It's been a busy couple of months with life getting in the way of not only blogging but running too. Never saw that coming! I've not been a total slacker I must point out. The week following the Clyde Stride was the Tour of Fife. Okay so I didn't have the best of tours this year but it was fun all the same (I'm not sure that's what I said at the time however). The week after that we did a recce of the Ochil 2000s route which was much tougher than I imagined and confirmed my decision not to enter the actual race, with the following week being some unfinished business with the Fling route (report below) which was quite possibly one of the best most epic days out ever and one that will stay with me for a long time to come.
And it didn't stop there. We headed up to Blairgowrie theweek after that to run part of the Cateran Trail. We only covered about 12 miles but it was a hard session and I managed just about to keep up on the return journey to Blair. And there it kinda did stop. I've done very little else in the last few weeks and with a meagre 10 miles covered a couple of weeks ago things were not looking particularly good for both the RAW race and Loch Ness Marathon. My naive attempt to play catch-up was put into action last week with double sessions, 2 long runs and 2 races on the Saturday. Mistake, it only led to lurgy. RAW was looking unlikely earlier this week but with a bit of gentle persuasion (i.e. absolutely none whatsoever) I'm in. Apparently fortune favours the bold, or brave, or stupid even....
Anyway, on to the Fling.....
Highland Fling Route Friday 13th August 2010
Perhaps a tad optimistic to attempt this on Friday 13th but I'm not superstitious so I don't care! My original plan of a solo venture leaving Milngavie at 6am hoping to reach Tyndrum at 8.20pm for the bus home was soon abandoned in favour of a bit of company and a well executed plan to leave a car at Tyndrum. Cracking idea that one...
An 8am start turned into a 9.15am start as Colin faffed and faffed a bit more. We were loaded up with grub, water and cash as we headed off into the tunnel.
Milngavie - Balmaha
It's always hard to admit you're struggling so early into a run but I was. I enforced the walk the hills and eat often rules and spend more time shuffling that actually running. A dodgy tummy didn't help (apologies campers at Gartness.....) but we reached Drymen without incident and headed off towards Conic Hill. It was a stunning day: the sun was out, it was perhaps a little warm but we laughed and joked all the way making the time pass with amazing ease. We breezed by a group of walkers who had set up camp on the foot of Conic Hill for a much-needed picnic before attempting the final push to the summit. It was definitely worth the climb - the views were amazing. At the top we stopped to take a few photos of the views where I inadvertently head-butted Colin as he attempted to take a photograph of me.
The descent was littered with walkers with poles so we made our way down without delay (note to self - don't attempt to follow a hill-runner down Conic Hill) soon arriving in Balmaha amid tourist chaos. I suggested a drink of juice in the Oak Tree Inn so Colin had a pint and soon thereafter we entered the twilight zone of time.
Balmaha - Rowardenen
I always forget how tough this section is but the stunning weather and great company were making relatively light work of it, or at least that's how I remember it now. And that's about all I remember.
Rowardenen - Inversnaid
This particular section marked a rollercoaster of emotion for me with memories of the actual Fling flooding back. This back then was the make or break section. Today I was going to make it. It was easy this time and a demon that has been well and truly exorcised. As we were running low on food (my fault for making us eat it all early on....) we planned to stop at Inversnaid for chips and coke. Despite being hotel dinner time, it appeared that making us a plate of chips was too much effort so we settled for a panini. They even warmed them up for us!! It tasted good though, anything would have right then and we spent probably too much time enjoying the break before hauling our asses off and out again.
Inversnaid - Bein Glas
We were well fuelled and hyper as we attempted a spot of rock hopping. It was easier than it should have been but we were having a blast. After the bothy we caught up with a young guy pushing his bike uphill. Poor lad was really struggling but we breezed by laughing at the irony. We then caught his mate who was waiting for him and laughed again as he complained at having been on a bike since 9am. Aw bless!! They never did catch us up. We were flying along towards Bein Glas but once we reached there we ground to an abrupt stop.
Being Glas - Tyndrum
It was getting tough. We were getting tired. We walked much of the section between Bein Glas and Derrydarroch and didn't quite pay enough attention at how quickly darkness was creeping up on us. By the time we traipsed across the coo pat path and entered Ewich Forest, it was pitch black and only one of us had a headtorch - um, me by the way! And therein the struggle really began. Initially it was funny. That didn't last. The headtorch was as bright as the glow from a candle and didn't lend itself to sharing. It was essentially the blind leading the blinder through the torturous journey to the roadside, a journey fraught with terror, humour and trust. By the time we reached the roadside we had already decided to try and call a taxi from wherever we could to get us up the road to Tyndrum but with no mobile signal that was out of the question. To continue using the poor light from the headtorch was out of the question so we were left with little option but to try and hitch a lift. When that failed the only option was to begin the walk up the road to Tyndrum. By sheer luck and incredible good fortune shortly after we began the walk a mini bus with a family heading to Oban stopped and took us the rest of the way. We laughed, they laughed, the relief was immense. And when we arrived at Tyndrum, the car was waiting like a knight in shining armour ready to transport us home. We even had the keys!!