Saturday, 21 May 2011

Cape Wrath marathon

Two days after entering this race I tore my calf. That was 4 weeks last Friday and apart from a 26 mile week the week before last I hadn't done any running since. I have done a lot of gym work, and swimming has been great.
Last Monday Liz and I drove up to Altnahara, a one horse town if ever there was one. The day after we climbed Ben Klibreck and headed over to Kinlochbervie to stay at the lovely Old Schoolhouse for a couple of nights. Whilst there we walked in to the stunning Sandwood bay in the teeth of a gale. However we still enjoyed it although having your ankles sandblasted is a novel way to spend a holiday.
After that we travelled over to Tongue and I took in the most northerly Munro Ben Hope. That was Thursday and Liz did a low level walk saving herself for the marathon. I had no intention of running and surprised myself by doing the walk in 2.5 hours without a complaint from the calf.
Friday I woke and thought why not? I'm entered for the race and here.
The whole week in Durness is given over to running and they put on a remarkable show. There are races every day except Friday which is registration.
We have had windy squally weather all week and it was no surprise when the official run to the Cape was canceled in favour of a road run on the road to Kinlochbervie. It was a real shame but as the race involves a ferry ride there was no other choice.
So, we got up early and made our way to Durness for the 8am start. There are also some relay races that were starting at 9.
It was raining when we set off and a 40mph southerly blowing straight at us. Only 86 started, clearly a few thought better of it as 106 were entered for the race.
It was immediately apparent that this was going to be tough.
I had a bag of fudge with me and set off in my gore running jacket which Liz had had the foresight to pack. She wore her full goretex jacket.
The race takes a couple of miles to get out of Durness but even they are hilly and mainly downhill. In fact the 1st 4 miles to the Kyle is predominantly downhill so the return was going to be up. I suggested to a couple I was runing with that we got into cycle formation and take turns into the wind. The chap and I did this whilst the woman elected to tuck in!. Usually in these conditions I like to run behind Phil but he wasn't there so I made do.
Between 4 and 7 miles the route undulates along the Kyle. After that it starts going up. At about this time I was running with a woman fron Kendal. We made a god team and shared the front all the way to halfway. 7 to 9 miles goes up steadily then between 9 and 12 it's up all the way. It really was v tough running up into the wind but in a way I enjoyed the challenge of it. I was fully expecting my calf to start hurting at any time now. I had run 9 miles last weekend and was glad to finish. It did niggle but came to nothing.
About 12 miles we came to he top of the Guinol as it is called and ran down to the halfway point and turnaround. What a relief to have the wind behind. I enjoyed the run down up until about 18miles. From then on it was a real grind. I did the 1st half in 1.52 and finished in 3.38. The last 10k was as tough a run as I have done in a long time especially as most of it was uphill.
The finish at the village hall was most welcome. Shame all the hot water was gone but cold is good after a long run or so I am told.
Liz finished a very creditable race in 5.06 just 3 weeks after the Fling.
We went to the evening do which was amazing. Over 200 people in the hall and an incredible spread including langoustines, lobster, and so much more. Superb puddings as well.
So well done Durness, we will be back to hopefully to he Cape run next year.

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