Douglas gets lost but is still the mountain king
CAITHNESS mountain runner Andrew Douglas wasted no time in hitting the heights as he stormed his way to victory in the World Cup opener at Annecy.
The idyllic French Alps town provided the perfect backdrop for the Great Britain internationalist's success – despite him taking in far too much of the scenery than he needed to.
Douglas, from Halkirk, was way out in front only to take a wrong turn and run off course. By the time he got back on track he was down to third place.
However, he managed to find a burst of pace that took him past the USA's Andy Wacker and Kenya's Robert Surum.
Douglas's winning time on the 16km course that has a 950m climb was one hour and 15 minutes.
He said: "I was delighted to win the race but getting lost on the course was slightly embarrassing – especially as I had recced the course beforehand.
"Having done that preparation in advance, I should have known the route.
"What happened was there was a sharp turn that took me straight down – except I somehow managed to go on the wrong trail.
"I realised pretty quickly what I had done but it took me between 45 seconds and a minute to get back on track, and by that point I had gone from leading the race to third place.
"I was so annoyed at myself as I had established a fair gap between myself and second place before I went off course.
"Thankfully I was able to make back the ground that I lost to win."
Douglas added: "The Annecy course had a very big climb. It was very rocky with some narrow trails.
"Some parts were fast-running and that suited me, although there was a long descent. A descent like that means you are running downhill faster and it has more of an impact on your joints.
"Certainly your legs hurt a lot more than they would do with an ascent, which has more of a cardiovascular effect.
"Also, a steep descent means you have to concentrate more as one wrong step or turn could affect your chances in the race."
Douglas will now head over to the United States for round two of the World Cup which takes place in June on the mountains of the Californian side of Lake Tahoe.
He will also next month take part in the trial to make the Great Britain team for the European Mountain Running Championships to be held in Switzerland in July.