Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Scottish Long Classics - The first 6…..

I set a goal this year to attempt to complete all 9 Scottish Long Classics (info below)

Distance ranges from 14 miles to 20.5 miles with climb from 3737 to 7874 feet.

Scottish Long Classics 2018
Distance in miles
Climb in feet
Ran it?
Stuc a'Chroin
05 May
Isle Of Jura Fell Race
26 May
Trotternish Ridge
02 June
Arrochar Alps
30 June
Ben Rinnes
28 July
Glenshee 9
5 August
Ochil 2000s
18 August
Two Breweries
22 September

Pentland Skyline
14 October

*See Arrochar report

Stuc a’ Chroin

Third running of this race and the climb up Beinn Each is just as brutal as I remember – almost matched by the final climb out of Glen Ample. This year’s race took a new route (due to forestry operations) on a long gradual forest path – a slog on the way out – but allowed for some ‘overhauling’ on the return route. A slight improvement on previous runs.

Isle of Jura

Always a treat to run this (well..perhaps ‘treat’ is the wrong word)  – it’s hard as hell and the feet take a real beating on the way round. The final road section proving particularly painful – with a Morton’s Neuroma in tow (or more precisely between the toes!).
The day before the race, after leaving my road shoes at the 3 Arched Bridge for the final road section, I was hitching my way back to Craighouse and was fortunate to get a lift very quickly. Even more fortunate to discover that it was Bobby Shields and his wife who had stopped. Bobby was an outstanding runner in the late 1950s to the early 80s and won the first Jura race in 1973 – when it was called ‘The Bens of Jura Fell Race’ and has run Ben Nevis in 1h:31mins – A real pleasure to chat to them both.

The run itself was tough in what must have been around 27 degrees – with nowhere to hide. Major dehydration by the finish but a pleasure to replace lost fluid in the Jura Hotel bar!

My third run here and my third ‘never again’…the jury will be out until January when the entry for 2019 opens!

Trotternish Ridge

It’s a fair old trek to Portree but for a 6 hour romp around the hills – not bad value.
I camped overnight and after a decent fill of potatoes for breakfast, I was ready to go. Post registration, runners are bussed to Flodigarry for the start.
A slog up through the Quaraing and it soon becomes apparent that the weather will be a major factor in completing the race – 16 miles, 6500 feet of climb and it is 28 degrees.
It proves a really tough run, and part way up Hartaval, I catch up with running buddy Greig College who has serious cramp issues. We manage to get off the hill and onto the final road section. Much grunting, accompanied by a few expletives we eventually finish. A fairly brutal day out!

Arrochar Alps

My first time on entering this race – probably one of the most frightening race profiles out there!
The race entry is small at just over 40? (34 made it round the course) – Possibly due to the severity of the ascents and descents. Completing it looks like hard work but with no cut off times mentioned – I feel I should make it round - even though I pitched my tent at around 12.00 midnight! Amidst a midge-fest.

It is another baking hot day with temps around 28 – 30 degrees and pretty much no shade anywhere on the 15.5 mile route.

Registration done and off to the start line – pre race briefing and mention is now made of a cut off time on Ben Vorlich and 2.5 hour cut off on the top of the second hill Ben Vane.  Surprised to say the least - as this info (according to SHR advice to Race Organisers) is supposed to be made clear at the point of advertising the race. I have no way of telling the time - However, onwards….

It’s a long undulating run to the base of Ben Vorlich and then a brutal 2000 + foot climb to the top. I ask the marshal at the top if I have made the cut off – 10 minutes under he says – ‘anyway, I am stopping nobody today – If you are having a good day and look reasonably fit…carry on…’ Good attitude on such a clement day!

The descent to the Sloy Dam feels vertical at points and it is tough to pick a route and avoid ending up becoming a human boulder and rolling at great speed towards the water.

I chat to some hikers before clawing my way up the grass walls that make up the ascent to the top of Ben Vane. This is an unpleasant slog – more so in the heat of the day. I can see the sweeper below me and am aware that I am the tail end of those who have made it this far.

I reach the second peak – unaware of the time and am informed that I have not made the cut off time. There are two other runners who are in the same position – one is ill with dehydration and the other has no intention of continuing. I do and I explain this to the marshals. The sweepers arrive and inform the marshals that that they have no issue with my progress and are happy for me to continue with them. Marshals agree and suggest that I ask for a time when I finish. We take some pics and carry on.

Top of second peak - Ben Vane ( Tks - Graham Kelly)
Second peak - Ben Vane - heading for third ( Tks - Graham Kelly)

A wild, rapid descent from Ben Vane and I am at the base of Ben Ime. Yet another slog through heather and tussocks. From the top of Ben Ime to the base of Ben Narnain is a good downhill and I manage to overhaul another runner. I think that if I am in front of a runner who has made the checkpoint – surely I would be given a time at the end. He gives up and I am once again at the tail end of those who are still going.

Up and over Ben Narnain and down some of the worst downhill terrain that there is. Boulders, dry river beds, concrete slabs, lose rock and huge drops to manage.

Around 14 miles in, half way down the final descent, I can see a couple of walkers coming up the hill. As I near, the lad seems to pass out and crashes face and shoulder first onto the rocks.

I run down to help. He rolls over and is really unwell. His partner knows of no illness that would cause his convulsions. Other than reassure him (though I am uncertain he can hear me) that help is on its way – as I knew the sweepers were some way behind me – there is little I can do. 
Suddenly, it is silent and he appears to stop breathing. A surreal moment. All I have is CPR training that I attended (through Jo Cunliffe) and decide to apply this.

10 or so compressions on and he comes round – unaware of where he is. His partner and I get him comfortable and wait on the sweepers arriving. They arrive and after some discussion, I am wrestling my way down the final awkward section of hill and on to the forest path at the bottom of Ben Narnain. A mile or so later I am over the finish line and the timekeeper at the end logs my finish time on his laptop.

Not a typical hill run by any description – I find out later that the lad’s partner took him to hospital. Hoping he is fully recovered.

On checking the race results, I discovered that I was not given a finish time – though I was recorded by the timekeeper.

I enquired as to why and was informed ‘I’m afraid you were timed out and that’s the end of it’ – but as a Moorfoot mum once informed me…Strava never lies…

Ben Rinnes Hill Race

My first running of this race featuring an overnight camp at Aberlour in order to make the early start up in Dufftown.

It is part of the Dufftown Highland Games and starts with a circuit of the games track before and after the hill section.

It’s a good climb up to the golf course where the track then suddenly heads off onto a wilder route up to Little Conval. This leads to a good descent to the base of Meikle Conval which in turn is followed by a good descent to the road crossing below Round Hill.
There’s a stony climb up to the lower section of Ben Rinnes and this soon turns to a bouldery scramble up to the summit. It is a wild day up on top with sleet and hail whistling in horizontally from the north.
Marshals on top of Ben Rinnes

The homeward leg is a straightforward return on the outward route and after speed hiking up both Convals, there is a long downhill back to the sports ground. Quite a cheer from 5000 spectators! A long way up the country for a run – but probably the most runnable of the nine runs included.

Both male and female records were broken this year
Record (M): 1:53:47 - Eoin Lennon, Carnethy 
Record (F) 2:18:12 - Jill Stephen, HBT

Glenshee 9

Another first time run on this route.

On a quiet Sunday morning – this is just over 2 hours away, starting at the Glenshee Ski Centre.

132 runners gather in the ski centre car park and are soon off on the long schlep up to Creag Leacach. It is steep in places but much is slight in gradient. The biggest challenge is on the final route to the summit (and down again) as this is strewn with boulders – big ones, small ones, ones that shift unexpectedly and some that grab your foot, causing dented knees, gashed and bruised hands and partial fingernail removal (single stumble of first descent!)

The hill with the aggressive boulders

All 9 peaks have the same boulder coated summits and all have the same potential to injure.

Once up on the tops, there isn’t any one big killer hill but many smaller hills with many descents over moorland or rocky terrain which really chew up the calories.

A diet of buttered, salty potatoes and chunks of palm sugar help keep the energy flowing – though not as fully as I could have coped with. Energy was certainly low, heading up Carn Aosda – the biggy once the checkpoint has been reached. Cut off at 3.5 hours just below munro number 6, Carn an Tuirc. Once over this, you are falsely lured by the sight of the chairlift at the top of the The Cairnwell – however – the route boomerangs out to Carn a Gheoidh. After 7 munros, this looks like an impossible cairn to reach. Feet ache on the way to the summit and worsen on the way back to the Cairnwell. 

Gravelly dust is creating friction between sock and sole. Grunting ensues and continues for the 800ft final drop to the finish line at the ski centre.

Good to get cheered over the finish line by David Nightingale from Gala Harriers!

Over 200 signed up for this one but only 132 turned up on the day – with 109 finishers. 

Andy Fallas just pipping Eion Lennon for first place.

No comments: