Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Day 5 review - Excellent conditions for running (and getting bitten)

The support crew (Katy and Jack) and I started the day packing up the tent and supplies in fierce windy conditions. The support crew's day actually started at about 1 in the morning as the wind coming off the Dunnoch Firth was too much for them and they ended up sleeping in the car! Now that's the good thing about running a marathon a day. Not even gale force winds shift you out of your bed! I was quite snug mind, being fully enclosed in my sleeping bag like some arctic explorer.

By the time we finished packing and got on our way to the start it was nearly noon. It was going to be another late finish! Never mind. It worked well yesterday so it should work today.

The first hurdle to overcome today was at the bridge over the Cromarty Firth (sounds like a title of a Scottish war movie). This was 1 mile into a fairly hot day. The bitterly cold cross wind came as quite a shock at first but I eventually found it to be very refreshing. As soon as I got over the bridge there was a nice 500 ft climb over 3.5 miles. I took that in my stride and soon reached the summit. Because of the high temperature I was drinking more water than usual and had to refuel (via the support crew) at 7 and 13 miles. As each mile went on I seemed to be collecting more and more insect bites. That was despite wearing plenty of repellent. In the past my aftershave has been good at repelling the ladies. Perhaps I should try a bit of that tomorrow.

The A9 to Inverness was very busy and I spent the time running on the grass verge adjacent to the road. As a result, for the first time in 5 days I didn't fully have to concentrate on the oncoming traffic and the miles seemed to pass by quicker than normal. I think running on grass requires about 5% more effort than on road but I was just glad not to have to think about being taken out by passing camper vans.

As I ran over the Inverness Bridge it was time to have another blast of bitter wind from the Inverness Firth. Again, it was refreshing. To the left of the bridge was Inverness & Caladonian Thistle's ground. Ah, a football ground! I haven't seen one of those for nearly a week! Soon after this, I had to cross the very busy roundabout to continue my way on the A9. There was life in the old legs yet and I sprinted across the road to avoid the oncoming traffic. I showed a turn of pace not seen since the days of Mick Quinn (on celebrity fat club mind!).

The A9 out of Inverness had a climb of 600 ft up to the 18 mile point. I stopped here as it was time for the Support Crew and I to get some tea. I got a few more bites in the 5 minutes I waited to be picked up.

My steak didn't touch the sides and I as soon on my way again at about 19:30 up the steep and hilly A9 past Loch Moy. And when I say hilly there was another 400 ft climb to a summit of 1054 ft. That's hilly in anyone's book. It's times like these that I'm thankful for all the training I put in over the North Pennines.

I got to the 26.2 mile point (another marathon distance) at exactly 21:30. Then it was time to head back to Base Camp 3 in Inverness.

I'm hoping for an earlier start tomorrow to give me plenty of recovery time for the 1st local derby of the season on Friday (see above for details).

This is Mark Allison signing off from a canny B&B in Inverness. May tomorrow bring less insects!