Thursday, 31 May 2012

Caledonian Etape 2012

On Sunday 13th May, my good friend Finlay Kerr and I completed the Marie Curie Caledonian etape, racing 81 miles across Highland roads, through our wonderfully inclement summer weather. A huge thank you to everyone who donated so generously to our fundraising on behalf of Marie Curie Cancer care. Currently the online total is well over £950 and with the cash I’ve collected so far our grand total is already past £1300, which exceeded any expectations I might have had before undertaking the grueling training program and much more enjoyable race from Pitlochry.
For the race itself, we endured a fairly strong wind and just a wee bit or rain – nothing like the Central belt suffered that day – belying the weather forecast which was for torrential rain during the race. Only around Loch Rannoch, just after the 1st feed station, did I have to ride into the wind with rain falling at the same time and fortunately that was a fairly short leg to the end of the loch, where the rain stopped and the wind became my friend blowing me on down to feed station 2, just before the Schiehallion climb.
The climb was less onerous than many I’d already endured in training so it was with great joy that I blazed past feed station 3 and onto the descent. Alas, the 5 miles directly into the wind, which was by then blowing a real gale, along the Fortingal Loop directly up Glen Lyon had me regretting that missed food stop, amongst other things. My unprotected Hi-tec Squash shoes from the 80’s also had me wondering whether there might be an outdoor clothes shop somewhere along the line, as my feet were like blocks of ice by now. Fortunately those 5 miles into the strong headwind were more than adequately compensated for as the next 15 miles or so back down the glen through Aberfeldy were on fast sealed roads and joyfully accompanied by the now helpful tailwind.
I nearly skipped Feed station 4 as were buzzing along so well by now, but having cursed my decision to skip feed station 3, I forced a flapjack down and took a quick top up to the water bottles. Just as well, for the final sting in the tail was waiting from Logierait with a couple of nasty wee climbs up through the woods as we cut away from the main roads and back onto track. I’d like to think I usefully burned those fresh syrupy calories there. Chivas Regal Royal Salute Whisky Sweepstake With Finlay finishing in 5 hours 28 min and my chip time at 5 hours 53 min, the bottle of Royal Salute whisky is rather poignantly won by John MacFarlane (no relative) of Furnace in Argyll. I’m sad to say that John’s family is just one of the many that I’ve encountered in this journey who are learning first-hand how important the Marie Curie organisation is, as his son Gordon battles bowel cancer from his home in Northern Ireland. Kudos to Chivas Regal, who have supplied some consolation prizes in the form of 3 bottles of 12 Year old Chivas Regal whisky, which have been won by Carol Croft (East Kilbride), Louise Greenan (Glasgow) and Ian MacMillan (Paisley). It’s not too late to donate to the Justgiving fund if you haven’t already done so