Grant MacDonald sent through this superb report after accompanying Andrew Murray on Sunday.
For those of you that don’t know Andrew Murray is a rather optimistic chap who has set himself the goal of running from Scotland to the Sahara desert. This is a total of over 2600 miles which he is planning to do running on 85 consecutive days. In doing this he hopes to raise £100000 for the Yamaa trust, a charity aiming to eliminate poverty in the Gobi region of Mongolia.
As part of his run he invited people to take part in an ultra-marathon race from Kinlochleven to Tyndrum. In a moment of madness myself and Elsie decided this might be a fun thing to do.
We arrived in Kinlochleven in the dark the night before the race to find Andrew Murray drinking beer, showing off his swollen Achilles and dishing out kilts for the race in an attempt to break the world record for the number of people racing in kilts (rather unlikely that there is one to be broken, but anyway…) Andrew shared some of his running tips, like eating 480grams of scotch eggs for breakfast in preparation for his fifth day of ultra marathon running. After a hearty lasagne and a pint, we retired to our luxurious (not) accommodation at the Blackwater hostel. Due to a minor administrative error on my part, we had failed to get our entry in on time, but Elsie charmed Andrew into giving us entry into the race.
On the start line there was much discussion about the unconventional kit list for the race, which included safety pins and a mirror, but had no mention of items such as gloves or maps. There were also an impressive number of runners sporting kilts and other fancy dress items. We set off at 8:30 on a clear and cold morning, surrounded by snow covered mountains and headed south along the west highland way route. After a fair deal of climbing, most reached the devils staircase where there was plenty of ice and snow underfoot to make running interesting and a little bit scary. Others in the race (Grant included, Elsie excluded) failed to follow the well-marked path and ended up adding 3 miles of off-track, in-bog, over-mountain lost-shoe running…hmmmm, not what you need when doing an ultra, but what you get for assuming Andrew Murray knows the way and following him! Eventually us lost ones got back on course slightly muddier and tired than those competitors with the unfair advantage of being able to follow a path.
Other race highlights included a spectacularly leaking platypus, meeting deer at the Kings House pub, multiple toilet stops, incredible views, running alongside men and women in skirts, and very wet feet. After a very long 28 miles (more like 31 in my case due to the scenic detour) we reached the finish line tired but happy, Elsie and her sister even managed to raise a cheer with a sprint down the hill to cross the finish line. We retired to the pub in Tyndrum to stuff our faces and to delay the inevitable drive back to Glasgow. However hard the drive seemed after that run we were happy in the knowledge that unlike Andrew we didn’t have another 2000+ miles of running still to do.
You can follow Andrew’s progress at http://www.scotland2sahara.com/ - He is hoping to raise £100000 for the Yamaa trust http://www.yamaatrust.com - So if you are feeling generous please donate him a few of your hard earned pennies (or pounds).