Time to try the Mizuno Wave Harriers, and a nice wee outing up Binnein Beag looked like some good ground to give them a whirl… but I swear that my subsequent ascent of Sgurr Eilde Mor and descent to Luibeilt (what, Luibeilt, again?) formed no part of the original plan!
Now, Binnein Beag is a great wee peak, but surprisingly far from anywhere with a lengthy approach on (mostly) good paths from Kinlochleven and a shorter, but tortuously rough, alternative from the top car park in Glen Nevis. So I took the Wave Harriers, popped in my newest orthotics, laced them up and set off up the killer climb to An Cumhann (northern flank of Meall an Doire Dharaich), surprising myself by running it all (which I’ve done before, but is neither as quick nor as efficient as walking the worst bits). And then a wee voice told me if I could do that I could probably keep running all the way up to Coire an Lochain. So I did. And then a wee voice told me if I could do that I might be able to run all the way to the summit of Binnein Beag. So I did, although I was struggling up the steepest parts of the final cone. Not the quickest or most efficient way to get there but, as good self-discipline in training and an interesting test of fitness (passed!), all good fun. Then I stopped to refuel (92 calorie cereal bar + water), recover and adjust my laces to get a really tidy fit at the heels before starting to pick my way down the rocky summit cone at a pace that might well have been slower than my ascent.
So what to do next? Well, I’d given some thought to extending the mileage through the circular tour round Sgurr Eilde Mor and was still considering just returning by my outward route when a wee voice told me that I’m supposed to be training for a big ultra, not going for a picnic, and climbing Sgurr Eilde Mor to pick up the circular path on the way down might be more appropriate. So off I went, although (feeling virtuously wasted by my run up Binnein Beag) I did let myself walk a fair bit of the ascent this time. And then I set off quite gently down the long north-east ridge (still some snow here, though not in anything like the quantities Binnein Mor’s still holding) with a clear view of Luibeilt to set that wee voice nagging again… ‘you’d like to do this whole ridge, wouldn’t you, but don’t want to go all the way to Luibeilt again… not when that means running seven miles of track to get home?’ So, guess what, the wee voice got its way and I was soon plodding through the bog to Luibeilt, after which I thought I’d better pick up the pace and started working a bit harder (see those arrows on the map stretching out?) to get that seven-mile track bash out of the way. A good afternoon’s work at 19 miles and c.5,700 ft of ascent, with some hard running, some jogging and some (whisper it softly!) just ambling along.
And what of the Wave Harriers (main reason for taking some proper hill ground this time out)? Well, on the basis that I’ve just put 19 miles on them out of the box with no problems, I’d have to give them the thumbs up. Thought when I set out that the heels might be just a tad sloppy when everything else seemed perfect, but my feet soon expanded to fill them (no way I could go down half a size) and the relacing on Binnein Beag got them really secure. Might have expected my bunion to rub when there’s reinforcing webbing over the mesh uppers just where it’s pushing against the side of the shoe, but the skin’s still intact there. And the studded soles seemed to cope with most steeper grass and heather (took a couple of slides on some very wet stuff) without being too sensitive for bashing along rough landrover track, so that’s good. Would I run a Tranter’s Round in them? Yes, I think they’d be well suited to that. And a Ben Nevis Race? Very possibly, if I ever get a place again. Are there still alternatives I might like to try sometime? For sure, but these suit me better than most of the hill/trail shoes I’ve tried. And will I be buying any more Inov-8s? Hmmm, never say never, but I’m not seeing that right now.