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