A lovely clear morning as I left to pick up Chris and Michael and the first view of conditions ahead were a bit worrying as I tried to calculate how high the Campsies were in relation to todays run.
Not to worry though as it was glorious in the sunshine and the covering of snow would soon disappear once the sun got to work. Arrived in Milngavie in plenty of time to register and prepare to start what was to be my longest race yet. The female and Vet 50 race had started at 6am, my start was 7am for the V40 race which would be followed by the fast boys and seniors at 8am and the relay race at 9am.
Section One: Milngavie to Drymen 1hr 33min 31 secs
I started off at what I thought was a conservative pace but in hindsight it was definitely the first mistake of the day trotting along talking to Andy Johns. This is the flattest section and easy running compared to what was ahead. Arrived at Drymen checkpoint feeling fine but told to slow down by the crew.
Section Two : Drymen to Rowardennan 2hr 30min 44secs Total 4hr 4min 15 secs
Took my camelbak onboard for this section as the rougher conditions began and now the second mistake of the day was going to contribute to the run. I had decided not to use my usual viper drink, which I have used for the last 2 years, and just filled my pouch with lucozade which now a realise was just plain stupidity. An uneventful section but stunning views as I gradually passed by 6am starters. Down into Balmaha car park and Michael was waiting with my drop bag and I downed the home made soup which I had made extra runny. At this point I could feel tiredness in the legs which was not expected at this early stage. Forced a banana and a gel down and headed off to Rowardennan.
|Descending Conic Hill|
Section Three : Rowardennan to Beinglass 3hr 3min 10secs Total 7hr 7min 25secs
This section is the toughest of the race as you clamber over rocks and tree roots along the shores of the loch. Not much you can do but plod on and get it over with as quickly as possible. Not long after Inversnaid the leader of the race flew past me striding over rocks while I stumbled on. The soup and banana I had scoffed at Rowardennan and then the muller rice at Inversnaid kicked in but boy my legs were hurting.
About a mile out of Beinglas Gavin Harvie caught me and we ran in together to refuel.
Section Four : Beinglas to Tyndrum 2hr 28min 10secs Finish time 9hr 35min 35 sec
Michael ran a bit with me after this point trying to persuade me to eat a milky way but my body was not having it by now and liquids only were being accepted. So 2 gels and a can of Red Bull were going to have to get me through to the finish. The climb through the forest was slow and then the descent down to the A82 finished me off with the legs not wanting to go downhill now.
Grabbed a bottle of water as I crossed the A82 and headed for Auchtertyre nearing the finish. Just after you cross the A82 again a stream crosses the path at which I halted and washed my face and freshened up for the last mile and plodded on. A glorious sight as you round the bend and the pipers stike up and play a tune to welcome you to the end. On under the finish balloon and muster the energy to raise my arms aloft.
So on reflection I really enjoyed the race and the two things that affected me were self inflicted. I don't think a recce of the lochside would have helped much as that section is so bad I would not speed up much there anyway. West Highland Way Race next year? Still undecided but as I write today I am considering it again, at several points on Saturday it was a definite no go.