Monday 23rd May
Glenfinnan to Kinloch Hourn
Approx distance 57km (35 miles). Approx height gain 1,800m.
With regard the support team, our days for the week ahead were scheduled like this:
06:00 to 08:00 Breakfast
07:00 to 09:00 Participant start times. Breakdown camp around participants.
09:30 Depart Overnight camp.
12:00 to 14:00 Establish next Overnight camp + Lunch
15:00 First Participants expected.
18:00 to 20:00 Evening meal
23:00 Course closes.
There you have it, how we were to spend the next 6 days. Including, of course, the drive to the next overnight campsite.
Before I let you leave Glenfinnan, here are three more photos to give you an idea of what the camp and finish/start area looked like.
The drive to Kinloch Hourn would take us along the longest cul-de-sac in Britain. From the A87 just west of Invergarry the road is something like 25 miles long to the Kinloch Hourn Tearoom. It’s a wonderful drive along the northern shore of Loch Garry, through Glen Garry, along past Loch Quoich and then Kinloch Hourn.
Our campsite was located in a field at the head of Loch Hourn and with mountains all around us; it was certainly remote and quite beautiful. However, the field was already occupied by a herd of red deer. As we began parking the vans (6 of them) and off load the equipment and tents they withdrew to the other side of the river away from us.
The routine began by putting up the Administration, Catering and Medical tents along with the Marquee. Then the participant’s tents were arranged and assembled.
Generator, power distribution and setting out of tables and chairs completed our home for the remaining of the day.
Most of us decided to pitch our own tents to the west of the main camp, primarily because the area was away from the generator.
I mentioned earlier that there was a lot of stuff to do. Some of the team members were assigned to safety and monitoring roles. On each day there would be a number of Control Points (CPs) actually along the route taken by the participants. These CPs would be manned, sometimes for up to 12 hours, or more. There was a designated cut off time at these CPs and if a participant did not make this time then they were pulled out of the race for that stage.
However, to try and give as many participants the opportunity to reach Cape Wrath, they would be allowed back into the race after a days rest. A rather unique aspect of this event. There was however a very good reason for this strategy. From a logistics aspect it allowed us to keep the participants together so that we all reached the finish as one.
Back to the safety and monitoring group. The folk involved are Mountain Leaders and as such are extremely experienced in mountain and hill navigation, safety, first aid and general hill craft. From my perspective, although as on most events, it is the volunteers that provide the necessary functions to allow everything to happen, it is the ‘hill’ group that is truly the backbone of an event like this.
On this 2nd day the participants were in very remote territory indeed. Getting out should anything happen (injury for example) would take hours!
So, there we were waiting for the first participant to arrive and thereby start the process of getting the drop bags and seeing them to their respective accommodation.
Others in the team are Doctors and Nurses, some deployed on the route, some at the event centre to look after any participant in need of TLC (Tender Loving Care) at the finish of each day.
All in all this first ‘real’ day in the hills, mountains went well. We were beginning to gel as a team and getting to know the participants on first name terms rather than just by a number.
It was beginning to feel like I was part of something epic!
Photographs from Ian Corless site – always worth a visit.
Page from Sleepmonsters – always a good read.