I camped at Aviemore and a fellow runner gave me a lift over to Braemar which took a good hour and a half. The weather was very wet in the morning and I was glad by the time we got to jthe start it had eased. The race begins at the old police station and we got our numbers there and had our kit check done. After a quick brief we were off. the weather improved and after the first mile I was too hot and struggled to remove my waterproof and stuff it into my backpack as runners streamed by me. The first few miles are on road and allow you to warm into the run. Soon you cross a bridge and on to trail. It’s a pleasant run through the trees and out onto more open ground and the start of the Lairig Grhu. At this point the terrain becomes more difficult with some boggy bits and the path narrows and becomes rockier.
The route begins to climb towards more dramatic scenery and there is a river to wade through. Some people were stopping to wring out their socks but this was futile as much of the coming route was waterlogged. The path was increasingly difficult leading up to the boulder field. I was glad to get there as it meant I could walk with no guilt. I was tiring by this time and although I had been eating cereal bars and taking gels I was feeling a bit light headed. At the other side of the boulder field I began to try to run a bit but fell a couple of times and cut my knees. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and another runner asked if I was ok as there was blood streaming from my knees. I had run out of fluids by then and stopped at a stream to fill my water bottles and this along with the awesome views lifted my spirits. I hobbled on and the path became less rocky as I headed into the forest. I was able to pick up speed and was enjoying the downhill.
Navigation was pretty straightforward with only one crossroad which was signposted for Aviemore. As I came into Coylumbridge there was water being handed out which I was very glad of. Billy and the boys were there and Michael ran the last couple of miles with me which really helped. As I ran through the town there was shouts of encouragement and I reached the Mountain cafe in 5hrs 29 mins. I was just glad to be finished within the 6hr limit. This has to be the hardest race I have attempted and I wasn’t prepared for how little of it was runnable for me. The marshalling of the race is kept to a minimum and the course is unmarked but I didn’t have any problems, runners are expected to be self sufficient apart from a couple of water stations early on. A very rewarding experience and a fantastic challenge in an incredible location.
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