Meall nan Tarmachan
On Saturday 7th October I headed up to Killin to do this race for the third time in the past ten years. Registration took place in the office of the National Trust for Scotland in the main street of the village, the Trust having taken over the running of the event, with the proceeds beings divided between their conservation work on Ben Lawers and the KIllin Mountain Rescue Team, two worthy causes.
The start of the race is reached by a 6 mile drive along Loch Tay and up a winding single track road to the Ben Lawers car park, followed by a 10 minute walk to a Land-Rover track. After a short run along the track there follows an almost relentless climb up to the trig point at the eastern end of the Tarmachan Ridge.
At this point I found myself in second last place, there being no other runners over the age of 60 let alone 70!
On both previous occasions I had run the race the hill had been immersed in cloud. This time was different, however; the sky was clear and the scenic nature of the ridge could be fully appreciated. Just before reaching the summit of Meall Garbh at the Western end the route leaves the ridge and turns South for a long fast decent down a grassy slope back to the Land Rover Track. I picked up a couple of places on the run down and met no further competition along the track to the finish. Tea, cakes and soup were provided in the NTS office afterwards. The prizes were awarded in reverse order of age category, so I received the MV 70 beers first!
I prefer to have at least two weeks between races, but since Manor Water the next Saturday was so close to home it seemed a shame not to take part. I’d ran this race four times before, and had always enjoyed it. As for Tarmachan, this time was different, but not in the same way! Here, the running conditions could only be described as, … well, miserable! The ground was sodden after weeks of rain, visibility was very poor, and worsened in my case by light drizzle keeping my glasses wet, making it impossible to choose good footing in the churned up glaur along the sheep trods and quad bike tracks.
Although the temperature was generally fairly mild, the feet became cold through constant immersion in mud and bog. In such conditions ten miles can seem a long way, and it came with some relief to eventually run down the last slippery slope to the finish. I came in at an incredible 38 minutes slower than my best time in 2010, but then the conditions were good, and, like Miss Brodie, I was in my prime!