Saturday saw my first group training run for a while. The plan was to run from Tyndrum to Kingshouse and back, a total of 36 miles with various options to drop in and out en-route. This was quite a long run for this time of the year and after running 28 miles the previous Sunday, I was in two minds as to how much of the run I would do.
However, as the the day drew closer, I decided that I would set off with the intention of completing the full 36 miles but that, depending on how I felt, I could stop at Bridge of Orchy on the way back (31 miles) and get a lift back down to Tyndrum.
About 16 of us set off on a very wet and cold morning in full waterproofs feeling remarkably jovial and upbeat (it is the Glee Club after all). The first 6 miles or so went in easy and we reached Bridge of Orchy still pretty much grouped up and picked up a few more people who were joining us there.
The climb up and over to Victoria Bridge was wet and by the time we had dropped down to the Inveroran Hotel, the group had started to spread out.
The time had passed quite easily though and I had chatted away to the likes of Keith Hughes about the wonders of Penfolds Grange and George Reid about his progression towards barefoot running.
Rannoch Moor was somewhat bleak but is sometimes all the more majestic because of that. Early on we spotted a small herd of deer running across the peat bogs and a little later a big stag taking a dip in one of the many small lochs along the route. I ran with Mike Thomson for much of the Moor and it was good to catch up with him and what he's been up to. Unfortunately, he is still having back problems and was forced to stop at Kingshouse and make use of Davie Hall's taxi service.
We reached the Kingshouse in just over 3.5 hours and it was my intention here just for a quick refuel and to set off on the return leg. Many of the others were opting for going inside for soup and warmth before heading back but I knew if I got sat down inside, I would never get going again.
So myself, Bob Steel and Jamie, set off back up the hill and onto Rannoch Moor once again. We met Ritchie Cunningham at the start of the climb who had set off with Lucy Colquhoun some time after us but, not surprisingly, had caught up by the half way point. Lucy had turned back earlier but Ritchie was putting in some miles before heading off to the states for a 100 miler in a couple of weeks and turned back with us.
By the time we had reached the top of the hill, Ritchie and Jamie had pulled away, Bob was gradually disappearing off which meant that I was on my own as I went over the top and headed onto the Moor. I quite liked this bit of solitude and the bleakness of the Moor adds to the sense of isolation so I plodded along quite happily lost in my thoughts.
The light had now started to fade slightly and the rain had not really let up all day so I started to get cold and put on my gloves and hat and kept up the pace to stay warm. By now, my feet had started to hurt again and I was beginning to feel that really, I'd had enough for the day and as I reached the gate at Victoria Bridge, Bob and Jamie were waiting for me and we set off together back up over the hill to Bridge of Orchy. I decided at this point that I would stop at Bridge of Orchy rather than carry on to Tyndrum. I could have kept going as I still had enough left in the tank but my feet were hurting and to be honest, I'd just had enough. I was very wet, cold and with no immediate racing incentives to pursue, it made sense to take advantage of a lift from Jamie back to my car at Tyndrum. Bob carried on on his own and finished the last few miles in ever fading light.
I got to my car in Tyndrum and, sheltering under my open boot lid, got into some dry clothes and headed into the Real Food Cafe for coffee and a bacon roll - boy was that GOOD!
Lucy Colqhoun was already there and it wasn't long before we were joined by Davie, Ritchie, Karen, Stan and David. All of us agreeing that conditions had been somewhat challenging to say the least.
After a bit of a chat, I headed home for a bath, more food and a very welcome glass or two of the red stuff!
As well as providing taxi services, Davie took some great photos which you can see here: