Following on from my report on my first ever hill race, I thought it only fair to report on my first marathon too.
The Glencoe marathon is a beautiful race, snaking through Glencoe valley before joining the West Highland Way at the ‘Devil’s staircase’ and following it all the way to Glen Nevis. Climbing 1300m over the course, it was never going to be one for a PB but at least the pretty scenery would distract me from my legs screaming at me to stop.
Starting at the Red Squirrel campsite in Glencoe, I was inspired by the welcome sight of some smiling Westies faces who I presume had traveled up especially to see me off. Thanks to Tom, Katie and Ruth! It was certainly a slightly different clientele from a local Hill race but there was still a smattering of familiar vests on the start line with which to eye up the competition.
The first 10k were a steady drag up Glencoe valley, with a very chatty Garscube Harrier keen for a blether as we plodded steadily uphill. A stretch of boggy hillside made a mockery of the roadies much to my delight and then we were on to the ‘Devil’s staircase’. Steady on the climb and then I channeled my inner Ally McInnes on the decent into Kinlochleven. All going well at the halfway point and was feeling mildly optimistic!
The 2nd half of the race was run concurrently with the half marathon so it became rather confusing whether you were gaining or losing places, but at least there were plenty of people on the course to shout encouragement. Around 15 miles in I knew that despite my best intentions I had gone out too enthusiastically and was going to pay for it on the homeward stretch. A chance meeting with an ex-Westie Robert Kelman provided some welcome distraction from the impending hamstring cramp that I could feel edge closer and closer. The reduction in my pace coincided inversely with the volume of haribo I was eating in a vain attempt to find some energy from somewhere to no avail. I decided to skip the ‘Gucci’ feedstop with Port, Stilton and Brie as that would no doubt have caused a rather messy outcome.
The last 2 miles are a blur of cramp, fatigue, and sweary words, and I stumbled over the finish line in 4:55hrs.
A brilliant albeit brutal experience and I’d highly recommend it as a race.
Now what’s next…?
1 Tim Shepherd – Smith 3:50:00hrs
4 Angela Mudge 4:01:58hrs
49 Paul Williams 4:55:00hrs