Yesterday Nicky Spinks broke the ladies’ record for Ramsay’s Round set 25 years ago by Helene Diamantides, recording 19 hours 39 minutes for a time bettered only by Adrian Belton’s outright record also set in 1989. So of course I’m proud to have been involved, running with her (and others) for 19 miles from Fersit over Stob Coire Sgriodain, Chno Dearg and Beinn na Lap to Locheilt Lodge (the ruin at Loch Eilde Mor)!
Now, while Nicky’s stunning new record is first and foremost a well-deserved reward for meticulous planning, preparation and execution, she had a big, strong support team out to see her round, and we had five runners (Willy Kitchen, Dave Lund, Gavin Williams, Sarah Mackenzie and me) waiting at the Loch Treig Dam to take her through to the ‘Beinn na Lap’ railway bridge when she arrived a few minutes up on schedule with just Spyke (Stephen Pyke) left of her Grey Corries team. And, with us all carrying food and drink bags for her (built-in insurance for dropping pacers?), we soon had a hilarious misunderstanding on the ascent of Stob Coire Sgriodain which went something like this…
It’s a warm day, but not oppressively so, and Pete’s out in front making sure we’re not going over any unnecessary knolls etc. and giving the others a moving target when someone calls from behind, ‘Pete have you got energy?’ To which Pete (feeling strong) replies, ‘yes’, and they reply ‘can you leave it here for Nicky?’ So Pete (assuming that means cool it and let Nicky take the lead) says sorry if he was getting too far in front, but it turns out what they actually meant was could you leave a bottle of that pink stuff (labelled ‘energy’) for Nicky to pick up then just carry on because you were doing fine! :-O
Not much else to say about the hills here except that I enjoyed the daylight and good visibility when the last few times I’ve done this group have been in wet, cold, windy, nighttime conditions, and thought our lines up Stob Coire Sgriodain and off Chno Dearg onto Beinn na Lap were about as good as it gets (what a difference the visibility makes on the gnarlier ground!). So on to the railway bridge minus Willy (last seen near top of Beinn na Lap), where Tim Rippon, Ian Charlesworth and Lee (surname?) were waiting to accompany Nicky, Sarah and me through to Loch Eilde Mor. And here I had to give chase at near 7-minute-miling after stopping to fill my water bottle and finding them already gone!
So Nicky was clearly tired and struggling a little with her food and drink, but made good time through the long ‘track’ section to pick up a few minutes lost on the hills and arrive at Locheilt Lodge with a similar slight cushion to the one with which Spyke had left her. And here we had Jon Gay’s team (+ Tim and Lee from ours) waiting to take her up onto the Mamores, with Charlie Ramsay and Nancy Kennedy as walk-in/-out support and quiet confidence that getting back onto more continuous hills after the long drag of the central section should really get her going again. And so it proved, with whatever we could pick up from a curious mixture of recalcitrant tracker (which stopped working for a long section of the Mamores) and FRA Forums thread showing her to be storming through with increasing margins over her 20:15 schedule to that startling 19:39 at the start/finish point of Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, which we were there to see after our own walkout to Mamore Lodge.
Some further snippets (re. ‘UK big three’) in the SHR news report, which shares some wording with my blog post simply because I wrote both (so no plagiarism here!). On which note I can only finish by borrowing some more of my own words to congratulate Nicky for a stunning new record (what a performance, Nicky!) that should stand the test of time. :-)