It did feel rather odd that with a lifelong tie to Applecross, I had never entered the Applecross Duathlon – a run / ride combo, organised by the legendary Gerry McPartlin and now in it’s 12th year! However, my good pal Kirsty Loudon decided that 2015 was the year that at least two Penicuik Harriers were going to show their faces at this fabled event. How times have changed since the it first took place. Like with so many others, although it is in a remote location which involves lots of driving, it has become hugely popular with the 165 places being snapped up ever so fast at the beginning of June. Thankfully, we both made it in but there it lay until late August I started to think I should maybe do something about it. I mean, I can run 9 miles over similar hilly/rough ground in 95 mins and ride 17 miles in 52 minutes so what can possibly go wrong? Let me tell you . . .
[picasa width=”640″ height=”400″ bgcolor=”#000000″ autoplay=”1″ showcaption=”1″ user=”penicuikharriers” album=”es_ApplecrossDuathlon2015″]
I was encouraged to have a go at the Peebles Duathlon and was much frustrated by really bad cramp for most of the bike ride. Research told me that this was not at all uncommon and practice was most likely the way out of this.
Undeterred, Kirsty and my daughter, Jennifer, set off north last Friday. My brother in law David Warner, was parked up in his motorhome not far past the transition point and we left our bikes with him. We finally reached our race base camp (complete with 1 ¼ mile walk on rough track in the dark) after 22:00 hours – deep sleep ensued.
Saturday morning, registration complete, we parked up at start ready for Kirsty to set off on the Challenge event. This is designed for people who are not sure they will complete the distance within 3 ½ hours or maybe want a little less pressure. It starts 1 hour before the race itself. Today, the weather was near perfect with broad cloud cover and a light breeze.
Race was stuffed full of powerful lean beans and they duly shot off up the glen. I was managing a reasonable pace but quickly realised that I was amongst (OK, far behind) some very fit runners. No matter, the scenery is second to none and once on the high ground you get stunning views north to Torridon. That said, the last mile of the run is on the road with a nasty uphill to transition – the slide had started for me.
Sat down to change kit and felt massive cramp setting in. Managed to set off but just as in Peebles, my calves alternately went into spasm. Eventually had to hop off and stretch for 5 minutes before setting off again. This made all the worse because I was missing out on the amazing view across the Inner Sound to Raasay and Skye and also because the breeze was now quite a stiff headwind. Finally crawled into Applecross, narrowly avoiding being last in race – oh the indignity!
To be fair, there was a great deal to be happy about. The scenery is just awesome and the weather was kind. In terms of great achievements, my brother in law (David Warner, a former open winner) won the super vet race, my sister in law (Jill Morrow) won the women’s veteran class (for the 3rd time), my niece (Beth Morrow) set a new best time for her age (13 years) and Kirsty did good in the challenge – still smiling at the end. Me, well I was heard to mutter something about running The Fling being easier than this as I crawled over the line. I was in fantastic company with these guys plus Jennifer, Stephen (other brother in law) and Hugh (nephew), we ate gorgeous lamb and chicken curries and washed this down with fine wine in front of a peat fire. All this at my beloved Applecross.
Rolled back down the hill on Sunday with the obligatory stops at Ralia (coffee) and Dunkeld (chips) and parked up with no less than 570 miles on the clock and a 05:30 hours start on Monday morning. This race comes highly recommended – entries open Saturday June 4th 2016 at 09:00 hours – be there! Would I do this again? Well possibly, but for now my duathlon career is most definitely on hold. The hunger for the main mission is nawing at me and I must forever keep my focus on this and nothing else!