Petestack Blog

26 August 2012

And we in dreams

Filed under: Running — admin @ 11:40 pm

While the 2012 Coll Half-Marathon always promised to be special in ‘moving’ from the old village hall to the new centre at An Cridhe, it was doubly so for us with the whole ‘Glover’ family (Duffs, Duggans and McBrydes) having contributed to the fundraising and an inscription in memory of my grandparents within this wonderful building. So it was with extra excitement that Eileen, Donald and I travelled to Coll last weekend, and here’s what we wanted to see most:

Now, I do have to admit to everyone that a requested last-minute change (for which we never saw a proof) to the date format hasn’t been implemented exactly as expected. But, since the inscription’s still complete in both sense and spirit, looks great up there and most folk will never spot the difference between 1953–67 (with en dash) and 1953 – 67 (with hyphen), that’s enough (maybe already too much?) said about that. And what a fantastic building this is, with stunning use of space, orientation and light, and how good it feels to have helped (in however small a way) to make it all possible!

So (with more interior pictures to come below) how did the race go? Well, to cut a long story short, that’s three times now I’ve run Coll, three times (the only three in my half-marathon career) I’ve been over 1:40, and a new 2012 PW of 1:42:43 when (intentionally running without a watch) I was hoping/expecting to be told I’d done about 1:37 or 1:38. Or, to put it another way, I was 29 seconds slower than last year when Donald improved by 26 seconds to record 1:45:58 and should therefore be beating me a couple of years hence! So maybe time to put a more positive spin on things (for me anyway because Donald’s rightfully quite pleased) by noting that we came 25th and 35th respectively from 156, with only four runners sub-1:30…

No time/space here to talk about the ceilidh except to note that Eileen’s injured foot (so did Keith stand on it or not during the Canadian Barn Dance?) prevented her from accompanying Donald and me to Torastan to see Grandpa’s grave on Sunday, so hope she’s OK again now!

And, with the Coll Half-Marathon already a week ago and me also wanting to get in a quick word about this weekend’s Polldubh Club Ballater Meet, I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got to say about Coll right now although I hope the photos of the lovely An Cridhe largely speak for themselves.

Now, the Ballater weather was no match for Coll, but Geoff, Bob M, Mark and myself all enjoyed contrasting hill days yesterday with me taking on the meatiest challenge in running the three Munros, seven Tops and one deleted Top of the White Mounth to ‘mop up’ this mini-range of which I’d only done the Lochnagar summit (Cac Carn Beag) before and that way back in January 1983 (so, yes, it’s time I got back and climbed some routes there!). And here I rather messed up by letting myself get dysfunctionally cold in wind, rain and poor visibility before digging out my jacket, gloves and compass after a second, unintentional visit to Cuidhe Crom on the way back from Meikle Pap (never told the kind people who tried teaching me how to use the map and compass that I’m a Winter ML!) and making a much better job of the rest as I warmed up again. And you can see how much better my track looks after that (pretty clean over the rest of the White Mounth considering the cloud cover and gently rolling terrain) although I did miss the quickest way back to the Glen Muick car park (dashed blue ‘track’) with the map now packed away and the potential extra distance not enough to persuade me to stop and get it out again with my goal in sight.

11 August 2012


Filed under: Climbing — admin @ 12:45 pm

Went mountain cragging in the sun with Jamie Bankhead yesterday, when we took the ferry over to Ardgour to do Excalibur (HVS) on the South Wall of Garbh Bheinn. And what a stunning route this is, with a steep first pitch (the technical crux, led by Jamie) leading to a gobsmackingly bold rising traverse (led by me) above a big roof to gain the sanctuary of a lovely little corner and easier (but still worthwhile) final pitch to top out close to the summit cairn. So this traverse is technically quite straightforward at barely 4c and you’d just walk across it if it grew out of a grassy terrace, but the protection’s absolutely rubbish (spent far too long looking for ‘small wires’ that were barely there!) and the thought of a slip leading to a big, gear-ripping (or no-gear) fall above all that space is more than enough to concentrate the mind! (You can see a different approach in the final photo with the leader of that pair taking a higher belay further right to leave a rope above the second.)

5 August 2012

Hell on home ground

Filed under: Running — admin @ 11:38 am

So the 2012 Devil has come and gone with a personal performance more in line with realistic expectation (7½ to 8 hours given current shape and weight) than aspiration (sub-7 surely being possible on the right day). But how it hurt to find myself struggling desperately over my home patch (the hills either side of Kinlochleven, which I’ve run literally hundreds of times)…

Things started well enough, running as planned without a watch and purely by ‘feel’, with sub-7 still apparently very much on after an opportunistic time check (at 3 hours 20 mins in, my first of the race) from Marco on the way up the Devil’s Staircase. But then the wheels just fell off completely between the twin summit cairns and the top of the Lairig Mor at Tigh-na-sleubhaich as I started to feel quite sick (struggling to drink let alone eat!) with legs tying up badly, giving serious thought to pulling out at Kinlochleven, taking several uncharacteristic sit-down rests and losing (I’d guess) a good 10 places and 30 to 40 minutes over that spell. So thank goodness for that Irn Bru from the Wilderness Response Team at the top of the pass and flat Coke and jelly babies from Claire Rumgay at Lundavra in helping to drag me back to some kind of life, retrieving (I think) three of my lost places, finding the kick down Glen Nevis that’s never failed me yet no matter what my state on passing Dun Dearduil and finally recording 7:41:54 for 18th place.

So why was my race so effectively wrecked by such hell on home ground? For sure, it was hot and I struggle with the heat, but it was hot for everyone. Perhaps I could have been fitter and certainly could have been lighter after struggling to meet my target weight and going into the race a good two or three kilos heavier than I’d wanted (on which note, if only I could have started at the weight I find myself this morning!). Perhaps I set off too quickly when gradually winding up the tempo off a steady start is more my thing, but you’re not going to run a fast Devil by dawdling to Bridge of Orchy and over Rannoch Moor. And perhaps, as much as anything, I was handicapped by dehydration and gross underfuelling, with two gels (three if you count one at the start) and single-figure quantities of jelly beans and babies being literally all I ate between Tyndrum and the Fort. But that’s ultra racing for you (does it ever go entirely to plan?) and my own slight disappointment at ‘underperforming’ is certainly tempered by happiness for the achievements of my many friends on the course including Thomas and Debs (such popular winners of the men’s and women’s races) and a healthy Lochaber AC contingent all (or mostly?) running their first ultra.

Huge thanks also to Eileen for support before, during and (perhaps when needed most of all) after the race! :-)

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