Monday, 25 August 2008

Bonjour mon petit filous!!

Hey dudes pour le trail!
This will be my last post before heading off to Chamonix to tackle the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc. This is LE GRANDE one!

Sh***ing it??...not me!!.......much.........

The last couple of days have been spent weighing all my gear piece by piece and trying to save a few grams here and there, I even cut a foot off the bottom of my trouser legs to save about 50 grams (that's almost a whole Go-bar) also some very complex calculations to ascertain if the highly technical Go-Bars are a better fuel than the teuchter performance enhancer and national dish, Shortbread. After much frothing over a calculator the sassenach Go-bars won out by a narrow margin. Its a real dillema though, because this will be my first long race without a wee tootie o' shortie to look forward to mid race, I'm gambling with a tried and tested formula here! It sounds like most of the aid stations are well stocked with goodies though, so I'm going to take the chance. Hope it's not all Fromage Frais and Petit Filous!!

I had another practice with the poles too which drew some funny looks as I ran up the street the other day. Just running in these parts is strange behaviour, unless you have a Polis van in hot pursuit, and usually if you're on foot it's only because your wee mini scooter has broken down. Anyway, I headed up Benarty Hill and gave them a good work-out and came to the conclusion that, in the race, I'll fold them up and keep them in my rucksack until I'm in such a state that I need them to keep me upright.

I was going through the compulsory kit list, stuff which must be carried or else, and was surprised to see "tight fitting pants" listed, I hope the locals are ready for this!
So, eight months training is in the bank, I'm tapered to the stage of insanity (chewing the door-frames stage) I can speak some more of La Francais (Je suis bloody knackered, comment beaucoup plus loin??!! Avez-vous des shortbread?? Sont mes pantalons serrés!!) and my tight pants weigh 37 grams, I hope they don't get any heavier.......!
My race number is 3266 you can follow my progress live here from 1730 hrs BST Friday 29th.
Only five dinners to go.......
Wish me luck mes amis!
Ooh la la!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Want to be my best pal.....?

These guys can have honorary "Best Pal" status in the Sunday Adventure Club for this stunt. "Best Pal" status means full use of the SAC Grifter and the secret code for the Ganghut.

The Grifter.
For security reasons this picture was not taken in the Ganghut .

Monday, 11 August 2008

A Devil Of A Morning!

Devil O' the Highlands 43 mile race

I was glad to get the climb out of Kinlochleven behind me, lots of walkers to negotiate on the narrow path, the rain hammering down and my empty stomach threatening revolt at any minute. As the long winding track came into view ahead I started to think about times and it dawned on me for the first time that I could do sub 6 hours. I couldn't quite believe it at first, I checked to make sure my watch wasn't broken, went over the numbers a few times... if I got to Lundavra in 5 hours I knew I could run to the Fort in an hour but I had to shift some!

Rewind just over 4 1/2 hours to Tyndrum where I'd given my support my splits for a 6:50 (which I secretly hoped to make a 6:40!). A few minutes at the start line then we were off, straight away a group formed at the front of 5 runners so I hung back in 6th with the intention of easing into this one. Not to be! The pace was quick and I had to match it or lose places but I felt ok so went with it. Through Bridge of Orchy and over the hill to Inveroran then onto the stretch of road where I stepped on the gas and caught up a bit on the group by the stile at Forest Lodge. Now onto Rannoch Moor, always my worst section, and today was going to be no different. Last week at Borrowdale I had clattered my ankle a few times on the rocks and after Sunday in the hills it was quite swollen and sore but had eased by mid-week so I hadn't given it another thought. Unfortunately it had started to get really painful with all the impact and it was causing me to slow down a bit. Then George Cairns passed me and I tried to hang on but he was too fast for me, so it was dig-in till Glencoe and hope a brufen could kill the pain. It worked a treat, by the time I got to the Staircase I was upping the pace again, running and walking a nice rythmn up the climb. I looked down below and saw John Kennedy maybe about 5 minutes behind and looking strong so I had to push it on the descent or he was going to catch me. A mouthful of raisins at the top then I let go and ran as hard as I could enjoying the rock-hopping and technical bits as I got nearer to the building at the top of the Kinlochleven descent, then I really let go, getting from there to the checkpoint in 17 minutes which I was pretty chuffed with. I forced myself to eat a finger of shortbread (aka Teuchter Rocketfuel!) and I was off. I caught up with the runner in front just before Lundavra after seeing Murdo MacEwan and his words of encouragement (!!) then caught the next guy just after Lundavra. Only problem was being so far ahead of schedule my support weren't there yet but I wasn't for stopping anyway so it was ok (Val and Fiona you were fantastic! I won't tell Tommy, I promise!).
5 hours exactly at Lundavra. My WHW split from there to the finish was 1:14 so I knew with 50 miles less in the legs sub 6 was definitely achievable but there was no room to ease off at all so the plan was to keep it nice and solid until the descent on the forest track where I would give it everything to the finish. I reached the Braveheart car park with 10 minutes to spare and as I sprinted round the corner and saw the finish I felt really emotional, NEVER would I have believed I could have ran sub 6!

5:55:34 to be exact and 5th place, all in a mornings work! It was an amazing set of results with seven of us inside the previous course record, I think we all just forced each other to run out of our skins. I'm paying for it today though, my body aches all over and I'm walking like a real cowboy!

Thanks to Fiona Rennie for the photos

Gail, me, Lynn and Stephen

Finishing Straight


Sunday, 3 August 2008

Cairngorms, Ullapool, Borrowdale and Ben Lui

W/c 28/7 Totals

74 miles

24460' ascent

18:35 hrs

Have been around and about this week.

Tuesday I ran up Glen Squaib to the col below Ben dearg, nr Ullapool, and back.

Wednesday I met Victor and went up from the ski car park over to Ben Macdui where we met a mad German family at the summit all wearing jeans and trainers, Dad with can of lager in hand! The clag had come in and we were trying to explain to them how to get back and how easy it was to get lost, after about 10 minutes we felt they got the message and off we went and promptly got lost! Eventually we got back on track and went over Cairn Lochan and the other wee tops back to Cairngorm then had a competitive descent back down to the car park and jumped in the burn for the Cairngorm sauna effect.

Saturday was the Borrowdale Fell Race(pics by Rob Stephens HERE). My first time and what a cracker of a race! Loads in it; rugged scrambly bits, bog, scree running, some pretty hairy descents and some quad burning climbs. I had a good start, going well until Scafell then it all went badly wrong. Not sure what line to take off the summit, I followed a group who looked like they knew what they were doing. They did. They promptly shot off into the mist leaving me scrabbling over big, wet, slippy rocks and wondering where to go next. I chose the wrong way and watched as about 30 people shot passed below and by the time I got back on track I'd lost loads of places. So, down the scree run I plunged... well, ponced, like a girly as all the real men disengaged their brains and hurtled down at speed, another dozen places disappeared into the mist! I decided I would just take my time on the tricky bits and hammer the climbs. It was going ok as I picked up some places and felt pretty strong, then after Great Gable a "helpful" chap pointed me and a couple of guys in the best direction of travel and 10 minutes later we descended out of the mist to see lots of runners on the hill above us heading in the other direction. Back on track again, a steep descent then a massive climb up Dale Head, some knee crunching descending and over the finish line in 3:57, great fun!!
I sat about in the sun at the finish and then Oscar came in and we watched the highly amusing prizegiving. It was starting to look like some serious beer-drinking was going to take place so Oscar and I, being lads of a sensible nature, decided to hit the road with a pit-stop for fish suppers in Longtown.

Sunday I met up with Lucy and Matt and headed up to run the Ben Lui group of munros. We left the shelter of the van and headed off into the pouring rain feeling none too enthusiastic. It cleared pretty soon though and we knocked of Ben Dubhcraig, Ben Oss, Ben Lui, Beinn a' Chlieb and Ben Lui again to round off an 18 mile and 6600' day, then it was into Tyndrum for more heart-attack food!