Day One – Saturday 21st May 2011
Balmaha to Bridge of Orchy – 40.53miles
I’d been looking forward to this two day training run as it’s a great opportunity to train and run on the whw. Ross Moreland, who I’ve been running with a lot this year, was also keen to join me. Ross drove over to Paisley on Friday night and we enjoyed a lovely Pasta meal – thanks Katrina.
After a leisurely breakfast we left home about 8.30am and arrived at Balmaha at 9.30am where Marc Casey and his family were waiting for us. Marc was joining us for the Saturday. I took our bag over to Oak Tree Hotel where AMS bag service were going to pick it up and take it to Bridge of Orchy.
So after the obligatory photo we set off about 9.40am …
Balmaha to Rowardennan – 7.81miles in 1hr 29mins 28secs (11.27pace)
I had my splits from this training run in 2009 and wanted to use them as a rough guide. I decided though to not look at them until I reached the mini-split and then see how I was getting on.
I was slightly concerned that Marc and Ross might pull me along a little quicker than I wanted to go but I needn’t have worried as they were happy to run at my pace.
We started off in decent weather. I wore a short sleeved top and felt just about right.
I’d run with Marc a bit on last year’s whw but it was really good to get to know him better. Last year he finished the whw race in 19hrs 51mins 36secs (which is 23secs faster than my pb!!) and paced it really well. He has a very efficient running style and we spent a good part of the time chatting about race plans, training as well as lots of other family/work/sport issues.
For most of the way Ross led the way, then Marc then me. I was keen to take lots of photos to do a slide show of the run so I have lots of pictures of Ross and Marc’s backs!
We arrived at Rowardennan right on the 1.30 plan.
Rowardennan to Inversnaid – 7.24miles in 1hr 21mins 34secs (11.16pace)
We didn’t stop at Rowardennan as we were all happy to keep moving. It was cold but not bad at this point.
My two main objectives over the weekend were to work on my pace and my food. I’d planned to eat something every 45mins and I had a variety of food. First on the menu was a honey sandwich which went down well.
Then between Rowardennan and Inversnaid I had a peanut butter and jam sandwich. I was also taking my succeed tablets every 90mins or so.
We had one or two showers during this leg but nothing too bad. There was no wind so it was good running conditions.
There were plenty of walkers on the route and they were all wrapped all nice and warm. I often wonder what they think of us as we run by in our shorts and t-shirts!
Soon enough Inversnaid Hotel arrived where we stopped for a 6min break. I enjoyed my mashed potato with cheese.
Inversnaid to Beinglas Farm – 6.68miles in 1hr 31mins 15secs (13.40 pace)
With fuller stomachs we set off for Beinglas. I was ready first so had a bit of a head start but by the time we reached Rob Roys cave Ross and Marc had caught up and our established order was resumed!
We all agreed it was so much easier doing this section with only 15miles in your legs rather than 35miles!
Over the next hour or so the rain became heavier and more persistent. I was quite surprised with just how much water was flowing off the hill side. We certainly weren’t short of places to replenish our water bottles.
What a contrast it was to three weeks ago in the Fling when the path was really dry and the streams a trickle.
As always it was good to get through the tough bit after Inversnaid and head down to Beinglas. By now I was soaked through and getting a bit cold. This can be a tricky time because you’re not too cold but your body is having to work hard to stay warm.
We arrived together at Beinglas a few minutes under my planned 1hr 35mins.
We had another stop to eat. For me this was a lovely thick and creamy youghat. It went down a treat. I also decided to put on a clean top. I figured since I carried it I might as well wear it.
Beinglas Farm to Auchtertyre – 9.54miles in 2hrs 11mins 21secs (13.46pace)
I felt good with some more food and a clean top and the next mini section to Derrydarouch felt comfortable.
The rain was coming and going but with no wind it wasn’t too bad. I was really pleased with my new shoes. They definitely give me a lot more protection on the stony paths and were comfortable.
I made sure I didn’t bang my head this time we went under the railway line ….
We ran steadily up past the ‘smelly’ farm and in Bogle Forest. I like this forest section and even though there are a lot of ups and down the time passes and you get down to the road.
By now we were once again really soaked and it was getting colder. Ross suggested stopping to put on our rain jackets but we decided we might as well get to Auchtertyre and do it then in our break.
That section had taken 10mins longer than planned but I was feeling fine and our overall time was still 10mins up on plan!
So after a 7min stop to refuel – baked beans for me! we were off for our final leg to Bridge of Orchy.
Auchtertyre to Bridge of Orchy – 9.26miles in 1hr 38mins (10.38pace)
It was a good job we put on our jackets as the rain was even stronger and it was getting a fair bit colder as well.
A good steady run into Tyndrum. Ross decided that his legs were far too dirty to be seen running through Tyndrum so he waded into the river and give them a good wash. Marc and I were quite happy to have dirty legs!
We climbed out of Tyndrum then we ran right along the path alongside the road before climbing up and running down to the railway line.
Once under the railway tunnel I like to run all the way to the bridge at the bottom. In the race I feel if I can still run that section confortably I’m hopeful of a good time. Last year this is were I struggled big time. I wonder what state I’ll be in a few weeks time?
We ran the last 3miles or so into Bridge of Orchy at an average pace of around 9.45, our fastest of the day. I think we were all ready for a hot shower and some food!
Ross and Marc pulled away up the long incline to the railway bridge but I set myself the challenge of running the whole way which I did.
Over the last hour or so I’d suggested to Ross and Marc that if they wanted to push on that was fine but they were both happy to stay together. In fact a couple of times I saw them glancing behind to make sure I was still with them! Thanks guys.
We finished the 40.65miles in 8hrs 16mins 34secs at an average pace of 12.15mins per mile. When I did this two day run in 2009 it took me 8hrs 18mins 19secs
Within a few minutes we had booked into the Bunkhouse, collect our bag and found a shower though it did take me three attempts to find one that worked!! But it was worth it.
Marc grabbed a shower and then headed off with his wife and two children for their treat – fish and chips at the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum. I really enjoyed running with Marc and I’m expecting great things from him on 18th June.
Ross and I went down to the resteraunt where we really enjoyed our butternut squash soup and fish and chips with a couple of pints of coke for Ross and orange and lemonade for me!
After our meal we chatted to a father and son Alex who are walking the whw over 8days. They are really enjoying it despite the weather.
At 10pm or so we wandered off to bed. The third person in our room hadn’t arrived so we settled into bed thinking we had the room to ourselves.
At about 11pm with the lights off and just falling asleep a guy opens the door! He says he came up from London by flight then train but fell alseep, missed the Bridge of Orchy stop and had to get a taxi back from Fort William!
Needless to say it took a while to get back to sleep especially as he went off for ages before coming back and putting the light on to make his bed!
For the first 2.5miles there is no difference but then suddenly you come out of a tree tunnel and wow it’s all gone ….