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Saturday 6th September – The Ben Nevis Race (6miles/4419ft)


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…
  1. #1 by Richard Hamer on September 8, 2014 - 9:46 am

    Must have been a truly great experience; especially if it was a 360 clear view.
    Running up the Ben is on my bucket list, although I can’t see me ever doing the race.

  2. #2 by sarah on September 8, 2014 - 10:36 am

    nice one simon i was up there a couple of weeks ago with the kids and loads of folk training for the race which made me want to do it sometime (its hard enough having a jog up there as a training run and cant imagine how much it would hurt in race conditions!!) – did you see the big patch of snow just at the top of the red burn before the long drag across the plateau?!

  3. #3 by Howard on September 8, 2014 - 10:42 am

    Well done Simon an unusual and tough event. If you have unfinished buiness and wish to go to the top of Great Britain again you will. Irrespective of the Scottish referedum result Great Britain is the island itself.

  4. #4 by Andrew Robertshaw on September 8, 2014 - 7:52 pm

    Good effort Simon, I didn’t like the descent down to Red burn either, I don’t think many do. I bet you’ve got the ‘Ben’ legs now!

  5. #5 by Graham on September 11, 2014 - 2:23 pm

    I remember seeing someone runnning down there (from the bottom of the zig-zags? years ago before I really knew about fell running and thought how utterly crazy it looked. It was indelibly marked on my brain. I think that means I have to do it some day?

  6. #6 by Simon Anderson on September 12, 2014 - 10:37 am

    Sarah, the only snow I saw was a tiny patch a couple of hundred feet below the plateau. The cloud base was at around 800m. You must do this. Let’s organise a club tour.

    Howard, you are geographically correct. As for politically, ask me on 19th September.

    Andew, the Ben legs took until Monday to catch up – what a stinger!

    Graham, entries open in January. Do it before you croak it!

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