I picked up Pauline Friday morning, we decided to go up the A9 and turn left at Dalwhinnie, I prefer the Tyndrum, Glencoe road with glimpses of the West Highland Way but with the World Cup being on in Fort William (the mountain bike one) there would probably be delays going that way.
After our traditional stop for a picnic at Eilean Donan Castle (wondering how many millions of photos are taken there every day) we tootled our way up to Portree, we called into the big Co-op before going to our B&B, they were only accepting cash due to a technical problem, we later heard that the whole of Skye’s broadband was wiped out because thieving numpties cut the fibre optic cable around Lochcarron or Kyle of Lochalsh thinking they were stealing copper cable, so it was good old fashioned cash for Friday night.
We picked up our numbers and laughed at “being at sixes and sevens” after a bite to eat we headed into the Tongadale, we promised Ozzie, Karen and Sarah from Sheffield that we’d have a pint for them since they weren’t going to manage up to Skye this year, I think they’ve been coming nearly as long as we have, our first Skye half was in 1993, we’ve missed a few years here and there but glad to see Davie Aitken keeping his record going, he’s now ran all 29!
Saturday morning was absolutely beautiful, warm, and sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky and a bit of a wee breeze to keep the midgies away. Perfect! Also for the first time this year I didn’t have a t-shirt under my vest! I haven’t “raced” the Skye half for quite a few years since it’s usually the week before the West Highland Way race so Pauline and I run together enjoying a last leg stretch before the big adventure, this year there was two weeks between the races but I still didn’t want to work hard and wasn’t concerned what time we’d do, Pauline has standards and as the Pipe Band was leading us to the start line she said, “Right, if we’re over two hours you’re buying the ice-creams, if we’re under I’ll buy them!” I thought Aw naw, pressure! But I accepted the challenge.
The first few miles are undulating up hills and folk were settling into their pace, it was quite warm as the breeze, if any, was behind us, but that’s how I like it. The route has wide open scenery all the way and the Pipe Band appeared again around 5 miles. My legs felt really good and strong, I was relaxed and comfortable keeping the pace under cruise control, and we were steadily passing people. At the Borve drink station, I could hear Fiona (Chief Wee Grumpy) before I saw her, but it’s great having friends in high places, with Vicki’s help we were handed a Capri-Sun instead of water. (photo from Vicki MacLean)
It was a lovely wee boost just before the big hill at 9 miles, I had to breathe a bit more near the top but the legs still felt good and strong, after going over the top it is just over 2 miles to the finish and all downhill, with gravity assistance (checked my watch for the first time) we were sub 8 minute mile-ing, (steep downhill) AND Pauline was on the ice-creams! We finished in 1.52.54, which was a lovely surprise and proved to me that I'm in great shape and ready for the WHW.
I’m afraid we were a wee bit anti-social and didn’t stay for the prize giving, it was too nice a day to stay in a school hall and our time on Skye is short so we took our race mementos and a picnic up to the coral beach near Dunvegan, it had clouded over a bit and breezy at the top end of the island, perfect hat wearing weather! Debbie gave us a lovely surprise, a wee while ago I’d commented on a facebook photo she’d posted of the HBT hats she’s been busy knitting.
We rounded of the evening with a lovely meal, a couple of pints and a couple of malts.
For quite a few years, we’ve come away saying we’ll need to do the Heb 3 Challenge, and for next year we really mean it!