Day 4 started well with a slow but unremitting climb up to the coll between Sgorr Ruadh and Beinn Liath Mhòr. The second part was through excellent running territory with only small interruptions of mud and ankle breaking slopes. It started wet, but there were dry spells. The forecast was not good though.
As we descended into the foot of Sgùrr Dubh and the road behind Beinn Eighe (A896 near the car park) the heavens opened and the wind found its strength.
At the roadside, searching for a banana in my backpack, the rain was so heavy a bystander couldnt even hear what I was saying. I forgot getting the banana out and kept the backpack on as the rain streamed inside my rain protection down my neck. Hat, hood - check! and off we go to the back of Beinn Eighe.
Again, some dry spells followed but as we reached the waterfall, the rain was coming in horizontally, the falls were being blown upwards(!) and people were struggling. The cold was beginning to bite. After the falls there is a really steep descent to the semi-rough territory which will eventually lead us to Kinlochewe.
Further on, the river crossing of Allt Coire Ruadh-staca was in spate and held a lot of people up. I crossed where there was an island further up which was not quite as tricky. It wasnt fun either. Next we traverse the bog and rivers that sit at the bottom of Ruadh-Stac Beag and then upto the path which leads into Kinlochewe.
One unlucky participant had collapsed due to hypothermia and was being attended to by the Mountain Rescue team. H was subsequently lifted off the mountain.
We made it to camp where I took a small walk into town to get supplies. I wasnt eating my bars, and was suffering through the day because of it. Something had to change. Coke, Iron Bru, mandarins, fruit, tictacs, chocolate, Lucozade and sparkling water. These would all keep me going over the next 3 key days.
Day 5: Now this one I had recced completely only 10 days before but in brilliant sunshine. However of all the stages this is one I would say is the easiest. No major mountains and a high percentage of paths to rough ground.
As I arrived into camp, the rain started. Indeed the rain and wind had caused havoc with the tents and only the first 16 were actually up at the time I arrived. Fortunately, I was in tent 16!!
Day 6: This was going to be a long one. I had recced the finish and so was looking forward to it. It promised a lot of 4x4 track running which was fine by me.
The day was fairly uneventful apart from long stretches of track running. The last hill was rough ground and we had long stretches of bloody bogs and mud again. Very hard on the ankles. There was quite a bit of rain and a few key river crossings as well.
All was going well as I figured we were now climbing up to where I had recced before. I nice easy path climbing up the the coll - except it was the wrong coll!.
I looked to my left and could see a snake of people heading up this near vertical climb to the actual proper coll at the foot of Coniver. So I dived off the path, annoyed with myself and headed in the right direction. I missed my footing in my rush and had another major fall, ending with a roll. Cursing I got up, replaced my hat and headed off once more.
What I hadnt realised was that my emergency fall messages from my Garmin watch had been triggered. also, little known fact, the Garmin will actually turn your phone ON even when its turned off, in order to send those emergency messages. so the emergency message had been send to Lolly - who was currently in the air flying back from Malaysia!
I got back to camp, reasonably ok and looking forward to some soup. End of day 6 was, to me anyway uneventful. Except it wasnt. Where I had fallen I had lost my prescription sunglasses. This spot was luckily nicely located by Garmin! Anyone fancy going to get them?
Day 7: The last major hurdle before competing the CWU. This was the final hurdle realistically speaking. The weather promised to be much better but the previous days rain had left some bad gooey mud and horrible underfoot ankle breaking rocks to get over in the last 6.5km along the loch. Then there was a last 4 mile run in on the road.
I met up with Gabi again as we passed the last checkpoint. Sun was out, the road was good and we were making good progress - until the route veered off to the left into bog and mud. I fell several times, once ending up sitting in the middle of a large puddle of muck - not nice. It took almost 3.5 hours to do 5km along this path!
We arrived at the main road junction just as the heavens opened again and I had to put all my warm weather gear on - first time in the whole race I put everything on including the Rab jacket and gloves. We then walked and ran downhill the main road to the finish.
Feeling fit we decided to run into the finish through the last 100m. Big mistake for me. I crossed the finish line only for my back muscles to immediately seize up and I had to be helped to the medic tent and my tent as my muscles slowly relaxed and hot warm. Third time into the medics tent and the last one!
Day 8: A stroll. Well not quite. My back had been fine and I was running down the hills including as we arrived at Sandwood bay. Then the back went again! I limped up the sand holding my back as it was the only way to walk properly. Luckily i managed to cadge some paracetamol and this helped me get the pain manageable.
Finally, after another couple of steep hills we arrived at the lighthouse. At last - the CWU was conquered for me.
It was a bitter sweet moment. Peter Wright was dead, taken by MSA. The donations were doing my fundraising proud so I was pleased I could donate to this worthy cause. But I had managed to get through, almost pain free (the shin problem a lot of people were having (anterior tibialis) was flaring up on my left leg)