Race report: Aonach Mor Uphill 2017
The Aonach Mor Uphill Race, run by Lochaber Athletics Club, takes place annually on New Year’s Day. The run comprises an ascent only of 4km over an elevation gain of 610m.
Despite a poor forecast and torrential rain the day before, 123 people took part in the race in what turned out to be ideal conditions.
Lochaber’s Ewan Thorburn was the winner in a time of 22:37. Second place was Alasdair Anthony, of Ochil Hill Runners, in 23:20 and in third position was Alistair Hodges, of Cambridge & Coleridge AC, in 23:49.
In the women’s race, Sula Gay, of the Hunter Bog Trotters, was first (25th overall) in a time of 27:24. Morag MacClelland, also from the Hunter Bog Trotters, was second (32nd overall) in 29:30, while Elizabeth Adams, of the Westies, came third (35th overall) in 29:46.
Elizabeth’s third place delight
Elizabeth returned to the Aonach Mor race after a few years away and was thrilled with her time and placing.
She says: “Although I am more of a cyclist, this race is good for because it uses the same muscles as cycling.
“When I last did it, I remember letting a girl pass me just near the finish line. It was mostly out of politeness and because I didn’t realise I was near the pointy end of the race. I came fourth.
“So, this time I was a bit more determined. I walked all the steep bits, which is most of it, but forced myself to run the gentler bits; every single one of them.
“That really hurt and I was a bit unsteady on my legs at the finish line but the race organisers reward you with a bowl of soup and plenty good chat so I recovered well.
“The race is a great way to start the year and the clear skies meant we had a brilliant view across the wild hills of Scotland. That has really inspired me to get out in the hills more in 2017.”
Blondie closes in on Beardy
Graham Kelly and Katie Hall, aka Beardy and Blondie, took part in the race together for the second time. After a fun Hogmanay at the Clachaig Inn, the couple managed to arrive in time for the hill run, which starts at a friendly 11am.
But while Beardy was again ahead of Blondie at the finish line, he said he could feel her on his heels.
Graham finished in 32:39 compared to last year’s 32:10. Katie scored a PB of 37:05, some nine minutes faster than last year.
Graham says: “Aonach Mor hill race is great. It’s a nice format with it being uphill only and topping out at the top of the gondola. There’s a European race feel about it.
“Being on the mountain bike track it offers a tasty wee mix of runnable stuff, slab rock features and obstacles to jump up.
“Early on there are woods to run through before it opens up on to the mountain proper. The many switchbacks allow you to see who is ahead and who is behind.
“Katie was much faster this year and I am proud of how well she is running and delighted for her with such an improvement on last year’s time. I could feel her just behind me throughout the race!”
Thanks to John O’Neill for the photos.