Tough Race on the Ben
Saturday bought even heavier rain and stronger winds; this coupled with already sodden ground made the recipe for a gruelling race.
A local Pipe band led the 475 runners into the start area which soon resembled a mud bath. The tannoys warned runners of bleak conditions on the summit with temperatures of minus 3 deg C and 25 mph winds. Soon the runners were off and Ian Landucci of Helsby even had time to pose for a photo before he left the field for the 9 mile 4,400 ft climb.
The course records were both set in 1984 by Kenny & Pauline Stewart in times of 1:25:34 & 1:43:25. Yes thats up and down; starting & finishing in Fort William!
Last year the Spaniard Agusti Roc turned up to race the Ben for the first time. Not knowing the intricasies of the route, he tucked in behind Rob Jebb until sprinting past him in the final 100 metres to win on a hot sunny dry race day! This year both were competing and the Spaniard was hot favourite. Conditions though were very different and they favoured Rob from Bingley rather than Agusti from sunny Spain!. Rob set a fast pace, given the conditions, and won in 1:32:33, some 3 minutes ahead of Danny Hope of Pudsey and 8 minutes ahead of Agusti. The Spanish lady Mirelia Miro won the ladies race in 1:56:46.
Ian finished in a creditable time of 2:40:21, looking fresh and not half as muddy,bruised and cut as some. He said that one part of the race was so steep and slippy runners were just flinging themselves down on their bums – bouncing from rock to rock! Within minutes of finishing his back up team of family and friends produced hot steaming tea (brewed in a silver tea pot!) from the back of the car to warm him up – although I’m sure the first beer would not be long coming!
Well done Ian and hope the week’s holiday in Skye to recover is less wet & windy!
Photos of Rob, Mirelia & Ian @ the start and 1 mile from the end.
Thanks for the write up Jackie it was good to get a little bit of extra Helsby support from yourself and Bill.
Having now completed my first Ben Race and thoroughly enjoyed it I would like to provide a couple of tips for anyone thinking of doing it in the future.
1. If the Announcer at the start says it’s -3C with 25mph winds on the summit and full weather gear is advised don’t start off in a Tee shirt and vest. This saves having to try putting on a jacket at about 3000 feet with numb hands in a strong wind.
2.If you adopt the fast descent approach of sliding down steep grassy slopes on your backside watch out for the rocks.