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!).

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Pre race excitement

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.

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View from the Devil’s Staircase

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.

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Ascending curved ridge

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.

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Curved Ridge – on Top of the world!

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!

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Descending into the Loch Achtrichian checkpoint!

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!

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The final big climb  – happily ascending to Sgorr nam Fionnadh from the Glen Coe valley.

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!

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The beautiful Loch Leven.

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