Anyway, to the run. We were a bit late leaving - no surprise there - and didn't arrive at Balmaha until about 10.15am. From the sounds of it John K, Neal and Richard had been there for hours and hours, and had been in to the Oak Tree Inn to have a pre-run cuppa and generally pass the time. Richard had started running before 10, expecting to be a bit slower, and we finally started about 10.30. The conditions were 'pleasant' - sunny but not too hot, at least at first, although as the day went on it became warmer and warmer. Allybea had very kindly offered to provide a mobile snack van, and met us at Rowardennan after just less than an hour and a half with a welcome cup of coffee.
About 2 miles before Inversnaid, disaster for Neal. He went over on his ankle, and the loud expletive showed that it had hurt him a lot. When we had a look at Inversnaid it had swollen up quite a bit. It didn't look too good, but he seemed to be able to keep going at a reasonable pace: in fact after Crianlarich he shot off up the hill, not to be seen again until Bridge of Orchy. Unfortunately his ankle had swollen up like a balloon that evening, and was even worse the following morning, so he wasn't able to run at all on Saturday. We're keeping our fingers crossed that he'll recover in time for the race.
By Beinglas Farm the day had turned into a scorcher, and I was dripping in sweat as I made my way up and over the hills towards Crianlarich and Tyndrum. John and I were both beginning to moan about the heat, and saying that we could do with it being much cooler. By the time we left Tyndrum the rain was teaming down, and for about 15 minutes we were feeling a bit cold. What a change - you can never predict the weather in the Scotland, and it was yet another reminder to make sure you carry waterproofs on a run like this, even though the weather might look perfect. It doesn't take long to cool down, and if you body is depleted you can get chilled very easily. Despite the rain John and I arrived together at Bridge of Orchy with smiles on our faces, 8 hours 24 minutes after setting off, completely soaking but delighted to have had such a good day's running. We enjoyed a meal and a couple of beers (the service was very slow, so we didn't eat until 9.30pm), before heading off to bed. This year we were in the hotel rather than the bunkhouse - allybea did not enjoy the previous year's bunkhouse experience - although to be honest neither of us was convinced it was worth the extra cost.
I am a big fan of cooked Scottish breakfasts, and I was determined to get my money's worth on Saturday morning - despite of the fact I was going to be running in a little more than an hour's time. It may have been a high risk strategy, but I'm pleased to report that the bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms, black pudding, potato scone, beans and toast went down a treat and didn't re-appear at any time throughout the day. At about 9.15am we set off from Bridge of Orchy in absolutely perfect running conditions - still, dull and overcast -having been joined for the day by Tim, Morgan, Iain and John.
We all arrived at Kingshouse together, the only incident of note to report being a hilarious fall by John K when he was walking backwards and filming with his camera. Thankfully he was fine. The other 4 picked up the pace heading towards Kinlochleven, leaving John and me to bring up the rear. We were still behind leaving Kinlochleven, but by the time we had reached allybea's snack van at Lundavra we had managed to catch up with and pass all of the others. I didn't hang about long at Lundavra - I just wanted to get it finished - and, having watched John K pull away into the distance as though he was just out for a 5 mile training run, worked away well over the last stretch and down to the leisure centre in Fort William. I was delighted to see I has covered the full run in under 7 hours - 6 hours 56 minutes to be exact, and had been particularly pleased with the fact I had done the last bit from Kinlochleven in 2 hours 43 minutes. I'd certainly take that on race day.
I look forward to reading everyone else's tales of the weekend. Thanks to everyone for their company, and a special big thanks to allybea for her support. It definitely makes it a lot easier to run when you have such high quality backup - even though I admit that I may, on the odd occasion, not be very good at fully expressing my appreciation :)