Kaim Hill – Alex’s report

For anyone who doesn’t know, Kaim Hill is at the back of the village of Fairlie. With beautiful views of Arran and Millport, the only blot on the ‘scape is Hunterston with its chimneys, pipes and pollution. 8-)

It’s a good few years since I last ran Kaim Hill and time may have mellowed my memories of this wee tester. I seemed to remember that I was able to run most of the climb – oh how the elderly memory plays games. Burns, bogs and incredibly rough ground awaited.

I picked up Ian and we arrived in beautiful weather and the prospect of a great race. The usual suspects were gathered and there was a bit of a carnival atmosphere. I’m sure the entry fee of a mere £3 adds to the jollity. Rod Pugh was there to renew the competition with Ian and Nat was there to remind me how much better he is than I am (I still intend outliving him!). :D

Our timing was sharp and we barely had time to register and change when we were called to the start line. This was to come back and haunt me. From the start there were the usual good humoured cracks which quickly petered out as we started the climb on the trail path. At this point I thought I was doing quite well. However, clearly I had been running rather than talking and the talkers quickly overtook me. :-/

With the end of the trail path a burn has to be forded (also on the way down) and the hill proper starts with a very steep incline. Acres of burned scratchy heather then leaves legs a lovely criss-cross of nice red weals before the hill levels out a bit and the really difficult stuff starts. The route goes through a bog and with about 200 yards to go to the top I sunk up to my thighs in one of them. As I extracted myself my calfs FOR THE SECOND RACE IN A ROW seized with cramp. Ian soon passed me on his way down. He did show a concerned look and a commiserate “Is it the cramp again?” but clearly had no intention of stopping. I suppose I should consider myself lucky. If it’d been Tim, he’d probably have pushed me back into the bog!!! ;)

A few minutes of stretching allowed me to continue to the top and then start down. Seeing Ian McManus so close spurred me on. The pain was excruciating and most of the descent is a bit of a blur. Amazingly I still managed to pick up a place on the way down but the final stretch to the finish was a nightmare. :'(

Unfortunately, Ian was beaten by a clear 30 seconds by Rod. Ian’s time was a creditable 40:44 whilst mine was a poor 46:17. First gent was Andrew McCall of Glenpark and first lady was Elke Schmidt of Bella. Other finishers of interest were: Colin Brash of Girvan 33:20; Nat Taylor of Girvan 35:57; Rod Pugh of Killie 40:13; Tommy Begley of Irvine 41:04Ian McManus of Irvine 47:45 and of course Hammy 64:43.

Searches on Google tend to indicate that the smart money would be on a lack of stretching prior to the race as a cause of cramping. Repeated stimulation leads to fatigued muscles and a reflex arc that leads to a sustained contraction or cramp.

Oh well, next one Ben Lomond.

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