I took part in the 2012 Scottish Islands Peaks Race as part of a team of 5 [3 sailors and 2 runners] on the 11m yacht “Vaila”. With generally light winds it took us from 12:00 on Friday 18 May until about 09:00 on Monday 21 May. This meant that there was plenty of time to rest and eat between the three hill legs. Indeed, we were twice becalmed for a few hours with nothing to do but lie around in a yacht under blue skies with views of Jura and then Arran. Yes, it got that tough! 😉
Starting at 12:00 on Friday 18 May, after the 6km road/trail prologue in Oban [to avoid the chaos of all boats starting together] and a sail up the Sound of Mull, the first real leg [37km and 1400m climb on Mull] was 7km on the road across Mull, 5km on trails and then up and down Ben More and back to the boat. We finished in daylight and there was a beautiful sunset as we sailed off. After a calm night, when the crew woke us at 08:00 the next morning we’d reached the Sound of Jura but the wind was rather too light! So we crept along at about 2km/h under sunny skies beside the Paps of Jura. We started the Jura leg just before mid-day. At 25km and 1600m climb, it’s a bit shorter than the fell race since it omits the lower peaks. Feeling strong, it was fantastic to be traversing the Paps in such weather and even the 5km road run back to the pier was a pleasure. Now the wind was lighter if anything, but our skipper worked Vaila out of Craighouse skilfully. Some crews gave up at this point, spending the evening in the pub and then motoring to the finish. We had another calm night, waking just after the Mull of Kintyre in rather livelier conditions. These didn’t last and by mid day we were completely becalmed off the south coast of Arran. Eventually we crept our way round to the entrance of Lamlash Bay, where the wind died again and the tide was threatening to send us backwards! One of the crew then rowed us 3km across the bay to Lamlash Pier, allowing the boat to motor in. We’d hoped for a nice evening run on the Arran leg [31km and 1350m climb], with its 10km of roads and trails across to Brodick Castle then up Goatfell and back, but we ended up starting at 21:00 so it was pitch dark by the time we got up Goatfell. We then lost 30 minutes trying to find the last checkpoint on the way down but still managed to descend at a decent pace. Back at Lamlash Pier at 01:30, my body was glad to stop as we crashed out in the boat. We later learned that to get out of Lamlash Bay one of the sailors had had to push the [6 tonne] yacht using the rubber dingy! After a couple of hours the wind picked up so we made to the finish in Troon at about 09:00 [on Monday 21 May].
Full results aren’t up yet, but we took a total of about 15hrs 30min to do the 100km of running, with the boat taking 54hrs for the 300km of sailing [in contrast with last year’s windy conditions when the whole thing took only 43 hours] and we were provisionally 7th out of 12 in class 3. The winners of the whole race took about 40 hours, with the best running time being about 9hrs 45min.
If you want to see more, I’ve made a short film
By the way, I wore a pair of Innov8 X-Talon 212 shoes for the whole thing and they were great: 100g lighter than Walshes but with just as much grip, they have some cushioning which made them OK on the road sections. [Some of the cushioning got a bit chewed on Jura, but the Paps are rather rough!]