|Home for two nights|
We failed to spot the chippy in time as we passed through Cairndow and could not find one in Inverary or Lochgilphead but we did find a great little pub in Ardrishaig for our tea. We drove into Tarbert to spot the Runfurther banner flying by the harbour and quickly parked up to register. We also donned our new committee T shirts (thanks Fastrax) and went out for a photo call.
|Proud owners of Committee T shirts -Thanks Fastrax|
He drove me down to the start and put up our RF start banner before taking a few photos. There were only 17 entered on the long route so it did not take long to get us organised and off. The weather was sticking to the forecast of dull and heavy showers so most of us had cags on and less than half had opted for shorts.
We started uphill almost immediately on a big forest track but with some narrower boggy bits at first. The cloud was down and it hard to see far or take in many views even as it got lighter. After a bit the forest track ended and we were out on the hillside. The path deteriorated and I smiled. My studs gripped well and I was happy again. I reeled in a few that had overtaken me and enjoyed the path as it snaked back into the forest. The track down to Skipness was soft and not too long. Only 3 ladies were competing and I had a chat with Charlotte here.
She had done the Fellsman when I did Evesham and was worried it was too soon. The weather seemed to be picking up and we ran along the coastline for a few km to the CP at Claonaig Bay. At least it was a quiet and picturesque road. There were several caravans perched on grass above the shoreline and plenty of spots to park a small campervan ;)
|Arran I think|
22 miles done so 1/3 of the way now and I was enjoying myself and pleased I had given the long route a go. Sadly there was then another section of road before we headed down past a posh house to the shore for a very short while.
The next 5 km stayed parallel to the main road but mostly on very very muddy paths through bushes and with the odd section of pebble beach thrown in. Debbie caught me up here and we sort of ran together for a while. When the bushes ended we hit the beach for real. A 4km section of pebble beach that was tough going. Dry seaweed was the best line but wet seaweed was lethal as I found to my cost.
|Debbie on the pebble beach|
|Carra and the ferry to Gigha|
I have never been but it looked nice and mountainous. I refilled my water bottle at the Carradale CP and set off just behind Debbie and a relay runner. Debbie disappeared ahead and the relay runner went with her. We hit the coast again for a short scramble over rocks- fine when your legs area good but in danger of unducing cramp at this stage.
I then caught the relay runner and we tried to make sense of the route description. In the end I gave up and just followed the blue markers.There was more forest track and then a nice rough path down into the Saddell Water valley and Ifferdale Farm. Debbie was just leaving the CP as I arrived. Water was from a very long hose pipe and I hoped it was OK. From Ifferdale there was.... yes you guessed, more forest track and it really did seem to go on. I finished my water and refilled from a peaty stream but running downhill was now a trail and my feet felt like they had been hammered.
Next time I will carry Hokas to change into after Tayinloan. (serious medical issue with ultra runners- short memory, already thinking about next time). The official photographer popped up all over the place and he was at the head of Lussa Loch along with the coastguard guys who were the rescue vehicles. I had thought the forest track was tough on my feet but part was along the loch it turned to tarmac and that was no better.
I hobbled on and tried not to think about the time draining away. I did at least know that, barring real disaster, I would not be timed out now. I had anticipated a relatively easy end to the ultra with a road for 8km in to Campbelltown. In my dreams. The reality was a crippling hobble where I forced myself to run the flats and downs as much as I could and tried to power walk the ups.The road was described as undulating....... and it was! Various support crews were out looking for runners and all offered encouragement. At last I spied the A83 again, surely I could run now. I did try, honest but even running this last 1.5km was not continuous and it was a joy to run on the grass for the last 100m. At last. Job done. Debbie had only finished 12 minutes ahead of me and I felt sorry not to have stuck with her as mutual encouragement would have been good. We refuelled for a bit and then wandered off to find the showers. the walk to the other end of the football pitches was well worth it. Then it was a short walk in the other direction to find the pub and all the others. they had all completed. Emma was first lady on the shorter route and shared her time with Nigel A, Dick was slightly miffed that Marie and Harry just beat him and Andy was delighted that even walking he beat a fair few runners. We enjoyed the buffet and a drink before the prize-giving and than had a chat with the RO. We then suddenly realised we needed to go and collect in all our flags or we would be in danger of missing the bus home. We beetled off to the waterfront and stuffed them into bags the best we could. Ironically my legs felt fine, if only my feet had let me run. It was an interesting bus ride in the dark with sheep and deer on the road. Dick got out at Tayinloan to collect his car from their start and we met up again back at the wigwams. I fell into bed and was so glad I had showered earlier. I slept well, no surprise there. By 8.30 we were all up and having a little RF meeting before heading home. Will I go back? Probably. I wasn't in the best shape when I set out and now know what to expect underfoot. I should be able to knock over an hour off this years time so I guess I will need to return. I am not a fan of the forest tracks but I would like to see the views again, and more of them if the weather allows.