Running 7:51:31  53.4 km (8:50 / km) +3750m 6:32 / km
shoes: Salomon Speedcross 5 #1 (blk)
Ben Nevis Ultra.
After the spring niggles ruled out Snowdonia/Patagonia this has became bit of an aim: getting fit enough to enjoy it and get value for money for the £110 entry fee. Great plan until the broken rib meant I missed most of August. So plan B - adopt a 'get round' strategy and try to have fun on the way.
Strategy: hold back for the first quarter and try to get over the Ben feeling 'ok', as the final quarter on the Ring of Steall course looked brutal so would need something in the tank for that.
I'd say this worked, but it still felt very tough at the end! The start was slow and the climb out of Kinlochleven deceptively challenging so hard to judge pace on, but once out in the open I let Tim Morgan run away into the sunrise. By Glen Nevis I he was out of sight and I was second just ahead of Francisco from HHR/Spain.
The climb up CMD was good and I felt comfortable round the arete - even pinched a cheeky CR off Fin here - and put good time into Francisco. Speedcross were definitely the right choice for the Ben descent - much nicer with some cushioning. Various hikers told me I was 10 minutes behind so I was happy just cruising along. It was all going well until a couple of slips caused bad cramp in my quad adductors - had to stop for a few seconds then walk until it eased off.
The run up Glen Nevis II was pleasant, nice to get some easy miles in but I was only running at about 5:15s, so not expecting to make much inroads into Tim. The Steall gorge diversion triggered cramp again, so from then on I was running hyper cautiously to make sure I didn't slip or over-extend.
Coming off the diversion path I was pretty surprised to find Tim shuffling along - young legs not quite ready for this kind of thing. From halfway up the big climb of An Gearanach I had a good view back and could see I had a decent lead so went into survival more - just keep moving, just keep moving, relentless forward progress. It wasn't fast, it wasn't pretty, I ran out of water and was barely moving faster than the hill walkers but eventually I was along the ridge and on the decent back to KLL. That descent seemed to last forever but eventually I was on the road back into town and shuffling across the line for the W. Francisco came in 10 mins back and third overall was first lady, less than 15 mins behind. Chapeau to Katie Kaars Slipjestein for that - run of the day no doubt. Poor Timmy dropped an hour over the final hills. Ouch.
So I think I achieved my aims. It's a great route: proper Scottish mountain running with a bit of everything. The final quarter is brutal but that's the point of Ultras, right? I've no doubt that the winning time will go faster in future years but it's nice to have set down a marker. And it was nice just to make it to the start line of a race after a DNS filled season!