The Cani-Sports Scotland Duncarron races were held over the weekend of the 28th & 29th of September in the very picturesque Duncarron Valley near Denny, Stirlingshire. It was the second weekend of Scottish races for Team Thomas and we were looking forward to attempting the trails we hadn’t managed to see due to the snow in March of this year.
We arrived in the afternoon and set up the van and trade stand ready for the weekend then took ourselves off on a walk around the lower part of the course. The one thing that always strikes me about Scotland is how few people seem to use the fantastic trails and woodlands available, it might be because I’m always on holiday when I visit, but yet again I didn’t see a soul who wasn’t involved in the race set up on my wanderings.
Saturday started out misty and slightly gloomy, or as the Scots would put it ‘dreich’. However, it was clear that the weather was going to break and it didn’t take long before the mist had lifted and the sun was shining down quite strongly. I got out on the bike to check out the course before the other competitors arrived and was rewarded with some beautiful views of the loch.
When it came to race time Donnie and I set out on the bike at a great pace (I’d booted him up to protect his paws as the trails were mainly flinty, hard packed trails) and we kept it up around the whole course. The start chute took us up through the medieval village, then a right hand turn down onto a path which wound it’s way alongside the loch for the best part of the course. At the end of the loch-side path we turned left up alongside a field of re-planted Christmas trees (to give them their technical name!) and all the cobwebs woven on them were lit up in the morning sun.
Then with another left hand turn we made our way back down a wider forest track (at great speed) before climbing back up the hill into the woodland. The uphill section can’t have been more than about half a mile but was quite hard for me and Donnie did his best to get us up in good time. The forest track then split right up the hill again for the canicrossers (which was then followed by a long and testing downhill section to the finish) and left downhill again for the bikes and scooters, which took us back through the medieval village and into the start again where this time we were finishing.
Donnie and I made good time and before I knew it, it was time to get out again on the short course with Tegan and Judo for the run. The short course followed the main course but with an earlier left turn away from the loch-side path and earlier into the uphill forest trail where we picked up the same course as the bikes. I was pleased to be able to stretch out a bit for the first time in nearly three weeks since my injury and we managed an ok time for the 2.5km course. In fact we’d managed to win both the bikejor and the short course run so I was overjoyed!
Sunday was even better on the bike, with Donnie and I having a great section of racing with another competitor where Donnie clearly did not want to be overtaken and put in so much speed and effort, we managed to knock at least a minute of our Saturday time. In spite of this we only took 3rd place due to some stiffer competition but I was thrilled with our progress over the weekend. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for my running and I think fatigue set in, not only from the racing, but also from the fireside drinking with some very colourful characters on the Saturday evening!
All in all, I had a fantastic weekend racing and the Duncarron races were well worth staying up in Scotland for. I was glad I had made the effort to enter again after the aborted trip in March and I look forward to competing at this venue again, sometime in the future.