Ok so I have not been the most slick at updating the blog for a while so time to catch up since it’s a minging Sunday afternoon !
Saturday 18th Sept was time to sup down some MTFU and meet the boys and travel up to Nairn just North East of Inverness.
The van was loaded with bikes and kit for the Nokia C2C.
After a late start due to team members being lost we were off.
A quick stop at Brookbank Perth to pick up the kayak I was going to be using allowed us to stretch our legs and get coffee before resuming the trundle North.
We stopped off in Nairn to pick up the race packs and nicked round to the start to check everything out.
That done we pitched the Tipee at the campsite, there was a bit of accommodation envy going on as another team had a serious camper wagon parked up.
Next on the agenda was food !
We jumped in the van and headed for Inverness, Pizza Hut was the decision and after some discussion about mushrooms we were fed and heading back to the tent.
We were pitched at the entrance of the campsite as the barrier does not open till 8am and I had to be at the start for 0600.
Turns out the road into Nairn that we were pitched close to was a busy one and traffic whizzed passed on a regular basis keeping most of us from slipping into a deep slumber.
0500 the next morning I got up and sparked the stove to life for a brew and some breakfast.
Lots of people were busy getting themselves sorted despite it still being very dark.
We arrived at the start line, it was cold and I was nervous but ready to go.
42 racers were on the start line, a mixture of Adventure Racers and Triathletes and me !
The race started 15 minutes late but Gary set us off following a marshal on a bike for the first part through Nairn.
The main bunch were off and out of sight pretty quickly as Pyro and I brought up the rear.
Pretty soon we were on the river bank path following the river Nairn South West to Cawdor.
I stopped about half an hour into the run to take my barrier smock off as I was starting to roast.
Pyro was gone and out of sight so I plugged the I pod in and just kept plugging away at my own pace.
The sunrise was amazing as we skipped our way along the river bank path.
Pretty soon I had caught up with Pyro and as we came out the woods into Cawdor Castle grounds.
Pyro went one way and I another as we came into the transition for the road bikes.
My mighty steed awaited me !
I had broke the route down in stages and times based on my training, I had reckoned about 1 hour 30 mins for the run so 1 hour 11 mins boosted my moral as I climbed into my cycling gear.
Pyro left before me as I did not run in cycling shorts in case of chaffage !
Again I plugged the I pod in and just put in the miles.
There was some steep climbs but I was happy with the prep I had done and just dug in and pushed on.
I think it was just before the A9 tunnel I past Pyro, he was having indexing issues, but was happy to push on as I disappeared back into I pod land.
I attempted to have a munch as I spun along but ended up having a fight with a High 5 bar, firstly not being able to get into the packaging and then not being able to bite it, it got stuck in the back pocket of my cycle jersey to soften up in the now drizzle rain.
The down hill section to Inverfarigaig was a buzz, you know there will be cars coming so you are a wee bit carefull but at the same time your race head is saying faster.
Inverfarigaig had stuck in my mind as the kayak transition so when I left it behind I had a wee bit of doubt creeping in as I followed the arrows, I was relieved when I got to Foyers and seen the “Expert” sign for the kayak.
I got off the bike and Skinny and Scott coraled me to the shore, Skinny passing me wet suit boots and Scott nagging me about eating !
I could not get my bike shoes off so the boys had to pull them off as I stuffed soreen loaf in my face to keep Scott happy.
Skinny asked me if I wanted my jacket on and then made me put it on before I stuck my new Astral V8 buoyancy aid on, it was a great bit of kit and Skinny’s insistence was a good one as I splashed through the waves and out onto the Loch.
I had noticed a fair few boats on the beach as I left, this confused me as the only person I passed was Pyro on the road bike section.
Turns out these people were in their support vans changing and eating as I left.
The 11 miles was slow, the waves were close together and not great for surfing so I hugged the left bank in the flatter water untill I was forced out into the middle heading for the transition.
The boat was great and performed really well as did the cranked paddles.
Out of the boat I ran up the side of the locks to the mountain bike transition.
I felt good, the kayak stage was a good time to stretch the legs and get fluids onboard and of course listen to more metal.
Into the transition the boys again had everything organised for me as well as words of encouragement.
Again I had made up some more places from the kayak stage so I was happy going into the unknown of the mountain biking.
I don’t remember much of the mountain biking apart from the constant spray of mud from the canal towpath and tracks.
I was playing a constant game of leap-frog with some guys on Cyclo cross bikes.
I would pass them on the single track and then they would pass me on the big tracks and roads.
At some point along the track towards Clunes I passed a guy just jumping off the track taking photos.
Turns out as I slowly computed things it was PTC I shouted to him and felt guilty for not stopping to talk to him.
Instead I chewed over the selfish merits of being a racer !
It would have been so nice at this point to stop and brew up with him and have cuppas and cake !
Out of the 35 miles in this stage 12 was off-road the rest on road which was a killer on the mountain bike.
I was happy to get into the transition at Fort Bill.
The boys again had done a great job in sorting my kit and as I got in and dumped some “excess race weight” and got changed they were ready to send me on my way !
At was at this point I heard that the 2 boys from our team who were racing as a pair had dropped out due to mechanicals etc
I set off out of the transition in high spirits no idea of what place I was in (and not really caring).
The start of the next stage was a classic Gary T head feck !
He took us up the side of Ben Nevis only to meet the tourist path and then go back down hill to climb the other side of the valley on the West Highland Way.
At the point I was coming down the tourist path I slipped on one of the big rocks in the path to stop erosion, as I regained my trainer gripped again but by that time my weight was all wrong.
My knee took the brunt and as I walked down the path to Glen Nevis I contemplated my choices.
I took the poles out and headed up, managing to keep up with the runners in front of me for most of the way.
I hit the top of the hill and tried to run, it was not happening so I pushed on as hard as i could.
I was ticking stages off in my mind and getting out the woods and down to the big track was a major milestone for me.
As I hit the track junction at Lairigmor the marshal told me I had 3 miles to go and 45 mins to do it.
I crossed the river up to my waist trying not to dwell on what would happen if I slipped and pushed on up the hill.
On the top it was cold wet and blustery not to mention the fact it was getting dark.
The view onto the loch was a depressing one !
Flat calm but not to be in reach as I reckoned the Transition would be closed before I got to it.
I saw a guy hunkered down trying to get a bit of shelter, I asked him i if he was ok.
He said he was fine “cold but fine” we teamed up heading down the boggy sloppy path !
Resisting against the slope was the most sore on my knee and we had loads of it to do.
I pushed on keeping an eye on the guy behind me who fell about every 300m, he had nothing left.
Finally I caught a glimpse of a head torch, recognising it straight away as PTC !
He phoned the boys to say I was down and escorted me off the hill !
The van picked me up at the road and we bundled the other guy in and dropped him off in the hands of the events team.
I had not made the finish and this weighed me down as we drove to the Glencoe hotel.
I was removed of my dibber and given a goody bag and a medal !
I did not want the medal as I did not finish !
We had a beer and some expensive steak pie, the boys decided they were not in the mood for partying so were up for heading down the road.
I did not care so after farewells to PTC we got in the van and I fell asleep.
I woke just after Bridge Of Orchy feeling a bit sick but it passed and we realised we had no fuel.
Green Welly was shut ! Lix Toll was next but it was shut and the card pump was switched off.
We got our heads down in the van best we could and then re fuled at 8am when Lix Toll opened.
The aftermath of kit was dealt with and we headed our separate ways.
Many many thanks to Cam at Brookbank for boat and paddles and tolerating our lateness, Skinny and Scott for being great support crew and driving, Dougie in RUN4It for my trainers, Haglofs for some great kit,cycle jersey.com for our club race tops, all the metal bands on my I pod,Gary and the rest of the RatRace Team for a great event and of course PTC for taking the pics.
Next year !