I was invited to join the race at the last minute, to replace an injured runner. I met up with the team in Oban; they had a very old and sea-worn boat and the crew looked even older. Unbeknown to us at the start, the NATO fleet were on exercises nearby, testing electronic countermeasures. This upset all the GPS and navigation equipment on the boats. I saw several boats colliding with each other and the rest of the competitors scattered off in all directions; we were not to see any of them again during the race. Our captain steered a steady course with a battered brass binnacle; unmoved by the chaos around him. When we arrived at Arran there were no marshals to be seen; they had all been out to dinner in a local curry house the night before and had succumbed to a bad case of ‘Delhi belly’. The other runner and I were soon up Goatfell and back to the boat for the swift voyage to Mull.
When we arrived there was no-one to check us in. One of the other boats had run aground a couple of miles up the coast and all the marshals had gone to help rescue the crew. My fellow runner, who called himself Mercury, set a fast pace as we sped up and down Ben More. We broke the course record by ten minutes and seventeen milliseconds but unfortunately there was no-one to witness or record our feat. During the voyage to Jura a brief but very intense storm blew up; the boat creaked and heaved in the wilds seas but the crew held it on a steady course. It was calm again by the time we anchored at Craighouse but there were no marshals to be seen. A small boy with his dog told us that the tents had blown away during the storm and the marshals were on the other side of the island retrieving their lost gear. We had a fast run over the hills and were soon back on the boat for the final leg of the race.
The storm had badly affected the tides and currents and we came perilously close to the Corryvreckan whirlpool; it looked much bigger than usual and the pillar of rock was starting to rise from the centre. Bravely, Mercury took a rope between his teeth, dived over the side of the boat and swam like hell to drag us clear of the menacing whirlpool. The rest of the voyage was uneventful and we arrived, to sparse applause, in Troon. We won the first prize for the race, and the second & third prizes as well because none of the other boats had finished. As I was saying my farewells to the crew I noticed, for the first time, the name of the boat in faded flaking paint around the stern: M_ARI_ C_LEST_. Does anyone else have adventures to tell?