Having heard Many Good Things about the Applecross duathlon, I finally decided to give it a go this year. A 14.5km trail run sounded easy enough, and figured the 24km cycle should be managable with a little training. For training, I dusted off my bike and embarked upon an intensive two-week programme of riding the 10-minutes to work and back, the main contributions of which were animated conversations with bus drivers over the merits of disc brakes and a philosophical discussion with two police officers on ethics choices involving traffic signals and the rise of the Fascist State, none of which proved to be of the slightest use in Applecross.
Applecross itself can be reached either via a scenic coastal road or by driving over the stunningly beautiful Bealach na Ba, possibly the best road in Scotland. “Not advised for learner drivers, very large vehicles or caravans” reads the sign at the start. Shortly after, I am met by a large vehicle towing a caravan.
The race itself is a pleasantly low-key affair. You can enter as the “challenge” or start the “race” (and have your time recorded) an hour later. About 50 take the challenge and 90 more do the race. Sam is the only other Westie I see entered — doing well, with a top-10 finish. I took the trail run slowly, the only speed I know. After a couple of miles of farm road the route climbs 200m and becomes really quite scenic. It’s an easily followed route and generously marshalled. As scenic goes, the cycle was even better. Sweeping views out across Raasay and Skye, heather in bloom, sparkling wee lochan. Rolling hills, mainly. Nothing too steep, and the last mile into the bay is quite flat. Finishers are welcomed by a piper and a rauchous, cheering crowd. For £6 entry, this is ridiculously good value for money.
Next year’s duathlon is on 17 September, and entries open on 4 June. Watch out, as they go quickly!