May 2nd brought around one of my favorite races of the year, the Stuc a’Chroin 5000 fell race. This spectacular race starts and finishes in the quiet village of Strathyre, in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Roughly 20km long, and with about 1500 meters of ascent, this is race makes for a truly challenging day out in the mountains; though it is well supported, with plenty of support stations and course marshals. This year there was a slight change to the course, a section of forest track was eliminated in favor of a more rugged (and much boggier) footpath through the heather and moss (Map). Although the new route made for slightly slower going and much wetter feet, it was an enjoyable change to the long section of forest track.
After an initially slow start, I found myself slowly beginning to ease into my rhythm as we descended into Glen Ample before begining the long, steep slog up to the summit of Beinn Each.
The summits of the higher peaks were sparsely covered with a few inches of slushy snow, making the steeper sections (especially descents) quite tricky. The summit of Stuc a’Chroin itself was covered in much harder, icier snow; which made for decent footing on the way up, but on the descent your heavy footfalls would break through the upper crust, mangling the shins. Feeling quite exhausted after ascending back out of Glen Ample, I tried my best to push my tired legs as quickly as I could over the boggy ground which stood between me an the finish. My efforts were rewarded with three or four trips to the bottom of thigh deep mud pits before I reached the firmer path the the finish.
In the end, I finished in a slightly slower time than last year, 2:52:16, but in a higher position, 26th (Full Results).