(Mountain Trail race 26.2 miles)
Ann ran the Glencoe Marathon in October – what better way to see the scenery of Glencoe, Kinlochleven, Rannoch Moor, the West Highland Way, Fort William, The outdoor Capital of the UK
The morning of the Glencoe Marathon I started the day with a breakfast of kings – Dan`s famous porridge oats and scrummy poached eggs on toast. It was a cool crisp morning in the Glen, but you could see the blue skies that would be with us for the day ahead . The start line was just 700m up the road and I walked up rather nervously taking in the atmosphere and gathering my thoughts.
Standing at the start line at the Red Squirrel Campsite just along from Strath Lodge listening to the pre -race briefing, my emotions were running high. Nerves, fear, doubt – this was not a road race, this is the hardest off road mountain marathon in Scotland if not the UK – the famous Glencoe Marathon. This was 26.2 miles and 1600m of ascent.
I was reiterating this to myself, from the start trying not to get caught up with the rush. I did started a little faster than I hoped and then down to a speed I knew I could maintain and managed to keep myself under control.
Passing the Clachaig Inn ( a pint with my name on it would be waiting or me at the end of the race – our local), crowds of supporters were cheering us all on and the climb up the side of the A82 began.
A narrow, slightly boggy path led the way for the first 5 miles. Flanked by the infamous Aonach Eagach ridge on one side and the iconic three sisters of Glencoe on the other it was spectacular and a tranquil Loch Attrichon.
The first water station was at the end of the old military raoad and the study. I grabbed a banana, and a handful of jelly babies and took to the bog. There was no longer a nice defined path from this point to the start of the devils stair case. It was a super bog fest – An every man for himself moment..
Then the devils stair case came into site and I looked up to see what looked like colourful human ants, zig zagging their way up the steep climb. I ran upwards one step at a time until the steepness forced me to power walk and refuel. This as an awesome race and what an amazing country I live I – the views from the Devils Staircase were spectacular over to Buchaleietvice more, Rannoch moor – West Highland Way! I pushed myself onwards and upwards as fast as I could until I reached the top of the devils stair case and then one of my favourite parts of the whole race the amazing sight of a long downhill section straight ahead along the West Highland Way into Kinlochleven.
I forced myself to focus on the mission ahead and battered on towards Kinlochleven taking in the breathtaking views of the Mamores, Ben Nevis and Blackwater dam – just spectacular!
The miles were flying by on this section and I was enjoying every second. I reached Kinlochleven and the half way mark in less than 2.5 hours and was happy to be met by my husband and friends here who were great support! I didn’t stop here for long for fuel and decided to keep going to the next stop. Not sure if that was a wise move as I know as the hill out of Kinlochleven was a beast!
I ran as far as I could but I was a fast walk, lungs bursting, hands on knees, pushing myself up as quickly as I could. My energy was draining and I had to remind myself to fuel and not get carried away. I ran out of water and my energy levels plummeted. My wonderful friend game me some water to see me to the next water station..which I reached slower than I wanted to.
After this horrendously steep section, the path opened out revealing incredible views of the mamores. We came across the fuel stop at 17 miles in the middle of nowhere. What a blessing! I grabbed some water and some ready salted crisps – which never tasted so good !
I carried on running and seemed to have some faster sections with intermittent walking We had been extremely lucky with the weather lovely sunshine and dry , maybe too warm! . Lovely running conditions .
The last 10km were tough, lots of small steep sections and rocky ground. The last food stop, 5 miles from the finish was the most amazing of all! Hot fruit punch, sorbet, cheese.. ..Maybe we had actually died and were in food stop heaven..? Especially as my husband was there with our friends with many other goodies to see me through to the end!
With a well needed boost, off I headed. The sight of the mighty Ben came into view and we were nearing the last few miles. An unexpected climb before the final descend through the forestry was a cruel reminder of how brutal this race was….my water supplies were low agaon and I got a bit dizzy. I pushed as hard as I could to the top and finally reached the forestry track to the entrance of Glen Nevis. What a welcome sight. Even the downhill sections which were my favourite bits were proving challenging at this point but we were nearly there! Every corner seemed never ending but after a few more the event marquees came into view and we knew we were nearly there. This was it.. This was the end.. I had done it!! The Glencoe Marathon – A superb race and a brilliantly organized event by the NO fuss events team.
Arriving back at home at Strath Lodge Glencoe – I had a fabulous shower, and then we made our way to the Clachaig Inn for a well-earned pint and a fabulous bite to eat – the perfect end to an awesome day.
My wonderfully comfortable bed was such a pleasure to sleep in that night !