Friday 10 August 2012

Lucky Devil

I was a bit on the fence as to whether the 43 mile Devil o' the Highlands race was a good or bad idea with the 24 hour race being only five weeks away, but I just love the race.  It was my first ultra and will always be my favourite.  It's by covers the best sections of the West Highland Way and has to be 43 of the most beautiful miles in the world.

Race summary: 43 miles from Tyndrum to Fort William. 6 hours and 54 minutes.  First lady.  9th overall (137 starters).  Garmin Connect info here  Back up by the super-slick Sonic.

Start of the Devil o' the Highlands 43 mile Footrace.  Saturday, August 4 at 6am in Tyndrum

Bridge of Orchy 6.6 miles

This year's race was pretty hot and humid. My weather app flashing up "feels like 25 degrees" and "97% humidity". You might know that I'm a bit of a jessie in anything above 14 degrees, so it wasn't ideal.
Still, the views were absolutely spectacular.

Picture by Helen Munro
The flip side to that were the midges. The worst I have ever known. Around Victoria Bridge was like a thick fog of the pesky feckers. They were in my ears, mouth, ears and glued to skin. Still, the runners certainly had the easier option.  Support looked like a fate worse than death.

I'll spare you mile-by-mile breakdown, but they just zipped by, which I think is always a good sign of running well.  I worked with the hills - just slowly chipping away - and the only real walking breaks I had were the three main peaks - Bridge of Orchy, Devil's Staircase and out of Kinlochleven,

Glencoe Ski Centre - photo by Duncan
It started to heat up as early as 7am, but it didn't really effect me until around Kingshouse.  Then it hit me like a tonne of bricks.  Thankfully Sonic had made an (unscheduled) stop on the Devils and was on hand with the "gay pink water bottle"

I soaked my arms and face in every stream I found and took comfort in the fact I was passing runners who looked as equally hot as me.  I know I have a tendency to overreact a bit, so I needed the reassurance it wasn't just me!

I felt like I was dragging a bit from the Devils staircase ascent to a few miles over the Larig Mor.  I was still on target for a PB, but slowing over 10 miles was eating into that target.

Last year I had Helen Lees at my side on Lairig Mor, which really pushed me.  People were telling me I had a good lead, so I suppose I didn't have the same drive. 

A few miles across Lairig Mor a little breeze picked up - which, in turn, really picked me up and I started making up for lost time. 

Leaving Lundarva
 Of course no race would complete without a mishap.  I tripped and skint both knees and hands and managed to hit my arm off a rock.  The bruising is quite spectacular - even by my standard of mishaps. To be honest - at the time - it looked worse than it felt.  Or maybe experience has made me immune to tumbles.

Passing through Lundarva (35 miles) I felt good.  Still a bit toasty, but nothing like a felt a few miles earlier.  I ran straight through, as I was meeting Sonic on the hill for my last section supplies.
Sonic was at the top gate taking pictures - hence why I was running up the hill :-) From behind the zoom lens I heard Sonic shouting "What the f*%k have you done this time" as he caught sight of my bloody knees.  I told him to ignore them, as I wasn't assessing the damage until the end.   We both knew I was behind schedule, but I knew if I maintained the same effort I'd be ok for a PB. 

It was a strange race experience 1) I loved every minute of it, even the nasty bits, but usually by about 3/4 of the way in to a race - regardless of the distance - I start willing it to be over.  On Saturday, I was just really happy to be where I was - even in the final few miles.  I think not being on a canal helped.  2) I barely spoke to anyone. Usually you can get a good chat going on a ultra, but just a few niceties when I passed other runners.  Probably just as well, as I pretty much lost my voice by Victoria Bridge.  I don't know whether it was the humidity or coughing up midges, but that's never happened to me before 3) The strangest thing though - excuse this - but I didn't pee until I was 30+ miles down.  Anyone who has ever trained with me knows I've not go the strongest of bladders and I can barely last a few miles. 
Anyway, I finished first lady in 6:54:06 in a new PB - of just under three minutes.  To be honest, I was hoping for nearer 6:40, but a PB's a PB. And I'm delighted to have won. 
Bridesmaid no more!!
This was my 5th DOTH race finish. Previous race reports 2007:  3rd lady in 8:48  2009:  2nd lady in 7:08
 2010:  3rd lady in 7:23 2011:  2nd lady in 6:56
I was even more delighted for the Crazy German who won his first race in an amazing time of 5:36!  The CG is testament to the fact that determination conquers adversity.  Although - on paper - the odds were in his favour, he'd just thrashed a 100K two weeks prior to the race.  But the CG really wanted the win, more than anyone out there.  As my wee Granny would say, "where there a will, there's a way"... and where there's a German, there will always be craziness.

After the race, it was nice to lie about and enjoy the sunshine and congratulate the runners coming through.  When I finished I was sparked out on the grass when a Japanese tourist casually skulked over took a picture of a me and strolled away again.  Bizarre!
1st Male: Thomas Loehndorf: 5hrs 36 mins 17 secs 2nd Male: Casey Morgan : 5hrs 55 mins 47 sec 
3rd Male: Craig Cunningham : 6hrs 21 mins 27 secs
1st Male Vet: Robert Soutar : 6hrs 21mins 28secs
1st Male Super Vet: Graham Harcus: 7hrs 09 mins 47 secs

1st Female Debbie Martin-Consani: 6hrs 54mins 06secs
2nd Female Hazel Dean: 7hrs 23mins 45secs
3rd Female Michelle Heatherington : 7hrs 23 mins 54 secs
1st Female Vet Melanie Sinclair : 7hrs 57 mins 34 secs
1st Female Super Vet: Louise Burt: 7hrs 25 mins 59 secs

The gals: L to R - Hazel, me and Michelle

Thanks for Garry, Gemma and marshalls for putting on another great race.  Big thanks to Sonic for fantastic back up.  Although, just for the record, it wasn't me who left the top off the fizzy water... :-)


Kaz said...

Well done Debs - awesome running! Midges in Glencoe in August on a sticky humid day - YUK, YUK, YUK! Hope the kness are OK after the tumble.

NORRY said...

Well done Debs on Another Great Race.

Might just have a shock for you both on our next meeting;-)

Silke said...

I was sooo happy that you both won! What a pair! What a great day! Congratulations again.

Anonymous said...

Great run Debs! I'm also grateful that your post has perhaps the only photographic evidence that i ran (as you came speeding past!). Still got hundreds of midge bites, Nick

Amanda said...

Great run Debs, you make it sound so easy ;-). I can understand why you love the Devil - awesome scenery and a great event! Am itchy just remembering about those midges tho!!

Thomas said...

Good to see you do not just win those boring one million mile canal races but also the crisp and beautiful 'short' and scenic trail races ;-)

I think using the trail muscles (legs and core) 5 weeks before the 24 hours race is a good idea.

Remember Lizzy Hawker broke the World Record only 4 weeks after the UTMB! ;-)


GERRY said...

Smashing run Debs, it is certainly one of the best races there is. I drank 4 litres of Viper/nuun during the run and felt the best ever near the end so maybe finally getting it right but the best was the Bud at the end!!

neets next mara said...

great run debs! supergirl strikes again! you must come for a photoshoot so i can dress you up as supergirl!! LOVE the trophy!!

Subversive Runner said...

Well done