|Noani, me and David|
Wasn't sure last year if I was going to enter again this year as I had entered the UK Ironman in Bolton (my first ever triathlon except for a novice distance a few years ago) which takes place in August. However I did enter, which looking back I entered on impulse rather than a carefully thought out decision, so when I got the e-mail offering me a place in the race I began to secretly worry about how I would pull off these two major events scheduled just 7 weeks apart. I decided then that I would need some help with my training if I were to combine the two disciplines, Ironman and Ultra's, so I called on the assistance of a personal trainer Karl Ziener to keep me on the right track. Both races rely on and endurance fitness so how hard could it be (lol)?? Most of the training was centred around the bike and this seemed to work well as I completed the Fling and Cateran in decent enough times (well for me anyhow). Karl had said that a strong bike leg would see me through and he was right. My place in the race had been secured for some months, however, come Fling time I still didn't have my race crew sorted. David Hetherington thankfully stepped into the breach after deciding to pull
his entry from the WHW as he wanted to focus his training on the Mont-Blanc CCC which he is running in August. We still needed another crew member and and luck would have it that I met Noanie Sam Heffron
who came over for the Bute training run. She was keen to be part of the race and offered to be our
runner. A big commitment for Noanie as she was already marshaling at Beinglas farm. The 21st of June was soon upon us and I made my way to the start line thanks to my friend and
member if the 2011 support crew, Elaine Patterson, who fed me a delicious pasta dinner and
dropped me off at Milngavie for 10.30pm. I registered in the church hall and met loads of familiar
faces. There was lots of hugging, nervous laughter and excitement, all part and parcel in the lead up to a 95 mile run through the Scottish Highlands.
|Noanie. Karen Robertson and Me before the start.|
On retuning from registration David, Darren Barnes and Darren's support crew Ray and Martin had arrived from Sunderland. David was just as nervous as some of the runners but I reckoned this a
good thing as it meant that he was taking his crewing duties seriously! We sat in the car and spoke race strategies and timings. Noanie appeared to say hello before heading off to Beinglas for a sleep in the car before her for marshalling duties began. We all gathered round for the for Iain Beatties pre race talk. It was special this year as he read out
Fiona Rennies good luck poem and I am sure that her words touched the hearts and minds of
everyone. It wasn't long before I was on my way to my 3rd consecutive WHW race! I have learned by now not to think too far ahead and just focus on the next checkpoint so Balmaha here I come!.
|Darren and Me waiting for the 'Off'|
|Running out of Milngavie|
The weather wasn't good and the general word on everyone lips was 'it can't get as bad as last year.' OnI was chuffed to get to Balmaha in record time of 3 hrs 52 and I was welcomed in by Robin Wombill and Bill Heirs who both commented on how well I was doing. I met Martin who ushered me to the
through the night I went chatting to a few runners on the way. I met Brian Garry for the first time who I
had chatted to on Facebook a few weeks ago about predicted finishing times. I had predicted that I would finish in 29hrs30 mins, but my main strategy at this point was just to get the head down and get through
the check points in good time especially the earlier ones as the cut off times are tight until Bridge of
Orchy. I was making good pace and got to Drymen in record time of just a wee bit over 2hrs. The Conic Hill came soon enough and up I went noticing how different the ascent was from last year which was like
walking up a waterfall! It was misty going over the top but I was in awe of the Loch and its little Islands
which appeared majestically out of the gloom. (One day I am going to come up here just to enjoy the
amazing views!) I took it easy going down as I'm a big Scardie Cat when it comes to running the downs
and I didn't want to damage anything so early on in the race.
car. David had the coffee ready in a few moments, the porridge was not far behind and like a real
professional crew member he walked me out of the checkpoint whilst I ate my porridge! I met Carol Martin on the way out of Balmaha. I thought, blimey, I must be running well to be keeping up with Carol but I knew it would not be long before I would fall behind her, which I did after I had to take a pee stop. By the time I came out of the bushes she was well gone and not to be seen again, until the end that is.
I made Rowerdenan in good time, 5hrs 48mins and feeling good but soaking wet right through. I
could feel a bluster coming on one of my toes so I changed from road shoes into my Solomon Gortex trail shoes and dry socks. I remember David promising hot food here to see he through to Beinglas
and he produced warm soup, bread an coffee of course. Off again and to Inversnaid the only real
complaint on this section was the midges, as the stinging blister had eased off I somewhere into the back ground.
At Inversnaid I stopped for only a few moments to slap on some midge repellent kindly supplied by
Karen McKendrick. I had a quick bite to eat from my drop bag and took my banana with me.
The next section to Beinglas is always difficult. You seem to forget just how tricky the route along
the loch side is. In the last two Flings I have had the good company of Fiona McDonald and Robert
Kinnaird along this section. The chit chat and laughter in those previous races made this section go with ease. However this time I was on my own. A few runners came up behind and went on ahead.
No time for chit chatting and I guess everyone needed to keep going or else be eaten by the midges.
I made it to be Beinglass in 10hrs 5 mins and I was pleased to hear David saying that I was ahead
of schedule. Noanie was there too and she wished me luck for the next section. Hot dog sandwich
and I was off again walking at first and then picking up the pace a bit.
Ada Stewart passed me just before the underpass and I made sure that I didn't let her out of sight
as I know she would be keeping good pace. Through the Forest at Crainlarach and I eventually came down onto the the A82 crossing. I hoped I would get across OK as I was feeling a bit dizzy when I
came to a halt at the road side. I managed to keep jogging to the check point at Auchtertyre farm
and arrived 12hrs 56 mins. I met David just at the gate, he showed me to the 'weigh in' with my card and I was pleased to have lost a few Kilos!! David produced the the best meal of the race which
was simply tinned ravioli but it was delicious! I was starting feel the blisters stinging again and with help from David we applied blister plasters to my toes, change of top and I was off again. He said
to meet him at Tyndrum a few miles along the road just to check the plasters were still in place OK before heading up to Bridge of Orchy.
I shuffled out of the check point and this is where I began to feel that dull nagging pain on the side of my left foot. I had felt the same pain on the Fling but had taken some paracetamols the pain went and I pretty much forgot all about it. Therefore I felt confident that a dose of paracetamols would
do the trick. I skipped along the riverside path to Tyndrum with my head phones listening to my
favourite House Music tracks. All was good in the hood, I had been fed, plasters on my toes, I was
on time with my schedule and I had that 'Yipeee' 50 miles and I'm past halfway feeling! On the way to Bridge of Orchy I met Amanda Hamilton and Bob Watkinson running towards me.
They were out for a 20 mile jaunt. Amanda said she would be heading up to Fort William later to
take up Sports Massage duties. I said to Amanda that I would be looking forward to a massage
myself after the race. Karen Robertson caught up and we had a bit of a chat. She said the medics
were concerned she had lost too much weight but I thought she looked fresh, she was faster than
me in going down the hill to the underpass and in no time she had disappeared into the distance.
I arrived at Bridge of Orchy now 60miles in at 15hrs 43 still in good time, some hot food, change of
top and headed up the hill. Noanie was to join me and caught me up just as I recieved my Jelly Baby from Murdo on the top of his 'Jelly Baby Hill'. Noanie and I walked and skipped over the Rannoch
Moor sharing stories and chatting about all sorts of things. The Moor was deserted and there no
other runners, only a few walkers and guys on mountain bikes. The scenery was majestic but I found that if I tried to stop to look at it I became a bit dizzy but Noanie kept me going with her selection of coffee shots and gels. Disappointingly the foot pain did not ease at all with the Paracetamols and
steadily the pain crept its way from a pain that you can shut off to a pain that keeps nagging at you and won't let up!
|Coming down into the Ski Centre and good luck Rainbow. (taken by Noanie)|
We arrived at the Ski Centre in 19hrs 19min again still in good time and well before dusk! (the last
two years it was almost dark at this stage) Darren was there I was sorry to hear he pulled out at
Bridge of Orchy due to Achilles Heal injury. Anyway he seemed to be in good spirits despite his
disappointment. David Ross, who was supporting, Dave Waterman and Martin Hooper came over
for a bit of a chat and he and Noanie took some photos of a deer that had ventured off the Moor. It was here that Noanie produced the Mascot Chicken which I had not seen before now. I couldn't
make out what she was showing me with my wonky tired eyes and the hallucinations were starting
to set it. I looked like an onion goodness knows what my response was at the time!
|At 80 miles this becomes confusing!|
Anyway chaffing was starting to be an issue. I had been feeling it for hours now and had managed
to suffer it but enough was enough I had to sort it out! I had not been able to wear my waist belt for ages and had slug it over my shoudler instead. My lower back where waist belt been resting and all round where my bra had been rubbing was causing a horrible stinging pain made worse by sweaty
skin and a smelly top, so I went to the toilet for a quick change of upper garments. I guess all the
rain earlier had contributed to the mess I was in. I was so much looking forward to the shower at the end!! Before leaving the check point we agreed that the the foot needed some attention so I took off my
shoe but we couldn't see anything wrong. I thought a change of socks might make me feel better
and I put on my Injinji Toe socks with David's help of course. He's said at the start ' I draw the line
at doing feet' but he was falling into the role of foot fixer upper quite nicely by now.
|Heading out of the Ski Centre wrapped up for night time|
We left the Ski Centre fed and watered and headed off for the bottom of the Devils Stair Case. I
necked some co-codamol curtosey of Noanie in the hope that they would work. Despite the foot I
was feeling very chuffed with myself at this stage, as it still day light, and I knew that Fort William
was now within reach, only 25miles to go! Noanie and I deliberated over the name of the mountain at the bottom of the Devils Stair Case the 'Buachaille Etive' she guessed it right and took a photo
and sent it to her dad.
|Guessing Game- Buachalle Etive|
We met David again for a coffee before the climb up the Devils Stair Case and another look at the
foot which was getting plenty of attention by now! Noanie suggested I put on a support bandage
and David the 'foot man' obliged with the bandage using all his nurse training skills! Bandage in situ we stomped up the hill. By now I was really starting to see things but I knew it was just the
tirednes setting in. We made good pace up the hill passing some runners and crews on the way. It
must have been nearly midnight by the time we put on the head torches and only because it was
getting misty. We passed Ada and her support runner, Susan Addison. We could hear Ada shouting ' I canny see a bloody thing' she'd forgotten her head torch!! We shuffled down into kinlochleven in great time arriving at 23hrs 54mins. David was sleeping and was startled to see us coming in. I remember saying to Noanie that I wanted to leave for 1am just a quick bite and go, but I felt fairly spaced out once I stopped moving and couldn't really tell David
what I wanted to eat. He was feeling the same after just being woken up ! However he pulled
himself together (thank goodness) and gave me specific instructions 'go and have your foot seen to by the doctor and I will make the porridge'! Dr Chris Ellis looked at my foot and said I might have a
stress fracture! Well things just seemed to slow right down after that and we didn't get leaving until 1.40am. I think that Kinlochleven has that effect on most of runners and crews. Most people had
the same spaced out expression on their faces! By now my foot had stiffened right up making it
painful even to walk but I was determined to carry on.
|Me, Ray, Noanie at the top of the climb out of Kinlochleven|
Ray joined me an Noanie for the last section and David came with us up the big climb out
Kinlochleven. It was really dark now, it was raining and the next section over the Larig Moor took forever and a day. I was looking forward to meeting the cheery Mountain Rescue team but when we
arrived at their tent no-one was there, kind of spooky where were they? We passed a few solemn
looking soles on the Moor, one being Robert kinnaird. The tiredness seems to have that effect, you
become withdrawn, less talkative and all you can do is put one foot in front of the other. There is no point in thinking about anything 'just keep moving'. The terrain on the rocky moor road was tough
and not helping my foot at all. I began to feel really miserable and sorry for myself. Its funny how
you loose sight of the remarkable thing you trying to achieve. The negative thoughts become more
intrusive and thats when the mental battle begins!! As we got near Lundavra Robert must have had a miracle burst of energy as he glided past us with his crew !
When we arrived at Lundavra Robert sitting by the fire and summoned me to join him but I decided
to keep going. Not even the welcome sight of the fire could not entice me to hang around! I wanted
to get this blooming race finished and maybe in under 30 hrs. I had a quick bite to eat and David
came up 'that bloody steep hill' out of Lundavra with us wishing us good luck. He headed back we
went onwards towards the forest. He had said to Noanie that we would make the Braveheart car
park in something like 45 minutes but I knew there was no chance. The last 6 miles would be the
hardest. All my negativity was centred around my foot and I couldn't think of anything else. The
finish might as well have been another 95 miles away. We made it to the end of the forest and I had said to Noanie that come the fire track I might be able to shuffle it out but I just couldn't and we
walked what felt like 'death march' down to the Braveheart car park and it seemed like an eternity. We met David there and he came the rest of the way with us. Down onto the road, it felt strange to be walking on concert again. Robert caught up with us. I couldn't muster up even a shuffle my foot would not allow it. Robert walked with me to the door of the leisure centre and like a true gent he
let me clock in before him. We finished at last in 30hrs and 33 minutes. On the last 6 miles I
promised that I would NOT be doing the race again. 3 Goblets was more than I could have ever
imagined and I was more than happy with that. My calculations told me that I was 1hr up on last
year but when I realised that I was 2hrs up I said to myself.... well maybe I will do it again next year!
|Robert and I comming to the end at last!|
The weekend did not stop there as there was the presentation ceremony, lunch, a super snooze mid afternoon, champaign celebrations with speeches in our hotel room followed by a visit to the pub in the evening with all the other runners before heading back to my wee Island on Monday. I might do the race next year but if not I will support David but I absolutely draw the line at doing his feet lol !!
I just want to say thanks again so much for all the efforts of my Super Support crew David and
Noanie and also to Ray, Darren and Martin for a great weekend.
|Picking up the Goblet|
|2011, 2012 and 2013|