Big Ben Nevis Tri

It was practically the middle of the night when we started to rack our bikes, talc our socks and cover our legs in slime to help get wetsuits off post-swim.

The race started at 7am to make the best of slack tide but despite the early hours there was still a good crowd there to support. Getting into the water was pretty tough as there was no way of kidding myself it was going to be warm - even with two swimhats. The pain in my hands from the cold was pretty bad but they soon went numb and once the whistle went I didn't care anyway. Unlike Aberfeldy, the sea was calm and I actually felt like a swimmer. Managed to get into quite a good rythmn, despite swimming slap bang into two different buoys and having to weave about to avoid the flailing limbs of the guy in front who was doing breastroke. He must have had arms that were 5ft long each as there was no way I could get past him without getting punched in the throat. Finally I settled with just staying behind him, who cares about an extra minute or two on the swim, better just to keep my pace and not get flustered.

I got out the water a good 12 min faster than I had in Aberfeldy. Got my paws stuck in the wetsuit, maybe cos they were so cold, or maybe because of my watch. I saw Lizzie already in transition and the other half of Team Cruachan came in shortly after. Neil saw me off to the start of the bike, I knew it was going to be a long haul from there so it was great to get his encouragement.The bike course was one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of racing on. With every lap it just got better and the smile on my face got broader. The hill was excruciating but once on that sweepy beautiful down it was worth every bit of the pain.

This is a truly awesome race and one that everyone should do at least once.

By the end of my first lap I'd started to catch up with lots of people doing the half-tri. I always think I'm really slow (hence the long races), but it turns out my lap times were faster than the girls on the podium for the half tri. Not bad for a tortoise!

On the second lap I got a puncture (despite having pumped my tyres up as hard as possible). I've had about 10 punctures in the last few months so, while fighting with the tyre levers and the midges and watching all those people pass me, I vowed it was time to start experimenting with tubeless set-ups. Then I saw the huge hole in my tyre and decided I should probably have bought new tyres a while back!! Still, don't think I lost too much time on the tyre change but I was worried that it would just puncture again. Luckily the Gods were smiling and I made it round all four laps without any more trouble.

Then came the 'run' up the Ben. I say run and I maintain that I did to run the road bit to and from Fort William to the start of the Ben. And a couple of the flatter bits. The rest of the way up was more of a determined walk but I loved it all the same. It was great to see the buddy runners nearer the top. They're marshalls who know the 'runners shortcuts' quite well and could guide us up the steepest part of the scree. It made such a difference to have someone there to follow, especially now that the mist had come in. It was cold and my legs were starting to give up and it was just wonderful to chat to someone about completely irrelevant things and forget about the rest.

Just after the buddy runner left me I saw Lizzie running down which cheered me up no end, it was great to see another friendly face. I'd only seen one other girl so thought she might be third but it turns out that the first girl was about 1hr30 ahead of the next and I'd missed her somewhere. That's my first time to actually reach the summit of Ben Nevis, after a good few attempts in the past few years in various climbing trips. I started to run when I saw the summit, gleefully hugging the cairn and calling out my race number. I think I was fourth girlie in the end. I'm not going to say how many actually entered the race as I'm not too sure (hopefully at least 5?) but, judging by the shocked look on one walker's face as she pointed her pole at me and exclaimed 'It's a WOMAN!!!', I'm guessing not too many.

I suppose I should just be grateful that despite the windswept and interesting hairdo and my general bedraggledness, it was still possible for her to tell!

The winning female time bet the record by 42min. She is obviously the fittest person in the world but I'm pleased with my 10hr30. My legs will hurt for a lot longer than that but right now I don't care.

Amazing race!


Red Bike said…
Yet another fantastic race and a fantastic achievement.

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