On Friday 15th September three small, but feisty athletes (Sarah, Jane and Claire B) journeyed north, leaving the gentle slopes of our dear Cheviots for the rugged Angus Glens. Fuelled by flagons of coffee we braved the magic harp across the Forth and drove deeper into Scotland. We arrived in the beautiful Glen Clova slightly daunted by the towering peaks and the horrendous weather forecast for the coming day. We ate heartily, had a glass of wine (carbo-loading) and spent a sleepless night in a bunk house designed for hobbits.
Race morning and the wind was howling as we prepared our good selves and our bikes for the Duathlon (Extreme). 27k bike around the valley roads, 14k run up two Munros and a final 6k cycle to the finish line. At least it wasn’t raining. We set off in the last group of competitors to the sound of bells ringing and a larger than life Highland Coo waving us cheerily on our way (too much wine!?). Initially flying with a tail-wind thinking how amazingly fit we were, overtaking a few competitors (to be fair mainly those on unicycles or with mechanical problems). Then we turned into the wind and it was a battle to keep the bikes upright and the rain came. Ah fabulous, soaked to the skin and not even an hour into our venture.
Rainbows and cheery banter welcomed us into transition. There was the usual struggle to rediscover running legs and we were off. Steady incline through pine forest before emerging into the spectacular Corrie Fee. A sudden burst of sunlight and more rainbows, we were blessed, then cursed by the very steep ascent beside the waterfall and the entry into a bleak, cold landscape. The wind buffeted us as we ascended Mayar. The main goal now was remaining on our feet as we crossed the summit plateau and started on the ascent of Dreish. Slippery rocks and hail adding to our joys. It was a relief to descend down the Kilbo Path, though at one point Sarah fell and lay with a leg raised in the air until restored to her feet by a handily tall runner, luckily only cramp. A long descent through the trees until we approached transition again, welcomed by cheers and cowbells. A last final sprint on the bikes, wind assisted at last. We finished in a time of 4 hours and 4 minutes. Euphoria as we celebrated our survival with a bottle of Moet and later buckets of scampi and chips.
The Duathlon (extreme) is organised by the local Search and Rescue Team as a fund raiser. Really friendly competitors and marshals, stunning scenery, highly recommended.