Monday, 22 March 2010

The Mighty Deerstalker

Another race, another start line but a slightly different one this time. The ratio of male toilets to female ones and the lack of queues at the latter gave the first clue as to average competitor ,young, male and in a variety of bizarre fancy dress. The day, contrary to the forecast was clear and dry and so the organisers kindly decided to delay the start by ten minutes so we would all get to use our head torches properly. Liz checked her bum bag one more time and we were off hurtling towards the first obstacle...a wall of hay bales to climb over. Liz and I clambered over with hands held tight as there was a very real danger of getting split up. A handy shove from behind and we were over and off. A few minutes later we rounded a corner into a field and were funnelled into a series of three specially dug out pits full of mud just to get us in the mood. Clawing your way out of these with 1,200 or so other maniacs is not easy but hands still held we made it out together. No sign at all of Naomi or Garret and so began the first hill. Good job we practised up Dun na Cuiche (well it would have been it had been twice and a bit higher) as we toiled up in the longest queue I have ever been in, we were still smiling over the balance logs and up to the top of the hill. Then came the descent- ricocheting from tree to tree with head torches lit in the gloom. Our cries of “Liz..are you there?” “Where are you Fee?” haunted many people’s run from there on in as we tried to keep in touch. A fiercely undulating mountain bike track got the legs pounding nicely. One last plunge into the woods, more trees, more hands desperately outstretched to stop a too speedy descent, over a wire fence, under a net and almost into the arms of a bystander. Caught Liz ,the downhill Queen to cross the bridge together and onto the riverbank which was scarily pleasant. Mulling over the news that Liz gave me about being ¼ way through I felt somewhat troubled as we were already an hour into the run, this however turned out to be a joke (!) and we were ½ way through..easy! Round the next bend came a stony river crossing so once again hand in hand we plunged in gasping and exited onto the muddy bank to follow the soggy footsteps of our fellow nutters. The path then took us back into the river and up it for ¼ mile or so splashing and ,in my case falling heavily on one knee. Good job I had something nice and cold to hand to bathe it in... Liz was up and off and when I was out the calling resumed. Soon we were approaching the scree slope up the next hill, this we climbed almost entirely with hands grabbing forward to catch the heather (or on several occasions as we got higher the gorse bushes) and stones behind the person in fronts trainers. Apart from trying to go past those who caused their own special scree falls behind them it was a case of stay in line and I was losing Liz fast. The most amazing site ever was to look up and back at the mile or so long line of head torches steadily ascending. To keep us from getting too complacent there were more balance poles at the summit which I crossed holding hands with another woman as balance challenged as myself. Then the descent... grassy and open at first then into the trees again..Still no Liz. The banter was good though around me.
Marshal “Looking good Guys..keep going! well done Guys”
Me “..and girls!?”
Marshal “Yes, yes and Girls ..well done”
Voice from behind “and Romans!”
Marshal “Ohhhhhkay yes and Romans..well done!”
Slowed down by a marshals’ voice warning of a steep drop and the necessity to hold the ropes I obeyed going backwards hand over hand down a knotted rope (with a Roman swaying above me) abseil fashion 100ft or so wondering just how they got them to hold with so many on each rope..... then off and on...can see Liz! Can’t get past though....lots and lots of mud, along a bank of a burn and I am passing loads of people and feeling fine. Back across the river I fell into and out into the town where I finally caught up with my running buddy. Here some kind marshal told us enthusiastically that it was 1k to go..this was not true! Through the famous tunnel we went, still able to crack a joke or two, more streams, more muddy banks and a wee ladder over a dry stone wall, we can hear the tannoy and Liz is urging me on and calling me “Fiona” a bad sign. I lose her again at the last water crossing as two small children appeared to have attached themselves to both legs and were dragging me back (well, that is what it felt like). Desperately trying to catch up I make a bit of time on a small hill and am proud to still be running when so many others are not. Finally the floodlights and a tube to crawl through and I am behind Liz (antlers still intact) and then the cargo net and the finish line...Hmmm not that easy. I can’t get the net up and the marshal is shouting at me to crawl which I frankly thought unreasonable , at last out of the net and CRAMP in my left thigh. I hobbled in and dimly registered as I was removing my chip a 2.29 time. Then I got very, very COLD!!

1.Ready to race...
2.Liz with her very own deerstalker
3.Hay Bales
4.The "scree" Hill
5.First hill

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