Sunday, 11 May 2008

Supporting Millies (4)

Camera out, photo’s of the leaders who were running, well….,fast! OK it’s a flat section but no need to show off guys! Lots of supporters about handing out drinks, food, and taking photos and videos. I managed to get a few photos before the camera misted up due to the rain and waited patiently for the Millies to arrive. Steph looked comfortable enough, and then Jim Drummond of Central, sometime training partner of Millies foolish enough to go with JR on a Sunday. Jim had got behind a few ladies and was obviously enjoying the view! Jim and Geraldine were a short distance behind, running with Brian Garry, and again were looking good. Trish and Ali arrived and, honest, the soft focus filter on the camera was not required to give them a flattering action photie. That was the weather. A few others passed before JR and then Christine with one of her new found pals, Mary Louise, from Helensburgh, who was running as sweeper just to see if she enjoyed ultra running!!!! (Christine’s other new pal is Joe of whom more later.)

No sustenance required from the support car, all smiles and full of optimism off they went towards Drymen.

Arriving at Drymen it was almost impossible to get access to the road at the crossing point and I stayed in the car, back from all the activity until some of the leading runners had passed and their supporters left to create some space. Seeing Chris and Christine for the first time I was able to pass on the bags belonging to Ali and Trish. Only problem was the Chris car was full of food, drinks and other essentials (like chairs, wine, more wine and some sweeties!) Steph arrived soon afterwards again JD (who had been dumped by his harem) then Jim and Geraldine with Brian. At this point, Mr McKenzie revealed a race tactic, a bit underhand if you ask me, of running away from Geraldine at the changeover, chivalry it seems is indeed dead! Did she care? Did she nothing! A quick sook of lucozade sport, a wave to the camera and she was offski…. While the poor support staff waited in the pouring rain for, first, Ali and Patricia, still cheerful although by now walking even the small uphill stretch from road to checkpoint. As can be seen from the photos, see link above, our chairman decided to give Trish the benefit of his extensive running knowledge, whilst she, in turn, wished the ring pull on her diet coke was his neck!

Next, and last to arrive was the trio of JR, Christine and Mary Louise, carefully closing the gate on the east side of the road before climbing for some eagerly awaited refreshments.

Onwards to Balmaha and the rain started to ease and eventually go off for the day. Ahead was the section over the Conic Hill, the fault boundary line between the lowlands and the highlands. And a windy climb it was to prove. By the time I arrived, ( by this time I was hungry and looking for my second breakfast of the day) the leaders had long gone and it was only a short time before Steph arrived in 3 hrs 21mins. To say he looked dreadful was an understatement! “Auntie” Margo would have had him in resus, and life support and insisted he change clothes. Steph (“I’m not a team player”) refused point blank and set off after a few bites of carbs, stuffing his bag full of gels, jelly babies and other fast acters. If Margo thought he was bloody minded and stubborn worse was to come. Jim 3.45 and Geraldine (3.46) arrived looking for the full boonah. Change of clothes, clean socks for Jim and food and drink on demand….. Margo where’s my socks? Cue domestic dispute! Oh Oh! Watch out, plates flying, call the polis. Look at Geraldine, that’s how families should behave. Mum and brother had arrived with Mum’s pal. Hugs, kisses and smiles. That’s how to support your family.

Socks found and Jimmy is off and running.

Geraldine: Where’s Jimmy?

Davie: He’s away.

Geraldine: ~#@%%*!!!

Davie: Slow down, Geraldine, you’ll pay for that!

Exit Geraldine covering 100metres in about 11.2 secs……

Back to the car to listen to John Beattie’s sports report. There he’s talking aboutb the weather being too bad for sport today. Try to text him to let him know about 119 hardy souls who would agree! At this point I realise that we had reached the edge of civilisation and I had no signal on my Mobie.

By this time the race is starting to lose some runners. I had to tend to one such casualty who had twisted his ankle on the Conic Hill. He was going to try to get to Rowardennan but knew that was as far as he would get. I offered to take him to Tyndrum from there, but eventually he decided enough was enough. My foil space blanket (courtesy Strathclyde Police) was finally of use and after half an hour thawing out in the back of my car he transferred to an official’s car for the onward journey to his B&B, booked with some optimism I think, in Tyndrum.

Ali and Trish arrive in 4.39. Cue lap of honour round the car park. To say they are delighted with that split is an understatement. Just after 5 hours (5.03) came Jim Robertson who as you can see had abandoned Christine to try and look like he meant business when I took his photo. Christine and Mary Louise were only a minute behind though and Chrissie still looks very fresh. And so, on again, probably a menace to other road users as I try to catch a glimpse of the race on the WHW to Rowardennan. Confession time. Apart from being a tourist at the Ben and visiting Doune Bothy whilst on duty in the Polis, my experience of the Way is limited to a Sunday morning run with Steph and Jimmy from Drymen to Milngavie and back. I hadn’t a clue where the runners were other than when I sighted one of them occasionally on theway. On arrival at Rowardennan I met Margo and found I had missed Steph (5.13) by about two minutes and didn’t therefore expect to see him again that day. How wrong could I be? Margo still has that worried look on her face and says Steph still looking grim. Jim and Geraldine arrived in time to get a photo taken (see that link again) with Geraldine slightly ahead. (Despite Jimmy getting a flier, eh). Quick change again and they’re off. Time for my second breakfast or as it proves, by this time, lunch. Two strong coffees and a Ben Burger at the Rowardennan Hotel filled a gap at a reasonable price, despite JR’s dire warnings of being ripped off.

Back to the checkpoint, just in time for the arrival of Ali and Trish(7.03), on the road!!! If this was a board game it would have been “Go back to Sallochy Bay. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200.” But the officials, perhaps deciding that it wasn’t going to affect the final result were a bit more considerate than your scribe and allowed them to go on. Still the camera doesn’t lie (see that link again). A visit by Ali’s two kids cheered her up, pose for photie and they were off again.

Jim and Christine arrived in (7.29) and Mary Louise work done for the day retired to hand over her role as last runner escort to Joe.

Big mistake by yours Truly here and Christine’s Camelbak doesn’t get re-filled. That’s me sacked then although in mitigation I was too busy listening to her thanking Mary Louise to be able to think of anything else. And that was Rowardennan>.

A long way from Rowardennan to Inverarnan by car! Especially when I stopped at Inveruglas for a coffee. Word of warning reader….. do not EVER stop at Inveruglas for coffee and cake… unless you either are Donald Trump or are one of his ex-wifes.

After stopping at the now rather abandoned McGregor’s Landing and bunkhouse for some photos of the race from the other side of the loch, (see link, see telephoto lenses), I continued to the Drovers where I was parking to go to Beinn Glas. As I was leaving the car park I found three wee people hiding between two cars, summer chairs and picnics out enjoying the Highland weather, Yes, folks, while you were running your little socks off, Chris Christine and Anne were having a wee Scottish picnic, and sharing nothing with the geese.

I walked on, only to meet Margo who told me I had missed the three amigos but that Jim and Geraldine(9.20) were only a few minutes behind Steph(9.13) who, she said was really struggling. His feet were in serious pain and it looked as if he might struggle to stay ahead of Jim and Geraldine.

I ran back to the car and drove on to Derrydarroch. OK I didn’t know it was Derrydarroch, but I do now! Some more photos and asked all the runners if they had seen someone with sore feet struggling from Beinn Glas. “No-one with sore feet on this race!!!” What a dork!

Eventually Steph appeared but true to form refused any assistance. Probably a good idea, as if he had taken his shoe off, it would probably never go back on again.

He ran on and was just going out of sight when the chasin’ Millies came into view, probably smelling blood and hoping to surpass their master!

A bit of encouragement about catching Steph in the next mile or so and off they went a whoopin’ and a hollerin’; “Ready or not, here we come!” See team-mates, see Millies.

Back to Beinn Glas and a long wait for the others.

A moment, however, to ponder the achievements of the three ladies we awaited.

When I became a member of the Milburn about 4 years ago, albeit I was aquainted with the club for some time due to being involved with JogScotland and JR, I was aware that the club covered all abilities. Including Christine, Patricia, Ali and others. Regularly, but not always, the last to finish races, they complained bitterly about having to train, climb hills, do intervals (fast and slows as they are known down the Vale). They would follow their mentor Jim Robertson to the ends of the earth and beyond. (Believe the “beyond”,folks). They had walked the WHW in 2007 and revelled in that achievement, and running the Fling was definitely going to be the hardest thing they had ever done. Would they do it? Probably not, but they would give it a damn good try. They trained, aye and probably over trained in some respects. Turned up every Sunday at 8am and got home whenever they could and on one occasion that was only courtesy of the Ben Lomond Rescue Team. They turned up early on club nights so that they could add some serious miles on midweek and worked their cotton socks off. They cursed, grumbled, complained, auditioned for Macbeth, (Act one. Scene one. When will we three meet again…..) You get the idea.

At 6pm on Saturday 26th April, those of us at Beinn Glas realised their race was run and that they weren’t going to be allowed to proceed past the final checkpoint. We were disappointed for them but now downhearted, as we agreed they had done brilliantly to get this far. Only problem was, where were they?

Chris and I set off along the way, and came back, then went along again and eventually Ali Trish and Jim arrived. Christine was about half a mile away, so I continued along and met her. Her escort, Joe, had provided the water and support that I had failed to give her at Rowardennan, and although tired and a wee bit disappointed she was, give her her due, still running whenever the trail allowed. At one point I heard the quote of the day.

Christine; “Next year I’ll be two stones lighter”!!!!!

Joe; “There’s a next year already”

What a brilliant attitude.

Hugs and kisses all round at the checkpoint, before the walk back to the Drovers.

Cue party!!! In time honoured Millie tradition all disappointments were placed firmly in the past and wine opened to celebrate the achievement of finishing 42 miles. They immediately christened themselves the 42milers and it became a cause to celebrate. Not that they need a cause to celebrate. They are Millies for God’s sake.

Than I was reminded I had promised a massage (and indeed my table was in the car).

That promise, however, was for a full body massage and was therefore relinquished in favour of a foot massage. Each. Oh, dear.

Finally our A team arrived, medals and finisher’s bubbly in hand. Hugs of congratulations and commiserations were exchanged, the story of the last leg was revealed.

Steph, the guy who could hardly walk, allowed Jim and Geraldine to get within 10 metres of him before waving, bye, bye, and running off into the sunset with new tactics of running the uphills(!) and taking it easy on the flat and downhills. (A different kind of pain was his explaiation)

He finished in 12.35.27 with Jim and Geraldine at 12.51.20. Terrific achievements for all the A team.

And so, dear reader we drove off into the moonlight, Runrig on the CD player whilst coming down the lochside. A stop in Balloch for fish teas and,for some, more wine!!

After a good nights sleep we re-convened in Balloch for Sunday lunch and some protein. Trish was elected Chair for the occasion and she made a short speech of thanks to all the supporters and gave us cards expressing their appreciation which was, for me,a nice touch.

Oh, and the ability of those who had run the previous day, to walk on the Sunday was, sadly, a poor example of athleticism. Please buck up guys and gals. You should have been skipping; like me.

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