We're going up in great numbers with many of us staying in the same guest house. Julie's injured but still coming up and Gillians's giving it a bash despite a possible injury. After much deliberation, I decide to drive up with Gillian and John for company. It's a ropey journey. The wind is howling with intermittent showers. Oh dear.....
It's a long long time since I've been in Inverness – about 25 years ago I think. I went on the bus one Saturday aged 15 shopping for clothes for what was, at the time, the highlight of Fort William's nightlife; DJ Tom Ferrie was coming to town. In the end I wasn't even allowed to go.
We arrive in Inverness and navigate our way to the registration point to collect our numbers. The first people I meet are Karen & Jane. They tell me to call down but I'm so excited. We then bump into Julie & Pete and then Fiona & Pauline. Inside we collect our numbers and I decide to buy a different bum bag to the one I've brought and some socks, making sure of course I get my 10% club discount!!
We then head off to the B&B, which is really nice, for a much needed cup of tea before heading into the town centre for some food. Everywhere is packed but we wander further afield and find a great wee place called Madisons where I indulge in a sweet chilli burger with cheese, chips and loads of tea – fantastic! It's a brilliant evening and we laugh and laugh. I can't remember what was so funny but at the time I had tears streaming down my face and could hardly breathe with laughing.
Back at the B&B, in between being awake, I sleep not bad. I dream about everything except the marathon and wake up tired but still excited and nervous as hell. At breakfast I struggle to eat my scrambled egg and toast and hope that the meal the night before keeps me well fuelled. As daylight breaks, it's looking good outside. The wind has died down and the rain has stopped. The lady in the B&B takes our photo before we leave and John, Pete, Gillian and I walk the 15mins or so down to the start.
We meet Fiona and Pauline, who's decided to come down to see us off, and then Morna and after a quick pit stop we head for the bus. There's a long queue and word spreads that some of the buses haven't turned up. Some people seem to be a bit annoyed but in a situation where it's totally outwith your control, I don't see the point. They're not going to start the race without us. Eventually we get led off and have to stand on the buses that are already full and although the scheduled set off time is 8am, we leave around 9.
I don't enjoy the journey. I'm not a good passenger at the best of times but standing on a double decker bus going up a windy road while a guy pees in a bottle in the corner (seriously....) doesn't help. By the time we get there I'm almost puking my scrambled egg. We get off and I bump into Kay and Donald and join in the fight for the portaloos. The start has been delayed by 50mins so I have just enough time to swig some caffeine boost lucozade and dump my bag in the van. The pipe band works its way from the back of the crowd down to the front. It's a nice touch which makes my heart swell and before you know it the claxon sounds and we're off......