Highlander Mountain Marathon

27 and 28 April 2013

 

A great crowd of Westies made the trip up North for the Highlander Mountain Marathon.  I paired up with Jo Armstrong (honorary Westie and ex-Lomond Mountain Rescue) to give it a bash this year.  Originally having entered the B class a bout of the dreaded “man flu” and various injuries meant that training was rather curtailed and so it was down to the C class for us.

The forecast was for cold with the winds picking up on the Sunday and so rather more warm clothes gear went into the backpack than usual, the Friday night camp the night before the start was even traded in for a last minute hotel room… getting soft…  Although we did miss the temptation of Manny’s offer of a place on his floor.

A little Dutch courage was needed in light of the freezing weather outside and so we retired to the Glen Hotel in Newtonmore for a few beers on the Friday night (great bar and great selection of beer on tap!).  Three pints and the prospects of two days of freezing in the cold were looking more bearable.

The first day’s course on the C-class was fantastic with some great snow running and we made a good start up to the first control, leapfrogging most of the starters on our bus.  Then into some serious snow on the way up to the highpoint of the day.  One the way down we passed a remarkably cheerful looking Manny and Brenda making good progress through some thick snow.  The rest of day 1 descended into a haze of tired legs and feet and trying to stuff enough jelly babies into our mouths to keep running.  It all felt awfully slow, but no-one was more surprised when we arrived at the day-1 finish in the lead.  It turned out we had a lead of 27 minutes over the second placed team and mean we could have a lazy, late start the next morning.  There were good runs from Manny and Brenda in 32nd on day 1 and Christine and John in 35th on day 1.

The mid-camp was fantastic, never been to a ceilidh in Mudclaws before and never had a beer tent at the overnight on a mountain marathon before!  Being superstitious, Jo and I decided that 3 pints were obviously the magic number the night before a race and so three pints of the Black Isle brewery’s finest went down very well, but slightly less well the next morning.

Day 2 was much harder than day 1 and we really felt that we were slowing down, but towards the middle of the day we started catching up the C-class field and the confidence increased.  Finally on running into the finish, nobody was more surprised to see that we had won by a margin of 50 minutes and a total time of 08h33.  Back to the B class next year…  Brenda and Manny had a great run to keep hold of their 32nd place with a time of 13h14 and John Hamer and Christine Menhennet climbed up to 28th with a time of 11h02.  I know there were some other Westies, including one we passed on day 2, but I was too knackered at the time to remember who, sorry!  All in all a fantastic event, along there with the LAMM as the other classic must do Mountain Marathon and we will definitely be back next year.

Hopefully we will see even more Westies next time around!

Jacques

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