First won in 1895 by Fort William barber, William Swan, in around 2 hours 40 minutes this is probably the granddaddy of all the UK runs. It is 14km and 1360m (4461 feet) of climbing. (And getting back down againing)
Andy does the overnighter and I drive up on the Saturday. Just over 3 hours to Fort William and we catch up in the football field where it starts. Quite a spectacle – 600 runners sign up and around 500 turn up. 450ish finish due to the 1 hour to halfway cut off and 2 hours to the summit.
Others just get smashed on the rocks and have to visit the nurse and don’t get back down in time.
In terms of brutality – it is a heavyweight contender. There is no let up from start to finish.
The mile or so from the start to the base is comfortable and I am managing not to red line, keeping up with the throng. There is a cut up from here on to a 20’ incline – though this varies all the way to the Red Burn where runners head off the tourist path and take their own direct line to the summit.
From there, it is scree, boulders, scrambling, sometimes crawling – trying to get the most efficient line to the next stage of the route. I am slipping around (having chosen trail shoes – thinking large flat stones and road sections – forgot all about the scree and mud!)
I manage to get to the flatter plateau at the top. It is swarming with tourists and awkward to navigate through. It’s possible to pick up the pace a little. By the top, I feel as if I have been chewing feathers and I realise I am pretty dry. A wrist band is handed to a marshal at the cairn and then a turn around to take on the descent.
I am looking forward to this, but the shoes are just not gripping, and the downhill over the scree and boulders, hands out a serious drubbing to the quads. By the return to the Red Burn, the legs are verging on banjaxed and progress is none too swift. By this point, Andy has finished and is on his first tray of chips.
It’s a battle not to face-plant, dodging runners, tourists and some industrial sized rocks on the way back to the tarmac.
The final run on the on the road section is a real drain. I am very short on fluid and progress takes a great effort. I manage to stay ahead of the runners on the final section on the field and am glad to exit the finishing funnel.
|Alan and Andy - back without plasters|
Dehydrated at the end, I immediately consume 750 ml of water. 3 minutes later, I no longer contain the 750 ml of water!!
Andy continues his stay and attends the awards ceremony (Finlay Wild makes it 10 in a row) – outstanding!
I drive to McDonalds, and consume two large cokes and fries, then drive to Tyndrum and have a litre of chocolate milk followed by another half lite of salt-tabbed water.
3 and half hour later, Back in Peebles - I am showered, changed and in Wuzzies with a Guinness and a portion of spicy chicken wings. Mmmmm…
Runs like that – do take it out of you!
Andy – had a great run (though regretted stopping twice at the Red Burn for a drink) – Reckoned it cost him 21 seconds! And finished in 2.00.20.
I was following the 1875 barber’s lead and finished in 2.47
Ross Docherty was out there too and finished in 2.24
Next year – Aye…probably but will consider shoes and hydration!
(incidentally – the year I was born, the race was won by Pete Hall)