Fyrish is a 453-metre hill overlooking the Cromarty Firth and topped by an 18th century monument, making it a focal point for the Easter Ross community. It is also the venue for an annual hill race, a seven-and-a-half mile jaunt along forest tracks from Evanton.
It was hot, still and steep. Vests were off. A mile-and-a-half in, I was happily in fourth place, only to sacrifice two positions after taking a wrong turn. Furious with my mistake, I ran with anger and caught the two runners ahead. Inevitably, adrenaline ebbed away. Pain moved in. I lost a place. Fyrish suddenly looked a long way away.
Fifth at the monument became fourth at the finish, following a fast and frenetic descent. I was delighted with it. I wouldn’t have been able to descend in such a gloriously reckless fashion, abandoning all caution, six months ago. But, my goodness, I was straining. Feet and shins on fire. Thighs screaming. Tough work.
There was a ripple of applause as each runner came home, helped by the fact that the race coincided with a junior fell run and a fete in Evanton. Soon after the top runners finished, an elderly fellow introduced himself as the winner of the first Fyrish race in the 1970s.
He seemed touched by our efforts and posed for pictures with this year’s winner, Paul Raistrick, who I trailed by almost six minutes. There’s room for personal improvement…
As the scrawnies left having gorged on cake and crisps, the heavies took centre stage, proving their mettle in a village tug o’war. Fyrish: a good day out.