The weather didn't get any better and the Marathon on Cape Wrath had to be cancelled so an alternate marathon course was put in its place. We went a route recce the day before in the van and Graham Henry gave us a blow by blow account as he's had to run the bad weather route before several years ago.
It was pretty much into the wind and, after some undulation, up a 6 mile hill for the first half - the 2nd half being the reverse of this.
We were tired and none of us were keen. The change of course also entailed a change of start time to 8am for some reason, which was not universally popular.
Fast forward - the winds blasted rain against the side of the house. We had to be out by the morning of the marathon so had to get all ready to leave the night before - only leaving the things we needed for marathoning out. Despite our better intentions we cracked open a bottle of red to toast the next day's endeavour. It was really the right thing to do and in the spirit of the whole week.
Feeling the marathon wasn't going to be about pbs (understatement) Peter, Scott and I all took cameras along for real time action pics. Peter didn't get his camera out though because he was working hard up the front. It was also pouring with rain and I think I may have sacrificed my friend the camera by letting it get soaked for hours and hours as it's no longer taking pictures...in which case, the last things it ever saw are displayed above.
So after much uneasy hanging about it was kick off time and we set off into the teeth of the wind and rain. The weather report had said it was going to be wet until 9am and I realised that maybe I was being a bit literal minded when I looked at my watch at 9.15 am and tutted because it was still raining. I needn't have worried because it wasn't going to stop raining for another couple of hours.
I did that thing where you try to work with the people around you into the wind to take it in turns at the front - but the usual thing happened that when I went in front whoever I was with either melted backwards or immediately overtook again and started racing. Oh well. I was glad when the hill started, really just to engage with it. As I've said we'd driven it the day before and it felt good to know what was ahead. I kept it steady. Some people seemed to be doing a bit of jockeying for position and racing but that all seemed far too early for me. I kept it as even as I could and took shelter when there was some and got on with it when there was none.
I had the most random selection of music playing through my head. I think the constant howl of the wind made it easier to "hear" tunes mentally. One that went on for ages and ages was the Pink Floyd track "We don't need no education" (don't know the title), complete with long and quite complex guitar solo. Not a favourite, but there it was in its completeness with words and everything. Then a Doors song; "Break on Through to the Other Side"....Shortly before cresting the hill Peter came by in 2nd place which gave me a tremendous boost, and then a little later, the Porty bus of Amanda, Scott (cheerily taking photos), Graham Henry and Richard came past with a few others (we're a friendly club). I picked up my pace to the half way point then, looking forwards to the 6 mile romp downhill.
At the halfway point I stopped for a couple of minutes and took more pictures and had a blether with the marshals. This approach doesn't make for fast marathoning but it was enjoyable. Then I took off and tried to pick off everyone who had just passed me. I think I achieved this. Certainly I passed a few bodies and no-one passed me in the 2nd half. I was hoping that my Fling training would make me, if a little slow, at least strong so that 26 miles wasn't the usual horrible thrash towards the end. I was pretty good to 20 miles and then it did get hard and I had to try all kinds of mental jiggery pokery to keep myself going. 6 miles of downhill was fun but is tough on the legs too. When the hill bottomed out I had to make peace with gravity all over again.
At last it was just a mile (uphill!) to go to the finish at the Village Hall. Then just a few hundred yards. I could hear Amanda shouting on me and then Scott singing Eye of the Tiger (ironically) to me, so I sung it back to him and then on to the finish....
Shameful really... 4.03...but I did feel I made a pretty good job of the thing. It could have been terrible! At the line the news was like the end of an American Movie. All good. The Porties had done well. Peter had held on to 2nd (well lost it and found it again, but he'll tell you about that), Graham Henry came through in 4th and 1st MV, Amanda was 1st lady in a stonking 3.12 (Peter was PERFECTLY HAPPY with a time 10 mins off his pb. so what does that tell you about Amanda's performance?) Lucy was 2nd lady. Scott Ferguson had gained in prowess over the course of the week's racing and drinking and pipped seasoned ultra-runner Richard Dennis to the post.
Amanda and Scott had to head home, and Richard headed home after a disappointing puncture and a long wait to get it sorted out. Peter and Lucy and I had some beers and then went to the evening dinner and ceilidh where we ate an obscene amount of food. I was too full to take pictures of the puddings. Lucy stayed to dance but we had had it with the early start, the marathon, the weather, the beers and then more food than the Romans would consider acceptable.
We creaked our way back to the campsite and slept peacefully under canvas.