Celtman has claimed its first victim, having broken my arm and hand during a run course reece I have no choice but to withdraw from the race. I have however gained many insights on the course and would like to share these so other competitors may be well prepared and not suffer the same fate I did.
The swim is a point to point from West to East. Given a Westerly wind this should be straight forward although we have been experiencing unusual Easterly winds for the last month. The temperature at the moment is bearable and should improve. If you suffer from cold staying close to the shore can be warmer but not always depending on the weather.
No gloves and booties will be allowed but the use of heat pads such as for back pain can be effective to help stave off hypothermia. Even securing these to you calves will help prevent cramp and loss of circulation.
This is a tough bike course! The 100km section between Kinlochewe and the A835 is torturously undulating with numerous steep climbs. By the time you get to the “big one” from Little loch Broom it will be just another climb and melt in to the background.
Arguably a road bike with 404 wheels would be good on this section but on balance there are more than enough long sweeping fast sections to make a TT bike a must if you have one. The course would even be suitable for a disc wheel on a good day although I would recommend not going deeper than a 404 on the front to maintain handling on the descents especially if windy.
From the end of Loch Gascamoch the course become more forgiving depending on the winds and winds down some very fast roads for the last 60k. I averaged 40kph for little over 200 watts for most of this section. Much time could be made up here by those who can save enough energy on the first 140k however for most this will be merely a small mercy after what has come before.
Many will complain about the road surface but for Scotland over 202k it is not too bad and in fact very good.
It terms of stopping places for aid there are lots of options. All turnpoints like Kinlochewe, the A835 turn and others will be obvious congestion points so if you want avoid this I suggest waiting for the first layby after each of these points.
The 100km section between Kinlochewe and the A835 is tricky and I suggest driving this with your support crew to get an idea of aid points.
You will be pleased to hear the run starts with several kilometers climbing over rough trails in to the Coulin pass.
I ran the first half of this after a 212k bike on Saturday and while the terrain is good it is rough enough to be extremely fatiguing, something I dont think the race organisers fully appreciate. While it was possible to hold 3:45 pace down to loch Coulin I had to be fully switched on even at this stage. The landrover trails really constitute two deep furrows with a ridge between them and you find yourself constantly switching side to side to get the best running. We turned round at ~7k and returned to T2A
For details on the Mountain section you should watch the video. Needless to say it is very demanding and I would urge all competitors to carefully consider starting this as there is no shame in competing the low level route here.
Shoe choice is a major concern for many and it is my personal feeling that comfort and rock protection are the main considerations over this distance and course. For those faster athletes or those planning to run at all a lighter shoe is a considerable benefit however and I would add a lighter shoe choice may have helped prevent my accident.
The predominant terrain is rock and loose rock so there is little to be gained from extra grip as long as you are not wearing a road shoe. For loose rock, a wider shoe and tough upper is preferable and my shoe of choice was going to be the Walsh PB extreem “ulta” shoe which is wider and very light. My feet were too sore from our Saturday session however so I went for a trainer type trail shoe for comfort.
A pair of MountainKing trail blaze poles are a great addition to the kit bag for the climb up and can be folded in to a backpack.
The most technical part of the route is the decent off the side of the Ruadh Stac Mor and if you are confident the best way is straight of down the scree.
This can be treacherous due to the loose rock which can slide and fall and the steep drop. Be carefully not to put your partner or other competitors at risk of being hit by falling rock here.
The last section is difficult but I thought a lot of fun, take your time and stay safe, enjoy the views and embrace the feeling of being a part of something truly unique and outstanding.
If you want more information or advice get in touch for a skype consultation.