Highlander Mountain Marathon 2014 B class with Peter Harper

That time of the year again, the first of the Mountain Marathons, and what better place than Glenfinnan for the Highlander Mountain Marathon.  I did the Highlander last year for the first time and was immediately hooked: where else can you have a beer tent and ceilidh in the middle of the Scottish hills at the overnight stop?  This year it was up to the B class and Peter Harper stepped in with two weeks to go to be my partner, as Jo unfortunately had to pull out.  There was a good scattering of Westies in most of the courses, particularly the score.  And Manny Gorman was being heroic by entering in the A class.  The start of day 1 was all in the mist and cloud and the first few controls were very steep and hard to find (I briefly became crag-fast between 1 and 2 up one tricky ascent next to a stream while the mountain rescue helicopter was buzzing overhead somewhere in the cloud rescuing a less fortunate runner).  But later in the day the cloud cleared and Peter got some great photos of the day’s running (me looking considerably more knackered and sweaty than him on the photos).  We briefly crossed paths with Manny and Alan Smith in the latter parts of day 1 while contouring around some steep terrain.  Running into the finish felt good and we ended up leading the B class by some 50 minutes at the end of day 1.

A lot of food, a few beers and not much sleep later it was time for day 2.  We went for a 3 beers on Friday night and 3 beers on Saturday night approach and it seemed to work well, after this form of carbo-loading had been so successfully tested at last year’s Highlander.  The advantage of starting last was that everyone had left and there was no toilet queue!  Day 2 was hot and sunny and I couldn’t pour enough water and electrolytes down my throat to keep up with my sweat loss and ended the day covered in some very attractive dried salt stains.  There were still some big hills, but not on the same scale as day 1 and it was much faster running.  Peter managed some more good photo stops and we were almost tempted to have a quick swim in a refreshing looking pool, but decided better of it.  The lead we had from day 1 meant we could pace it a little more carefully, but we still extended our lead by another 2 minutes after day 2.  There were other notable Westies successes, but I will leave them to write up their own day.  The highlight for me was definitely seeing Manny win a pair of walking poles for first veteran team in the A class.  A great performance by Manny and Alan to come in 5th overall in the A class.  Our punishment for winning the B class, is having to run in the A class next year, which was pointed out to us repeatedly…

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