Double Ben Lomond Run

The weather hasn’t been great this week here so I wasn’t sure how it would be for my planned double Ben Lomond run.  I set off for Rowardennan after work in the sunshine so things were looking good. As I drove towards Drymen I could see that there was plenty of snow on the top of Ben Lomond so it was going to be tough going for the final 1,000ft or so.

My friend Cammie was joining me for the first trip. We met at the car park, changed, took a photo or two and then we were away just after 4.30pm.  I was hoping I’d be able to do both loops in the light.

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Ready to set off in the sun from Rowardenan

 We stayed together all the way up, chatting and enjoying the amazing views. Even though I do this run most weeks in my build up to my ultras I never tire of the view as it is always different dependant on the weather. At one point Cammie asked me whether I would like to run the London Marathon having supported Katrina at the weekend.  As I looked around the beautiful  surroundings of Loch Lomond it wasn’t difficult to say no …. I’d much rather be out on the hills and trails.

As we climbed it was getting colder and colder and the icy wind was picking up. We stopped to put on our jackets and gloves. I took a few more photos on the way up.

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Ben Lomond looking splendid with a covering of snow

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Cammie poses by a miniature snowman (no we didn’t build it!)

The path was completely covered in snow and we drifted too far left on the plateau bit before the final climbs so we wasted a little time making our way back to the correct track. The snow was really thick in places and we were grateful others had been up before us so we could use their footsteps.

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Thick snow to wade through

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We made it to the top in 1hr 30mins.  A quick stop for photos and to enjoy the stunning views and we were off on our descent.

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Cammie at the top

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Me at the top first time round

Cammie very kindly stayed with me for the first 30mins or so but I could tell he was itching to push on! I’m so much more cautious than everyone else I do this run with so encouraged him to push on and enjoy the rest of his descent. Within mins he was out of sight bounding down the hill.

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Heading down the tourist track

I was feeling good but knew I had another climb to do so tried to make sure I took it steady. Well that’s my excuse anyway.  I arrived back at the car park in 2hrs 25mins so the descent had taken my 55mins. Cammie was in the loch helping his legs to recover.

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Cammie in Loch Lomond helping his legs to recover!

I refilled my energy drink, took an energy bar, my warmer gloves and my head torch, said goodbye to Cammie and set off for my second loop. I was feeling really good to decided to try and push a little harder aiming for a HR of around 140.  I’ve not been able to download my stats from my Suunto so not sure if I achieved that.

It wasn’t as windy as the first loop but still very cold near the top. I’d taken off my jacket on the way down but put it back on as I approached the snow line. I was also glad I’d brought my thicker warmer gloves as I needed them. The sun was setting over the mountains on the other side of Loch Lomond and it felt so peaceful.  It is not often you get Ben Lomond all to yourself but last night I did.

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My shadow was my only company on the second loop

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Lovely view of the sun setting behind the mountains

I didn’t wander off the track the second time and reached the top in 1hr 25mins.  Again time for a quick photo then off for my 2nd descent.

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Top of Ben Lomond for the 2nd time. Still plenty of light at 8.30pm

It was quite hard to run in the snow as it was so uneven. It also was quite sore on my shins as when I pulled my feet out of the deep snow I was scrapping my shins on the snow!

This time I wandered off the path on the way down but could see the correct track in the distance and made my way back over. I felt I wasn’t going quite so quickly and I was right. The descent took me just on an hour so the second loop was the same as the first 1hr 25mins.

So I took 4.55 for 14.9 miles with almost 7,000 ft of climb. I returned back to the car just before 9pm and it just about light enough to run without my head torch. By the time I’d got sorted and drove home it was dark so I timed it just right.

I remember the first time I did this double run last year it seemed a big challenge mentally as much as physically but it felt fairly easy last night. I think it helped having company for the first climb but I do feel once you have done something a couple of times it is definitely easier.

My plan for the weekend is a 18 mile run tomorrow (Saturday) with Cammie on the Kilpatricks and then my 9mile loop on the Braes on Sunday. That will be a good couple of days to finish off this week.

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