Thursday, 9 September 2010

Ben Nevis 2010 – From the back!

Having entered the Ben Nevis Race early this year I have been a little worried about if I would be fit enough to make it. I had plenty of time to try and do more training/lose more weight but it didn’t happen. Then in June along came my little princess Lucy. I’d not really done many long runs or been up to the lakes much to get some climb into them. So after cramming in Kentmere, Rydal Round and a failed Borrowdale I was still feeling a little less than confident about making the cut-offs at Ben Nevis. In fact I have to admit that at one point I thought about not starting race at all.

DSC02231DSC02233Heading up on Friday I collected Chris at Glasgow Airport and we took the wonderful drive up past Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor and Glen Coe. Arriving in Fort William around 7PM and straight out for food to our favourite restaurant the “Grog and Gruel”. Food seemed to become my topic for the weekend after eating some Stornoway Black Pudding. This has to be the best black pudding I have EVER tasted.

After a morning wandering around Fort William and bumping into Ian & Pauline in the butchers (whilst looking for Stornoway Black pudding, not pies as was suggested!) we got ourselves ready for the race.

Before the race the runners are required to line up behind the pipers and they walk round to the start with the pipers playing. The race sets off around the field, out of the gate and off for a mile down the tarmac road to the inn before you start the climb up towards the peak.

Once off the tarmac I started up the path which had plenty of supporters cheering people on. It was at this point I passed Suzanne Budget cheering me on but finished by reminding me about the cut-offs. So now having managed to stop worrying about the cut-off and with them firmly planted back in the fore of my mind I pushed on as I felt I could.

Running/walking along the path the line of runners unexpectedly split off through the bracken. Given the choice I decided that less climb was good and stayed on the path. Of course the climb had to be done and not long after this the path turned back on itself and the rest of the runners I’d followed then headed off on another path up through the bracken to meet the runners that previously split. I felt that taking this route was quicker based on the runners i joined back with. Onward and upward the climb just goes on and on and everytime you look up you can only see more climb ahead of you.

With the first cut-off (1hr) still in my mind we split from the path as it again turned back to head up towards Red Burn. I did get held up a little here but not enough to make a difference, this didn’t stop me checking my watch constantly. Eventually I passed the marshall at 58 mins.

The path from here zigzags up the mountain but the runners turn straight off the path directly up the scree. The climb now is much more intense and the loose scree makes it even harder. After what seemed like about 15 mins of climbing I could hear some cheering from up ahead. On looking up I could see the leaders coming down. These guys make it look so easy! I carried on up the scree but by now was finding the climb very hard work and had to stop a few times to recover, losing a few places.

Eventually rejoining the path the climb eases off now and the route is mainly on the paths to the summit but it’s still a bit of a trek. The route was very busy with walkers and now all the runners descending made it even busier. It did look like a lot of the walkers were non too impressed by the constant stream of runners coming past. With the marshalls in sight I checked my clock to see how far off the cut-off (2hrs) I was, making it to them in 1hr 58mins.

Thanks to the marshalls at the top for the Jelly babies and then the descent. For some reason I found running over the rocky ground very difficult. I was passed at some speed by a few local Lochaber runners and also managed to pass a few runners myself, particularly once I got to the loose scree and was able to pick my speed up. I had to stop a couple of times as I’m not used to these big long descents and my legs were shattered. Reaching the grassy bank I managed to pass a couple of people by sliding on my bum. It wasn’t the comfiest part of the descent!

After crossing the stream the majority of the descent is now on the paths and i was again able to pick up speed a little. At one point another runner (of Wold Veteran Runners) fell in front of me and I stopped to help him up (Any excuse for a break, eh). Looking at my clock I wondered if I would be able to make it back in under three hours, thinking there wasn’t much descent left but I was wrong. Despite making it back to the tarmac in under three hours, the run in down the road is a killer and I eventually crossed the line in 3hr 07min 52sec, exhausted.

After a few cups of Tea and a slice of cake, we headed back to the hotel to clean up and then out for tea. Back in the Grog and Gruel I was looking forward to the black pudding again, and managed to talk the waitress into serving up a large portion instead of me having to order two starters. I tried to get black pudding added to the burger but she was having none of it. Id had the steak the night before and found too much fat on it, then I tried to warn Chris on the Saturday about ordering it and in the end he was wondering if he should have ordered the burger instead. After the meal it was off to the presentation and few beers with some of the runners.

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On Sunday morning Chris had considered going for another run and I was contemplating going for a swim, but in the end none of it happened. After a quick walk up the high street to see if the butchers was open (still searching for black pudding), it wasn’t, we checked out and took a leisurely drive back.

On the way back we took in some of the scenery and stopped of at a hotel where Chris and Lisa stayed a few years back.

DSC02256 Stitch

I had a great weekend and am already planning to enter for next year. Hopefully I’ll be aiming to beat the 3hr mark next year.

NB: Some of the above pictures were taken from here....



  1. Well done on a good run.


    P.S. I recognise some of those photos ;-) I'm sure "M" wont mind.

  2. Thanks. I did put a tooltip message stating where the pics where from. The ones show in the scale of the climb are great ones!

  3. Nice photos, vaguely familiar :-)