Sunday, 25 March 2012

Great Glen Way support

After a great weekend doing my support role with Scott's ultra running I thought it was time to update my blog.
In a nut shell we have been talking about the Great glen way run for a while but the weather was never friendly frame of mind or free weekends were never available. At the beginning of the week Scott said he was on for this weekend was I up for it , it was no contest I was hooked even though still shaking off man flu.
Scott did all the planning for accommodation and what stages he wanted to do and I worked round how to make sure I was in the right place at the right time with the right "food". This is my view of the weekends adventure and I'm sure Scott will be doing his on the running side so both perspectives may be seen.
I met up at Scott's flat Friday evening after he got home from work transferred my gear over to his car and headed off to Fort William with an early start for Saturday morning scheduled.We did manage to arrive at a reasonable time and a couple of pints taken before alarms were set for silly o'clock.
Dragging ourselves out of bed Scott got ready for his run complete with head torch and we left 05:15 disturbing the night porter. Scott had said I could sleep in and catch up later but I felt that part of the "fun" of support is to be at the start and finish.
I watched Scott disappear into the night and i completed loading the car before heading off for Neptune's staircase at Banavie. As I normally did when doing support "work" I had a few geocaches to look for while waiting to meet up but unlike Scott I was not geared up for "night" searches so it was a very slow drive to the staircase.
I parked up and walked over to the lochs where I new I would see Scott at some time and by then it may be light enough for my search.
Neptune's staircase

Within about 15 Min's after I took this Photo Scott arrived and the light had improved enough for me to wish him well as he started up the canal side and I went geocaching. I new I had well over an hour to get to our planned meeting point at Gairlochy so my my own search started and I found the cache quite quickly so I thought what the hell I'll just have another slow drive up the B8004 and settle myself in at Gairlochy. I am always a little worried that I can't get parked were it's easier to help Scott on his run but I suppose that's the "support" side thinking. The B8004 looks down over the route in places so took the chance of an early morning photo in the slight mist.
Caledonian canal
I never saw Scott at this time but he would be running up the right hand path by the canal which can just be made out over the water.I did disturb some of the wild life but never met one car in an 8 mile slow drive.
I had plenty of time when I reached Gairloch and parked up with ease ( so much for worrying ). I even had a picnic table by the side of the way so I set up shop on it while waiting for the man.
Among the treats I had with me today was a portable gas stove loads of water thermos flasks two large and a small one with fresh milk.As we were treating this as an adventure run etc not a race apart from the usual banana's / marmite crisps / bread rolls / cans of soup cookies / coffee instant and ground plus a small cafetiere. I boiled some water up and made a coffee and put the rest still boiling into one of the flasks as it saves Scott hanging around getting cold / stiff waiting for hot water and I had only a rough idea of when he would arrive so had the place to myself and walked about taking photo's and watching what wild life there was. I must add at this time it was never cold and it was very pleasant to be outside at that time of the morning. There was no wind and all water surfaces were like glass mirrors but my photo's don't do it Justis
water mirror
Scott turned up and had his "proper" coffee and we chatted for a bit before he disappeared over the bridge and away from the canal to run round Loch Lochy as the path wound along the hillside in the forest.This is where the road goes on the other side of the loch so we would not be meeting up until the end of the Loch Lochy Another picnic area had been agreed to meet at as the way came back over to my side at Laggan Lochs. I again arrived in plenty of time and set up camp on a picnic table this stop had been counted as a "proper" refuel stop so hot soup was going to be on the menu.
vegetarian french onion soup
Note cafetiere on the left , blue flask full of boiling water and the soup waiting it's turn and was going to be put in the grey flask if I got the timing wrong. I did my usual photo shoot and even the big loch were windless and to think the number of times I have driven past this place and never bothered to detour for a look.
looking back down Loch Lochy
 I would be having some time to myself while Scott headed for Fort Augustus as the track and road parted company again.
I new I would have plenty of time at Fort Augustus so went geocaching again and even had a little jog down the Great glen way myself for a few minutes as that's all I could manage.
I had found another picnic table for later but was to early to set up yet so spent some time chilling out as I think the early morning was catching up and to think this only just coming up to half way.Scott came along and again we had coffee and snacks and as he said coffee was going down well but would not be a good idea for a serious race. He headed back up into the forrest and I headed off to the next meeting point at Invermoriston. This is another of those places that I have driven through in about 5 minutes and what a sin it's too nice to bypass. Parking no problem more picnic tables village hall with new toilets and drinking water made available very nice place.There were local walks around the village so i did some exploring before Scott arrived and saw the largest highland bull ever .
some great  animal
Telfords bridge
Plenty to do here and had a look at some of the paths and "caches" plus one of Telfords original bridges
and some pleasant trails to walk.
We rested up for a bit before Scott set off on one of the legs he was not to sure of 14 miles no support or opt out places so biting the bullet and a change of shirt off he went.
So Drumnadrochit was my next point of call and I headed off up the A82 which could have been a pleasant drive apart from a few speeders that were racing along. At drum I set up base again and had a walk round town but refused to go to the Nessy exhibition just put the seat back and closed my eyes for a bit. Again more coffee and cookies and crisps later Scott was ready for the last leg of 18 miles and I was pleased to see apart from getting a bit tired he was moving well.I saw him off then had to find my way to some very minor roads which he would come out on at the top of the hill a bout 7 / 8 miles away. After a hairy drive on a very minor road I did my last couple of caches before waiting for Scott to arrive and now I was really feeling the early morning start and I was lucky to find a place to squeeze the car in so the road was clear and I could stretch my legs. I did take the chance of looking up some bronze age remains so educated myself while waiting.
old settlement
The great Glen way exit to the road.
Scott arrived out of the forest and we met up on the minor road so we topped up his drinks changed shirt to a dayglo yellow as we new it would be dark by the time he reached Inverness and he set off again now knowing 10 miles and it would be over.
I headed off to Inverness and had intended to see Scott once more after about 3 miles for a final check before the road and path parted ways again but was caught out after a couple of miles where the path had taken a new route so I missed that chance. I drove down into Inverness and managed to park the car and walked up to the Great Glen finish at the castle which had a very convenient pub on the corner looking down the way so pint in hand I sat waiting for the runner to appear up the hill. He came into sight with  Sandy one of his old mates who lived in the area he had met up with earlier on the run  and had arranged jogging the last few miles to the finish with him. After a couple of Photo's on Scott's camera (so not in this blog) we all adjourned across the road for some well earned pints and a satisfied look on our faces so well done the runner.