I ran this race with Rosie (the dark horse, find out more later), and her dad, Brian (Powerhouse) Doull, who were both raising money for the children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent. I was continuing to raise money for the Beatson Cancer Charity.
Distance – 26.2 Miles
Total Elevation Gain – 4,583ft (1,397M)
My time – 04:42:40
My position – 79th
Terrain – varied, including long grass, bog, heather, stone path, forestry tracks, burn crossings and short road sections.
Some very steep ascents and descents.
Aid Stations – incredibly well stocked and great support crews!
Atmosphere – cheerful and fun!
Organisers/Volunteers – Amazingly supportive, incredibly funny and highly motivating!
Money raised so far for the Beatson Cancer Charity – £520 (https://www.justgiving.com/Jordan-Young2/)
Route Map & Elevation
We travelled up late the night before and stayed at a great little B&B (The Woolly Rock) in North Ballachulish, only a short distance from the start. The race morning flew by, with the pre race butterflies beginning to fill everyones stomaches the closer we got to the red squirrel campsite. It was a chilly morning and everyone was well wrapped up when we arrived at the campsite, the sun had yet to crest over the surrounding mountains, and so the pre race highland jig began as everyone attempted to stay warm. Everyone at the start line was very friendly and there was lots of chatting going on, making everyone feel at ease. It was going to be a beautiful, sunny, day! I looked down at my Kintyre Way Buff for reassurance, I was feeling ready!
The excitement was building as the initial wave set off, a very fast 5 minutes later and wave B were off, and for some reason what felt like a SLOW 5 minutes, finally, I was off! We followed the road out of the campsite and began a long, gradual ascent up the valley away from Glencoe.
The initial road section was short lived! We made our way onto single file track that curved along the side of some small lochs and wound its way further out of the valley. Beautiful, warm sunlight was just beginning to appear the higher we got.
After winding past “The Meeting of The Three Waters” we reached the first checkpoint and the section of the course that had no path. Instead, you were guided by some handy flags across the boggy, holy, wet, long, grass. Dreading this section after having crossed it during the recce run, I was surprised to find this was one of my favourite sections! Unfortunately a small “bottleneck” appeared at this point due to it being a slower section, however this did give me plenty of chance to chat and enjoy the positivity of the event.
Emerging from the marshland we found ourselves back on hard packed, stoney path and at the base of the tough climb that is The Devil’s Staircase. A fantastic path, a tough climb, and then I was at the top, enjoying the amazing view!
What goes up! The descent from the staircase down to Kinnlochleven was long, technical and steep at times, but amazing fun! I was told I should hold back on the downhills… I ignored this advice as was having too much fun!
After the STEEP final section of the descent into Kinnlochleven I reached half way feeling great, stopping only to grab some munchies and top up my water bottle. There was a huge support of people here and a huge amount of positivity! Leaving Kinnlochleven there was a short (but horrible after that downhill) road section before the climb out of the valley.
Climbing out of Kinnlochleven proved to be one of the most challenging sections of the run and felt much harder than The Devil’s Staircase at the beginning. With gritted teeth, and relentless forward motion, I eventually crested the hill. At this point I felt a bit burst! Plodding on, however, I managed to get into a stride and had a conversation with a fellow runner (his name was John I found out later via social media!), which helped to keep the legs moving and, eventually, I was feeling good again and ready to power ahead.
The following section was a wide, undulating, forestry road, and as the half marathon had not long started ahead of me, I was met by a busy section of track. Stopping only to grab a bite to eat at a check point, I powered ahead knowing that my legs would be a sore if I stopped for too long.
The track dwindled into a single track that curved around the side of the hill and gave the first views of Ben Nevis, my final destination. The narrow single track meant it was hard to overtake in some sections, but it became wider as we arrived in the woodland section allowing fellow runners to step aside for me to squeeze past or for me to shift over to let them through.
The final forest section was hard. Undulating track with steep climbs meant slow progress, but it was a beautiful section of the course and the path was very soft underfoot.
Climbing up to that final checkpoint I was relieved as I knew that this was it; 2 miles of steep, fast descent and I would be done. So, after taking a final gulp of water at the top, I ploughed onward and let my legs carry me the final few miles. By the time I reached the bottom of the hill my legs felt like jelly, so I had to force them to twist and turn through the woodland; finally I emerged into the finishing field and managed (what felt like anyway) a great sprint to the finish!
As I was getting my medal and time, trying to look as though my legs weren’t burning, I was greeted by my Mum and her boyfriend who had traveled to meet me and Rosie’s family. Then, a hug from behind me, followed with a whisper in my ear, “First Female!”.
This was Rosie’s debut Marathon, yes, she likes a challenge! She had been quite nervous about it and was unsure of how well she would do, having never run so far before. She completely surprised herself…
Rosie, her family, my family and I were all chuffed to bits!
After the awards ceremony and prize giving it was time for a well deserved munch in The Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum, and then a drive back to Dundee.
Having experimented this year with ultra-distance races, I have set myself a few challenges for 2016 to work towards!
The Hoka Highland Fling – I managed to get a place in the Fling race (53 miles) this year which follows the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Tyndrum. This is a section of the West Highland Way that I have never set foot on and look forward to the adventure!
Glenmore 24 – After being part of a relay team this year at Glenmore, I have decided to set myself the almighty goal of hitting 100 miles solo in the 24hours in 2016. So, I hope that I get into the event and get a chance to test myself well beyond anything I have done before. CAN’T WAIT!
Thank you for reading!
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