I rose early on Saturday morning to head up to watch and take photos at the Devil which started at Tyndrum at 6am. As JR had an entry, I was going to offer to support him, as his sainted wife Helen had probably had enough of him at the Fling and the WHW and in any case they had had the grandkids for the past week or so. Jim hadn't recovered sufficiently from the big one,though, and decided to withdraw. However, race organiser Garry Milne asked him to support a couple of runners and he agreed to do so. He offered to give me a lift up, but as I wanted a bit of independence to take my photos, I decided to take my own car. Little did I realise that his two charges were Mark Leggett and Helen Johnson (1st lady) both of whom ran sub 7 hours!
In my last post I instructed all readers to SMILE a request that was met with a comment from the WHW RUNNER to the effect that he rarely had anything to smile about when running ultras! However, I managed to get one out of him at Bridge of Orchy so he'll have one to cherish!
After the race briefing, where I managed to speak with most of the familiar faces running, the field gathered at Brodies and set off on the dot of 6am.
I had no intention of entering and running the race, and indeed struggled to get any pace on the short run I had at Glencoe, but I really did envy them as the first section is amongst my favourites. After a pit stop I drove after the runners and managed a few long distance shots as they climbed the hill towards the rail crossing. Thomas, Neal and Caroline were amongst many who had stopped on the big layby north of Tyndrum to shout their encouragement across the glen. Driving on to Bridge of Orchy I parked south of the hotel so as not to further congest the checkpoint and after speaking to JR headed off on the trail above the railway for my next set of pics. One of Richie shows why he is such a terrific runner. He levitates!
Debbie and John were both having good runs and Ian can take smiling lessons from Debs any time!
As I left to go to Glencoe disaster struck. Placing my camera on the roof of the car whilst I took my jacket off, I promptly drove off without retrieving it. I heard it slide off and on examining it found the casing scraped and cracked. Worst, it would only work intermittently, sometimes not operating, sometimes not auto focusing, and, when flash was used, only getting a white screen. Fortunately, it worked a bit better when in sports action mode, so I used manual focus and managed to take reasonable photos the rest of the day.
On reaching Glencoe ski centre I ran to the top of the ridge onto Rannoch Moor managing to run quite freely on some sections but on rougher patches my knees sent the usual signal to the brain and I only managed about 35 minutes running - and I didn't get far. Did meet the leaders though and the only question I was asking was "Who will be third?" as the first two already had a lead of over 7 minutes as they passed me, although Paul Hart had a slight and inconsequential lead over Craig Stewart when they passed. I changed and drove down to Kingshouse where I met the Kynaston/Consani/Lohendorf/Scott supporters and managed to get a few photos although some were deleted due to lack of focus. John Foley was on his knees looking for an earring Aileen had dropped - he later found it in some clothing - and I promised him I would confirm he was looking! He reckoned Aileen wouldn't believe him!
Debbie looking really strong at this point and seemed to be having the time of her life running this race, and John was looking strong too although he would have a rough patch soon.
I reached Kinlochleven just after the leader (Craig) had gone through and saw Paul Hart about a couple of hundred yards behind. Grabbed a bite to eat before deciding that it was getting too busy in the streets and to head over to Fort William to await the leaders rather than going to Lundavra where I reckoned one less car would be one less bit of hassle for those with a need to be there. So I went to the finish and took photos for about an hour after the first finisher Craig Stewart.
I had a blether with a few supporters including Vicky, BH of second place Paul Hart. I've enjoyed reading her blogs over the past year as she recovered from injury and set about re- arranging her PB list. She ran at the Helensburgh 1/2 marathon this morning setting a cracking time at what I think was her first attempt at the distance.
Then JR appeared withgn the news that Helen was well ahead
of Debs in second place
with Aileen fading a bit to third, and that was how they finished.
Quite a few runners made the journey north just to watch the finish, including Marc Casey of Dumbarton, Davie and Sharon, Stevie, Adrian and others.Brilliant support for the race and the runners that I'm sure they appreciated.
Due to technical problems (my incompetence) the last photo (Aileen)