With Carnethy 5 looming in a few weeks, a plan was arranged with Mary, Ian and Susan (with Bodie, or is it Body?) to take a run up around the course. I thought it would be good to re-acquaint myself with the route and terrain, as during race conditions you tend to forget or miss important detail. Conditions were ok – a stiff wind down at ‘road’ level would translate to gale force up on the tops.
I had been thick with the cold most of the week, but the head had cleared sufficiently to feel fine. The first climb up Scald Law was tough on my breathing, but it soon settled down. As we approached the first summit, fierce flapping could be heard and Ian’s montane smock was trying to do it’s best impression of a yacht’s sail being hammered by a storm force wind. It was really windy up there, probably the windiest conditions I have been out in, and it played havoc with breathing and general stability. I worried that it might blow my contact lenses out.
On the plus side, it meant that you had a natural brake on certain descents, thus saving leg muscles. South Black Hill, then East & West Kip were good fun and I managed to open out a bit on the descent down to the Howe. I felt that my downhill technique has maybe improved over the last year, I felt a little less inhibited and a bit free-er going down.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time, taking each hill as it came and then taking a little time to capture our thoughts on the route before heading onward. The last climb, up Carnethy, is quite long, but some of it is runnable. I think that the drop down the other side of Carnethy seemed a bit less daunting this year; the terrain seemed easier, and there appeared to be more scree, which provided better traction underfoot.
It was good fun to do this route without the pressure of the race, allowing us all to take in the nuances of the course and have a bit of banter on the way round.