A crazy happy Glen Coe Skyline
The Glen Coe Skyline came just 8 days after completing the Transapline Run – a 7 day stage race across the Alps. Although I actually felt ok I knew deep inside my body was probably broken and needed to rest. I just needed to get round – all I needed was to finish top 15 and I’d get some points towards the UK SkyRunning series (you have to complete at least 4 races to be part of the series). If I was to get myself round this brutal course then I could rest, rest, rest!
I set off from London late Wednesday morning, via York for a wedding dress fitting, home to Leeds to pick up my car, a pit stop in Penrith on Wednesday night before arriving in Glencoe on Thursday morning. I had a little test of the legs in the valley and the start of Curved Ridge, fell chest deep in a very deep bog hole, then spent the afternoon working from the laundry room of the campsite (the only place with an electricity socket!).
Most of Friday I spend working, with a couple of hours run up the start of the race route to the Devil’s Staircase. On Saturday I couldn’t resist another run in these beautiful mountains – this time accompanied by the lovely Stroms.
6.45am on Sunday 18th September, 8 days after the Transalp and 6 days before becoming Mrs Kaars Sijpesteijn I lingered at the back of the starting pen, feeling really rather relaxed. *Just get round, just get round*
The steady 10km ascent along the West Highland Way was much less of a drag than I’d anticipated, and also less of a stampede. It was a beautiful sight to see as the the snake of runners ascended the Devils Staircase into the clear sunrise.
Curved Ridge (via the grade 3 scramble Buachaille Etive Mor) begins about 13km in and the further back in the field the greater the liklihood of congestion on the ridge. I am a very steady starter but can move relatively fast on the scrambles, but I wasn’t going to exhaust myself in the first hour trying to avoid the queues! Trotting along the valley before the scramble started my legs felt alive, like I wanted to move faster, but I held back, there was a long way to go!
As I ascended Curved Ridge I wanted to dance with joy, as I bounded so freely, enjoying every single moment.
The course then undulates for a few Kilometres – it felt just so magical in these mountains, almost surreal like I was floating! Then came an awesome 800m decent into Lairig Eilde pass. With a wonderful hug and super grins from Kim Cavill and Shelli Gordon I was ready to take on the next big climb.
It starts with a gentle ascent for about 2 miles. I trotted with relative ease up the climb. It was such a strange feeling, they didn’t feel like my legs, they felt fresh and bouncy! Surely my body was going to crack at any moment, so I just embraced each moment whilst I was feeling so good.
There is an out and back on this section of the course and I was amazed to see I was only 20 minutes behind Salomon Althlete Martina Valmassoi who gave me a big excited high five!
As I descended into the Loch Achtrichian checklist I was absolutely on top of the world – it really did feel crazy! I just couldn’t stop grinning, I didn’t want this day to end! I felt like a royalty at the checkpoint, perfectly prepared flat coke from Rachel Platt, Jayson Cavill refilling my Mountain Fuelled water bottles and echoes of cowbells from all around!
On the steep climb that awaited I could see a few runners way up ahead. I danced out the checkpoint and bounced up the start of the wee hill. By the time I had reached the top I’d overtaken another 10 guys – such a crazy day! And what a nice surprise at the top to be greeted by Stuart Smith and a packet of fizzy Haribos.
Then for the crux of the race. This is what you save yourself for – the full traverse of the Aonach Eagach Ridge (a grade 2 scramble). It was wet, it was claggy, and it was AWESOME!
Then its the home straight – a few kilometres back to the West Highland Way and then the 5km to the finish – I flew down those last few kilometres, beaming as I crossed the finish line.
I was 6th lady in this mega international field – I was really rather over the moon with that!
That night – I drove the 310 miles back to Leeds – ready for my Monday morning meeting!