Carnethies in the Lairig Ghru race; some photos from Charlie Ramsay
Boulders, lots and lots of boulders….and some boulders
Ina’s report –
“…and remember this is a race!” These were the parting words of the race organiser before setting off.
Patricia and I were the two ladies left of five who had initially signed up. We were a little nervous at the start. Due to travelling abroad some of our training had taken place in hot, humid, crowded, and culturally sensitive places, and did not quite meet our plans.
However, after fretting about the amount of food and water to take along and the cut-off time (1.5h to cover 14km to Derry Lodge or be sent back to Braemar), we set off and arrived at the lodge with 10 minutes to spare. From then on, we relaxed and ran along nicely in almost perfect weather conditions. We climbed the pass and overtook a couple of runners struggling with knee pain. The dreaded field of scree was wet and therefore slippery at times. It took us a good while to cross, setting us back a fair bit. Much more pleasant running was to be had on the downhill through the lovely Rothiemurchus Forest (mind the roots). We made it to the finish in exactly 6 hours (according to our monitors), happy and elated. The damage: a couple of black toe nails, a bloody ankle, some lower leg bruises, a very sore IT band. The fact that we were talking about tackling a mountain marathon during the last few kilometres is an indication that we had some energy left and we could have been a little faster. Running together and not racing against each other proved to be rather enjoyable. Perhaps next year, we could aim for a faster time with the knowledge we have gained and still be able to gaze at the amazing scenery.
A big fat thank you should go the race organisers, the two estates, the mountain rescue team, and the Mountain Café in Aviemore, but also to the many individuals who cheered us on, offered home-baking, fruit, nuts and drinks at crucial points, and Patricia’s husband.
Matthew Curry’s report –
Sunday 29th of June saw 148 runners set off from Braemar to Aviemore through some stunning countryside for this race. It was an early start on the drive up from Edinburgh at 7am. The weather looked promising but the MWIS report and geography meant that we would get at least four seasons during the day. I had read a lot of reports about this race, and having never done this race before I felt it would be prudent to read them carefully. I decided to follow from Captain Iain’s report his stowing of a bar of tablet for the latter stages of the race, and how glad I was for it in the end! I also read advice of not going all out too much for the first 10 miles, I meant to heed this but, I, well I didn’t!
There was a decent section of tarmac up until Mar Lodge then single track all the way to Derry Lodge. I had found myself tucked in behind the peloton of 8 runners including Sam Hesling and eventual winner Al Anthony. Nigel Shekleton, who wasn’t running but had very kindly driven us up anyway, was riding alongside on his bike, asked me “Is that the lead group?” Me, “Yeah, I think I’m going to regret this!” Or words to that effect. They disappeared soon after Mar Lodge.
I knew I had to go at a more sensible pace, as I wanted to enjoy the race not blow up like my previous two efforts at the Pentland Skyline, this meant gels and water 30 minutes in and then little and often all the way through, which worked. It’s always nice to be able to notice the scenery or wildlife, that all stopped once the infamous boulder field was reached. I knew what to expect, just not for what felt like 2 miles of it! There was nothing else but to get on with it and pick your way through, eyes down, glancing up to see your still going in the right direction, swearing loudly when that one boulder that looked solid, then jams into your foot. It had turned pretty dreich by this point, just for a short while though but I kept my mac on til the finish.
I had also told myself not to rejoice when Aviemore and the Rothiemurchus forest looms into view over the top, as there was still a fair way to go. It was fairly rough and ‘technical’ going in places down to the woods, you have to pick your feet up here, stubbed my feet at least 5 times, comically avoiding a proper spill. Break out the tablet! Long stretches of forest track became a bit of a drag until the even bigger drag of the return of the tarmac. I was in that state at that point where I had to ask a marshall three times that I was going the right way to Aviemore. I had no idea exactly how far was left, it was just a case of hanging on, running past shoppers on the main street of Aviemore, oh and there’s the finish, hurrah!
I really enjoyed this race, but I was slightly disappointed to finish in just over 4 hours for the 26.55 miles that I had on my GPS, but that was far outweighed by the positives, and it was my first marathon distance race. Neil Burnett finished very shortly after me, his first time at this race too, we both agreed on the brutality of the route!
No full results yet, but Al Anthony won in 3hrs 20something, Sam Hesling 2nd in not sure what time, and a young lad from Deeside Runners in 3rd.
Great organisation from Deeside Runners many thanks for an awesome race and to Cairngorm Mountain Rescue for their support along the way. Lovely soup, cheese scones and cakes from the Mountain Cafe, and a good amount raised for the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team. Impressive driving from the two coaches back to Braemar too!
Sorry for the waffling, still a bit dazed and not a little bit confused two days after! Race details