On Mull, four weeks ago as I ran back
down the road to Salen in the boat race accompanied by not only
but by total exhaustion and nausea I swore blind that I would not
WHW this year. This seemed a wise decision having done no long distance "training" as
such since last year's WHW, apart from some 'big' races- Speyside,
Stuc, the Boat Race and Jura.
So it was with humble intrepidation
that I hovered on the start line at 1am in the pitch black of
a cold night. The first great thing about this race is when they
unlike most races, you don't actually have to hurry in any shape
or form! The effort is minimal. With a slightly dodgy knee and lack
training, I decided that it didn't matter if I only made the first
check at Balmaha. This removed self induced pressure. I enjoyed
the gentle movement through the still and silent blackness.
I soon realised
that I had a very strong and experienced lady running behind me.
'Behind' soon became 'in front' and I could see I had a serious
battle on my
hands. One which it was far too early to fight, though instinct
made me eager. I resisted, however Sharon seemed to stop at the
Conic Hill and I pressed on.
Time flew and I still felt strong
at the end of Loch Lomond, and even by Crianlarich the usual debilitating
pain in my quads had not yet appeared. I was amazed and considered
that in my best year (2000) I had done the least training and
(the year that I quit with 5 miles to go), the most.
my quads were rapidly stiffening, but I was still 4th so had a
to push on, having not seen any runners or changed positions
since Rowardennan. Marshals look on bemused as I stretched with
press-ups, squats and other FASIC contortions at Bridge of Orchy,
where the pain
was really setting in along with mild nausea.
At Victoria Bridge,
Stewart, on perfect cue as usual, produced the ordered tin of
pears which I ate with a road-side rhododendron branch. A Highland
ranger snapped pictures of this distressed exhausted stranger
eating like a cannibal. Goodness only knows where these will end
Rannoch Moor would kill me. It always does. I could feel it
coming on. It was engulfing my body and mind. Smothering me. I couldn't
jog properly anymore. I couldn't bear to see the angular stony
relentlessly for miles ahead. I couldn't bear either food or
drink. Then I fell asleep, running.
I reckon the 65th mile finished
glycogen stores, and accompanied with the pain, my body had
simply had enough.
That's where the stubborn angry determination came in handy.
I picked myself up and forced a nauseating tearful jog. I was
my brain to stay awake and with my eyes to stay open. The
cooking up of this surely disastrous recipe, which would have produced
'cold runner asleep in heather' was broken by the revelation
approaching me was Davy. Tearful, I managed to shuffle down
Kingshouse, where he had been meant to meet me for the final
raging and I couldn't even suck a sweet and I most certainly
couldn't contemplate running as 'tummy jogging' and 'quad jarring'
be certain to make me sick. I pleaded to drop out, but was clearly
with my own mind as I also seemed to walking towards Altnafeadh.
Then I was swinging my arms as if running. Then lifting my legs
At last I was shuffling. And then jogging. But I wasn't me
doing this race anymore, it was my support. Davy had got me going
Then it lashed and there were several thousand Caledonian
Challengers flooding down on to us like a waterfall.
a bit I
gritted my teeth on the jarring descent into Kinlochleven and
from how much less awful I felt than the year I had quit.
Grasping at straws. I knew Michael (2nd) was about 20 minutes
wasn't sure how close people behind were, especially Murdo
who seemed to
be going like a train when I last saw him. The second lady
was also a worry.
Wade's road was as it always is, and as
I expected it to
be, hell. Never ending, jarring and full of loose rock and
But at least we could see for miles behind and there was
no one there. Stewart and Chris came in from Lundavra and we all
shuffled a few
miles before they headed off to catch me for the final forest
road descent. I reverted to age 6 with several childlike tantrums
as I cried, kicked the ground, swore and stated unarguably
that I wasn't
going on any more. But that wasn't going to get me out of
the hell I was in, so using my few remaining rational powers,
I kept going… … ................................................................................................Going
right until the Leisure Centre and then it was all over
and then I got in the bath.
Grateful thanks: I can't emphasize
me, this race is made possible by the patient, long suffering,
thoughtful and dedicated support of my support team, and
of all the many marshals
en route and of course Dario Meleragni who puts so much
hard work all year into this fantastic event. It is less
then 24 hours since
finishing and I think his addictive event will pull me
till I make the magic time in my head. Why? That's another story