Running in Winter Wonderland

Last weekend I made another attempt at summiting East and West Lomond Hill, this time successfully.

I drove out to the Lomond Hills Regional Park in the morning, with clear skies and sunshine. From afar, I could already see snow capping the two peaks. Approaching the car park, there was a bit of slush on the road and snow to both sides. This time, the car was not shaking in the wind. A promising start!

As I got out of the car, a chilly breeze greeted me. The temperature display in the car showed 1°C. I layered up warm and headed off into the same direction I had taken the previous week in storm Dennis. After a short, but fairly steep ascent, I decided to run around the base of East Lomond first and then make my way to the summit via the less steep and more runnable ascent from the east.

Finally at the top of East Lomond

View of West Lomond Hill from East Lomond.

Within minutes, my feet were soaked in a mixture of melting snow and mud beneath the snow cover. Once the cold water had warmed up, it was more bearable. This time, I actually made it to the cairn on the summit in a run/walk mixture without being blown off my feet. At the top, I took a few moments to take in the views. It was sunny with a clear view and a cold breeze. I could see the West Lomond peak in the distance and the valleys around with no snow.

I chose to descend via the steeper west side of the hill, where no clear path was visible in the snow. Making my way down the sometimes surprisingly deep snow – way above ankle deep – was great fun! I started meeting other trail runners and hikers, and everyone was in great spirits and friendly.

Falling in love with West Lomond

After making my way back to the carpark, I headed off in the opposite direction towards West Lomond Hill. The peak was towering over the open landscape in the distance. A broad and winding path led up to it, constantly with a little bit of an incline to make life harder.

Looking back to East Lomond on the way to West Lomond.

As I reached the foot of the hill, I decided to not head straight up via the steep path, but circle around again and take the more runnable ascent zig-zagging up the west side of the hill. Once I had reached the cairn at the top, the views were even more spectacular than from East Lomond. A white winter wonderland all around, snow-free valleys in the distance, a lake not too far away, beautifully reflecting the sunlight. It was a truly magical sight and made me forget for a second how tough the incline had been on my legs.

From the top, I took the steep path down the east side of the hill and had great fun doing that. The snow was deep here, and I loved sliding around a little as I tried to maintain some speed on the downhill. Eventually, I got back to the bottom of West Lomond and made my way back to the car park.

Way to go…

As I ran the last mile, I realised how tough the run had been on my legs. 8 miles with a total of 550m ascent and descent are certainly not a piece of cake, at least not for little untrained me! It is great practice for the upcoming races though, so I better get used to it. Otherwise I won’t make it to the finish line in my planned races!

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