12 April 2010

highlander mountain marathon


the mattress felt hard and unfamiliar. the room seemed strangely purple. we were still along way from home. inverness' finest premier inn. i rolled over and was reminded of the asymmetrical sun burn down my left side. jane was already awake. eyes wide open, sun burned nose plastered in moisturiser. apart from her heather scratched shins, burnt limbs, swollen ankles, sore thighs and bruised shoulders, she said she was feeling ok. my list of aliments slightly shorter but legs no less scabby. despite the previous nights three course meal, at inverness' best/only turkish restaurant, we both woke with empty bellies. the morning after the race before.....

the location for this years highlander was gairloch. from nottingham drive north for 8 hours, turn left at inverness, then just pop down the road for another hour or so. with a p.d.james audio book and stunning views there can be worse ways to spend a friday. reaching the sea we had to get our feet wet and watching the sun setting we couldn't help but feel this was the start of a good weekend.

no clouds. no wind. no midges. map marked up and double checked. there were going to be no mistakes this time...after some searching we found the first check point. ok, from now on there were going to be no mistakes. contouring round a small knoll we were greeted with proper hills. snow capped and waving hello. a steep up and an even steeper down. no paths and no one else in sight.

picking our way through vertical bog and losing legs down hidden streams, progress felt slow. jelly babies and mountain vistas kept our spirits high. but finally it seemed we were making good decisions and not wasting too much time. avoiding unnecessary ups and using terms like re entrant and lochen outflow. we felt like real orienteers, just without the harlequin lycra and headbands.

the big fiery ball was high in the sky. the only thing we weren't carrying was sun block. streams provided drinks but there was no escape from the heat. i'm not complaining. we just weren't prepared!

mid camp was a surreal affair. a bar and celidh band, down jackets and plastic bags as socks. the event seems to attract the friendliest of folk and people with a real spirit of adventure. listening to tales of previous races and big days out it felt like we were being welcomed into a secret club.

finding out that we hadn't done as badly as we'd thought meant day two started with a bit of pressure. could we really make those seven minuets up on elizabeth and her partner? probably not and certainly not if we keep taking the 'interesting' lines. they soon over took us. and we concentrated on not getting heat stoke, falling down holes and getting too lost in amongst the numerous knolls and lochens.

we covered nearly 45km of rough ground over the two days. our feet only touched probably about 3km of actual path. apart from a few other competitors out on the course we didn't come across another soul. a remote and wild place. we were so lucky with the weather. if the clag had been down, i think we'd still be out there somewhere.

definitely the toughest mountain marathon we've done as a pair. the planners made really clever use of the location. the event was faultlessly run. i'd return in an instant...or make that 9 and a half hours.


scores on the doors... 12/20 in c class. dead pleased with ourselves and already planning where to make those lost minutes up...whilst doing lots of stretching as well!!

33 comments:

ultra collie said...

beautiful
and a good precursor to the fling if a tad different

John Kynaston said...

well done.

Sounds a great event.

BTW - it's always sunny in Scotland!!

trio said...

Wow it sounds amazing!

Fiona Rennie said...

What a brilliant weekend you had and in stunning scenery too!

Vicky Hart said...

Sounds like a great weekend.

Julbags said...

Well done both of you!

jumbly said...

Excellent write up. Sounds like a top event, mid-camp bar though....... not really in the spirit of MM suffering is it?!

Red Bike said...

Wow, it looks amazing.

How you can navigate over that is beyond me. I can't even cope with staying on the right path!

GaryUFM said...

Great pix. Sounds like you did really well, and had a good time of it too. Can't ask for more...except some sunblock perhaps.

Emma said...

NO midges??? I don't believe you! hey, I'm partial to a bit of harl, harlee, harliq....that diamond print!!! ;-)

Well done ladies sounds a fantastic weekend and yes wasn't the weather great I bet the views were spectacular?

Kate I need to email you directly about May, where's best to reach you??

Irregulamania said...

Good stuff - only a little jealous!

Si

Ian Charters said...

Great weekend, obviously, great result and pictures to match (-:

You are clearly quite mad enough for the Rucksack Club!

Elizabeth A said...

Well done. I am still too exhausted to write a report! It was great to actually meet you.

Martin Rye said...

Well done. Wonderful views you had.

Charlie said...

Wow! Excellent stuff! You (and your leg)sound to be feeling a LOT better.

Jo said...

GREAT write-up TK. Really glad it worked out for you. (And in answer to your earlier question, yes I am back riding, got various races and trips planned this year, yay!)

kate said...

uc- possibly two of the best hill days in a long time. strangely enough i met quite a few other 'fling-ers'!

john- cheers! we both want to move to scotland now, our weekend was that good!

trio- truly wild.

fiona- it was, might have been a bit faster if i didn't keep stopping to take photos ;)

vicky- the scenery was just stunning but i'm glad the fling/whw will be on easier ground ;)

julbags- cheers! are you not tempted?

jumbly- not in the spirit of suffering?!! have you tried dancing with plastic bags on your feet? ;) ...you'd love it

red- the navigation was really tough. the good teams are so fast over that ground, it's amazing.

gary- we had 'skin so soft' and tick tweezers!! have you done any mm?

emma- more amazingly is that we have no ticks either!!! see you soon, i'll be the one in the harlequin tights ;)

irregulamania- i can't recommend this event enough, do it :)

ian- i aspire to the dizzying heights and adventures of the rucsack club :)

elizabeth- hola! when the alarm went off this morning i wish i hadn't stayed up late on the internet ;) hope to see on a hill soon

martin- bet you can't wait for your scottish trip. hope the weather is as balmy :)

charlie- nothing like some wild country to soothe the soul. and due to the fact that there was more walking than running my leg seems to be fine.....

jo- yay! that's good news. a return to blogging maybe?

Daz H said...

and a big well done from me

sally in norfolk said...

Amazing !! well done :-)

kate said...

daz- cheers, means a lot from a tough guy like you :)

sally- thanks! have you ever done one? if not you should

Pedalling Polarcherry said...

sounds fabulous! you girls rock.

you should frame the top photo. i love it.

Groover said...

Great report, Kate. I remember staying in a little B&B in Inverness when I was backpacking through Europe. I was 19 and I still remember the scones I got for breakfast. There were the most delicious thing. Did a lot of hiking in that area back then, too. I so would like to go back one day and do something like your weekend race. Really really would!

starfish264 said...

Brilliant account and gorgeous pictures - sounds like you had an amazing time, although I'm feeling tired just thinking about it!!!

Glad to hear I'm not the only one who's encountered the dreaded trademark Scottish Vertical Bog - why is that ground water in Scotland defies all the laws of gravity and just clings to the hillsides??? At least it wasn't colder - as I discovered at New Year - frozen bog makes for some interesting walking conditions that are highly reminiscent of ice-skating up a hill! :-)

Looking forward to hearing about the next adventure.

kate said...

ppc- cheers mate :)

groover- we both came home wondering if we could move to inverness! if you're ever over here and fancy doing a mountain marathon, please let me know :)

starfish- i know, geological phenomenon!!! good to see you're having some outdoor fun too :)

Anonymous said...

So are you coming to the Heb then?

sbrt said...

Well done Kate!

Very very jealous now.

lesleyh said...

What a fab day out, and bonus sunshine too!!

kate said...

hey anonymous- are you the vegan singlespeeder or the fling support crew? unsure about the heb as it's soon after the whw and we've got a holiday booked in the lakes....but maybe...see you next weekend...

sbry- cheers! see you there next year?

lesleyh- bonus sun burn but no bonus ticks :)

Joe Newton said...

What the f---?! When did summer start? I go away for one week and people are gadding about the hills in shorts and getting sun burn!

Congratulations. Looks like a top event and you had the perfect weather for it. Keep up the stretching!

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the fling, i wont be there but will be at the Heb for sure.

Andy - vegan(ish) singlespeeder

kate said...

joe- yes sir ;)

andy- cheers!! i'm still undecided about the heb. need to check with in-laws re holiday. i'll get a message to you somehow by the end of next week :) hope you're enjoying the sun too

Anonymous said...

Dan will be at the fling, supporting his other half and handing out more Heb flyers, have a chat with him if you get a chance and he will explain everything you need to know. If you need further convincing then Monty Halls is on the telly this week in North Uist.

Andy

kate said...

very persistent.... ;)