Here we go, this is it, the start of the 2018 Great Glencoe Challenge.
In July 2018, I returned to compete in The Great Glencoe Challenge (Scotland’s toughest trekathon with over 5000ft of ascent). A 26.2-mile trek from the heart of Glencoe to the foot of Ben Nevis in Scotland.
The previous year I competed as part of a team and although it was great fun I knew I had a lot more left in the tank as we crossed the finishing line! I knew I was capable of doing it a lot faster (Click here to see the 2017 Great Glencoe Challenge blog) and thought I would return to take care of unfinished business and give the course another crack to see if I could really do it in a faster time.
Part one of my footage shot while competing in the Great Glencoe Challenge. From the start in Glencoe to the halfway point in Kinlochleven.
Part two of my footage from the halfway point in Kinlochleven to the finish line at the foot of Ben Nevis.
So a year later at 08:00 on a cool sunny Saturday morning on the 7th of July 2018 I took my place in line with the other eager Trekkies to get piped across the start line on this epic journey.
Through some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland, we headed off at a leisurely pace. A wee bit too leisurely a pace for my liking. I really didn’t want to hang around as I was conscious I needed to pick up the pace somewhat to beat last years time. It was difficult to overtake for the first few miles with such a narrow path, overtaking was pretty tricky at the best of times without looking like a right road hog and pushing in at every available opportunity. I decided to go with the pack, bide my time and should an opportunity arise, seize it and slip up another place until the route opened up and I would have no problem overtaking.
I managed to really pick up and maintain my pace at around the five and a half mile mark just past checkpoint one. This is known as ‘the bog’ which is a long stretch of peaty, wet ground that takes you up part of the route called ‘the Devils Staircase’! Now last year the bog was indeed pretty boggy and one of the group actually disappeared up to his knee in it. However this year in Britain we’ve had an amazing summer and there was no exception for Scotland. With weeks of dry sunny weather, almost unheard of for these parts, the bog had literally dried up. The ground still felt spongy underfoot but there was hardly any wet patches around which made the going easier and quicker.
I didn’t hang around, picking up the pace, I soon overtook those I was unable to pass in the previous miles. With a big push, I was up and over ‘the Devils Staircase’ in a cracking time. There’s a long plateau to follow next before descending down into Kinlochleven to the halfway point.
All competitors had to check in at the Leven Centre upon arrival to make sure you were fit and able to continue on the next 13 miles. There was hot food and drink on offer so I grabbed some pasta, garlic bread, and some water. I sat down to eat, then had a quick check over my feet before reapplied vaseline, talcum powder, and a change of socks before I hit the road more energized ready for part deux of the challenge.
A few images from around the course.
For the next 45 minutes, it was a beasting all uphill through wooded terrain until you reached to the top of the hill. From up top overlooking Kinlochleven it was pretty much following a more gentler contour of the hills for the next few miles through a long winding glen, phew.
Although the weather was great i.e. not much cloud, blue skies, gentle breeze and temperature in the high teens to low twenties it didn’t make for taking great pictures. There was too much harsh sunlight. Race start was at 08.00 and because it was in the highlands we had more daylight hours having just passed the longest day of the year. It meant I missed the sunrise and would get well in before sunset, so no golden hour opportunities to make up for it. There was simply no decent light to be had I’m afraid. Last year was much better for taking pictures as it was mostly overcast, raining, low cloud and mist cover and good contract (basically what you would call a traditional summers day in Scotland)! Now that sort of weather makes for great atmospheric shots.
The rest of the course was pretty straightforward although at six miles to go most of my body was aching especially my lower back and the tops of my toes where I seemed to manage to stub them at full pelt on unmoveable rocks all too regularly. Apart from that I was in good fettle and kept up the pace all the way to the finish line.
It was brilliant. I had come to settle a score, I had put the training in and was determined to beat the previous years time. I set off at a slow pace but more than made up for it later on. I had stopped many times to take pictures and video and had allowed 20 minutes at the halfway mark for a bit of a rest, a check over of my body and a change of socks. The weather, well the weather couldn’t have been any better especially for Scotland!
So you may be wondering how well I did. Well, I’m delighted that I did the 26.2-mile trekathon in 7:42:27 and came in a 20th overall position out of 385 competitors. whereas last year we came in at 11:30:49 in an overall position of 378 out of 430 competitors. GET IN THERE!!!
I was really chuffed with that time and of the whole experience during the day. The course was superb as was the organization, the volunteers and marshals throughout the course were brilliant. I finished the day off with a hog roast and a pint sitting down on the grass watching the other competitors cross the finish line, some in a better state than others.
I went back to my B&B just outside Fort William with a couple of cans of beer for a celebratory drink. I sat on my bed in front of the TV and promptly fell asleep!
The finish. What an amazing day. I came 20th out of 385 competitors which I was delighted at.
Finish time: 07:42:27
Categ: Over 40
Race No: 263