You may not have heard the news that Dancing lady is to make her comeback to 10 Under the Ben 2017, as part of her training she decided to give Runduro a go as wee birthday treat. Read on and enjoy!
With a sunny day and no plans (or people) stretching ahead of me on my 53rd birthday, I was pondering my options when The Boss called to say it was a good day for a run. I thought he’d had an epiphany and was looking for my company on some new fitness regime. But it was a gentle reminder that he’d asked me to write a blog on the No Fuss Runduro which I had marshalled for in mid-February. I’d helped Spook mark it out so was very familiar with all the timed stages of the route. The Boss kindly suggested that I run the course over a couple of days so as not to tire myself out. However, I wanted a bit of solidarity with the competitors that I had cheered on as a marshall without actually knowing what it felt like to cover the distance. I have recently taken the approach of avoiding running by employing any number of excuses and have now run less than in any other year since I started running, aged 38. This is my Ostrich outlook after failing to make the 3hr15min cutoff time in last years Ben Nevis Race and receiving the warning letter telling me that if I don’t make it the next time, I’m oot for life!! So with an entry secured for this year, I should have been jolted out onto the hills of Lochaber before now, but this seemed like a good starting point…..
It was with a wee bit scorn that I put this much money in the parking meter for 4 hrs as there was no way I’d need this long to cover the 22km distance, but it was the nearest monetary/time denomination offered to me that might suit my needs.
There are 8 timed stages with the concept that you jog along with friends, family or yersel’ and then race the stages, which you dib in and out of, before jogging to the next stage. The start is from Cameron Square in the centre of town.
The jogging start I had intended gave way to reality as I passed this warning sign.
I’m not over fond of slug’s but I do love allotments and the first timed stage starts here and ends at the Mast at the top left of this photo. I’m happy enough on a hill climb as most folk don’t run it anyway - just a relentless climb without stopping to look at the view until the top.
14.3 minutes. Not sure that this qualifies as a racing pace, but it was wonderful to stop and be able to enjoy the vista.
Already the concept of this style of racing was becoming apparent. Groups can wait for their friends and in good weather, it’s not a bad place to hang about for a wee while.
This is the Cow Hill, so the jog over to the next stage is an opportunity to meet the residents….
I hope to come back as a Highland Cow in my next life.
The 2nd stage was a gentle downhill start ending on a steep, but non-technical descent into Glen Nevis - enough to make me think that I didn’t hate running.
12.53mins. However, I was already thinking that jogging between stages was an unreasonable expectation as my racing was not amounting to anything more than a jog, so a pleasant walking pace was employed. I met Ian and Tordis at the start of stage 3 and as this style of racing allows time to chat, I had a wee catch-up and established that they’d had a lovely walk up to the Vitrified Fort and were heading to the Ben Nevis Inn for coffee. They wished me well on what sounded like a bit of an endeavour but I shrugged that off as the pace was gentle and I had plenty of time….
Stage 3 was up a forest road that required the appearance of running to any passersby, and it was a relief when the more technical downhill end appeared through the trees.
16mins. I was taken aback by how tired I was becoming, with a longer walk to the next stage which was at the foot of Heart Attack Brae - one of the access routes onto the Ben Path. But it was a beautiful day and I was determined to enjoy the flora and fauna.
I tried not to focus on stage 4. It is well named and I was not even half way through the stages.
As I puffed a slow and laboured ascent, I began to hope that Ian and Tordis would still be at the Inn when I finished the stage at the foot of The Ben, close to the Inn. I had marshalled the food stop at the start of stage 5, and I knew I wasn’t there to welcome me, and besides, had not brought anything to eat. Whimpering would have been the sound emanating from my lips if I could have mustered the strength. A wee panic was starting that I had a good way to go and was hungry. What if they weren’t at the Inn? As I was nearing the end of the stage, I spied a couple coming up the path and the woman was carrying a handbag. That’s unusual on the Ben and seemed to indicate money - begging was not beyond me in order to ensure my survival. Happily I recognised them - it was Jane and Wullie and she was happy to part with £2 without any coercion.
21mins. Not winning any prizes here, but felt resourceful as if I was on some kind of adventure race that required wits as well as braun.
Only halfway, but with a lengthy diversion ahead of me (which the competitors in February had to take), and not really sure how far 2 bags of crisps would take me, I chose a charm offensive on the workmen building the new path and bridge which are not to open until the 14th of April. This was a risk as if they rejected my efforts, I had an extra hill to go back up before tackling the diversion. That would reduce my charm to tears.
Bingo! I’m not a rule breaker by nature and I hate rows, but good natured, easy going men who laughed at the state of me, let me cross without a 2nd thought.
Stage 5. Oh helpmaboab. 25 dis-heartened minutes of practically crawling back up above the Glen. It’s not that it’s steep, it’s just that it’s UP. And to think how cheerfully I encouraged folk on, thoughtlessly reassuring them they were nearly there. Sniff. This was torture. Happy Birthday to me. Sniff.
I walked to the start of stage 6 and just hung there for a wee while…..
Even though I was facing a short downhill stage, I was hingin’.
6mins of pain.
There followed what should have been a lovely walk along the track above the town. But there was nothing lovely about it and for the first time I considered the actual time that this was taking, rather than just the toll on me. My 53 year old eyes, extra fuzzied by my efforts, couldn’t quite see the time on my phone, but my shadow was looking quite long, indicating late afternoon. I’d started at midday.
Stage 7. A really short stage to the Saltire Rock, but hirpling was my gait.
Now to come down off the path, and walk through the town. The final stage was a public, ‘sprint’ finish. The only thing keeping me upright for those 4.17mins, was pride. All the way along the Fort William bypass - so cruel.
The true sting in the tail was that it was after 4pm and I was facing a £60 parking fine. If only I could have recorded a 9th stage along the High street, I’d probably have won it. 16.09 hrs and the prize was to beat the Parking Attendant and avoid a ticket. Yipee.
Never again will I underestimate the efforts of my fellow man/woman. That was a half marathon distance of epic proportions with the feel of an adventure race. Highly recommended - as is a wee bit of training before hand!!
Here are the results from this years event. My times fit within those taking part, proving that this is an inclusive event - not just for super athletes. It is unlikely that any of them were totally gubbed afterwards - as I was.