Monday, 9 August 2010

Better the Devil you know

Depends on how well you know him though huh?

I never expected to be running the Devil, i knew i would one day of course. Just didn't expect it to be this year with it filling so bloody quickly then they closed the reserve list. But God (or the Devil) works in mysterious ways....

I wasn't nervous at all, not like i hadn't done training, the mileage wasn't an issue and the route familiar. Familiar ish anyway. Last time I'd done parts of it was supporting Jen last yr. There were wee sections i hadn't done in light at all. The run off the devil being one (we ran up there few weeks back but not down other side) the long long decent into Kinlochleven and although it was light last time i did climb out of that godforsaken place i must've been delirious as there are huge bits i just don't remember!


Got home from work, packed then patiently waited on my carer and his Girlfriend arriving. Think it was around 8 they got here, quick coffee and we hit road.

We contemplated stopping at Paddy's knowing *everyone* was there, but decided against it as Phil was driving and desperate for drink.
Arrived at Bridge of Orchy around 10.30. Straight into bar and I'd like to have said drinks straight away. Except there was a weejie stag party who'd just ordered a round. All of them drinking pints Tennents, only one pint pulled at a time. I nearly leapt over bar and grabbed bottle of wine myself. When i asked for large glass of dry white i was offered Cabernet, Merlot or Shiraz. (he was polish) Great start! By time me & Anna had taken a sip of our drinks Phil had one gulp left of hs pint! :-o Think he might've needed that.

We were of course last to leave bar and got to bed around 1am. Up again at 4... As usual, great Ultra Prep! Had weetabix for brekkie then headed off to Tyndrum to pick up numbers and hug everyone in sight, Lovely to see Steve and his wee boy who'd came along just to cheer us on, dedication or what? it was his wee boys birthday too, bless.

Few pics and suddenly we were off
***breaking news******
i interrupt this blog to tell that the bubbly that i am currently drinking is reduced alcohol. what the fuck? why? and why is it on back of bottle, not the front in HUGE LETTERS? I'm boycotting sainsburys now. (until i need to eat again anyway) ****

back to the race. Twas a misty morning and everyone took off up the hill, probably last time that everyone actually ran up a hill for rest of race lol I really like the 1st section i love running towards that big pointy hill, don't ask me the name I'm useless at that kinda thing!Met Robert here and reminded him this was where I'd met him for 1st time on WHW race, we ran together towards BoO chatting away and before we knew it we were at first checkpoint! Saw Sophi and gave her big hug, gutted she didn't start race, was hoping she'd maybe be at next checkpoint & i could've persuaded her to run rest of way with me.

Up the hill where i was caught by Tim, he got to top then went flying down other side like a mountain goat! back down to where support crew (Aka Phil) was waiting all tooled up and netted up. I hadn't touched my drinks but he made me take a drink out and swapped one over.

next up is road bit, past all the campers then up towards Moor. Passing this lovely house that i hope some secret millionaire will buy me one day so i can turn it into a beautiful Guest house. The Midgies were out in full force, as soon as were through the gate past the house it was horrific. worst ever seen. Little fuckers, they are truly evil little creatures. You could actually feel yourself running through whole sheets of them, just awful. I kept wiping my face and my hands were covered in films of black mush. *bokes* Look at my arm! eeeurgh

passed Anna here which i was quite surprised by, i thought she'd be waay ahead but she was having knee niggles :( Kept swapping places on moor with Robert and another bloke who's name i didn't get. Seemed to get to end of moor quicker than usual, most odd because all i could think of where the evil Midgies, maybe they took my mind off the run! I love getting to that corner where you see the Kingshouse Hotel nestled down in middle of nowhere, you know Glencoe is just around the corner. Got to checkpoint and Phil changed my drinks and rubbed me down along with lovely Jane, they managed to rid me of the midge fest that had covered me.Phil told me Simon was 9 mins ahead of me and to go catch him lol

Didnt stay long i waved a cheery goodbye and set off on a new journey. I'd not ran down to Kingshouse before! it was over in flash though and soon i was on way towards Devil, a section I'd only ever covered in complete darkness. It was hillier than i remembered, well not hilly, just hilly(er) lol

Got to bottom of devil which is oh so familiar and i started the climb up. I don't find the Devil so bad , maybe it's because of the spectacular views,or maybe it's the snaking back and forth like snakes & ladders rather than a mental uphill climb? It's still tough though and every step i took and struggled on, i starting thinking about next years WHW race, this is where i started to worryy a bit.

As usual you are suddenly upon summit almost without warning, i was greeted here with jelly babies and huge smiles from the lovely twins from carnegie, most welcome, many thanks. Then i trotted down towards Painlochelven, aka Kinlochleven. As usual, you cant see it, then you can, then you can, then you cant.I'd lost Tim just after Victoria bridge and suddenly i hear voices behind me and once again he bounds past me down hill mountain goat styleee! I'd only done top part of this in light. so as i got closer to painlochleven i started to question myself and wonder if i'd gone wrong (it was such a loong road!) but i'd passed a couple of guys and stopped every so often to see if i could hear them and i could so i carried on! Was well signposted at bottom thankfully :)

Got into Kinlochleven and it was the same glorious sunshiney day that is was when me & Jen & Steve ran along there wondering whether we'd be timed out for WHW race! And although i remember running along this road and going through woodland opposite a bus stop again i started to question myself. Soon saw sign though and headed off through woods and gorgeous waterfalls towards next checkpoint.
Got there to find George , top off standing beside Phil drinking a beer! He'd got cramp so threw in towel, he has bigger fish to fry and all that. I was jealous though and kindadidnt want to leave. George informed me Simon was 10 mins ahead, i said to him that i reckoned Simon needed to beat me this time and was happy for him but George said, *fuck that, go kick his ass* lol :o)

Phil filled my back and sent me on my way.Here we go. OMG, had i blanked this part out my head? i actually cannot remember climbing up these bloody steep, bloody rocky paths last time, not at all! I remember every step now. I remember getting tourist rage at 2 backpackers who were in front of me on that rocky steep narrow path, who i said EXCUSE ME 3 fuckin times to, i remember passing all the lovely other people who kept telling me i was mad, and i agreed with them everytime.

Worth the climb for views like that though eh? > >

my feet were beginning to hurt, yeah, well they would i hear you say, you've just ran 30 miles. But I've never had sore feet before. Not even after 55 miles. Again doubts started to creep in about next yr. By time i was on the rocky road to lundavra i was in a bit of a pit that i couldn't get out off. This was new to me, all this year I've raced and had no issues, no bad patches or low points that most folk talk of. Well that'll teach me for being so smug huh?

There were tons tourists around here, mainly in big groups, all very encouraging and nice, it really does spur you on when you're thinking about walking! It was here that Ellen passed me, she gave me bit of encouragement and flew on ahead! Then i got caught by Frank who I'd passed earlier on as he stopped at medic about his feet. Had bit of chat with frank and it was here that i realised i was taking easy way out, copping out and basically just not trying hard enough. I'd beat Ellen & Frank at last few races yet here i was not *really* pushing myself.

This was kick up arse i needed
So with that in mind i bade Frank farewell and took off. It was on this section i overtook about 6 people, people i didn't see again til race finished. I passed the twins again and they told me i had about a mile to go to Lundavra, i was confused, hadn't i seen them on top of devil? As you can see some parts look very bleak> but hey i'm still smiling

Got to Lundavra & was delighted to see Ian & Lorraine as i hadn't expected anyone to be there. They gave me water & a flapjack which was just what i needed. Richie C asked me if i had vodka in bottle i was swigging out off which reminded me i'd not touched my vodka that Phil put in my bag at Painlochleven! I decided to wait til i was at next hill then treat myself so that's what i did. I adore the forest section but hate it at same time, there are fair few climbs and some lovely downhills too, all the uphill parts i once again let my mind wander to next year and how i'll cope 90 miles in and struggling through here... more vodka....

It looked stunning though with the sun streaming through he trees, lifted me somewhat.

then suddenly you're out in glorious sunshine and you catch you first proper glimpse of Ben Nevis, wow

Then it's downhill, glorious if somewhat stupid downhill. I rn like a loony and let gravity take me, suddenly i heard someone shouting then spotted a fetch top in distance! Cue a rendition of *what's that coming over the hill is that a feetchie, is that a fetchie?* lol! scared all tourists when i ran past singing out loud and waving hahaha

It was Kev, i gave him a hug and he told me Lynn and Sarah were further down the hill, cue repeat preformance when we spotted each other in distance! Gave Sarah a hug and she went on up loooking for gavin and Lynn ran with me all way down to road with me repeatedly telling me *ffs Sandra i've not done 7min miling for abut a yr!*

look, i'm still smiling even though my legs really started to hurt on those downhills!

Then suddenly we hear something behind us and there's Gavin! Wow, this is thesame gav who was doing his first Ultra and *taking it easy* due to being injured pretty much all yr! awesome. I never thought braveheart carpark would arrive, the road semed to go on forever! Eventually we arrived at same gate we'd waited at in pitch dark for Phil on WHW only shrt while ago.I was very please to see it!

Had to keep taking walking breaks when i got to the road as i'd really fucked up my legs beasting the downhill, Richie passed me gooing towards braveheart telling me, c'mon Sandra, it's only round corner! It felt like a long way though and every effort was needed to keep moving. Gavin caught me again, i told him to go onbut he wouldnt. He suggested we finish together. What a gent he is. So that'swhat we did, he got me running again and we ran towards finish hand n hand, happy as larry!

to be continued......


  1. Great blog love the photos especially the one of you and Gavin crossing the line :-)

    I'm more than positive that you will be ok at the WHW next year look how far you have a come in the short time since your injury :-)

    Awesome running :-)

  2. Great stuff Santdra! Love the pictures as well as all the emotion there.



This could be a long blog, but 100 miles is a long way. I've always had a pull to this race for various reasons. I've heard many g...