Friday night we headed up to Langholm in the Scottish borders for the KIMM (Karrimor International Mountain Marathon). The forecast for the weekend looked good – very cold but no real cloud or rain.
Saturday morning when matt and I got up for our early start (8:05am) the tent was frozen inside and out and whilst having a cup of tea we were told the temperature was -5c. Matt, the psycho, still wore shorts ! I was slightly concerned that though I’d been toasty warm in the night, on saturday night when I only have my race sleeping bag rather than it and a 3-season one I may be a tad parky. We were one of the first teams off and by the first check point on the C course we’d passed the pairs that had started in front of us and had clear hills for the first few hours. Running down a river bed after checkpoint 1 we followed an otter for about a minute without it realizing we were there – it was not more than 4 feet away – it was so amazing we even stopped for a minute to watch it further. The going was very hard, the terrain under foot was tough often difficult to run with rhythm even on the flats, we also had to descend a forest fire break which had lots of snow in it which was very cold in fell shoes. Around checkpoint five we were passed by two pairs in our class – a couple of young lads who were flying – they had started 35 mins behind us !! they went on to win the C-Class. Also a pair who had beat us by two places in the LAMM… one of them happened to be a doctor (this will be relevant later!). This latter pair had started 6 mins after us and were moving a little quicker however between checkpoints 5 and 6 we chose a different route and we got ahead of them, they caught us by 7 but again round to 8 we chose an different route and beat them to that checkpoint and round to the final one before they ran by us on the descent to the day 1 finish. Cracking day and we were 11th, the leaders were about 35 mins ahead of second place but then the next 12 were within 20 minutes of each other – so it looked like the chasing start day 2 would be really fun.
We started on the task of getting lots of food down us … successfully achieved I might add. Matt was a little worried about my race tent and how much condensation would collect inside it … no need to worry it was so cold it all just froze on the inside ;o) Wearing all my clothes in my bag (including two hats) kept me just about warm enough.
Sunday morning we were woken by a bag piper (nice touch ;o). We set off trying to run down some of the pairs infront hoping at least to get a top 10 finish. The first checkpoint was a classic choice of over or round – those infront tended to be going over so we went round… proved to be about identical in time though we started to catch pairs on the ascent to the checkpoint. To the next checkpoint, we chose badly and ran round rather than down and up (stupidly not noting how low the checkpoint was) and probably lost a couple of minutes. Following this we were running well and soon passed one pair (one of the pair had clearly ‘bonked’) that was us into 10th. Then coming up the hill towards checkpoint 5 we reeled in 3 further pairs and had the pair in 6th in our sites – we were running well and feeling very optimistic. We were contouring round steep ground when PING ! I go over on my ankle … a minute of very loud F***ing and blinding before I persuaded myself to put weight on it… hobbled for about a minute then decided I’d have to strap it. Progressively I could run better but we’d lost 3 places, up hill and flat was ok, in fact we almost re-caught the others on the next section, but on the next contouring section Matt engaged me in conversation and I think my concentration waned and BANG ! straight over on it again – jeez it hurt. Round to the final checkpoint we chose a longer route on tracks in order to protect my ankle. Luckily we’d put enough distance between us and those in 11th that even though I was more or less walking pace down the last descent we managed to hold onto 10th place.
Back at the event centre the pairing that we’d tussled with the day before had had a storming race running into 2nd place. One of them was a doctor so he offered to look at my ankle – it looked like someone had placed a golf ball in it – it wasn’t tender to touch – he said he’d not seen an ankle like it ! The swelling wasn’t in the normal place for a break or strain. He knew some other doctors at the event so wanted to get a second opinion … next thing I know I’ve got about half a dozen people round me with a couple of doctors fascinatingly prodding and poking me. He even took a photo of my ankle … so it may be famous in some medical journal.
Anyway… fantastic event … can’t wait for the next one.
If anyone knows some good exercises to strengthen ankles or a good support to wear when running – any suggestions appreciated.
See you Wednesday night … at least in the pub if not swimming. Luckily I’d planned to have some rest over the next couple of weeks.