Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Ben Nevis Race

The Ben Nevis Race

This race has become one of the highlights of my year. It truly is a brutal fell race. 4500ft takes a fair bit of getting up and it is a true test of both ones mental and physical strength. This was to be my third Ben race and unlike last year after I had completed my Bob Graham and was not in the best shape, this year I was feeling good.
At the start I met up with one of my many friends in the fellrunning world. Most who read this will know Andy Fleet. A young lad who has come a long way quickly. He is a good runner who lets say likes a pint and a laugh after a race. Just my type of runner and we are good friends.
Anyway last year we climbed the Ben together and Andy helped me on the steep ascent by just being there. I was struggling badly last year and although he didnt know it Andy really helped me on the climb.
So we sort of decided to run the race together this time round.
The banter before the start of the race was all about the bad weather. To be honest I wasnt worried as It needs to be about minus 25 before I have to race in a helly. A vest was all I needed and it didnt stop people commenting on my lack of warm clothing. But Iwarm up very quickly so I didnt care.
Andy and myself lined up. Incidentally Andy's dad was also participating and I knew that Andy wanted to do well. He said "Daz I think we should take it steady on the road before the climb". "Okay Andy no problem mate" I told him. But deep down Id already decided that wasnt to be the plan.
The starter set us off and I floored it and I could feel Andy keeping up. He was with me all the way and I kept checking his whereabouts as we started the climb. From last year I knew he would climb well after the Red Burn. As I took a drink from the torrent of water coming down the burn sure enough Andy was right with me. I checked my watched and already knew that Andy's worries about us being able to make a sub 2 hr time had been blown out the water. We were well in that time.
As we climbed the steep rocky section my back started aching. 20 odd years of working in engineering have not done me any favours and the constant stooping over was very painful. We climbed well though and before we knew it we started to run up the field of cairns.
A few words of encouragement to Andy as we neared the summit just to keep his mind focused and after say a thankyou to the summit marshal we handed our race tags in and started our descent.
Now I knew from last year as well that Andy descends well like me on rock so we absolutley hammered it.
Now I dont know how many riskswe took coming dwn that rock but I remember thinking if this goes pear shaped it will be nasty. I had visions of my fall last year but quickly put that out of my mind.
We started the steep ascent of the grass that is virually unrunnable. Runners all around us were falling over and sliding down on there backsides but we managed to get down to the burn very quickly.
I checked my watch at the burn and decided I might be able to get a sub 1hr 50 min time which is one of my dreams in fell running so ran down the path as quick as I could. The road was as hard as ever and after a quick run around the playing field I crossed the line in 1 hr 51mins and something. I was bitterly dissapointed. People who know me will tell you I never check my watch and dont bother about race times, but I do at the Ben. Its just the magical thing of running up and down Britains highest mountain that does this.
Andy was just a few places behind me and for a nineteen year old I was made up for him. To be able to do that at nineteen is quite amazing. How many youngsters in today's society could do that. I doubt many.
I will be back next year to try and go faster.
Andy in the red and white vest. Making it look easy.

Climbing the path, Andy is a few places back.
Finish of last years race

My friend Andy. I thought I got mucky. A good runner and I cant believe im 20 years older than him. Not sure why he wears those gloves

The terrain

Runners descending the Ben

Ben Nevis. 4400 odd feet of pain

Last year loss of concentration. I had done the hard bit but managed to knock myself out albeit for a moment and damage my knee.
Falling is all part of learning your trade as a fell runner.
After my first Ben race and thinking I'm never EVER doing that again. Its insane.

On my knees praying

No comments:

Post a Comment