Hill running has never seemed like a good idea to me. Running down hill must have so much impact on knees and ankles that it must bring on the inevitable sore knees that much quicker. Going up hill is great and really good training. The idea of running along ridges really appeals, moving along the tops of the mountains fluidly and quickly, without being weighed down by a rucksack of this-and-that just in case, or climbing gear to be used standing on ledges most of the time. It's just the rapid wearing away of cartilage that must come with running down hill or brought on by repetitive moves on unforgiving surfaces that puts me off.
However, my wonderful wife Louise has set herself the target of running the Ben Nevis race in September and I have got caught up in some of the training. It's been quite fun!
Last week we ran up Ben Nevis. This was the first time for Louise on the summit in the summer and the first time I had run up and down just for the sake of the running. In the race you do not stick to the Pony Track. In fact there is almost no restriction on what route you take apart from the start/finish point and the summit. So there is much to learn about the various short cuts and cut-offs that work best for you. Finding them in the mist (or even in clear weather) can be tricky too. You can't just follow the person in front. So Louise and I went to check out the best route.
We ran up and down from Claggan in just over three hours which I was very happy with for a training/recce run. Louise ran it again today with another friend and got a view from the top. It was a rare dry day in a summer that has been wet most days. The mountain crags are pretty wet but we have had odd dry days to enjoy some cragging in the glens and the classic ridges of Ben Nevis and Glen Coe. In the damp weather running is a great way to enjoy the mountains and I could be tempted to do more. I wonder what my race time would be if I ever really went for it.
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.