Saturday, 15 March 2014

Congrie Conga and an impromptu Chapelgill

We had decided to make a family day out of the Chapelgill race today, with me chaperoning the Joneslets around the fun run (the Congrie Conga) and Matt racing the not-so-fun full-sized run. If time allowed, I thought I might then run the route by myself while he "recovered" and looked after the kids (ha!).

The weather was bleak as we approached Glenholm, with strong winds, chilly drizzle and clag around the tops. Matt and the kids registered for their races, and headed for the starting areas (only metres from each other). Martin Hyman (organiser of the fun run, and all-round top geezer - the world would be a better place with more of his kind) gave the kids race briefing, offering a Full-Conga, and Half-Conga and extra kudos for smiles and muddy patches. The five young starters headed off with enthusiasm, accompanied by their less springy parents. It was properly steep! Both the full and half options count as an "A" gradient-wise...Not a race to be sniffed at. 

Nearing the top of Congrie Hill

At the Half-Conga turning point Matt headed back down with Ronnie and Solly and I plodded onwards and upwards with Rosie and another boy. We circled the brave marshal at the windy top and headed back down - no need to follow the markers, just the quickest route back to the start. Rosie has inherited a strong doonhilling gene (not from me :-( ), and made light work of the descent, but a nonchalant canter to the finish saw her almost pipped at the post. A rather poor show of muddy patches were compared over KitKats, Smarties and juice.

And so to the big race. We regrouped at the start and I had some cheery chitchat with Bob, Gordon et al. "Are you not racing?" "No! I'm looking after the kids!" <happy, relieved expression>. And then Gordon put a spanner in the works by suggesting that Helen would be more than happy to look after the urchins while I raced. "Three minutes to go!" announced Robin the race organiser. "Oh, no, I don't think so...I er....haven't sorted out my shoes." "You've got your shoes on. There are still numbers just over there!" Me: "Erm..." Matt: "Go on, it's better if you do it with everyone else...otherwise you'll probably get lost." He knows what buttons to press. And so I swiftly dumped my progeny on Helen, ducked behind a tussock for a wee and grabbed a race number. "30 seconds to go!!" Crumbling under pressure, I was still shakily attaching my number as the race started.

Fannying aboot. Photo courtesy of Digby!

Apparently this race has more ascent per mile than even Aonach Mor, the uphill-only race. I can confirm that it certainly felt that way. The terrain was heathery with intermittent grassy patches, but none of it felt runnable. For at least five minutes I had the distraction of a guy in skimpy shorts, which due to the keen side-wind offered me a close-up of his "banana bag" and the tantalising promise of an escaped bollock. I then tucked in behind Bob W who made a very insubstantial windbreak. On and on, up and up into the clouds. In the slightly flatter approach to the summit the sidewind became a brutal headwind, sweeping the clag towards us in a sinister fashion. I overtook Bob and Matt, and enjoyed the fleeting victory, knowing they'd soon be hurtling past me on the descent.

Sure enough, Bob nipped past me at the turning point with unfeasible perkiness, and I braced myself for the looooong stretch downhill. I was overtaken by many people at this point, including le spouse. My descent was dismal, and powered mostly by the anxiety of being left in the clag - I needed to keep other runners in eye-sight, for fear of getting lost. Despite my timidity, I fell over and bruised my pinkie nail. <sob> I emerged from the clag with relief - only a ridiculously steep final stretch and it was all over, with a fairly mediocre 30:10 on the clock.

Priority number one was to scan Helen's face for signs of child-induced trauma. She appeared as cheery as ever (clearly made of stronger stuff than me). I was hugely relieved to have run the route with company, rather than venturing out by myself - so thank you again Helen!! The kids couldn't be persuaded to part with even one of their hard-won sweeties, so Charlotte (first lady!) shared her Love Hearts with me. I was disappointed to see they weren't custom-made to say "Chase Me!". The kids were looking shivery, despite their warm togs, so we tottered back to the car. Phil Davies won the race within three minutes of his 2003 record, despite the wind, Matt achieved an excellent 12th place overall (but didn't manage to catch Bob), and I somehow managed to nab 2nd lady. Where have all the fast chicks gone? Not that I'm complaining or anything...

It has growing room.


  1. Nice race report again Mary - apart from dissing 30:10 as mediocre :(

  2. Ha!! Thanks Colin! I only meant that 30ish minutes is statistically speaking about the middle of the field. Subjectively speaking, it's obviously *awesome* ;-). Really good seeing you and J yesterday!