Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Why does it always rain on me.....

So there i was standing in Balmaha car park at 10am on Wednesday morning ready to take on my biggest challenge to date. The biggest back to back i'd done was a 29 & 25 last yr, when training for Fling.

The nerves had gone and i was fairly relaxed and ready to run. Ian said he'd see me around Rowardennan and off i went.

I felt really comfortable and the weather was spot on, overcast with the occasional shower which was just fine. Met quite a few walkers, mostly foreign by sounds of things and everyone was very friendly. Ian ran out few miles to meet me and i arrived at Rowardennan slightly ahead of target (1.27) I was quite happy to push on so we just ran straight through. Ian left me a couple of miles in and i was on my own again. I was told the target for Inversnaid and off i went. I felt really comfortable and was really enjoying myself and got to Inversnaid again slightly ahead of target (1.25) I needed a drinks top up so popped in to use Loo and buy some Irn Bru, 5mins stop off.

After leaving there i thought i might struggle a bit, it was this section during Fling that I'd fallen for 2nd time and really hurt myself. I had taken it very slowly trying not to bash my leg from the earlier fall which just made me bash it even more.

Different day, Different run. During Fling i swear i was tripping over blades of grass, I'd barely even stumbled this time and bouncing over the rocks with big grin passing lots of walkers on way. Quick stop to say goodbye to Loch Lomond and i knew i only had couple miles left til Beinglas,the miles just felt seamless and time flew by easily. This was my day.

I stopped to take picture of where i had fallen, it felt a very long to Beinglas that day. Ian appeared just round the corner and we before we knew it i was there,target 3 achieved. Again i was happy to carry on running so Ian ran down to car to get refills for me and caught me a mile down the road.

I was on the home straight, on the part i didn't get/chose not to do a mere 3weeks ago. I was more than happy to be back. Ian was leaving me at Derrydaroch but there was big cow standing on middle of bridge so i made him stay til i got past safely lol

On my own again, the miles ticked along nicely and again i was enjoying every step, it reminded me of my first fling. Ian met me few miles from end, he had checked into B&B which was just round corner from Fling Finish. The rain was starting to come down heavy now and i was happy to get inside for hot shower and cup tea.

Finish time of 7hr27mins. Refuelled at Paddy's and rewarded with wine. All good.

Had rubbish night's sleep, not sure if it was strange bed, restless legs or worrying about next day but hey ho. Up for breakfast at 8 and plan to set out for 9. Nice big fry, several cups of tea and back to room to pack bag for day. Weather looked awful, rain was relentless and the clouds were growing darker by the minute. I was wearing vest but took long sleeved top, hat, gloves, buff and a jacket of course, which i had on to start.

Ian made me run back down to By the way and start where i finished yesterday, which obviously meant that within 2 minutes i was wading through a freezing cold river. Woke me up anyway. Legs felt ok by time i got to the corner shop and off i went up the hill on the long journey ahead. Rain cleared by 3rd mile and sun came out, yahooo. I took my jacket off and xchanged pleasantries with few walkers and we optimistically said "sun will be out for rest of day now!"

That was wishful thinking. Rain came back on in next mile or so and it was pretty heavy by time i got to Bridge of Orchy, few mins behind target (1.20) I decided to take vest off here and change into dry tshirt. I said to Ian to try and dry the vest in case i wanted to put it back on later. What a joke that turned out to be! Headed off up the hill and the weather was getting gloomier by the second. Took 34mins to get to Inveronan Hotel where Ian refilled my bottles. I wasn't really looking forward to Rannoch Moor , i find the ground quite sore to run on and with the weather the way it was i expected doom & gloom.

As usual though it was changing every 5 mins and i got a mix of sunshine and showers all way through Moor. Ian again met me a few miles from end and ran in with me. I wanted to take the proper route and head down towards Kingshouse but he insisted i ran up to the Ski Centre! i wasn't too happy about this and grumbled a bit saying it would add on "at least"a mile and i was running far enough today thank you very much.

"Tough, you'll have to do it on race day" I was told. hhhmph.

Still, i did manage a smile at Ski Centre and the sun was happy to pretend to be in sky for oh, about 5 mins.

time to Glencoe from Hotel 1hr 49

By time i got to Kingshouse storm clouds were gathering and looking rather threatening. I put jacket, gloves and hat on ,seconds later i felt something hit my face. I wondered what the heck it was til it happened again. Bloody Hailtstones! The wind picked up a bit and it was either in my face hail or sleet or rain. Awful. Ian again ran out to meet me and pushed me on a bit here as i was flagging against the elements.

By time i got to bottom of Devil the sun was shining again again. I'm still smiling....

from Glencoe to Devil 56mins, i knew i was flagging!

I decided to keep hat on anyway as i expected it to get worse as i climbed.

It didn't. Lessons for the WHW, never expect anything, it'll only do the opposite.

Devil didn't seem to take long to climb and a kind American offered to take my pic at top, hat discarded by now as i was too hot.

Few miles into decent and few uphilly bits and i could see another rainstorm approaching, back on with hat & gloves and within minutes the hail hit me full in face. Lovely.

Ian had said to me *see you in about hour & half*

Hmm, ok i thought, that should be more than acheivable, it's only 6miles after all. I had requested some soup for when i arrived so that was something to look forward to.

Once i was on that proper downhill i thought i kept thinking, nearly there, nearly there. Of course it never fuckin was. Every single time I've ran down there I've thought that i mustve gone wrong way, took a wrong turn or that someone had actually taken Kinlochleven away and put it at top of a Mountain.

But they didn't, after what felt like forever i got into the fabled town and ran along street wondering where I'd see my Soup (and Ian lol) He was just up from bridge. It took my 1hr 35 to do that section, i thought it had taken me much much longer and Ian if he was mental telling me i could do it in 1hr30. Again i wasn't for stopping, i took the soup and got new bottle Lucozade and carried on. Soup was finished before first climb and the sun made another appearance, hurrah. Maybe my luck was changing, maybe those guys were right way back at BoO. The sun was indeed going to shine......

Ian told me he was heading straight to FW and was going to run back from there and meet me.

THe climb out of Kinlochleven is a killer, today didn't feel quite so bas as it did during Devil strangely enough. Hmm, odd. I got halfway up and took a pic to say goodbye (goodriddance) and was happy sun was still shining. I was back down to my tshirt.

Another lesson. Don't count your chickens......

Of course the sun didn't stay. Within a mile of reaching top the storm clouds were gathering, i put my jacket back on. Hailtstones again, in my face again. It was incredibly windy too and another mile down i was starting to get cold. I decided to stop and put on long sleeved top, so had to take jacket off and put it on, this proved more difficult than it sounds with the wind desperate to take my jacket back to painlochleven and leave me with hypothermia.

After bit of battle i got jacket back on so i had 3 layers on now, the hat was soaked through so i put buff on, my gloves were so wet i mightve as well have thrown them in the many many icy cold rivers i was passing through. I started to lose will a bit. Hadn't seen a single soul since leaving Ian and i was feeling really sorry for myself. I started walking bits i could've ran, through sheer despondency. Crazy i know, clearly if i'd ran i'd get there quicker and clearly it would get me out of the hell that i was in. You start to not think straight after a while though.

There are no more pics to be seen, i couldn't feel my hands and thought they might actually fall off.

I kept thinking, please god, please let Ian have realised how bloody awful this weather is and to have taken car to Lundavra to save me. I got to Lundavra and guess what? God wasn't listening. More despair. 2hrs 5mins from Kinlochleven to Lundavra

About mile and half down track Ian came bouncing towards me, first question i asked was "where's the car?" I was told it was at the Leisure Centre. More despair. "Can you run on ahead and bring it Brave heart Car park please? "

"no, that's not where the race finishes"

"but i have fuckin hypothermia" i said

"you have NO idea how cold i am"

"yes i do" says he.

aaaaaargh.More despair.

"C'mon, keep running" he says, keep moving, it'll warm you up.

" Yes, it will, but a nice warm car will warm me more, cant you just bring it to car park, I'm not bothered about a poxy mile along a poxy road"

"No, every time I've known someone to drop out of a training run early they drop out of race"

I gave up trying, he wasn't for moving.

Pete Duggan suddenly comes bounding towards us, moving like a gazelle through the sleet and mud and quite chirpily told us he was running home (to that fabled town) At that point i thought he was barking. But then i also thought i was to be fair.

As we got to the decimated Forest the rain finally went off, we got up the last climb & Ian pushed me to keep running and running which tbh is fairly easy on such a steep hill. He told me he wanted me in under 10hrs at that point, that pushed me on. Got to Braveheart Car park, and i had one mile exactly to go once i reached the road.

I got the Lochaber Leisure Centre in 9hrs 58mins. I'd done it. Last section took me 1hr 37mins.

Popped into Leisure centre for shower and struggled to get clothes off over my head , shower was brilliant though and as soon as i stepped back outside after drying my hair, guess what?

It started Raining again.....

We stopped off for bite to eat on route to Glenshee and eventually arrived there around 10.30pm in need of a drink. Cant thank Ian enough for the support those 2 day, especially those last miles. Not that i appreciated it at the time mind you.

If i had £1 for every person who said to me over the weekend, it was "character building".......

Cateran Marshall blog and run aftermath blog to follow..........


  1. Pete Duggan a gazelle? Nah... rampaging elephant perhaps, but gazelle never! Although I'll admit to bounding out of your way and almost past you before a hefty double take at the bedraggled figures I'd belatedly recognised.

    Have to say Altnafeadh to Kinloch is my favourite bit of the whole route and I've never found it the endless torture so many do. But then I run it all the time and know every twist, turn and bump of it! :-)

  2. I'd say you've got a keeper there in Mr Ian ;-)

  3. Well done Sandra - that coach of yours is a right slave driver, which is probably a good thing. You're going to do great on race day.

  4. Well done Sandra. The weekend will give you a lot of confidence going into the big one.

    After reading your report I reckon you had a lot worse weather than we did. We only had hail for 20mins or so!

    I'm glad you ran the last mile. Ian is right ... it's important to finish these runs off so when you get there in June you know you've done it.

    See you Friday



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...