Saturday, 26 June 2010

On the March

There are some pictures on facebook here.

The views from the ski centre were amazing with Rannoch Moor in one direction and Glencoe in the other, and we met up again with team Lintie and team Remoh. Remoh had been tiring so was sleeping in the car to recharge the batteries, and Lintie arrived in need of cold drink and a sandwich. Llama called on the mobile to see how things were going and when he told Dod that Lintie was there, he wanted to speak to her so I trotted across the car park with my phone, leaving V at the food counter with no money!

After food and an attempt at sleep, we got ready for George and the guys to appear as the midges began to swarm. Slight panic when we decided that it would be best for V to go in support for the next bit instead of starting at Kinlochleven, but George and Keith were taking a wee break so she had plenty of time to get back into running mode, not that much running was going to be required. So, as the sun went down, they were off again towards Kings House with the plan to rendezvous with the cars at the bottom of the Devil's Staircase - where Llama told me that he'd broken his windscreen trying to get the rear view mirror back on because it had fallen off when they tried to adjust it. He was a bit worried about getting picked up by the police so we decided that the best plan was for me to drive Andy back to Bridge of Orchy. Strangley enough, we did see a police car on that drive, as well as a deer at the side of the road which we complimented for not jumping out in front of the car. Of course, that meant that on the way back, a couple of deer ran right across in front of me, forcing me to brake. I couldn't help but laugh to myself when I saw this about a minute later:

I got back to the Devil's Staircase and Steve was still there - the guys were taking a bit longer than we expected for this section, but it gave us time to admire the moon and the way that Buachaille Etive Mòr was somehow catching the very last of the light, and to chat to some of the other racers and supporters. After a while, our wee posse appeared, trooped off up into the gloom, and we were back in the cars heading for Kinlochleven. The absurdity of following a guy driving a mirror-less car around the Scottish highlands after midnight while our friends were running/and walking somewhere in the hills around us really struck me at this point. Thankfully I had Mark E Smith to keep me sane:

Tried to get some sleep at Kinlochleven and dozed on a couch for a bit but felt my gout flaring up and started really hoping that the current team of Mike and Vikki were good to see George all the way to the finish. Walking around helped a bit so when Llama woke up we went out to see if we could spot any lights on the hillside. It didn't seem long before we spotted them coming, and then realised that Mike had come down quicker with instructions about food and drink and the information that V would be very happy if I could take over for a bit. My foot still felt a wee bit sore, but it would be OK, so I changed into my cushioned running shoes and started sorting out my pack while George sat down and had a can of Guinness!

But soon we were off, and walking up the hill out of the village in the dark, looking forward to the sun rise as we headed through the Lairig Mor, with me thinking there was no way out at the far end until we finally rounded the corner and the landscape opened up a bit again. George and Keith were obviously very tired by now, and George's feet were hurting badly, but we were still moving at a decent pace and I knew these guys would see it through. I'd thought Mike was going to make it to the finish, but he hadn't had enough sleep or food (too busy worrying about George to think of his own needs) and said he'd want to stop at Lundavra. I tried to call ahead to get V ready to be on the move again but there was no reception, so it came as a bit of a shock when we arrived at the check-point and we said we could do with a swap. To make things worse, George decided to head straight through without stopping. Llama soon caught us up - fittingly he was going to be with us to the finish now, after being there with George and Keith at the start of their adventure.

As we made our way through Nevis Forest, a glint seemed to return to Keith's eye, George perked up a bit, and we all picked up the pace a wee bit as we admired the views of the Ben. Before we knew it, we were out of the woods (literally, and we hoped figuratively) and descending towards Braveheart car park where Merv was waiting to say hello. Not far to go now and we walked in formation into Fort William. There was a touching moment when K and G shook hands before breaking into a trot across the car park and up the steps of the Leisure Centre. 163 miles in 56 hours (or something like that). Pretty bloody amazing, and I'm pleased to have played a small part in that.

The next few hours were all about catching up with everyone else and getting breakfast before the prize giving where every finisher was cheered as they collected their crystal goblet. A huge well done to every one of them - I hope to perhaps join that illustrious band. Maybe. Some time. Perhaps.
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