On the back of our jaunt along the Fife Coastal Path in October, the same group had planned an assault on the Kintyre Way Ultra in May, in relay form, possibly having a go at the record if it was achievable.
Of the FCP team, Phil Humphries wasn’t available for the race on 10th May, so Jim Hardie stepped up to the plate to fill Phil’s (very large) shoes. As the recce weekend approached, we bolstered our ranks with Craig Mattocks and Kate Jenkins, who both fancied a long-mileage weekend, as did Porty’s finest – Peter Buchanan, and Roly McCraw (Portobello) and Steven Yule, both of whom are signed up to do the whole thing solo (crazy fools). We, temporarily, had the threat of some real runners joining us, with Fionna Ross of Harmeny and Sharon Law of Garscube Harriers (both GB Ultra Internationalists), but (thankfully for those of us with 8 miles as a ‘long’ run this year), that didn’t happen. Gregor Heron pulled out the weekend before with a groin strain, and on the morning of our departure Jim and Lisa Gamble had to withdraw with various ailments (I think Jim had one portion of curried turtle too many), so we were off with a hardcore of 9: Myself, Neil Burnett, Graham Nash, Peter Buchanan, Roly McCraw, Steven Yule, Phil Humphries, Craig Mattocks and Kate Jenkins.
We all met at Tarbert and at that point Kate and Craig had already done some running and Kate decided to depart (I can’t say I blamed her, looking at the weather), and the plan was for Craig to meet us en route to Tayinloan, which was our stop for the night. We were joined briefly by Rob last-name-unknown who is the race organiser and he offloaded plentiful tips like how to run without socks on and how to fall over very quickly. Stuff like that. Peter Buchanan’s blog (link below) gives a much better representation of the route, so I won’t labour that, but needless to say, day 1 was a bit of a challenge with the mud, rain, wind and general loss of sense of humour. It was good to meet with Craig about 5 miles from Clachan and we traipsed into there (22 miles in) and re-stocked at the village store that was manned by someone who looked and sounded very like Daffyd Thomas from Llandewi Breffi. At that point, those among us who didn’t have the miles in our legs hitched it back to Tayinloan while the others ran the 9 or so miles back. We managed to hitch a ride pretty quickly and pondered that Deliverance/The Hitcher thing as we were peppered with questions like: So, are you guys in the TA or something? Most worringly, the driver, a local with a wife who looked like Les Dawson pretending to be a woman, said he had hiked the leg we were going to be running in the morning and said it was, I think the words he used were ‘A bastard’.
Ah the joys of a well-appointed B & B. Yes, if Ferry Farm was on Trip Advisor it would get lots of stars from me. Nice twin rooms, some with wide screen TVs, good food, beer on tap, use of their lounge to relax, watch trash TV (some US gospel preacher programme was strangely compelling) and (because Kate wasn’t there) generally talk boy stuff and fart a lot. Fatigue drove us to bed early and the hurricane that lashed us in the wee hours was the nail in the coffin for Roly. He decided to retire from Sunday’s section with broken feet.
Next morning, the Hardcore Four (Buchanan, Yule, Mattocks and Nash) as they came to be known, set off early with hearty breakfasts inside of them, to do the Tayinloan to Carradale leg. The rest of us bussed and taxied to Carradale to do legs 5 and 6, and possibly meet up at some point if we could before the finish. Neil and I are running those legs between us on race day so we were keen to do them. We arrived at Carradale (with Phil) at 11, having missed them by 30 minutes and we set off in bright sunshine. This was more like it. Leg 5 is the shortest leg (that’s why I’m doing it) but has a nice bit of variety about it, and is the most changed of all the original race route legs (and doesn’t actually go on the KW for 5 of its 6 miles). We hit Ifferdale an hour later still in good spirits, not realising the terror that was ahead of us. As Peter’s blog outlines, this was a tough 14 mile finish. On its day it would be a lovely run, but when you’ve had a hard weekend of it, it’s relentless. Not without its beauty it has to be said, but we were all glad to see Campbeltown. We managed to catch the earlier bus and got back home for tea and stickies by bed time.
All round a great time was had and the running mileage varied from 22 to 42 to 67+. Looking at the overall (8:32) and leg times posted by the team from Campbeltown AC in 2011, they are really competitive, (having seen and experienced the terrain and what the weather can do to it), but we’re looking forward to the challenge.
Peter Buchanan’s blog here: http://bestpartday.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/kintyre-weekender.html