After the C2C 2010 failure I reckoned I would not do another one.
By the time 2011 entries were live I had persuaded myself it was unfinished business !
As you can see from the last post, it has been a busy few months with pretty much an event every month.
I took a week off work and put some last-minute training in and then set into a week of kit prep.
Then it was Friday !
The weather was getting worse as we drove North to Nairn, the thought of staying in a tent was not a great one !
After registration we had to drive to Cawdor Castle to drop the road bike off !
Smithy and the boys were a bit behind us so we stopped off for some food at the highland Food Stop for some pizza.
The decision was made to stay at the campsite that we stayed at last year, on arrival there were lots of racers about, I asked for a couple of pitches but was laughed at and told there was not a blade of grass free !
Being tired I could not be arsed and went and told the boys, Cam adopted his role as Expert Support driver and negotiated a few spaces whilst Smithy and I sorted our kit out.
Again the road to Nairn was a busy one, combine that with being roasting in my PHD Minimus and pre race jitters the 5 hrs passed quickly and the alarm went off way too soon !
Breakfast was a somber affair as everybody moved about in a zombie type fashion prepping kit and trying to eat !
Then a short drive to the start where the rain decided to go torrential !
The Endo just shrugged off the rain.
After a quick briefing from Gary on the start we were off !
It was good to get moving as there is nothing worse than the whole pre race hanging about !
I had the La Sportiva Sky lites on (not available any more !) they are a great shoe, some debate the grip but I never have had a problem with them.
The first run went in quickly with Smithy in front by about 5 minutes.
Straight out on the road bike, the weather started to dry.
The road section had changed slightly and it was not long before the guys on the one day challenger race were passing me on mountain bikes !
My road bike felt like a dog with an itchy arse dragging its back along the road ! was it the head wind ? was it the run ? was it just me !
I don’t know but I was glad to see the end of it !
I pushed on finally reaching the kayak transition having been a little longer than I had planned for the road bike section.
Smithy again was in front !
The loch was pretty flat making paddling pretty easy !
Could of done with the I pod for entertainment as the scenery does not change much !
Finally I could see Chris G’s yellow van at the transition and dug in up to the beach where I was welcomed by Chris saying “about time !”
The run up to the transition was a slow one as I tried to get the legs back into working order !
Again Smithy kept his lead !
My new trusty steed for the section awaited my arrival.
Last year I did this section on a full sus mountain bike, the vast majority of the ride is on road or forestry track so I opted for the cross bike !
It was very different with no suspension on the single track and with the skinny tyres you had to pick your way through the stones, praying that you did not get a pinch puncture.
At one point I ended up at a track dead-end with about six other guys, turns out we had missed the turn off and I headed back down the track cursing myself for not paying attention.
Onto the road it was a case of just pushing the pedals round, the head wind was not helping and once into the transition my knees were hurting just like last year !
Smithy was waiting in the transition point as I changed into the La Sportiva Crossovers, this was a 50-50 choice as I have had mixed results with these.
The heel cup has a line of stitching down the middle of it and if you don’t get your foot in it right and spend a bit of time sorting the pad at the top then it is blister hell !
It was good to know he was feeling it as well.
We set off together up the Ben Nevis path but it was not long before I told Smithy to go as my knees were hurting in a bad way.
I tried to run down to Glen Nevis the pain building in my left knee ! I had that impending feeling of deja vu !
I pushed on up the familiar zig zags of the WHW and then onto the single track, running the down hill and flat and walking the uphill gave me respite from the pain as I pushed on eating and drinking loads.
One of the things I had picked up from Escape Route was the Power Bar Energize Bars they come in some nice flavours and are soft and chewy enough to be manageable on the move.
You could see a snake of runners heading up the hill for the sting in the tail ! I could just make out Smithy starting on the long slog.
Its all mental strength from here I reckon, your body is in bits and you just have to keep moving and not think about the pain.
It started raining near the top and as I dropped onto the downhill I was very conscious of the time 19:00hrs, kayak transition was closing at 19:30 !
“Not again !” I pushed on crabbing side ways to alleviate the pain in my knee, people slipped and fell around me but the La Sportiva studs gripped the ground !
I saw the tree line where PTC got me last year, I was in better place now but only just.
I hit the road 15 mins till closure, I needed to walk but did not have the time, plod plod plod !
Quick glance at watch
push on !
I saw Cam as I came in, a big smile on his face as he grabbed me and I dibbed and he pushed me through the transition tent.
Gary appeared with a big smile on my face and announced “I told you, you would do it this year !”
After some tidal hints from Cam I was on the water, the surge of adrenalin gave me the last bit of energy I needed and I enjoyed the settings as the light faded and the wispy clouds moved slowly across the tops !
The boat was a dream on the glassy waters as I guessed at location of the landing point.
The 600m run once out of the boat was not easy but the noise of the finished pushed me on.
I got in at the finish the same time as some boys that I had come over the hill with, it was a big relief to have made it at last.
I have many thanks for people who helped me achieve this event !
Cam at Brookbank for being an expert support driver and sorting the boat out for me
Smithy and the boys for the support and smithy for training with me
Dunolly Adventures for allowing me to base myself there at weekends and train !
every body that offered their support and comments via social networking
Escape Route boys for feeding me coffee and letting me hang out in the shop in moments of motivational lacking
Gary and the Rat Race Adventure team for organising a great event
In the end I was eleventh out of seventeen and Smithy was an awesome eighth.
Now what to do next ?