Congratulations to the 5 ERNs that travelled up to Inverness to take part in the Loch Ness Marathon. This is billed as the 3rd biggest in the UK and also the most scenic.The Marathon starts on the high ground between Fort Augustus and Foyers and drops down to the banks of Loch Ness at Foyers. From there, the route follows the loch’s south eastern shore, heading north east towards Dores on the northern tip of the loch. From Dores, the race heads directly into the centre of Inverness, turning left over the main bridge in the city centre. The last mile and a half runs alongside the river Ness before finishing at Bught Park.
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Eirwen said: “Hi, well, I did it! Probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life but I’m here to tell the tale and I’m really chuffed. Unfortunately, due to a road accident holding up traffic for hours, Scott didn’t make it in time to see me finishing (or take any photos!), but I’ve attached one he took afterwards. We drove up to the start area this morning so Scott could see where I had run and we took a couple of snaps up there too.
Here’s my report:
Ok, so running a marathon with an injury is maybe not the best idea, but after all that training and everyone so kindly sponsoring me, I just couldn’t bear not giving it a go.
Early sunday morning I opened the curtains in my comfy hotel room to a dreich and drizzly day. Extremely tempted to forget the whole thing and stay in bed, I grudgingly dragged myself out and down to the bus-stop. I met Denise on the bus and we fretted together as we climbed higher and higher up through the hills towards the start area – had we brought enough gels? were our bodies going to make it to the end after our recent injuries? why were we doing this to ourselves?!
Because the busses had been running late, there wasn’t much hanging about at the start area. Just enough time to drop bags on the baggage truck, visit the facilities (by facilities I mean the damp and wind-swept heather) then shuffle along to the relevant start marker. After a quick mass warm-up, the local school pipe band marched through the pack of soggy runners, then we were off. Denise quickly vanished into the distance but I was determined to take it easy with my injured foot so I stuck to a leisurely 10min/mile pace. Val had leant me her garmin which kept me in check and I plodded along (well, up and down to be more precise) for the first few miles in relatively good form. Although the field was fairly crowded at the start, I always had enough room to run and by taking things nice and slowly I was able to look around and appreciate where I was. It really is a stunning place to run. The single-track road takes you high into the hills following the east bank of Loch Ness and the views are spectacular, even in the rain.
I had loaded myself up with painkillers in the morning but my foot started niggling from about mile 10 onwards. I slowed to 11min/mile pace, gritted my teeth and kept reminding myself to just take it easy and try to enjoy it. The ups and downs seemed endless but the sun eventually broke through the clouds about midday which helped spur me on. The long, gradual slope from mile 18-19 was a real hard slog. By then my foot was really painful and my knees and calves were aching too. I hadn’t realised just how much of a climb it was and I convinced myself I’d hit the famous “wall” and I’d have to stop. I slowed right down to nearly 12min miles but I refused to let myself walk. I was petrified that if I began to walk I’d never get going again. Somehow I kept pushing and then all of a sudden it became easier again.
The final few miles approaching Inverness were amazing. I don’t know where it came from but I suddenly found a reserve of energy. The support was fantastic through the town and then I caught sight of Alan and Aicha as I approached the finishing straight and their cheers really encouraged me. I was so excited to have got that far I just couldn’t stop grinning. I even managed a sprint finish!
Overall, I had an amazing experience. My race time was really slow but, all things considered, I still can’t quite believe I even finished. I’m so glad I decided to give it a go because I can honestly say, despite my gammy foot, I really did enjoy myself. Thanks as always to everyone at ERN for your support and encouragement throughout my training. Time will tell if it was a bad decision to take part, but fingers crossed I’ll be injury free and back on top form again soon.
Denise said: “Hi, just wanted to let you know I actually finished the marathon woohoo!! It all went a bit wrong but came good in the end – was going well until mile 16 when my knee went from a little bit of pain to a whole world of pain within about ten minutes and I did a cycle of stop and stretch/ attempt to run / walk / hobble / stop and stretch. Eventually stopped at first aid and got ice for a bit and took painkillers then developed this amazing new running style of running on one leg and dragging the other behind me!!
Then at about mile 21 the painkillers kicked in and I managed to run the last 5 miles which I was really happy about. Finished in 4.21 – any thoughts of a faster time had long left me, I was just ecstatic to cross the line and be running. I was grinning like a mad person going over the line and immediately planning my next one!! Although not sure my knee shares my enthusiasm!!
I’ve attached a photo of me at mile 24 when I’d gotten a new lease of life and was loving it! I have to say I found the downhill pretty hard on my body, think I’ll go for a nice flat course next time. Was great at start as I met Eirwen on the bus and we shivered in the rain together before we got started. The pipe band was a really nice send off and got everyone into the spirit of it even if it was raining and freezing!
Thanks for the support, see you soon.