Highlander Mountain Marathon
10th/11th April 2010
Sam and Andy on Day 2

" I think you are going too far right Sam". Andy could have stuck that phrase on loop and played it through a stereo to save himself the effort of correcting our line once again, but that would have meant extra weight and when your main aim on day 2 is damage limitation (i.e. not letting Tim Higginbottom and Chris Near beat you by quite a big a margin as day 1) every micron counts.
The Highlander was simply stunning. After much discussion we came to the conclusion that it was at least twenty times better than last years OMM and up there with the best of the LAMMs. Andy and I rocked up to Gairloch on Friday evening and stayed with a friend before heading off on the 8am bus with the rest of A class. We weren't long walking to the start when two identically clad rather strong looking individuals jogged past us, clearly keen to get away first. They were, of course, the winners (by some considerable margin) but we didn't let this out psyche us and we continued our bimble to the start. The day 1 checkpoints were in any order so we spent a few mins at the start marking them off and conjuring up an optimal route for the first half of the race. After a quick decision we were off and flying through short heather and over torridonian sandstone slabs on what has to be some of the fastest MM ground I have run on.
We ran strong and with few navigational errors for the first three hours on what we thought (and was later confirmed as) pretty much the optimal route choice. As the high cloud slowly burned off in the morning sun it became hotter, and hotter and (you guessed it) very hot indeed. I could tell there was a problem when we simultaneously started to slow down around three and a half hours in and I began hallucinating about water, clearly we were both dehydrated and had not been drinking enough. Once we sorted this out (which was surprisingly easy considering we crossed a burn every 20 paces) it was back to business and we ticked off the second part of the course and flew down to the overnight camp.
Having learned that we were some considerable time behind Tim and Chris the race was on for second place. We knew Rob Brookes and Simon Peachy would be strong and hot on our heels and just as were about to kick back and relax in the marquee clapping from outside confirmed our fears. Simon and Rob were in and only 6 mins behind us...
The afternoon and evening was spent sunbathing and getting banter with friends and we finally drifted off to sleep at 11pm then the Ceilidh music died down. Day two dawned bright and clear and were soon wolfing down porridge and packing kit. It was going to be tough holding off Rob and Simon who would be fully aware of who they were chasing and psyched to give us Carnethys a hiding.
At 7.58 we were off, some considerable time behind Tim and Chris. The first two and a half hours were heads down trying to put in as much distance as we could from the chasing pair of Cosmics, and I swear my neck is still sore from watching our backs. The ground was a little slower than day one and the course was concentrated in a smaller area and around smaller hills and features making navigation a real test. Funnily enough we began flagging in the heat once again but applied the same time tested solution as per day one to get us moving. We picked off the checkpoints with minimal fuss thanks to some amazing navigation from Andy and charged through the final section of the race to finish 2nd overall in 10:04:17 which was, as you might imagine, some considerable time behind Tim and Chris.
After a shower at the end in Gairloch Academy we joined the rest of the competitors on the playing field to soak up the sun. We each won an uber bling neutrally buoyant in air Haglofs Jacket which probably retail at £999.99. Having won the Mixed A Jaquie and Mark Higgenbottom had to make do with £500 in Haglofs vouchers which we decided might buy them a buff each. Joking aside the Haglofs sponsorship has secured this awesome event for a few years to come and we were all grateful to them for such awesome prizes.
So whats the plan next year ? Give Tim and Chris a run for their money. Hang on though - just saw a pig fly past the window.

Sam Hesling



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