sure that Red Burn takes its name from the physical symptoms that it induces. The final mile was on a single track lane that resembled a death march, and the trudge around the perimeter of the show ground to the finishing line was sadistic and unedifying.
The race was won by Finlay Wild (Lochaber AC) in 1:34:43 with Robb Jebb 13 seconds behind. Lindsay Brindle (Horwich RMI AC) was triumphant in the women’s race in a time of 1:56:36, and I believe that Wharfedale may have won the team prize. It took me 2:21:49, enough for 221st place (485 finished) Incidentally, my race time was approximately 15% of what I spent travelling in the car over the weekend. So would I make the journey again? Absolutely! Me and this mountain have some unfinished business…