I've covered various sections of upper route in training but i've only covered Kinlochleven to Fort William twice. Once was when i was supporting Jen 2 years ago in WHW race, it was a very long weekend and Jen finished in 34hrs.I ran from Kingshouse to FW so my first ever time up that section was after getting kicked out of community centre and dragging our sorry tired bodies up that godforsaken climb followed by two sweepers. I can remember little about it tbh, or prehaps i've blocked it out.
The second time was during the Devil last yr, having raced 8 times that year already (5 of them Ultra's) it's fair to say i struggled up that section and again managed to delete some of it from my memory. This was clearly something that needed to be addressed. It's Ian's favourite section and with it being kinda crucial to me finishing i needed to find that love, or lose the fear & loathing at least!
Although we've got a scheduled double run covering it next month Ian decided Easter was perfect time to head up there and tackle it from fresh legs point of view. So that's what we did. Arrived Saturday evening in the misty weather & woke to more of same. Hearty breakfast was had and we headed off to get bus to Kinlochleven to run back. Rickety shoogly bus arrived with bus driver cunningly disguised as Dick Turpin as she demanded almost a tenner for 2 single tickets to a place no one in their right mind actually wants to go to ;)
An hour later we arrive feeling like we've taken a trip in a washing machine instead of bus, quick loo stop and i put on my long sleeve top as it was pretty damn cold, yes, even i get cold sometimes too....
So the climb out was as i remembered it, i think in fact i have exact same pic from devil race, except then it was bathed in sunshine. No sun today. Misty, breezy & cold. Not cold enough to stop me taking off jacket, then top. Then 15 mins later putting it all back on again lol !
It does make it look rather mystical & very "highlandy" though, don't you think?
That's Ian in the distance, yes i was ahead of him. Only because he stopped for loo though and i powered on ahead ..as told, always do as I'm told ;)
The mist did start to clear as we headed towards Lundavra though, now I've always called this loondaavraaaah but apparently it's Loooondavra , it's all about the pronunciation you know, bit like Tyndrum. I nearly got my head taken off in wee shop on corner once by Mr shopkeeper for calling it Tindrum. I was told sharply "there's no Tin in Tyndrum, only gold lass" errm ok. Don't mess with the locals is what I'm saying and get those names right OK?
So, we arrived at Lundavra and i was in a happy wee place quite frankly, this wasn't so bad after all, the climbs didn't seem so bad, the endless trek through the barren bits didn't seem to last as long either. I've got wee landmarks to watch out for to signify mileage, I've got tips on how to break it down, mental things (in my head,not crazy mental) things to do to help me get to Lundavra and to that last stage.
So off we trek to the Forest, we even get glimpses of sunshine. Just after saying to Ian that i was really enjoying this section i went down like ton of bricks. Had to happen eh? i should just keep trap shut really. I quickly got up and carried on running, think it's only way to get over shock really. Hand and knee were bit sore but i bit lip and carried on.
On through the Forrest til we found the section that's been preventing people from running there for past few months. What a shocker that was.