Saturday, 3 December 2016

Jemma Does the 2016 Rat Race Coast to Coast

The Coast to Coast 2016 Multisport Event

Jemma's account of the 2016 Rat Race Coast to Coast

For this year big test was the Coast to Coast with myself going solo. After completing the event last year with Liam I wanted to beat my times from back in 2015. Recently my mountain bike skills have improved a lot when compared to last year having taken on a number of red routes at local trail centres and generally getting used to riding my mtb. Coming into the event this had given me an increased confidence boost.

Knowing what to expect from each of the stages we were hoping the weather was kind for us after the previous weekend's extreme conditions for Man V Mountain causing disruption to the planned course after a dissipating hurricane.

Great thing I knew what to expect from start to finish but having better weather conditions last year was hoping to have similar but after previous weekends weather at Man Vs mountain from the dissipated hurricane weather was unsettled to start with a rather cold start.  Opting to wear my Gillet over my cycling outfit was a good move till I got too warm with having only small pockets in the back of my Adidas climacool cycling top I had to hold it for about 4 of the 7 miles run to Cawdor castle.  The run itself is a good mix of trail, single track with little amount of pavement.  With the long stretches of single track with no option to overtake like last year was going as fast as the person in front of you.  I felt I was going an ok pace finally getting to transition getting self all ready for the move was quite smooth.

Once I left the sheltered grounds of Cawdor castle the wind hit me and at that time didn’t know this is the biggest obstacle of the whole weekend.  Small climbs was made ten times worse and finding needing to drink more often than usual.  Handling bike and eating was a no go with the force of the wind. Regular food and drink stops was needed and by the amount of people doing the same I knew wasn’t alone. With around 10 miles to go I just about ran out of water in my backpack and less than a quarter of bottle full of liquid.  This was a concern as I knew there wasn’t any shops on the route I knew of.  Battling quad fatigue where they started to lock up wasn’t what I hoped for.  Stretching out and taking time to eat yet more food and battled on was now seeing signs for Fort Augustus so knew end was in sight for Day 1.

The start of the long final climb I was following a man and for motivation tried to keep him in sight and keep his pace.  Just before the second large incline I lost him but saw a magical campervan with a sign saying water for Rat racers.  This guy was a proper star I stopped to collect water to then start with quad lock again and guy came over to see how I was and filled my water bottle up.  Small chat with others which come to fill water bottles up I took time to have my pork scratchings the salt is definitely what I needed and felt immediately better.  The last part of the climb which I would say was the third incline was rather steep and kept peddling with a few walking up as unable to manage it I got to the top without getting off my bike.  Load cheers from other racers as they saw what I done gave me massive boost and then to be told by Marshalls to watch my speed on my descent down the hill.  The wind again spoiled this last year I went rather fast eying Liam’s line last year with my hand on brakes.  This time no need to use the brakes the wind stopped me going fast as it rolled off the loch into me slowing me down.  Getting to transition and getting my arm and leg warmers off and anything I didn’t want wet for the kayak part which will end my day.  The run was a nice ease out from the battering wind I experienced for the past four or so hours.  The kayak was very windy and I was teamed up with another person and let’s say we was as clueless as each other after either missing buoys or just about taking them out with the kayak got round Loch Ness in one piece to finally get some food inside me and resting up as knew had to have my A game on for day two in any hopes of beating last years’ time my 2016 goal

Cawdor Castle to Fort Augustus cycling. Fort Augustus Kayak Stage st

Day 2 of the Rat Race Coast to Coast

We were also advised the last kayak wasn’t going ahead with the weather being very windy and Rat race have safety as no 1 priority.  I was quite happy about this as last year’s 2nd kayak stage was a long tough one.  My position in the holding pen I knew had gave myself the best chance to get round the 1st tricky off road cycling without waiting too much.

I set off and found a rhythm found to overtake a few people and get overtook by others these mainly been cyclocross bikes. I found myself in a bunch where I managed to keep up in these off road sections but the guy behind me was brake squeaking a lot and could hear his annoyance weather was to myself for the fact got no way of overtaking anyone.  I coped with the switchbacks far better this year with only few times where I had to put foot down as with the experts going through the area the day before and the moist weather was rather churned up.  Knowing there wouldn’t be much flat and stable areas for consume food I took opportunities at key points I know where off road met on road and scoffed as many shot blocks as possible with cherry flapjack.

This ride I felt more confident on the hills I wasn’t stressed and found people walking up and was just powering up (in lowest gears).  One hill I was side of a guy and he didn’t realise how it kicked up after the cattle grid and came right into my path thus stopping my momentum.  Gutted I had to walk the rest way up.  A homemade chia flapjack made me feel better and off I went again.  Managed to even have a conversation with a few people along the way saw some regular Rat racers I knew.  Not a puncture in sight and the closer I was getting to Fort William as I saw the sign I felt rather emotional.  Last year I saw this sign almost broken this year I was ready for my smash and grab at the Esso garage for a sandwich to fuel my mountainous run.  Doing Man Vs Mountain the week before gave me the last bit of prep for this run and felt ready to take it on. 

The transition was placed different this year to last year in a football ground so had to hold my sandwich a bit longer than I thought I would be doing.  Parking up my bike stripping my bike for the remaining food supplies I got changed took off my bib shorts and put on full length bottoms on with my asics running shorts while opted to keep on my cycling jersey and Gillet.  With only 30 mins allowed in transition I started to eat my sandwiches and anything else I saw to eat and found hot drinks also I missed this last year so had a couple of warm milky coffees to help warm me up.  Last toilet stop and away I went ironically enough I bumped into a guy which I had done at the same point last year this year. He complemented on how well and lean I looked well will take that complement and run with that.

The run I started to ease into a rhythm before getting to the 1st lot of hills run what I could and power walk the rest of them.  My progress was a lot better and the weather for a change had taken a change for the better.  The change was that there was times I had people to talk to which I didn’t have last year.  The wind had kept the midges away so that made the run far much better.  The major disappointment was the Epsom Run sense I was using died halfway through the run so didn’t track all my progress but with the official time splits I done major improvements from last years times regarding day 2.  Taking this as a major positive for 2017 goals which still contemplating though at least a Duathlon and an intro to an ultra-race (30 miles) will make an appearance in my Event calendar.

Day Two Strava

Fort Augustus to Fort William cycling Fort William to Kinlochleven
Watch ran out of battery but ran out a total of 14.9 miles was run on this stage and that stage took me 3.14 hours to complete.

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