For the first time in a few years the weather was warm, sunny and clear, wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. This year we had a bumper entry of 7, Mark, Clem, Tarbo, Ian, Christian, Pat and Peter with Christian attempting his first Ben.
The walk to registration in the morning showed some nerves but it was a beautiful clear day what was there to worry about! Before the race started at 1pm the runners were walked around the stadium led by the local pipe band, there followed a random kit check before being allowed into the start pen. Once away the traditional headlong stampede around the stadium, out and along the mile of undulating tarmac road, people were chattering away but this soon dies down as we leave the road join the mountain path and the hard work begins. Lots of great support on the hill until turning off the main ‘tourist’ path and going directly across the mountain to reach the Red Burn halfway point. An hour is allowed to reach halfway but there is some leeway but you can get turned back. Most runners then decide to turn left and go straight up the mountain but a few stay on the path which is longer but easier going and in some parts runnable, some think that it is a tad quicker.
Nearing the summit, as well as dodging walkers, runners were now starting to hurtle back down. At last the rocky summit plateau, handover the wrist band to prove you made it, turn round and do it all in reverse taking a few seconds to take in the breath-taking views it’s not often the summit is clear.
The descent is very technical and it seems as if the ground is continually moving beneath your feet with rocks and loose scree all the way down to the Red Burn crossing, with tiring legs retrace your steps back down to the ‘Tourist’ path and tackle as best you can the rocky steps down, at least they were dry this year, down to the road with just a mile to go, this is the point where you discover if you have jelly legs! This last mile can seem never ending but eventually you approach the stadium hear your name being called over the tannoy, round the field, finish and relax/collapse. Now just a short struggle over to the tea/cake tent!
Congratulations to Tarbo Fukuzawa for breaking the club record with 1:56:41, beating the previous record of 1:59:00 held since 2006 by Matt Winn-Smith. Also, well done to Christian for posting an excellent time in his first Ben race.
Ian, attempting his 21st Ben race (again) was struck down by a bug the day before, started but had to retire when 2 miles up the hill. Mark and Pat retired at halfway.
The amazing Finlay Wild won the race for the 10th successive year though his time was 4 mins down on 2018 at 1:32:05, he is still to beat Kenny Stuart’s record of 1hr 25mins set in 1985, an incredible time to climb 4400’ and return. First lady was Sarah Graham representing Mourne Runners from Northern Ireland.
1st Finlay Wild Lochaber AC 1:32:05 26th Tarbo Fukuzawa 1:56:41 153rd Christian Poulton 2:20:21 263rd Clem Dixon 2:37:39 437th Peter Hadley 3:30:42
98th Sarah Graham Mourne Runners 2:12:21 449 finished