The Montane Highland Fling 2010

24th April
53 miles 8,400 feet

I spot Will at the other side of the bridge that leads to Beinglas Checkpoint, I feel hot, dehydrated and tired I shake my head in disappointment, I am late, I hate being late. Will knows I am shattered mentally and physically my 6 hour 45 minutes to Beinglas was my only time check and I can’t believe I have missed it by 10 minutes. I now know that my sub 9 hours target will not happen.

After much reflection, 5 days later I am still as disappointed as I was on arriving at Beinglas CP. Irritated that I went out too fast and ended up in a sorry state again at the end. I was not running strong after Inversnaid, but I ran the hills, downhill and flats well at the beginning. Next year I hope to try and run it more evenly in terms of the effort. This will mean having a walking break on Chonic Hill and not running most of it like the last 2 years. What actually happened to leave me disappointed at missing on my goal and mistiming my effort, but happy with my overall placing of 14th. Well ……

A year has passed and I am in Milngavie car park again preparing to start this tough 53 miler. This time Will was my personal support. He is concentrating on a Paddy Buckley round later in the year so decided not to run it. So I hand over my Inversnaid drop bag to the Race organisers and head for the line. I feel fitter this year and have a simple strategy to run as much as I can and walk when I can’t.

I set off strong and tried to settle into a comfortable pace. I ended up just behind two runners that I would see from time to time all day. We made a good link through the gates, each keeping them open for the next, and made Drymen in a swift 1 hour 35 mins. Will was on hand to take my jacket and give me a fresh bottle of lucozade. By now the sun was poking through the clouds and although it was only 09:40, it was quite warm. I ran most of the next section to Conic hill and even ran parts of that, in fact up to this point I had run almost all the way. I ran most of Chonic Hill and enjoyed the descent to Balmaha overtaking a few of the earlier starters as I entered the car park. A quick switch of an empty for a full bottle and I continued walking through the car park chatting to Willl and stuffing food in my mouth and my bum bag then it was off to Rowardenan.

I felt comfortable all the way to Rowardenan and enjoyed the up and down proper trail running. I reached the car park in good shape and had my first sit down and a chat with Will about, possibly being in 8th place (I was 9th), and a rice pudding then I set off for Inversnaid. The long uphill stretch out of Rowardenan was tough I ran some of it and walked some. Then on the long downhill stretch I had my first bad patch. Feeling cramps in my sides and calves. This worried me; it was too early for this. I did my best to slow enough to not let this get a grip, but it did ruin the fluidity of my movement. I became more rigid for a while and worried that this would continue. Luckily by the time I reached Inversnaid I got into a reasonable rhythm. Will did not meet me here because of the long out and back car journey around the mountains that is required.

I retrieved my drop bag and had a rest for 5 minutes to eat. I even walked 100 yards the wrong way to hand over my litter, it felt like a heroic act. I performed an about turn and headed for Beinglas. This section is very rough and it knocked me out of any rhythm I had and seamed to drain me more than it should have. I reached Will at Bein Glas shaking my head at him as I realised that it was 6 hours 52 minutes in to the run and I had no chance of sub 9 hours, feeling sorry for myself I did not even think about the fact that I was in a race and doing pretty well. I was in 7th at Drymen 9th at Rowardenan and 14th now. After an unnecessarily long 4 minutes on my backside Will told me to get a move on “ as you will on my Paddy” I agreed that I would, and so levered myself up and onwards.

I lacked serious motivation and knew that the 12 miles left to go were going to be painful. The 6 miles of mainly uphill passed with me only running when the trail was virtually flat or downhill, or when a photographer’s camera appeared; strange I know. Will had gone to Tyndum to park up and retrace the trail back to me. As I approached the top of the hill onto the highland plateau I negotiated the cow latrine by snaking passed the rumps of some bloody huge cows (I think I have mentioned on the blog my fear of these creatures) I was too knackered to bother. So I just ploughed my way through the slosh. By now my lucozade had run out and I was getting dehydrated. My 2nd toilet break confirmed my fears, bright green fluid, and I had not eaten any asparagus. Not good. Eventually, after what felt like a long time traversing the rollercoaster path through the woods, Will appeared like a bronzed Adonis descending off a mini summit. Shirt off and proclaiming “I only have water” thank god for that, I was sick of all that energy drink. I ran as much as I could for the last 6 miles with Will.

I felt pathetic, walking any slight incline and jogging the flats slowly. All the time I was imagining myself running up Conic Hill 6 odd hours earlier. Will said he had feared he would struggle to keep up with me. No Chance, more like he was struggling to run slow enough. It felt like he was kidding me about the distance left my glass was half empty and Wills was full. Finally we arrived at the last bit of road. He left me at the start of the last field and semi triumphantly I passed the bagpiper and headed for the finish line. A runner that I had jockeyed position with from Beinglas was 200 yards ahead and for the last 2 miles I could not be bothered to even contest it. He probably deserved it anyway.

14 th in 9 hours 20 mins. I suppose I should be pretty pleased it is a new PB; 9 minutes faster than last year. I know I can do better so it will be interesting to give it a go in a years time, roll on the Highland Fling 2011.

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