This is a little bit out of order but as I watch the Fling hysteria building on facebook, I thought I'd write about my last long run on the 'Way'.
Saturday 21 March, John dropped me at Balmaha, my goal? To make it to Tyndrum in one piece. It was a cracking morning, probably the first of the warm, sunny days , we've been blessed with this Spring. I trotted along quite happily and surprised myself by climbing strongly up the hill away from the road and before long was plodding along comfortably enjoying the morning. I had a goal time in mind to get to Rowardennan, and I beat it by about 10minutes so was quite chuffed with that, I stopped to use the loo and then ate a sandwich and topped up my water before heading off again. The next 20 mins or so were awful and it was only when I realised that I was overheating and stopped to take my long sleeve shirt off that I settled again. This was a march up the hills run down them section, the shade and cool of this forested bits was very welcome and the downhills even more so. I tootled along only meeting a couple of runners coming in the opposite direction to Inversnaid where I had another sandwich and some water. A bloke came into the carpark shortly after me asking 'which way to the West Highland Way?' I didn't ask if he was serious but instead, politely directed him out the other side of the car park - he was going as far as The Drovers. I had texted John to let him know how I was doing, and he rang me as I was leaving and I walked along enjoying the sunshine and the views, discussing with him whether he should keep running out to meet me or turn back and get the car (he'd driven up to Tyndrum) and meet me at Drovers, but I really didn't want to cut my run short as I was enjoying my own company, the weather, the challenge and feeling ok. The next section is as most of you know, the 'technical bit' I've not been here since 2013 so I hadn't seen the fallen trees/collapsed path - they certainly added a new dimension, but I managed not to get lost or hurt and before long was back on the path proper and on my way towards Beinglas. Here is where I made MY only navigational error, as I approached Doune Bothy, I followed a walked path to go above the bog - I should have just gone through it and ended up, a little bit further up the hill than the field the bothy is in. John had reached the bothy and was tracking me so he knew I wasn't far away and when he rang me - after I'd realised my error and waded down the burn! he could actually see me a couple of hundred yards away so I was quickly downhill, over the wall and met up. We then headed off to Beinglas and onwards.
Although my times were still within the limits he'd set for me (I wasn't aware of this) it was still the weekend before the clocks changed so we were aware that it would perhaps be dark before we got back and neither of us had a headtorch! (yes stupid error we know)
On we continued and long story short we got to 'The Big Gate' without mishap. A quick comfort break and jackets on as it was starting to get cool and off we headed up onto the 'rollercoaster' I love this part of the course, it is so pretty and although it wasn't dark, the big trees cut out what light there was however we made it safely if slowly down to the road at Ewich and across to Auchtertyre. By now it was properly dark and the sky was ablaze with stars - they looked as if you could reach up and touch them - spectacular! This is where we had our second navigational mishap but this time it wasn't ME! I am lucky that I have a pretty good visual memory and when we left St Fillan's ruins on our left I wanted to go straight on on the black tar but was convinced to bear right, however John did concede at this point that perhaps he was wrong so we went back to the gate and then along the black tar :-)
(it only added an extra half mile or so)
Past the wigwams at Auchtertyre where we did get some odd looks from folk damping down their BBQs under the road and then it was the last 2 miles to Tyndrum. There's a wee stream about half a mile down the track that you have to ford, and as I went through the water and John went straight on face first into a tree, I turned right on the 'right' path and WHACK! tripped over a BIG rock! Down I went with a thump, it was a bit sore but nothing broken so up on my feet and off we trotted again - it would have been awesome if there'd been a full moon but unfortunately it was only a sliver but you could actually see quite well as there was no light pollution. On the last climb before the last gate another boulder jumped out and tripped me up :( worst injury was that the landing paused my Garmin - I restarted it and carried on - my right hand felt a bit sticky and when I licked my thumb I tasted blood :-( never mind, nearly there... We made it safely to Tyndrum, we didn't fall out and the bleeding hand wasn't so bad once wiped with a babywipe. Quick clean-down in the car park, dry clothes on and up to the pub for some coke and salt and vinegar crisps. Mission accomplished, I made it in one piece (the bruising appeared over the next 3 days and took a fortnight to disappear!)
OK so it took a bit longer to do the last section as it was dark, however the rest of the sections were all within John's limits - I didn't know this until the next day and although the last section was much slower,as John said, it was good practice for being out at night, (particularly the second night) head down and just keep slogging it out - and to be honest, I REALLY, REALLY enjoyed the adventure! :)
No pictures in this entry - well it was dark remember?