22 April 2011

highlander mountain marathon: dundonnell

mountain marathons as a weekend mini break are fast becoming a tradition in our house. and like all traditions certain rituals have developed, new playlist made, salty car snacks purchased, driver changes arranged around favourite cafes, even hotels booked and the inevitable guessing of the final location of the actual race....turns out it was dundonnell, an hours bus ride ,around the massive loch broom, from registration in ullapool...which then just left us guessing how on earth would we ever get back. we'd have to wait for two days of hill running to find out.

the wild and remote hills induced a stunned silence, which was soon broken by miserable grunts as both my achilles seized up. cold, damp feet shuffling as best they could, watching others disappear into the distance. on the plus side the first two check points were collected without incident. confidence growing, i began to feel a little stronger, jane looked less concerned about my gait, we started to jog. and proceeded to run straight passed cp3...about 30minutes lost and a massive blow to my now fragile mind. within the first two hours i was already emotionally spent.
everything seemed wrong. my bag felt like it was full of rocks, legs stiff and heavy, my shoes appeared to have lost all grip, brain turned gloopy and i admit it, i may have become a little, well, mardy. despite this, jane pushed us on, intermittently shoveling jelly babies into my mouth. the rest of the day was a slippery blur. circling an teallech, part of me wishing to be scrambling/bottom shuffling along its spiky peaks, the rest of me glad we didn't have to tackle to final steep scree slopes.

reaching mid camp the afternoon sun began to shine, moods lifted and our noodle dinner was enjoyed with a fine mountain view. this helped ease the 28/32 day 1 result, as did a lovely pint of black isle beer and some ceilidh observing. crawling into our tiny down stuffed tent we both hoped that tomorrow would be a better day.

with notices warning that all competitors must be at the finish by 2pm at the latest, the pressure was on. no mistakes, no mardyness, all to be completed within 6.5hrs, not a lot to ask....rounding the other side of the 'big hill', there was less distance to cover but the check points were fiendishly laid out. steep ups followed even steeper downs. fingers constantly grabbing at the hillside, feet feeling for solid ledges. re-entrant after re-entrant found, no massive errors but still wondering if we were moving fast enough.

with 3cp's to go we realised we'd make it. helped along by the mini race we were having with another team. reaching the final down the last piece of the puzzle was solved, they'd be 'speed' boating us back to ullapool! post match analysis whilst paddling in the sea loch, confirmed that it's all in the mind. with the aid of positive thinking we finished in 19th place on day2, dragging ourselves up to 22nd overall.

for what ever reason my head and body weren't really in the right frame of mind for mountain marathoning but the jagged peaks of an teallech were more than enough to rejuvenate my soul. time for some proper recovery and working out how to control my head.


Yak Hunter said...

well done and what's "mardy"?

sbrt said...

Mardy bum:)
I didnt even make the start, my partner was injured.

trio said...

Pictures look amazing....but can't imagine all that running!

jumbly said...

Excellent post. I think this totally captures the highs and lows of mountain marathons, or similar events. Sometimes it's your body that won't play nicely, sometimes your head, and for those few sweet moments when it all works, a slice of heaven.

Oh and @ Yak Hunter "mardy" is like a really prolonged hissy fit. The toys are all out of the pram!

SS:Mtn Biker said...


ultra collie said...

you leave me exhausted just reading it.
teamwork. and between you and jane you seem to have that well and truly sorted. good job you dont get mardy at the same time!

Runningbear said...

Great write up Kate, and stunning pics. What an epic journey - getting that for north in the first place is impressive enough never mind the flippin' race..

You sound to have had an awesome run given your mashed head on day 1 - go girl for fighting on. Yo shoed true grit and ended with a great finish for you both. Great running. W

What's next? RB :)

vdubber67 said...

Well done - sounds a toughie!


Groover said...

Excellent write up ... and please let us know once you figure out how to control head! LOL

sbrt said...

Sorry Kate, I forgot to say well done for toughing it out, getting your head back together and finishing so well. Cool!

Ian Charters said...

Great weekend! Big "pat on the back" due for getting through Day 1 and fighting through Day 2 - 85% or more is in your head and the rest doesn't matter that much. Well done!

Hayfella said...

Well done team!
Sounds, er, fun.

Martin Rye said...

Walking over that terrain is hard let alone running to beat a set time. Well done Kate. Some effort that.

Adam said...

I cannot even begin to figure out the concept of mountain marathoning let alone the practice. It's bad enough running 26.2 miles through a housing estate, city centre and industrial estate. But if id had to work out bloody footings and incorporate my hands? Forget it. Awesome. But I bet no one did it dressed as Noddy in a plastic car....

JessiePants said...

I believe others have said it, but you've expressed in words so well the up's and down's you feel. Well done pushing through the down time and on your finish!

kate said...

yak hunter- yeh, as jumbly says, throwing a bit of tantrum/grumpy/...unreasonable ;)

sbrt- next year then! ...pre arctic monkeys i always thought it was an east midlands saying?

trio- it was absolutely stunning-there was not that much 'running'!

jumbly- thanks. you'd love this event.

ss- exactly :)

uc- erm...have to admit there have been a few occasions where there were duel mards (?) but i think i may have caused janes ;)

rb- thanks...has it not tempted you ;) we've got another mm back in the highlands in a few months-eek!

vdubber- it was, but i certainly made it harder!

groover- haha, yeh, could probably make a fortune if i could bottle that formula!

ian- cheers, still a fantastic wkend despite being very non-competitive.

hayfella- yup, we called it...'character building'... ;)

martin- thanks, though we did walk a LOT of it ;)

adman- haha, i would probably have been faster if i was dressed as jade goodie.

jessie- thanks buddy :)

Pedalling Polarcherry said...

Great post Kate. I sympathised with you. Sometimes you just don't have the mojo for stuff. We've all been there.

Well done for bucking down and getting s great result.

kate said...

ppc- thanks mate. it's hard when you sometimes you hate your hobby-it doesn't make sense does it??!!