Phil's Outer Hebrides Experience

Ben Kenneth Hill Race 8th August 2013

Earlier this summer we were on holiday in the Outer Hebrides and happened upon a race starting in Lochboisdale, South Uist. It was just a short one to the top of Ben Kenneth and back. Interestingly, pictures from last year’s race showed people running but also swimming. The confusion was cleared up after talking to some locals who described the shortcut that many racers take across a narrow stretch of sea loch! I was keen for a race but not for a swim so I determined to enter the race but go the long way round. After registering and paying my pound, I chatted to others racers and it was starting to look like I might be the only one going the long way! I wished that Rachel was doing it. She likes swimming. After a quick recce I decided that I might as well give it a go. I was pretty nervous running from the start towards the anticipated freezing cold dip. I wasn’t disappointed, the temperature of the water took your breath away. I was lying about 7th at this point but managed to overtake a few in the thick seaweed and come out in 4th. A steep climb ensued and I was into 2nd by the top and in the clear. Unfortunately a poor line on the descent saw me thrashing through bracken and reaching the water just behind a local who had overtaken me. Another swim of about 30m and we were dashing for the finish. Despite overtaking the local lad he sprinted in the final 100m, supported by the home crowd blasting their car horns, and got past me on the line. Perhaps his football boots helped him grip the Tarmac better than my fell shoes! So I had to contend with 3rd place. Overall this was a great race with a brilliant atmosphere that I would recommend to anyone who finds themselves in the area next summer. Don’t be put off by the swim though as it is all part of the fun. It is also reckoned to be 6km instead of 9km if you take the shortcut!

Results here: http://www.ianbinnie.me.uk/last_race/last_race.htm

Phil Vincent

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