I about to DNS at the Ring of Steall Skyline. This will be my second year in a row not starting a race in this series. The weather looks perfect too. Last year I didn’t start the Ben Nevis ultra after not recovering from the WHWrace in time to prepare. This year I will resign myself to turning up to simply get my race number just so I can attend the ceilidh.
I queried Lyme disease, but maybe I have just run myself down and hit with a cold. Maybe too many busy weekends adventuring and not enough time recovering post Devil Race. Maybe too many early starts to races, 7am ferries and poor nights sleep from ruminating. The 3am running to-do list of worries, work, Tyndrum 24, money, how to fit a shower in our tiny bathroom, how to decommission the back boiler before winter… I have lately been giving up trying to sleep and just watching the sunrise instead.
But we have a lot of fantastic news. We have a race license for the Tyndrum 24 AND we have enough ticket sales now I won’t need a new credit to pay for the race. In fact we have a bunch of fabulous sponsors!! Also did I tell you, we own a house now? We do not live in our vehicle, and we live in the highlands overlooking a loch and mountains. Things got real good and are working out for us, thank you to everyone for being there backing us the whole time.
I raced the Devil of the highlands on the 3rd August and kicked (relative) butt. A week before in a sort of panic that I had not done a long run I ran a trail half marathon running the 13miles in 2hrs. This may have been a bad idea as I came away with a niggle. A last min trip to our physio, I am taped up and given the go ahead to run no further than a marathon. I went into the Devil to run conservative and that I would pull out at Kinlochleven.
I started the race at the back, the very very back. There is a video of the start, every one else runs off and I walk by as the very final runner. I stick exactly to my plan – 1.5hrs to Bridge of Orchy – drink 400ml and eat a breakfast bar. 3hours to Glencoe having finished 1litre of water and eaten a sandwich and pom bears. Up and over the Devil, get my jelly baby form the local legends stationed here. Get to Kinlocheven in 6 hours. Run steady, eat on the flats and keep hydrated. I felt great at Kinlochleven after a fantastic descent from Glencoe. I even managed to eat a cheese and pickle sandwich while running off the hill. I have never been so proud of myself! Was fab to see Max and Neil at the checkpoint, I dash into the bathroom to pour cold tap water over myself. I am off just 5mins behind time and Max comes with me up the next hill on his way the recce Am Bodach. I will admit here, I was hurting a lot, but the normal leg pounding hurt for having run a marathon with some hills in it.
The race was hot. The sun absolutely unrelenting and not a sniff of a breeze. I credit how well I carried on to the fact that in Cambridge we are used to running in the heat. However, I had not run much in high 20s for over a year and I had spent the last winter swimming in 7 degree water cold adapting my body (a.k.a gained tummy fat). I also think having taking on food and salts early while it was still cooler helped me. By the time I was on the Larig Mor I was running purely on Haribo and awaiting the sugar low. Leaving the final check point I realised a sub 10hr race was beyond me and I was starting to worry about myself. Cognitively I was loosing it, I could not read my watch anymore and had no idea where the time had gone – over 8hrs had passed? I decided to just run as hard as I could as really needed to cool down sooner rather than later. Suck up the pain, suck up the discomfort, we all know the score now! You just keep running.
There was the Ben, I gave it a fist bump back. Here we again. Unlike the WHWrace I am not shitting myself on the side off to the side of the path, but hitting my stride flying off the fire road. The fruit angel had revived me with some water melon at the last summit and the descent didn’t touch my legs.
I realise I am overtaking runners usually faster than me, but I stall into the final hill, I am blown. Haribo are not working anymore so I grit my teeth, dig deep into my brain and haul my butt to that finish line on the verge of tears. I AM SO DAMN HOT.
42 miles, 2000m ascent, all trail, 27+ degrees and zero shade. 10hr16min15secs. I came in mid pack – 203/360 runners.
The next night I wake to a fire burning my calves, I had over 50 midge bites per leg!!!
Thank you Race Organisers, what an amazing event! Thank you Max, you got my back always xx