A less-than-sunny Saturday morning saw five Westies (Cam, new Peter, OBK, Alistair, et moi) drive up to An-Torr for the start (actually, finish) of the Two Inns hill race. Just as we had puzzled out the complex arrangements to ferry everyone to the actual start in Creagan, the organisers offered us all a lift in a mini-bus. We arrived at Creagan in plenty of time, but unfortunately this first of the "Two Inns" closed last December, so we spent an hour waiting around in the drizzle.
The start was the usual climb, in the thickening clag to the first checkpoint at Beinn Churalain. So far, so good. Navigation looked on the map to be a simple matter of following a straight line between each checkpoint, but with the limited visibility even this became a significant challenge. Runners started clumping into groups, looking to each other for reassurance. Contouring around a hillock became fraught, with the prospect of drifting into the wrong valley. Eventually I picked up a fenceline on the expected bearing, and ended up at the base of Beinn Mhic na Ceisich. Another tough climb, but at least no difficulty following the route (up!). The rain and wind picked up, and it was jackets on by the top. Route finding became a little easier, with a clear track along the fence line for much of the way to Fraochaidh. Then a right turn and some slick rocks along the ridge to an unnamed checkpoint before a descent and boggy path toward Sgorr a’choise. The route down was indistinct, but enough runners were now turning up (from all directions!) to play follow-the-leader. The clag lifted, and a (brief) hint of what might have been sunshine appeared.
By the time we hit the stream crossing, my left thigh was starting to complain, and I was reduced to a hobble on the short uphill stretches. A great lift to my spirits to see the finish, with Alistair and Graham cheering me home. Cameron had headed off to the pub already, but no sign of new Peter! Tales of navigational woe featured in the afternoon conversation. Given that I was one of the last to reach the first checkpoint, and changed places with only a handful of runners during the race, most of the runners finishing alongside or after me must have lost their way at some point. The final results will make interesting reading!