This race was so far out of my comfort zone that it was in another universe. Mountains/bog/heather/tussocks/rain/wind/mud/navigation... but it was great.
I cant say how impressed I was with the whole thing. How anyone organises this massive event is beyond me.
After a week of refining the contents of my new OMM rucsac I met Sam on the Friday evening to make sure we both new how to put up my tent. His ruck sac was mainly full of sleeping bag so he took my old one.
I was carrying 16lb by the time it was all assembled which is more than I am used to running with!
Our start time was 10.19 and our bus left Cultybraggan at 9.20. There were literally buses every minute! Unbelievable. And there were temporary traffic lights to make sure it all ran like clockwork which it did.
We had a great cooked breakfast courtesy of Andrew Scott and his team and set off for St Fillans.
The rain had been falling all morning but started to clear as we headed up the track to the start which left just west of the Four seasons hotel.
We had 10min to kill and then made our way to our start in B class. 26km lay ahead of us, surely that wouldn't take more than 5-6hrs? We heard that one elite team had taken one look at the map and gone home, hard to believe but true.
Off we went on time. Fortunately Sam seemed to know what he was doing and started up a track, not too bad so far. Then it started to rain and didn't stop for the next 7 hrs. We headed west, took in check 1 and then 2 with had John King marshalling and doing sterling work in torrential rain. All the marshals were awesome, what a job they had !
Then our 1st long stretch of the day across tussocky moorland. I fell, cramped, fel cramped then did it all again. Then our 1st significant burn crossing, Chucked the bag across and went for it, got wet, laughed as another runner went in head 1st, applauded as Sam stayed dry. West over a hill, checkpoint 3, hurrah.
Check 4 manned by a late middle aged woman, where do these amazing people come from? it was horrendous for her and all the other marshals. Down to the pipe and wow, some actual running for a bit. So far we had been mainly walking albeit quickly.
Next the long stretch east over the corbett, but which way? We spent an age checking, checking getting cold. Made in to Glen Finn and up,up,up. Sam did start to struggle with cold, and uncertainty as to where we should be going. Big hill, gale force wind, horizontal heavy, heavy rain so hard it hurt but we have to keep going, no option really. Eventually we get to the top of something in thick mist and find 2 girls, one in shorts!!! Find others also lost. I take a punt and head along a path and there it is, the long awaited trig point we are all looking for. 857m up and its about as bad as it gets, so down we go and find check 5 next to a raging burn. Checkpoints are like honeypots with lots of other runners buzzing around them, then its relative isolation until the next one.
Off we go sniffing the end but its a long way. Heading for Glenalmond and we go down a long way, sometimes on our backsides, then up again. There it is another checkpoint, this one next to a raging torrent we must get across. None of these checkpoints are easy to find. This is tough.
On we go with a real sense of the end in sight. We get into Glenalmond and slowly pick up numbers 8 and 9.Well done Sam you have got us to half way, I am in awe.
We finish in 7.09hrs. How can we have taken so long? That isn't even a decent walking pace for goodness sake! However we finish 55/120 or thereabouts, not bad, we are pleased.
The camp is already full of tents so we pitch ours just as the v brief respite in rain comes to an end.
Strip off and get in the tent and try to get organised and warm. We both opt for lying in our bags and doing nothing, hoping not to have to emerge again.
Phil and Rhian are next door and they have had 2.5 hrs more fun than us, god help them!
We spend the evening eating and warming up.
At 11pm we try to sleep. I toss and turn all night. Do I sleep? Maybe, but I'm not sure.
The hour goes back at 2am, I hear it above the gale outside.
At 6am we hear a deranged piper doing his thing, is that Rob Bolton?
Come on Sam, up you get, more fun today.
We breakfast and get ourselves together for our 8.53 start. It is a lovely morning, it is a beautiful glen, we are very lucky to be here and to be able to do this. We set off and do some running. More hills, some big ones. We end up on a boggy, peaty, moorland which is good because we can run across this. The mist comes down or do we go up to it? It is dry though and we move along quite well.
Eventually we reach the point when we turn towards Ben Chonzie. We have a fenceline to follow, no compass required, I bolt and run, passing many people and feeling great. We reach the foot of Chonzie and I bonk big time. Up,up,up following a line of runners up a gully. Where is the checkpoint? We follow the crowds and there it is. Then we make our only real error and head over Chonzie. This involves a big climb and loses us a lot of time. I bonk again and Sam gives me one of his precious gels which helps. This event is all fluctuating energy levels for me.
We find the Invergeldie track and head down and across to check 6. Then down and up along the muddiest track in this race which is saying something.
We make the Carroglen track and run through the farm and down the road. I bonk+++. This is awful, I can barely put 1 foot in front of the other and check 8 is up another hill, will this never end?
Finally we find 8 and Sam feeds me some energy bar which does help after 10min. We are on the TDS, OMG we are actually going to finish this. Check 9 is just above the cattlegrid on the Balmuick Rd. We turn onto the forestry track above the golf course and run. We pass lots of people and I start to feel quite emotional. Check 10 and then we race along the river to Laggan park and the finish.
There is Elizabeth, Liz, Kath, Kerry and Nicola. We finish.
What an event.