This was two out of three Highland Fling Training weekends. I managed to attend the Saturday run only way back in November, but this time I had the full experience, staying over for good chat, good food, expert presentations and excellent accommodation.
On Friday afternoon I left at 1530, plenty of time for last orders at The Real Food Café, Tyndrum, or so I thought. After driving through Perth the weather closed in, the roads were flooded with snow and slush. Conditions got worse just after Glen Ogle where a half hour hold up put my fish and chips in jeopardy. I made it with 5 minutes to spare where I met some runners having their supper.
After checking in, a swift pint was consumed in the local before heading back to the Hostel communal kitchen / diner. It was good to catch up with runners, some already known and some new.
Runners were discussing their route for the next day, some heading north, others driving to Bienglas Farm. I decided to stick with the latter for two reasons. First - being an out and back to Rowardennan, I fancied doing the technical loch side section twice giving a good workout. Second - my roommate was also looking to do the same run so it made sense to start together.
The Saturday dawned and rain cleared leaving a perfect day for training. We drove to the Farm and got ready for an 0930 departure. After a couple of photos everyone set off, snaking our way through the wood south towards Loch Lomond. Snow capped mountains and eventually blue sky was the backdrop for a stunning day, training just doesn't get better than this.
I had a wee mishap just before Inversnaid. After dropping back to photograph the scenery, the iphone started playing up and froze. I tried to fix it on the run, expertly switching it off and on then took a wrong turn. Before I knew it, I was perched on slippery rocks by the loch and thinking to myself " I know this is the technical section but I don't remember it being this hard". A runner shouted after me, advising it was the wrong way. Before I knew it, I slid and toppled over in what seemed like slow motion. My right knee and hand took the brunt as my left hand saved the all important communication device, I ended up practically upside down. The usual reaction kicked in after a fall, get up and get going to save any embarrassment. A later check found only a bruised and skint knee and bruised hand, all was well.
We reached Rowardennan, turned round and headed back north. A steady pace and no more mishaps on the Loch Side found me back at Bienglas at 1600, just as the weather started closing in, perfect timing.
Once all runners were back at the hostel and after some delicious home made soup it was time for a couple of excellent presentations from Ellen and Marcus before tucking into some lovely food.
A few drinks and some social chat was had before turning in, I needed some beauty sleep before a recovery run on Sunday.
Different models of Hoka shoes were available for trial, I had my eye on the Mafate 3, an ideal opportunity to try before I buy. A quick blast out to Auchtertyre and back was a test for the shoes which were perfect for my needs and will be the shoe of choice come May. I liked them so much I bought them there and then.
After watching the running workshop hosted by Marcus it was time to say cheerio and head home.
I decided to go via Fort William, the scenery at Glencoe was absolutely brilliant, every layby was full of sightseers taking pictures of the snow covered mountains. I had another reason for heading to Fort William, I wanted to check out my route to Ardnamurchan Point come July. It's just as well I did, as the road east of Loch Shiel is quite hard to find. The "road" is a forest track where vehicles are prohibited so I turned round and headed home, following my route in reverse along the East Highland Way and Speyside.
I would like to thank John, Kirsty, Ellen, Marcus and anyone else involved in organising such a great weekend. It was good catching up with the Ultra Running community and making new friends. See you all in Milngavie on April the 26th.
Tues 4 Wed 6 Thurs 8 Sat 28 Sun 5. Weekly total 51 miles.