Hill running: the ultimate sporting juxtaposition?

I was planning a break from running today. But then I had cause to go to IKEA. And the panorama of the snow-capped Pentlands from the car park of aforementioned Swedish emporium was like gazing up at a hill runners’ nirvana. And my running stuff happened to be in the car just in case. So I drove to Flotterstone and ran uphill. Now at home and poised in front of a laptop, I am searching for an appropriate adjective to describe what I saw. Lots come to mind: scintillating, breathtaking, inspiring, beautiful… They all sound cliché, though. You know what, I can’t grasp the right word, the word I really want. But it was scintillating, breathtaking, inspiring and unerringly, impossibly beautiful.

I ran over Turnhouse Hill, and down and up to Carnethy Hill. I had been here 48 hours earlier, racing in the Carnethy 5 hill race. The wind was frantic; snow was billowing everywhere; I could scarcely see 20 yards. Today: breathless, still, astonishingly clear, the sky blue, the sunshine luxurious. I languidly descended Carnethy Hill by the way I had struggled up on Saturday, then re-climbed the hill by the heathery route we had ricocheted down.  It all seemed so easy now. Away to the right was Carnethy Hill, its steep flank daubed in a line of brown graffiti where 499 head-bowed runners had paraded on Saturday. What a difference! These were opposing worlds, a dystopia transformed to a utopia. What other pursuit can offer such juxtaposition: such horror and ugliness yet such beauty and hope?


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