I was searching the events calendar for a trail race of about 20km. I liked the look of one at Glentress, but it sold out before I entered, as had everything else! So my eye alighted and rested on the No Fuss Events ‘runduro’. This is a running version of a bike ‘enduro’ race. The format is that there are a number of timed stages in the race, with linking stages in between where you can relax and recover. It sounded fun, and we decided it was worth the trip up to Fort William. I tried to get a big gang together, but was happy enough with Izzy and Glen! I knew a few other people who would be there too.
The drive up took longer than expected. We finally made it to the youth hostel about 22:30. Compared to the week before, our room was spacious and the beds less creaky, so I slept fairly well. Next morning, looking out the window it was just a bit wild, with the snowline in sight but higher than we’d be going.
Off into town and we registered and picked up our dibbers. The wind was gusty and chilly, and just as we got ready to start the rain came on. We huddled under the roof of the public amenities, putting off the moment, with Andy urging us to ‘just get on with it!’. So eventually, off we went. There was no obvious ‘start line’ as the first timed stage began up the hill somewhere. We touched the flag instead, and set off.
King O’ The Hill
0.99km / 180m ascent / no descent / 10:05
Not a great warm up, as my heart was thumping just walking up the steep slope! In no time at all, we were looking at the dibber post and conferring with a few other people about the route. ‘Straight up to the radio mast there’, they said. Off we went, running at first but soon slowing to a speed walk as the path got steeper, rougher and then boggier. My feet were now wet and very cold, as I splashed through the flat top section and found the finish dib, obscured by another competitor just standing around!
I thought I should get the camera out to capture Izzy and Glen finishing, but suddenly I felt very sick and was struggling to keep my breakfast down! It was pretty chilly up there, so as soon as we all regrouped, we set off at a jog to the next stage.
1.92km / no ascent / 214m descent / 8:40
My stomach settled back down and I peered at the route guide. There were some instructions about a rough track to cut the corner, but the marshal was non-plussed. ‘Just follow the main path!’ she said. So we did. Izzy and Glen ran away and I wished, not for the last time this day, that I could run downhill better.
They both beat me, but waited for me to finish 🙂 . As we jogged to the third stage, the sight of the marshal came far too early. We all groaned, stopped running and started walking. And we weren’t even halfway through yet! I was thinking that perhaps some interval training might have been good prep for this race.
1.81km / 103m ascent / 78m descent / 10:33
The printed guide and the marshal agreed this time: 1.1km, uphill then down. I was dubious about the stated 103 vertical km of descent though.
Off we went and I was pushing hard. 500m came and went. Then 700m … it was well over 1km before we turned downhill! At least I’d had far enough to get a nice cushion on the others and was able to cheer / take some snaps of them arriving.
One of the nice things about this race was how sociable it was. People would appear from behind, run with us, then leave, and vice versa. Here we met Rachel, former Edinburgh resident, who chatted with us to the feed station and the next, ominously named, stage.
To Hell and Back
1.78km / 136m ascent / 117m descent / 14:37
I was really thirsty by this point, but the best I could get was a juicy orange. It had started raining but we had to come out of the little shelter and face the hill in front of us. It was steep and rocky, and Rachel easily pulled away. I don’t know how she kept on running.
At the top, we turned onto the main Ben Nevis tourist path and headed back downhill. I had caught another girl, who was now leading the way, showing me how to skip from rock to rock! I began to trust my shoes and as it got easier, we sped up. She nearly came to grief sliding on the grass, and we had a chuckle as we flew into the end of the stage. Along with The Descender, this was the stage I lost most time on. Darned downhills!
I said hello to Jac from work, who I found at the finish dib and was just leaving whilst I waited for the others.
Up, Up and Away!
2.61km / 183m ascent / no descent / 16:30
Off we jogged again, rummaging in our pockets / bags / belts for snacks. The next stage would be the longest and was uphill all the way. Perfect! I needed to take a trip into the bushes but Izzy and Glen weren’t waiting for me to finish and gave themselves a headstart 😀 . Just as I emerged a lady appeared in a van with water. I think it was for her friends / relations who were with the girl I’d ran with earlier. I was so relieved to get a drink and downed two cups before starting the climb.
It was a tough one, as first I passed Jac, then Izzy, then another friend, Fiona. She spoke to me but all I could do was grunt back! As I looked ahead I thought I could see Glen’s red rucksack as a target. I could feel the blood pounding in my head and despite telling myself ‘it’s just half a parkrun’ I was wondering if I had set off too hard. There was no turning back now though! On and on, popping out of the trees and seeing the end sooner than I expected. Glen just got there before me, but as I dibbed I could hardly breathe, let alone speak!
Short and Sweet
1.03km / no ascent / 90m descent / 4:09
We regrouped and head up the hill for the last 3 ‘easy’ stages. First, a downhill, but on a big wide track. I tried to keep up with Glen; failing, but minimising my losses. The lady with the water appeared again, and said I was cheating the system getting some twice! I was gasping though and eyeing up the muddy puddle. If I’d known there was no water en route I’d have carried a bottle.
0.97km / no ascent / 48m descent / 3:44
A big group formed here and we all walked to the start of the next stage. I was chatting with Fiona, an adventure racing friend, about race plans for the rest of the year. The 7th timed stage was undulating with a downhill finish. Again, I chased Glen. My legs were burning though, and my right quad was hurting! Izzy had been mostly taking the race ‘not seriously’, but even she found her competitive edge as she jostled for position 🙂 .
0.72km / 17m ascent / 18m descent / 2:56
We decided to jog to the final stage, as we’d all got a bit chilly walking. Suddenly the others disappeared and it was just us three, negotiating the streets of Fort William and the Morrisons car park. The final sprint was the pavement along the shore, into a headwind. My gps stats are definitely a bit weird here, as there was no ascent or descent that I could see.
As I debated what order we should go in, Glen dibbed and ran off! I gave chase, catching him quickly. But every time I came alongside with the intention of overtaking, I felt the brunt of the wind, changed my mind and dropped back behind. He took a funny route, squeezing between the benches and the wall. I had to copy him, which Izzy found most amusing! He put on a final spurt and I couldn’t match it.
Finally, we limped back to Cotswold Outdoor to download and get our result slips. Comparing times, Glen and I had a dead heat on the final stage! My printout said ‘currently 3rd’, so I was in for a long wait until prize giving to see if anyone else had come in faster behind me.
After free soup and warming up in the pub, bumping into more people we knew (hello Julia!), scones and hot drinks in a café and a pleasant half hour browsing the outdoor shop merchandise, it was time for prizes. I was super pleased to have held onto 3rd senior woman, even if I was only 4th woman overall (with a vet sneaking in in front of me!). Even more pleasing was that my time was quite competitive – 28secs behind 2nd (Rachel, who we’d met on the course) and 1min54s behind 1st.
I always surprise myself if I do well in running races. I’m not a runner?! Am I runner?! I’ve had a few (probably) bike-related problems with my knee since Christmas, which is frustrating. After such a strong set of training and racing last year, it can be difficult to deal with niggly setbacks. So it was nice boost to do well.
Off we went, this time taking the scenic route back through Glen Coe, snapping snowy scenes and getting to the Green Welly Stop just in time for macaroni cheese and cake.
Many thanks to No Fuss Events for putting on a great race and making sure the weather wasn’t as bad as it might have been. Also to all the marshals who probably thought the weather was quite bad enough, and to the lady who saved me with her water supplies!
All stage stats come from my gps logging and I do not claim any accuracy, but they are probably as close to the truth as the route guide 😉
Post race report: owwwww the sore muscles that lasted 6 days! Maybe I really should have done some intervals / downhill efforts in preparation. If you plan to enter this race (or any like it), be prepared that it is harder than it sounds, especially if you’re someone who specialises in starting off at one pace and sticking to it 😀 .