We’re expecting lots of reports about the brilliant Highlander Mountain Marathon (hint, hint), with plenty of Carnethy success and sunburn. In the mean time, here’s a couple of photos to give you a taste. Results are here at the Sportident site.
Read on for lots of pictures, Iain Whiteside’s report, a ghost story and more!
Iain Whiteside’s report –
Fourteen Lessons from the Highlander
I learn a lot every time I do a mountain marathon, this time is no different:
1) Thou shalt not say ‘one more climb’ before properly checking the final few checkpoints. Similarly, do not pronounce said false final climb the ‘crux’.
2) If thou must camp near a fish hatchery, do so within a walled garden.
3) Do not say to teams walking to the finish at the end of day 1 that they have to ‘put in a final sprint’. You will get abuse.
4) Thou shalt always put hot chocolate powder in porridge.
5) Diarrhoea relief powder does not give thou the runs, but is an adequate substitute for Nuun.
6) Thou shalt read the control description properly to avoid the embarrassment of climbing a knoll when the checkpoint is at a coll.
7) If one must count to 551 on the crux climb of day 2, do so silently.
8) Thou shalt endeavour to follow a team of Swedes in fluorescent yellow.
9) If you must tape your seams thyself, do so on the inside, not the outside.
10) If you think that you have lost a t-shirt, check you are not wearing it first.
11) Deer can jump very very high.
12) Sam thinks about mini-diggers an awful lot.
13) One should always drive straight through Corpach, preferably at speed.
14) Having half a dozen or so Carnethy teams at a MM makes it a lot of fun!
Joel’s Report –
I last did a MM in 2007, and it was a ‘C’ class, so a bit of a jump up to ‘A’. The course looked suspiciously short on the details sheet at registration, which could only mean rough terrain. We weren’t disappointed.
Day One had 9 controls spread over northern Moidart, which we could visit in any order. There seemed to be two main possibilities, which made for interesting discussion on the Saturday night. Mark and I were going well until we lost a bunch of time gaffing around in the flag on top of Beinn Odhar Mhor, then good progress on a low route to Druim Fiaclach. A long bouldery traverse did for my knee and a miserable last few hours. Desperation and wishful thinking led to us think we’d finished at the last control, only to have a half dozen people belting past us as we ambled along the final 500m to camp at Lochailort.
Day Two dawned with clear skies and amazing views. Nine controls in a set order took us across South Morar with views out to the isles, the Ben and Loch Morar. The terrain was much more runnable than Saturday, but with some fearsome ascents on vertical grass and long traverses. Some of the controls would have been a nightmare to find in cloud, so the clear skies and perfect visibility were appreciated all the more. The ‘rocky knoll top’ could have been any of a half dozen, luckily the control was visible from a km away. A slight mistake at the penultimate control meant a bit more climbing to finish the day off.
On the 600m climb up Meith Bheinn on Sunday, we had great views down to Moeble. This is an incredibly isolated lodge, accessible by boat along Loch Morar, and used by the Special Operations Executive during WW2. It’s the location for The Grey Dog of Moeble ghost story.
The story of the Grey Dog dates back to the early 1800s at the time of the Peninsular Wars and is associated with a young Highlander by the name of Dugald MacDonald, who owned a magnificent deerhound of which he was very fond. Like many other men of his generation, Dugald went off to the wars and was away from home for several years. When at last he eventually returned he was told that his beloved dog had left home and taken up residence on an island in the middle of a small loch high among the hills and there had given birth to four pups. The pups were now almost fully grown, and he was warned that due to their lack of human contact they were so savage that it was unsafe to go anywhere near them.
Ignoring the warning, Dugald set out to visit the hill-loch and on reaching its shores swam across to the island. The deerhound was away and her pups, on hearing him approach, emerged from their lair in the heather and tore him to pieces. When the deerhound returned and saw what had happened to her master, her howls of agony brought the folk of the glen to the scene. The pups were speedily hunted out and killed and Dugald’s body was laid to rest in the little burial-ground at the mouth of the Meoble River.
Here the deerhound began a lonely and pathetic vigil, frequently waking the neighbourhood with her mournful howling as she watched over her master’s grave, until one day she was discovered lying stretched out dead beside it.
For long afterwards the story of her watch over the grave was talked about through the district, but gradually, with the passage of time, it was largely forgotten, until one of Dugald’s brothers became seriously ill at Rifern, a small crofting township lying across the river from the grave-yard. One night the ghost of the deerhound appeared at his bedside. It looked at him for several minutes, then gave a terrible cry and disappeared. A little later the man died. The spectre of the Grey Dog had made its first appearance.
The ‘A’ course passed Lochan Tain Mhic Dhughall, where the deerhound and her pups lived, later in the day
Willie’s Report –
It was a while ago that I found myself entered into “The Highlander”.
I cant really remember the conversation (I think Fraser was involved) but somewhere in it I said that if you were doing a Mountain Marathon then the hardest class was the only one to enter.
So after a few months the four bush lunchtime runners (Me, Helen, Joel and Jason) were all entered in the A. Jason teamed up with Fraser, Joel with Mark and then Helen and I.
Talking Fraser into it was a mistake though, he was using all his “Tiso” light weight kit leaving nothing for me to borrow.
After a night in Fort William and a few pints in Wetherspoons we were off to Glenfinnan and a fairly long walk to the start.
The weather was mizzly and the clag was down and the first four controls were a bit of a trial but then it cleared. There wasn’t much running but a lot of very steep contouring over difficult ground. Helen and I had a great time meeting our Carnethy pals en route, but it was a bit of a trial and 9.5 hours later we got into the camp in last place.
Pasta and Bisto cheese sauce granules is a great meal , sheese sauce flavoured custard and soreen was a fine pudding and the beer was good too. The craic in the Carnethy enclave was fantastic as we compared routes and discussed contols til the sun went down, then it was off to the tent for warmth and more beer.
We were up early and at 7:08 we were off again for a wonderful sunny day in the hills, seeing Mark and Joel contol 1 and Jason and Fraser at 3,4 and 5. Helen’s young eagle eyes were great at spotting contols and we did a bit more running than day 1, the were some beasting climbs and more tough contours. The second last control was a real kick in the teeth, on the way down Helen tried bum sliding to save her legs. we ran in to the finish as the prize giving was starting. WE had a wonderful time and were third mixed in the A (also last).
We all sat in the sun watching our pals going up for prizes, what a great result for Carnethy, and what a great event. Even though I was gubbed by my wee boy.
Mark Hartree’s report –
Highland Mountain Marathon Race Report – Mark Hartree and Joel Sylvester
Highlander was in a great setting as usual this year in the hills of Moidart and Morar – an area often neglected by Munro baggers but offering some fantastic views of the west coast lochs and islands. Food and accommodation came courtesy of Wetherspoons and the Travel Lodge in Ft William on the Friday night where many Carnethy’s congregated, ate drank and gave presents of whisky and chocolate fudge brownie to Joel who was away for his birthday. The latter was consumed while the Jura whisky was snuck away for private consumption.
Friday nights sleep was disrupted by lots of banging doors and the sound of heavy rain. Registration complete, the rain reduced to drizzle on the long walk to the starting points for each class. After domestics, we got our map, checkpoint list and a discussion of the best order to do the hills. Joel and I headed off up into the heather and mud for our first point. The A class route was in 2 separate areas of Moidart with the first 4 checkpoints spread around Beinn Odhar Mhor, SW of Glenfinnan. The second area of checkpoints located around the ridge and hills from Druim Fiaclach to Rois Bheinn. Later sharing of notes of route selection found three different routes on the first group of points were done in order to launch Westwards on the 6km transit to the second group over reasonably rough ground. The checkpoints on the summit of Beinn Odhar Mhor caused lots of teams problems in the mist and lost us at least 20mins when we realised we were on the wrong top! We met Craig Mattocks and Matt Davis briefly and passed Fraser Gibson and Jason Hubert having chosen a different order going in the opposite direction! Other teams appeared and disappeared in the mist in all directions, most asking each other where they were.
The transit West provided more route options. Joel and I went ‘direct’ while other teams weaved some cunning contouring routes between the hills. Comparison of times put the two totally different routes within one minute of each other. The sky cleared and we had sun and magnificent views. The second group of checkpoints were South of Inverailort and were relatively straight forward as cloud free but offered more route permutations. 30 mins of steep traversing saved us 200m ascent to the 2nd last check point where Fraser and Jason overtook us. Options were available for the descent of Rois Bheinn where we met Lisa Gamble and Euan Boyd but it seems everyone contoured or avoided somehow a threatening ascent and descent of An Stac on tired legs to get off the hill. Joel and I wasted to much time faffing at the end of day 1 not running at the finish (muppets) to give Fraser and Jason 30 mins advantage on us.
The Lawn of Inverailort house provided our campsite on a fantastic evening. Carnethy’s gathered together in a possee of tents.
Sunday was fabulous. More slamming doors of the <insert “well known brand of plastic easement cubicle” under threat of legal action> this time woke us up followed by a piper. Domestics done we walked to the start of day 2 – a fixed course north of the A830 and Mallaig railway line on the hills of South Morar. While not the highest hills, it provided some brutally steep climbs including most of Meith Bheinn and Sgurr an Utha. The views were spectacular, the glens, rivers and lochs stunning in the bright warm sunshine. Wild flowers festooned the lower slopes of the hills making for some relief from the burning legs. We were going well, overtook Helen and Willie early on, chased others down, and then were past by the A class 2nd team of Iain Whiteside + Sam Hesling, then some other A teams and were then literally basted by the wind of A class first team of Aaron Prince + Björn Rydvall. Joel tried to keep up with them – and managed about 15 meters. I looked in awe as they moved effortlessly up 40 deg grass and heather and decided I would not being giving them a race!
More bog and traversing landed us too low for the 2nd last checkpoint and required a further 50m ascent to a checkpoint looking down on Bonnie Prince Charlie’s monument far below us. Teams were appearing from everywhere and again met we Craig Mattocks and Matt Davis strategizing their final few race minutes. The final checkpoint looked onto Harry Potter Viaduct which we ran under to finish in a much better time from yesterday. Joel and I managed 14/18 in the A class behind Fraser and Jason by 5 mins. 5/5 in the MV class. Finishing Day 1 at the pace everyone else did and saving 9 minutes would have put us 3rd MV. Them’s the breaks, but I don’t need a Hagloofs sun visor anyway!!
Thanks to Joel, all the Carnethy’s and the organisers for a great weekend.
I have some great piccies but couldn’t get them uploaded yet from camera – need to find the lead….