Highlander Mountain Marathon

I finished up work on Friday and was straight up to Glen Cannich near Inverness for one last big weekend in the Scottish hills before heading to North America. I was racing the Highlander Mountain Marathon with Elsie and was looking forward to a beautiful weekend of sunshine and good chat, particularly with so many other Westies doing it. We were entered in the 'b' class- a wee step up from when we last did it and won the 'c'. As it turns out, I must have been more used to the hills back then and I woefully underestimated the 'b'. I'd thought I'd be fine on cycling endurance and some short hill races but I was in for a bit of a nasty shock. I do remember a few moments of glorious running along a ridge line, with snowy patches and sun on the hills. So will try my best to focus on having that as my main memory....

As it turned out, we mis-marked the maps on day one and went to the wrong checkpoint, cutting out about 5km and a big climb. Although it was annoying to be disqualified over such a silly mistake (which we only found out as we finished day 1) I think I really benefitted from it and it meant I enjoyed the Westie social and glorious campsite in the evening.

6hr in the heat was enough for me on day 1 and day 2, at 7.5hr proved to be a bit too much. Maybe it was just the fact that we were already dq'd but I found it mentally pretty tough to be slogging away in the heat with limited water, wondering why I was there instead of having a bbq and drinking wine in my garden! I strained a muscle in my shin early on, making descending really painful and I struggled the whole way round to keep up with Elsie- feeling doubly useless as I wasn't exactly contributing to the navigation either. We both suffered with blisters but occasionally made the effort to chat to each other and pretend like we were having fun! It was a hard shift and I spent most of the day counting down to the finish.

Bizarrely, instead of vowing never to do a mountain marathon again, I am finding myself looking up lightweight sleeping bags online and plotting long training runs when I get to Alaska. I think I don't like feeling beaten!!

But first, I am off to find Neil, fresh from climbing on Denali. I use the word fresh sarcastically. 3 weeks with no shower doesn't do great things for most people... Hope I still recognise him under the beard!

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