Back in January the idea of combining a cycling weekend with reputedly one of the best and toughest fell races in Britain seemed like a good idea. The night before. however, sitting in the Jura hotel trying to get some last minute information about the route I was beginning to have serious doubts!
Saturday morning arrived and as the Islay (?) bard beckoned us to the start I realised there was to be no wimping out. My first objective was to get to checkpoint 3 without being timed out: I made it with only 10 minutes to spare but at that point still felt fairly relaxed about the whole affair. The sky was completely clear and the views spectacular. The \"Paps\" unfortunately, were still to come. We dropped off the side of Aonach Bheinn at a frighteningly steep angle down almost to sea level then started an equally alarming angle up Beinn a \'Cholais. Good weather meant it was possible to pick out a good route avoiding scree and rocks but on the next descent there was no escape! A few years ago I would have probably been horrified at the sight of someone scree running in anything less than stout leather boots and there I was in flimsy fell shoes with rocks bruising my ankles at every step.
The second pap was equally gruesome and the guy at the checkpoint seemed surprised that I was actually competing as I staggered to the summit across more ankle breaking boulders. Still one more big one to go and I realised that half the runners would be back at the finish by now tucking into yet more of the awesome selection of homemade cakes. I could no longer see any other runners and as I crawled up Beinn Shiantaidh, being blown around by the wind, it felt as though I was the only person left on Jura! I finally made it to the summit where marshals and spectators sat happily in the sun. I obviously didn\'t look as bad as I felt as they asked me to check on the guy in front who was staggering across the boulders. When I reached him it turned out he was in the middle of a Lands End to John O\'Groats cycle ride. He had cycled 600 miles in 5 days and this was his first ever fell race!
After five minutes chatting to marshals at the last checkpoint, it was downhill all the way to the road. Rob had come back on his bike and despite the fact that 6 hours had elapsed managed to convince me that I had done really well to make it round. With someone to talk to the road went quickly and then it was all over!
Not convinced we had had enough exercise the organisers put on a ceilidh. DPFR were, of course, first on the dance floor but only survived until lam, outdone by the locals whose drunken revelry continued for several hours.
Unfortunately, Sunday\'s weather got worse as we cycled across Islay in the wind but Monday more than made up for that as we crossed Arran in glorious sunshine.
All in all a brilliant weekend. Getting there was an adventure in itself as well as a great chance to socialise. Can you think of a better way to spend your Spring Bank Holiday weekend?
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