Gears of a different kind

in Five-to-nine on October 04, 2015

We always like a challenge here at Rotaready HQ, whether it’s further developing our awesome workforce management software, or having a go at something completely different. On Sept 12th I competed in Scotland Coast to Coast.

I’m a big fan of the great outdoors, and I’d been preparing for the event since March. I’m delighted to report I survived to tell the tale. Fancy joining in next year? Read on to discover what it was like…

105 miles from Nairn to Glencoe

I competed with my friend Chris, who talked me into doing the “Expert” category, which meant we’d do the whole distance in one day (within a time limit of 14 hours). The course was broken into a 7 mile run, a 48 mile road cycle, a 1.5 mile kayak, a 20.5 mile off-road cycle, a 13.5 mile road cycle before finishing off with a 14 mile trek / run which involved going a quarter of the way up Ben Nevis.

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The challenge: 105 miles in a day. 82 miles by bike, 21 on foot and 2.5 by kayak

The race is on

Nerves faded quickly after passing the start line. I’m not 4ft tall – the GoPro camera was strapped to my chest

It was an early start, but after an appetising breakfast of chicken sandwiches and a litre of Lucozade, we were over the start line and onto the first stage. The 7 mile run took us along the coast before cutting inland through the forest to Cawdor Castle. Single file for most of the way meant the pace was comfortable – we arrived in 64 minutes.

After a frantic 10 minute transition we were onto the second stage – a 48 mile road cycle to Fort Augustus.

We were surprised at the variety of bikes being used – some on racing bikes (who would later struggle on the off-road section) and others on mountain bikes (who’d struggle on the road sections). Chris and I were using hybrids – so something in between – which happily turned out to be the right decision.

Downhill is much more enjoyable than uphill

The cycle went smoothly despite a few tough climbs. Nutrition for long events is key, so we were eating/drinking every 20/30 minutes (it wasn’t long before I was sick of energy bars!) The road surface was mixed and often energy sapping, as you’d expect from country roads. We finished the 48 miles in 3h15 which was substantially quicker than I’d managed in training (cue fears of having gone out too fast).

Chris takes the lead on Loch Ness

It was then time to rest the legs and kayak a mile on Loch Ness. Neither of us had kayaked before (and I’m sure it showed) but thankfully we managed to get through without capsizing (although there was some dodgy steering, I must admit).

Don’t forget your helmet…

As expected, the next stage turned out to be the toughest. 20.5 miles of off-road cycling was draining to say the least (especially with my bike refusing to shift down into first crank!) We passed (and helped where we could) a few others who’d suffered punctures but thankfully for us, our luck was in and we got to Fort William comfortably within the cut-off time.

14 miles of running / trekking separated us from the finish as the rain came down

We took a few minutes to refill and reorganise the bags before embarking on the final stage. By this point we’d been on the go for 8.5 hours and now faced the small matter of a 14 mile run / trek which went a quarter of the way up Ben Nevis.
The weather turned at this point and it wasn’t long before the fantastic views were obscured. We ran (or rather, jogged & hobbled) where we could, and trekked the steep and stepped sections. It was slippery underfoot given the heavy rain and after a few near misses we were within 5 miles of the finish. The wind and rain actually picked up to the extent where the final kayak stage had to be cancelled so the finish line was diverted elsewhere.

Finished! That’s me on the left and Chris on the right

We crossed the finish line and were rewarded with a medal, soup and snacks. Our final time was 12h24 with which we were delighted, given our main target was simply to finish in one piece.

What’s next?

It was a brilliant experience and something I’d thoroughly recommend if running & cycling is your thing. If you’re considering doing it next year, here are a few tips:

  • use a hybrid bike
  • waterproof the inside of your bag
  • book accommodation early (Nairn is only a small town)

Any ideas for our next challenge? Leave a suggestion for us below.

 

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