Friday, 31 July 2009

Not long now ...

No, not long, only 8 days and a few hours …

Today was my last long run, up to Loch Thom from our house, 25K and 200m elevation. Thomas had drafted a plan for my final 2 weeks and I have tried to stick with it. At the weekend we will do some walks, we are planning to take the 9-year-old son of friends up Ben Lomond (weather permitting) to bag his first ever Munro (or hill for that matter), followed by 2 or 3 shorter runs until Wednesday.

The last 2 weeks have been a bit like an emotional rollercoaster with Dario’s death and then his funeral. A lot of other things were going on at the same time at work, with family and friends. So I have not had too much time to get nervous yet. I am sure though that this will come. I am usually nervous before any race or more serious training run, so my 1st ultra should not be any different.
I am looking forward to the whole experience though. My main goal is to finish and if nothing untoward happens that should be possible. My next goal then is to get under 10 hours which could just be manageable given the training run recently though 10:30 is more realistic. Thomas thinks I could get to 9:30 or less but I really just want to enjoy the whole experience and find out what it is all about. If I pushed too hard I might end up not finishing at all or very late so I think I will just take it easy. And I think I will run with Andreas and try to stear us both towards a sub 10:00 finish. And I will try and agree with him beforehand that if one of us struggles, the other one should go on.
Thomas is very keen for me to run on my own, but I’d feel a bit mean then. And who knows he might be stronger than me in the end and pass me with a large grin on his face as to my arrogance of thinking I am that much faster. Anyway, we will see on the day.

It will be interesting to see if any special remembrance moment will take place for Dario before, during or after the race. He should have been bib number one. The funeral last week was very emotional but such a tribute to him. So many people had turned up, some from very far. Beforehand I was a bit worried that it might be weird to meet all the WHW runners and supporters at such a sad moment. Usually when we meet it is at the prime of everyone’s physical and mental fitness helping each other to achieve (mostly) something quite extra-ordinary like the WHW Race. It is about breaking the boundaries of your usual limitations.
But it is something else to then be confronted with the ultimate limitation of life itself, death. And such an untimely death it was.
But it did not feel weird at all. In fact I felt such a bond of united grief and sadness that again supported each other through the day and made it possible to share not only the grief but also the celebration of his life. It gave the feeling of “belonging” to this rather special WHW Family.

And I guess this is just another great tribute of what Dario has actually achieved through his WHW Race.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

50K Training Run

Last Saturday saw me completing my first 50K (or 31M) training run. I ran from Tyndrum to Kinlochleven and up onto the Lairig Mor to complete the 50K distance and get the last steep climb in as well to be better prepared for the Devil's race in a few weeks.

Unfortunately when we got home on Sunday evening we got the very sad news that Dario, the WHW Race director, had died near the summit of Lochnagar while out with a group of friends also training for the Devil's. We were both stunned and still are. What a tragic loss. I did not feel like writing up the usual blog. Our thoughts have been with his wife, his immediate family, close friends and especially those who were with him on Sunday. I have been reading all the moving tributes and feel somehow connected through the grief and tears of everyone else.

Though we don't have a goblet to raise in his memory, we have remembered him in our own way. I only got to know him through Thomas 2 years ago when he signed up for his 1st WHWR. At the post-race BBQ only a few weeks ago we briefly talked about the Devil's and he said that he, too, liked the 2nd part of the WHW best. So I thought that I might blog after all since it is this 2nd part of the WHW that I ran on at the weekend. I will just link to our photostream at the end which has a lot of nice photos from this part of the route. It shows the WHW in all its glory, in beautiful sunshine and clear views.

We set off from Gourock by ferry to avoid the Golf traffic. We, that was Andreas, a friend who I will run with in the race and who had never ran on trails before (!) and Thomas as our support. Thomas has a lot to learn as a supporter, he was not the cheerist one you could have, in fact he was the opposite! This did not improve after our first lengthy stop in Bridge of Orchy, 13min! Andreas decided on a full gear change and announcesd later he wanted to change his socks at every meeting point. I quickly put an end to this, but could not avoid another long stop of 17min at Kingshouse. It was very hot crossing the Rannoch Moor, but the views were just fabulous. The same at the Devil's staircase. Thomas came up to meet us at the highest point off Rannoch Moor. He took most of the photos and came up to meet us above Kinlochleven as well. We then decided to walk up to the Lairig Mor to do the climb as well as completing 50K in total. This was quite hard, but we were glad we did it and now know how it will feel in a few weeks time. It took us 6:45 to reach Kinlochleven, including over 36min stoppage time. (1:13 to BoO, 40min to Victoria, 1:54 to Kingshouse, 45min to Altnafeadh, 1:33 to Kinlochleven incl 25min for the staircase)

This was one of those rare days out when the weather and the views were just perfect.

Hard to believe that only 24 hours later the WHW family would loose one of its greatest gems.

Rest in peace Dario!

Here are the photos.