The past weekend STAG hosted a weekend of events on the excellent little area next to Loch Faskally, just North of Pitlochry. The Saturday evening saw the Scottish Night Champs on a clear and crisp night, followed by a more ‘fun’ event on Sunday, the Knoll Kollection!
I ran at a local event in Edinburgh on the Saturday morning, hosted by ESOC, planned by Tom as a ‘warmup’ but I think I may have run it a little too hard as for the rest of the weekend I felt the odd twinge in my hamstring. That’s what you get for not warming up properly, dumbass! Thankfully it’s fine now.
I drove up to the event on Saturday just wanting to run well and cleanly as I have a habit of being a bit crap at night events. It was technically the Scottish Champs but there was a small and weak field. The M35 course had a much better field and were on the same course so my goal was to finish ahead of all them. The start was in an unusual place for Faskally, on the other side of the main road which required a short (150m) run under the A9 to get to the start triangle, which gave me good opportunity to look and the course and do some planning, the only major route choice leg being 5-6 where I decided to go to the North of the hill. The rest of the longer legs were mostly easy choices and sticking to the paths.
I started really well, not losing much time at all on the first half of the course, although I had a little luck on number 8 when I pretty much found myself at a control, looked at the number and said ‘oh, it’s mine’ – not the greatest but at least I found it! By the time I got to 14 I was leading, ~1min ahead of Fraser Purves and 2.5 mins up on Roger Goddard, both of whom generally finish ahead of me. I see this as a big positive, despite what happened next it’s nice to know I was competitive at this point! It looks like Roger lost some time on 8 and 9, probably around 3mins.
So yes, it all went wrong after this. The next 4 controls were disasterous. I stopped short on 15, convinced I hadn’t gone far enough, bailed out to the path, realised I had been about to get to the control and dived back in and found it. Lost maybe 1min but the confidence was shot too, then I really messed up 16 pretty badly. I went down the hill too early and got stuck in a rhodedendron bush and had to backtrack out, figure out what was wrong, then go back up the hill to get round. I faffed about far too much and lost nearly 4 minutes! Confidence still shot I passed above 17 and ended up at 18 first! Lost about 4mins here… At least I had a fastest split to 18!
After this I was pretty clean but I slowed a lot, my lack of training was catching up and coupled with my general bad mood at making lots of mistakes meant I lost a lot of enthusiasm. Course 2 had a lot of similar controls in the next section and I couldn’t really keep up with Steve Barrett who I should be able to keep up with! I lost some time on 23 by mis-interpreting the vegetation and heading into the wrong bit of forest, but I realised soon enough to limit the damage, then plodded round the final few controls.
All in all a vaguely successful evening, lots of positives, a few negatives. I need to work on recovering after an error and getting my head back into it quickly to minimise further losses.
I kinda messed up my GPS trace for this event, but if you’re keen to see it you can see it on my map archive.
The Sunday morning brought a more fun event (on the same area as the night before) called ‘Knoll Kollection’. The idea being to visit as many knolls in the area as you can in an hour. I’d heard that it was possible to visit them all in the time so that’s what I set off to do. My route worked well and I only tweaked it slightly on the way round. I hadn’t marked the controls on the map though so I knew there was a chance of missing the odd one out, and I did… I ended up with 78 out of 80. Despite talking to the organiser as well as assisting with getting routegadget online I’m still not sure where the 80th one was!
I’m pleased with how the weekend went, 3 runs in 2 days and my legs are feeling pretty decent, if a little tired. Definitely signs of improvement, long may it continue!