I’m starting this week with a feeling of satisfaction and of achievement after Saturday’s Kintyre Way Ultra Relay in almost wintery weather: the word I heard over and over again to describe it was ‘brutal’ which is as accurate as you can get!
But before we get to that, here’s how the rest of the week shaped up.
The week started off incredibly wet and windy which was not the best for a bank holiday! I think that gave the Kintyre Way a good dose of watering which helped contribute to the underfoot conditions later in the week.
We had some running about to do, including a trip to Inveraray so I didn’t do much meaningful exercise. Just a couple of short walks.
A day in the office meant I packed my running gear in the off chance I could get out for a lunch run. I headed up the hill in lovely sunshine, though it was cold! I felt that the hill was a little easier than the last time I ran it so I was pleased about that.
Time: 30m 3s
Another lunchtime run for me, I was trying to avoid the rain that was forecast for later in the day. In line with my plans, I kept the distance and time short and tried to keep my pace slow. The training is done, so the aim is to keep the legs and body moving without risking injury that comes with overtraining or last minute panicking.
Time: 30m 3s
No pictures today, I did some active recovery walks across the day both at work and also after work. I managed a step tally of over 13,000 without too much trouble.
The day was bright and sunny, which no doubt fooled a lot into thinking we’d be treated to the same on race day! It was lovely to see the village busy up with visitors and there were plenty of runners around. I headed to the harbour just for a short shake out run, which was a pretty decent pace actually!
Time: 31m 56s
The day arrived and with it the weather started off calm and dry. But we all knew what was coming! as we were running as a relay team, Alison, Deirdre and I had to meet and register together at Tayinloan from where Alison would get our relay underway. I was up next but not for a couple of hours.
As we arrived at Tayinloan the rain was just starting and the wind had most definitely made an appearance, it looked like we weren’t going to be blessed with the same weather as last year at all. After Deirdre and I saw Alison safely over the start line I headed home to get ready, with buff, gloves, waterproofs, long sleeved top and even my thermal running tights back out. Who would have thought I’d need those in May!
Tony drove me to the handover point in Clachan to meet Alison coming in. I was grateful for my dryrobe while I was waiting! When Alison arrived, describing her section as absolutely brutal, I just thought I’d better get my head down and get this done!
You might remember that we recce’d this part only a couple of weeks ago and the conditions underfoot were good, with only a few boggy spots. Well, that changed from the offset, with the wood trail section muddy right from the start. And that was the theme for the next couple of hours, with driving rain, big muddy or boggy underfoot conditions continuously and strong winds. Boy, was it cold! It made for hard going on the legs and on the mind!
As I emerged along the side of Loch Ciaran, I was struck by the water’s surface which had been glass like last time, but was very different today!
Next up was a trail section which is very well known to me, and is drier underfoot. At this point, at about 4 miles in, I just decided to enjoy every second of this. I met a lady who was dropping out but looked safe on her own as she was on her way to meet the medic.
As I made my way through the lovely heathland and around the lochs, there was no sign of the Isle of Jura behind me or of Arran before me- both were well and truly hidden by cloud cover today!
The next section I knew was going to be tough, as it was open moor across the highest part of this section. It is usually pretty windy and boggy and the day’s conditions just topped anything I’d experienced on this part before. The clouds dropped, visibility was poor and the rain turned to hailstones which were driven by the winds right into my face. The wind also meant that moving forward was pretty difficult! Looking back at my stats, though, I was moving at a pace over difficult terrain – lots of bogs and rocky outcrops with ankle twisting hillocks everywhere but I somehow managed 11 minute miles!
Finally I reached the kissing gate which I knew marked the uphill climb right before the descent to the road towards Claonaig. It was pretty energy sapping, but knowing that the downhill was coming helped boost the mood!
It was disappointing that the cloud cover was so intense that there wasn’t even a glimpse of Arran, but I just recalled the glorious views from a couple of weeks ago instead.
I was fortunate to only pass one vehicle on the road, and when I reached the turn off for Skipness it was with mixed feelings that I headed back off the road and uphill again. In previous years the route was continuous road to Skipness which I know is mentally tough and hard on the legs. So I tried to keep that in mind as I climbed once again up a steep-ish track and along an unfamiliar trail I’ve never run before. I could see a runner ahead and tried to keep her in my sights, which really helped with the motivation!
After another mile or so we were dipping back down and there we were, at the handover point where I wished Deirdre good luck and told her to just enjoy it.
The hills, mud, rain, wind, cold and hail were certainly challenging but I absolutely loved it!
I had parked my car in Skipness the night before, so walked to collect it, and after a pretty muddy shower I felt a bit more human again!
Before I knew it we were heading down to the finish line to cheer Deirdre over and to celebrate our achievement!
And, we managed to take over 12 minutes off our time from last year- woo hoo! In glorious sunshine (but wind) last year we ran it in 7h 40m 18s, this year even in that weather we achieved 7h 28m 2s🙌
Time: 2h 47m 52s
I just loved it!