The laughs had worn a bit thin as we cycled through pouring rain in early morning darkness to catch the ferry. However, a MacBraynes breakfast (or two) soon had us back in better fettle. We were joined by Jean and her granddaughter, Cody, who had stopped overnight at the OMC cottage in Crianlarich. The rain stopped as we disembarked and cycled to the new community centre in Arinagour, An Cridhe. The staff were exceptionally friendly and we were soon encamped on the adjoining sports pitch.
After a kip, we cycled out to the fantastic beach at Feall, where we basked in glorious sunshine. We headed reluctantly back to the tents- Cody was hungry! After an evening meal we strolled back down to the ferry terminal and chatted to a couple of lads catching mackerel from the pier. As we wandered back the wind dropped and the midges drove us into our tents.
Next morning there was a buzz of anticipation. We breakfasted then registered for our race numbers before the hordes arrived off the ferry. We were waiting to meet the rest of the OMC contingent- Nigel and Lucy, who had cycled all the way from Stirling, Colin and Sara, and Sharon. My friends Lawrie and Veronica were also up for the weekend.
Mhairi, Lucy, Sara, Colin, Lawrie and I were running the half-marathon, Sharon the 10k race and eight-year-old Cody the 1k dash. Veronica and Jean were signed up for the half-marathon walk, but Jean had withdrawn with a dodgy ankle.
We created an enclave in the tented village, bought tickets for the Ceilidh in the evening and settled to our pre-run rituals. Soon Veronica was off for the walk, and we applauded her past before heading down to the jetty for our own endeavours. Mhairi was feeling a bit nervous, as she’d never run a half-marathon before, but was buoyed up by the good-natured enthusiasm of all the participants. We’d decided to run together and finish together no matter what, so as her “personal trainer and coach” I delivered last-minute encouragement.
Then we were off.
We ate up the first mile in good time as the field stretched and everyone settled into their own pace. We’d cycled out the first four miles the day before, so were perhaps less surprised at the undulating nature of the course and its exposure to the south-westerly blowing into our faces. Our time was down a wee bit, but it was very hot despite the wind. Soon we were “round the corner” and heading back eastward along the road on the northwest coast. The hilly nature of the course continued, and for a kilometre or so we ran on a sandy track. The difficulty of the running was eased somewhat by the Coll folk manning the drinks stations, all of whom were in fancy dress- apparently they were competing for best-dressed water team! I also turned down a couple of offers of whisky or vodka at the water stations.
At last we began to overtake some stragglers as we headed round the final part of the course up over the spine of the island heading back to Arinagour. Mhairi was torn between politeness and ambition when a lady walker decided to jog alongside her having a blether.
Soon we left her behind, made the final push over the hill and swept down to the finish. As arranged we crossed the line together hand-in-hand.
We joined the others (except Lawrie-he’d finished a full half-hour earlier) for congratulations and photos. We were all well-chuffed.
Post-race wine and gins preceded barbecued food, the awards ceremony and a super ceilidh. Plans for entering an OMC team for next year were mooted. We’ll see...
Results are here
Official photos here