Friday, 11 September 2015

The Glencoe Skyline

Today's post from Plodders who were insane enough to take on this 33-mile skyrace with 13,900 feet of ascent:


Glencoe is a different sort of fell race, more hills, more climbing (both ascent and the rocky variety), more corporate flags and cowbells. In its first year it had drawn a good field with a mix of locals and some European visitors (complete with de-rigueur orange euro trousers), good lot of local support as well with people at the check points and along the route.

Somewhat bizarrely the route started with a 5km flat run, before a monster que up curved ridge to the top of Buachaille Etive Mor. An up and down over Buachaille Etive Berg led to a big slog up Biddean and Lochan, then down like Alice down a very slippery rabbit hole, to a much needed break at the road. Followed by the really big climb up to the start of the Aonach Eagach ridge. All day the Glencoe landscape looked like something out of Lord of the Rings with cloud moving in and out and  flowing over the Aonach Eagach ridge. The weather was pretty good, cloudy but mostly dry, not too warm or windy. The route finished off with a long rolling descent off Aonach Eagch followed by a repeat of the flat 5km to finish.

Rob got round in 10 hrs 40 mins despite getting stuck at the back of the train on curved ridge, I was going well to the end of Aonach Eagach, but struggled a bit from there and arrived back about an hour later. It was a great race, really well organised, solid field (very evenly pace, it only get really spread out after Aonach Eagch) and an amazing route.


I took things easy at the start and had to politely queue my way up Curved Ridge (very British). It was frustrating, but at least it forced me to pace myself. 

Queuing on Curved Ridge
From there things unfolded and it was as stunning as anticipated. Bidean is the highest point and near here there is a rocky out and back section. I was pleased to spot John just ahead, which spurred me on to catch him up. We ran together for a bit, which was great and felt like we were back on the BG. The big climb onto Aonach Eagach went on for ever and then, even in a very tired state, the section along the ridge, with a half inversion, was utterly brilliant.  

Half inversion on Aonach Eagach
After that, there was still a fair way to go and I slowed, though not drastically. Hitting the road with 4 miles left inevitably drew further parallels to the BG, though it couldn’t have felt more different. This made things particularly sweet and I savoured the glow as I approached the finish.  A special day and great to share it with a fellow plodder – well done John on a solid round.