The Crinan Puffer is a race I’ve always fancied. Whenever I’m down in Ardrishaig I always get a few miles in along the Crinan Canal but the race date has never previously worked for me. It was brought forward by about a month for 2019 so this year it was a go.
It’s an 8.1 mile point to point race starting in Crinan and follows the canal to Ardrishaig. It’s in beautiful surroundings as you run through the various locks at Bellanoch, Dunardry, Cairnbaan and Lochgilphead. This year’s race was limited to 100 entries and the start list proved popular with local(ish) runners from Campbeltown Running Club, Dunoon Hill Runners, Mid Argyll Triathlon and Cycle Club, various JogScotland clubs and joining the Maryhill tourist were runners from Bellahouston Harriers and Cambuslang Harriers.
My recent training for the Highland Fling has meant a focus on distance, so I had no real idea of what pace I had in me, especially after a 24 mile run the day before. I had thought about running the route in reverse as a warm up but decided that was just madness, a decision I was happy with when I was awakened in the morning by the sound of torrential rain.
The weather eased off a bit as I collected my number and chip at Ardrishaig then got on the bus with fellow runners to the start. When we arrived at Crinan it was back to blowing a gale which was soon accompanied by a bit of hail and hard rain. Good job I took a binbag for a jacket.
We all huddled together as we were given our instructions from the cheerful organisers and we were off running at 11am. Thankfully the weather calmed and I settled in behind a group of runners in about sixth place. The front runner, Mid Argyll Tri Club’s David Carey, was away at a hard pace and built up a gap, but I stayed steady whilst Campbeltown’s Dom Sharkey stayed on David’s tail.
As the front two increased their lead, I moved up through the pack to third place and tried to keep the front two in sight. As the next couple of miles ticked by, Dom had caught David and was building on his lead which would see him take first place. When I approached Cairnbaan about the halfway point, I was about 30 seconds behind David. I was feeling comfortable and thought I had a chance if I held on to my pace. Towards Millers Bridge at Lochgilphead, I was getting closer and reeled him in over the final two miles. I grabbed second place with about half a mile to go and finished strongly to secure the podium finish. Delighted with that.
Afterwards it was back to the Ardrishaig Public Hall for a great spread of hot food, cakes, tea and coffee, and of course the prizegiving! Thank you to the organisers, marshals and local community who put on a great event and to West Coast Photos for capturing the day. It was smiles all round from all involved despite the filthy weather.
- Dom Sharkey, Campbeltown Running Club, 48:45
- Kevin Campbell, Maryhill Harriers, 49:44
- David Carey, Mid Argyll Triathlon and Cycle Club, 50:01
- Hazel MacCormick, Penny Lane Striders Running Club, 51:43
- Ailsa Lopez, 58:16
- Kathyn Munro, 1:02:21