Sunday, 18 May 2008

Scottish Islands Peaks Race

16th to 18th May 2008
Approx. 99 km of running, with 4500 metres of ascent

Chris & David before the start First two boats away from Oban - Memec and Aberzen View back towards Oban Memec End of Mull run Neil & Chris at the finish with Barbara Mills SIPR Winning Team SIPR Winning Team SIPR results at 10am on Sunday morning Sailing Route Oban Prologue, 6.3km Mull, 37.7km Jura, 23.8km Arran, 31.4km

Just back from Troon after a couple of days messing around in boats. On my third attempt with Blue Chip skippered by Steven Garrett, and ably assisted by Graham and Neil, we finally won the Scottish Islands Peaks Race overall with a winning margin of just over 3 hours.

Oban (6.3km) - David Riach and I jogged round the Oban prologue in 28:20, to finish 5th just behind Crispin & Martin, with Joe Symonds & Graham Bee easily winning the opening stage followed by Henry Blake & Finlay Wild, and Don Naylor & Dan Gay. Following this opening exchange of fire, and the sprightly look of the trimarans Memec and Aberzen, David and I were confidently expecting Blue Chip to finish in 3rd place at best.

Mull (37.7km) - Arriving in Mull 3.5 hours later we were neck and neck in first place with Aberzen racing to paddle ashore and leap out onto the first black slippery rocks. The Aberzen duo of Dan and Don pipped us to the checkpoint by 20 seconds, and proceeded to sprint away down the road disappearing out of sight. We tracked them later on the way up Ben More, but lost them once they were in the mist near the summit. We plugged away running the final 8km of track and road at 43 minute 10k pace, and finished the stage in 4:08:49 to limit Aberzen's lead to 5 minutes, and quickly caught and overtook them once sailing again.

Jura (23.8km) - All advantage gained with our blistering Mull run was lost on the sail to Jura as the wind dropped and tide turned, thus enabling most of the boats behind us to catch us up again. Later in the night we got moving again and arrived at Craighouse around 7:40am in 3rd place behind the trimaran Aberzen (Dan Gay and Don Naylor) and catamaran Obedient (John Hepburn and Neil Arnott), who were both around 10 minutes ahead of us. David and I decided to attempt the Keils burial ground route for a change, which is 1km shorter than heading up the road to Jura Forest House. We made a bit of blunder by not crossing the Abhainn a Mhinisteir to its north bank straight away and wasted time floundering through bog and tussocks for while, before reaching firmer higher ground. We reached the first pap (Beinn a Chaolais in 1:40, and were surprised to realise we were the first team there. In fact from this point onwards we were in the lead for the rest of the race. We had descended less than 100m down the ENE ridge when we bumped into Don and Dan still climbing. Not wishing to allow them to chase us, we raced down the scree to the next checkpoint at the lochan inflow, and then swiftly climbed Beinn an Oir back into the mist to be out of sight. We never saw the HBT pair again on Jura, or anyone else apart from John Blair-Fish on his bike at Three Arch Bridge.

I realised we had missed the 4 hour benchmark when we hit the bridge at 3:40, but still managed the 3.2 miles of road in 24 minutes to finish the Jura stage in 4:04:39, giving us the fastest aggregate time over the Mull and Jura runs, and a pretty healthy lead at getting away from Jura at 11:48am, 24 minutes ahead of Aberzen.

Jura to Arran - The 69 mile sail from Jura to Arran was quite horrendous. Lurching slamming seas right from the outset meant all I could do was to lie there in my sopping wet running kit wondering how on earth I was to find a sleeping bag, whilst shaking with hypothermia and reluctant to move or open my eyes. Eventually I moved enough to take a Kwell, and was instantly sick. I half managed to get into a wet sleeping bag with waves breaking over the boat showering my legs and feet. The next 9 hours or so were pretty grim, with high levels of discomfort and repeatedly being sick or retching up bile.

Arran (31.4km) - David and I reached the Lamlash tent at 10.30pm Saturday evening, shaken and weak from the bumpy voyage, drained from the previous 2 long runs, and having had nothing to eat in the past 10.5 hours since Jura. We took a bag of food ashore into the tent and tried to scoff down hula hoops and chocolate mousse during the kit check, but got timed out and carried on eating as we shakily jogged down Lamlash high street at 10.40pm. We never really got properly going on this run and ran the ridiculously slow time of 4:34:21, arriving back at 3:11am completely done in, and discovered the crew had almost lost the boat whilst we were away since the motor ignition key had got snapped off in all the excitement rounding the Mull of Kintyre, so Blue Chip had no manoeuvrability and almost ran aground, but for the crew members jumping into the sea to prevent disaster. Luckily David and I didn't know anything about this until later, as we were busy lost in our own world of hallucinogenic stumbling around on Goatfell in the middle of the night with a bitterly cold wind blowing over the summit.

We didn't see another soul on the hill until we were well below the deerfence and below the treeline, when eventually we met a group of 8 headtorches, rapidly followed by the Memec pair of Henry Blake & Finlay Wild, all on their way up Goatfell. We figured therefore that we still had a good hour or so lead on the field. Once back at Lamlash we both felt pretty woozy, but were most suprised to see our previous nearest rivals Aberzen just arriving on the beach as we were leaving Arran.

Troon - The sail across to Troon is a doddle compared to what's gone before, and is the first time that the runners can more or less relax. There is still an impending feeling that something could go wrong, or somebody could catch us at the last minute, but as it happened we calmly sailed and rowed into Troon Harbour, and Neil and I did the honours with jogging along the pontoons and up the ramp to the Marina Office to check in the winning team at 8:08am Sunday morning to welcoming cheers and bottle of champagne. Quite an emotional moment.


Sarah Ridgway said...

Great going, sounds a hell of a weekend. Well done. Definately a race on the to do list, but the running after seasickness worries me.

Anyway see you at Jura,



Tim said...

After reading your account I have *massive* respect for anyone who just completes it, let alone wins it! I would have had to be airlifted off the boat for sure!

A fantastic achievement.

Chris Brydie said...

Well done - Good effort. My Youth Team (and I) passed you (we were heading to Goatfell) at the stile going across the field upto Prospect Hill on Arran just before 3am and you looked fine to me!

Marco Consani said...

Fantastic Chris. Well done. We were 23 hours behind you and last boat to finish. I was so glad to just finish it. You must be over the moon to win it.
A fantastic achievment.


Chris said...

Thanks guys!
It was a tough old weekend alright.
And you need more or less everything going in your favour to stand any chance of winning. The only trouble now is that the crew might ask me and David back next year!