Long run 3:39:17  22.0 mi (9:58 / mi) +600m 9:11 / mi
ahr:177 max:192 shoes: 09 Saucony Grid
At last, the Great Wilderness Challenge. We arrived to disappointment - the marshalls staying overnight near Shenavall had had to be airlifted out as the rivers were in spate, and far too deep to cross. So the route was changed, to 22 miles from Poolewe, along Kernsay loch, the more southerly edge of the Letterewe ridge (the original route but backwards), over one of the cols, back over and then a retrace of steps, finishing along the road the original route does.
So we hung around for an hour or so then got to the startline. I was feeling nervous but excited, I really had no idea what to expect. The pace was a bit quick for the first half an hour, my heart rate was up in the high 180s and I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain that. So I let the boys go, and settled to a pace hitting around 185 on the hills, and the high 170s on the flats. This seemed to work well, and I eased into that good cruising feeling when we got onto the flatter bit after the woods. That stayed, and when I hit Carnmore checkpoint I refused the offer of a glass of cold Riesling, and set off up the climb. It wasn't as steep as it looked on the map, and was all runnable, although I walked bits when that turned out quicker. I was at the top a lot sooner than I expected, and heading a lot way down the other side of the ridge. I suffered a bit from the choice of trainers here, not enough traction on the muddy paths. We dropped a loooong way to the next checkpoint, then turned back up over the ridge.
Got stuck for a few minutes behind a snoking walker that wasn't pleasant, and had my worst point of the race when the flat col seemed to go on for ever. When we hit the part of the route we'd already run, I knew there was only one major hill left, and dug in a bit deeper. Down to the wood, then onto the vehicle track and back to Poolewe. I'd remembered this as the shorter way back to Poolewe when it was actually longer, and the hamstrings really tightened. Luckily I'd been to-ing and froing throughout the race with a Chris from Peebles, and we pushed through together and kept the other running. At the top of a hill on the road I swore loudly and had to apologise to some ladies on the walk, but they giggled and said it was fine. I then rounded a corner to see Brooner and Grassie looking like they were struggling, and couldn't resist trying to get past. This gave them a bit of a boost and finally the bagpipes were heard in the distance, the digital timer appeared, and it was over.
Brilliant race, even with the distinctly second rate route. I would love to come back and do the full thing next year.
Photos to follow soon!