We drove up to Poolewe at
about 8:30 to register for the race, it was at this time got the disappointing
news that the
route was being changed
as the two river crossings were impassable for only the second time
in the 24 years of this event. Instead of a 25 mile point-to-point from
Dundonnell to Poolewe, we had a shorter circular(ish) route starting
and finishing in Poolewe, course length approximately 22 miles. This
was a real pity as the first half of the original route is run in absolutely
stunning scenery but at least I'd had a chance to experience it when
I ran it a few weeks ago to recce the course. While we waited in the
hall chatting and fuelling ourselves before the start another downpour
arrived and it was a pleasant surprise that by race time it was beginning
to clear. One of the friendly competitors I was chatting to was Linda
Maclellan, although running as unattached is a long serving Carnethy,
she says to say hi to Nick Macdonald and the other “experienced” Carnethies
who know her!
The 68 runners for the long race all started off at 10:30, heading along
a fairly narrow track which was one of the new parts of the alternate
course that I'd happened to go along by accident four weeks ago. Any
concerns that the modified course meant no boggy running were appeased
within the first two miles, by which time I had managed to sink to over
my knees at one point in wet mushy ground. Thanks to the recent rain
the going was quite tough over this first section, probably more energy
sapping that I'd have hoped. We then had a long gradual climb over the
next few miles, past the first checkpoint and up through Kernsary Wood
and it's midges to the second checkpoint. It was at this point I hooked
on to follow an experienced Ilkely Harrier who was running a good pace
for me, always nice to have someone to follow. We then had a rather fun
flattish/tending to downhill section followed by a brief climb and then
drop to the farthest point on the original route, Polt Fraochain. At
this point we could look over to Carnmore and see the water cascading
enthusiastically down to Dubh Loch, a fantastic sight and such a shame
we weren't over there running down next to it.
At Polt Fraochain there was another checkpoint with juice/water/chocolate
etc. One of the etc. on offer here was a wee dram of whisky which was
just too good an opportunity to pass up. With the extra energy that the
addition to my juice gave me I was ready for the next leg which just
happened to be the biggest single climb in the race, around 1000 feet
up Bealach Mheinnidh. This wasn't in the original route but as we no
longer had the major climb near the beginning in it the organizers decided
to put this one in after 10 miles of running! It was a slow slog up the
hill but much more fun coming down the slippy far side to the furthest
checkpoint; I was however ruing my decision to wear my trail runners
rather than full fells on the descent.
It was about now I was getting some twinges in my calf muscles, troublesome
enough to make me run/walk on slow ascent on the contour back round the
hill before opening up again for the run reversing our run past what
had been checkpoint 2 and start on the descent back through Kernsary
woods and on to the trail and then track to the finish. It was in the
woods when I enjoyed a new experience; getting cramp for the first time
ever in a race. I was just running through some mud and my left hamstring
completely locked up, so after two minutes or so of being an immobile
feast for the local midge. Having been outpaced by my Ilkley Harrier
pacer (and yes by experienced I mean 60-ish) due to my stop I then able
continued plodding very slowly downhill and flat, walking up an inclines
for the few miles back to the finish.
All the way along the course we were passing walkers from the other
events who were all very encouraging and friendly, I have to say the
whole event had a great atmosphere about it. The event was very well
organized and marshalled; a pipe band and a wee crowd greeted everyone
at the finish with a fantastic feast awaiting the participants of all
of the running and walking events (nearly 700 in total) in the local
hall. I think jam doughnuts are my new fav after race snack!
Meanwhile at the business end, the race was won by Paul Raistrick (Highland
Hill Runners) in 2:34, nearly six minutes ahead of Murray Strain (HBT).
Claire Gordon managed to beat fellow HBT Megan Mowbray by a mere 17 seconds
to be the first female for an impressive fifth time in six attempts.
I sauntered in at 3:42 and managed to only just sneak into the top half
(34th out of 68), so I'll put this one down to experience. Think I'll
need to crank my miles up a bit more for next time!
There was Carnethy success in the 13 mile race with Adrian Davis winning
in a time of 1:27, nearly two minutes ahead of Geoff Simpson (HBT). All
in all a grand day out.