‘FALBH!’ ars’ an rìgh. ‘Fuirich!’ ars’ a’ ghaoth. (‘Go!’ said the king. ‘Wait!’ said the wind.)
It’s an ill-wind that blows no good, and while the strong south-easterly gusts of last weekend disrupted our boating plans for getting back from the Tiree half-marathon, a run among the spectacular views of Glen Nevis and a great night of celebration was a good alternative.
We had planned to head back to Mull with Pal Grant on Saturday afternoon, but, due to the poor weather, that voyage was cancelled. I had to be in Kilninver for a christening at which I was godfather on Sunday and the ferry would be too late, so there was no option but reluctantly to pull out. After all the sweat and swearing in the training process, and having promised to run, we decided to do the event on the mainland and then at least we couldn’t be accused of dodging the difficult part.
Two of our team had to stand down due to minor injuries – Ania with a sore hip and Andrew with a foot strain (probably from kicking my tòn too often with it!).
So three of us, a dog and two supporting cyclists headed up the beautiful valley of Glen Nevis to undertake the 13.1 miles of punishment.
Of the three running, I was most definitely the beginner. Chloe, the Skipinnish office boss, runs up Ben Nevis for fun and is doing an ultra marathon (40 miles) in a few weeks, and Maciek, Ania’s brother, was a junior Polish international 400 metres hurdler.
Running along with these two created a scene like a walrus and two gazelles on a day out. They were very kind and stayed with me, which was nice but as they were obviously not under any strain they kept trying to talk to me, which was like the dentist asking questions when you’re getting a filling. They were having great craic, but I did not have oxygen available to waste on conversation.
There was a fair amount of uphill terrain in the first half, which did not agree with my legs and lungs, but the stunning scenery of the outward run was very effective in distracting me from the battle to keep moving.
The 13.1 miles was conquered steadily and we finished in two hours and 17 minutes. It must take a fair dose of fuel to move 18.5 stone that distance and, according to my Fitbit, I burned 2,500 calories.
We were very happy to hear later that Mary Ann Kennedy and Nick Turner of Watercolour Music and Peter Griffiths of CalMac, the team Skipinnish runners who actually reached Tiree, all had a successful event too.
A boat on the sheltered waters of Loch Lochy, a feast to refill us with calories and a viewing of the original Whisky Ga
lore film were our means of celebration. The film was a fitting prelude to the christening celebrations in Oban the next day where the more familiar ‘half’ marathon was undertaken with vigour.
We were disappointed not to make it to Tiree but the wind is an unpredictable and stern master. As the Gaelic saying goes ‘Falbh!’ ars’ an rìgh. ‘Fuirich!’ ars’ a’ ghaoth.