Monday, 20 August 2012

Those who can't run, support

Better late than never? I have been prompted into blogging action after receiving this email
from my friend:

“Just checked your blog

Knee high grass, boarded up windows, spiderwebs.

The neighbourhood kids say it’s haunted.”

Those who can’t run, support

You may not know this but I had actually entered the WHW race for 2012. In case you may
have missed/ignored/skimmed my first post, I ended up injured quite early on into that ambition
which ultimately took me out of the game. Supporting my brother (Craig Calderwood) and my
surrogate brother (David Gow) therefore became the only running I would be doing at this
year's WHW race. Even then, there were moments when this looked ambitious.

I'm sure there are PLENTY of detailed runners and support blogs out there covering the WHW I'm doing another one. But I will keep it brief and filled with pictures :)

What a year eh? It rained, it poured and I was snoring. I usually swear by the mantra that your
skin is waterproof. However, it was just SO cold and wet and awful, that even my bacon roll got
wet whilst I was snuggled up, wrapped in a sleeping blanket and drinking my coffee.


Bless them all. How Terry Conway got a record in those conditions is UNBELIEVABLE. What
is more unbelievable is the thought of what time he could do under "normal" conditions.

The Food

David and Craig's Grub. Not showing the masses of sandwiches that would have put
the teddy bears picnic to shame and enough pizza that would have put Pizza Hut out of
business (if Pizza Hut decided to open up branches at Rowardennan, Bridge of Orchy and


The Start

<Video stolen from UltraPyllon's YouTube channel>

I ran support for my brother with David in 2011 and we covered the last 26 miles. Whilst it was
no comedy show - we had a "laugh". There was banter, jokes, chuckles and smiles all round.
Having a "laugh" at 60+ miles I hear you cry! Surely Craig did not try hard enough someone
asks. I'll let you decide... #musttryharder

But there were no chuckles this year. The only voice that could be heard for the last 26 miles
(my support leg) was my monotonous tones constantly asking "Beans, Discos, Chocolate or
Irn Bru?" When we hit flat or downhill I felt like I was walking my dog, The Duke. I would
shout "right" which is usually how I'd summon Duke to stop him rolling about in the mud and
come along but in this case it was my code to Craig and David to stop them rolling around in
the mud and start running again.

Like a horrendous hangover there was the vow to never ever EVER do it again. From now on
they were only going to be support runners… £100 says they do it next year.

I don't want to say "highlights" so I'll call them my memorable support moments:

Derrydaroch – Disqualified
We walked down knowing it wasn't an official support spot, intending to offer nothing but our
kind words. However, we were advised that not being an official support spot meant our kind
words were also not allowed and we could get the boys disqualified. As we were being
escorted away this is was, of course, the moment the boys came down the hill. Thinking that
we had given up waiting they were screaming at the top of their lungs "HEEYYY, Mum, Carol,
Stephanie, Heather, HEEYY, coke, vaseline, HEYY HEY HE H H.... ....". We turned and like
some cruel game, gave a wave, and then walked off. I have never seen 2 grown men look so
dejected or heartbroken. I kind of liked it. It was like a cruel game of support team teasing.

Bridge of Orchy – Car thieves
Stephanie (David's Missus) locked her keys in her car, this was funny for all of about 5
seconds until we realised the boys were due in any minute. Some people asked if they could
help. Stephanie's panic stricken reply was "Yes, do you have a black bag and some masking
tape?". The fathers "politely" told her that no f***ing window was getting smashed. The guys,
with the help of some AMAZING volunteers and marshalls, managed to use a knife, a donated
umbrella and fishing wire to open a window and then used some sturdier wire they acquired
(from somewhere?) to Crystal Maze style hook and drag the keys out. My other half then
handed us some Greggs doughnuts he had bought and left.


Glencoe – Drunk
The boys sat in very hot cars for 25 minutes. This was not good. John Kennedy and I were
supporting them from this point and, just as well, as the two of them looked and sounded
drunk! The poor souls were slurring words and staggering. Whilst talking to my brother I
realised he was running with his eyes closed. I promptly punched him on the arm, whipped
down his hood and whipped off his thermal hat giving him a face full of wind and rain. He then
cried (quite literally) "Why are you doing that?". "To wake you up boy!" was my reply. He was
then warned that if he did not wake up he was getting chucked into the first burn I saw! Tough
love people that's how I roll.... no hugs and kisses from me! Thermal hat confiscated and icy
cold burns are what you get!

Kinlochleven - Midgies
Despite climbing up the hill, the rain had eased off and the midges had descended in for their attack. Through the dark midges nets we had limited moments of banter and chuckles. Moments that were so limited in the last 26 miles that they have become memorable. One moment I recall was David coming off a hill, only 1 mile after Kinlochleven thinking he was on the descent into Lundavra. Ohh how excited he got, he nearly started skipping. Until Craig and I looked at each other in a state of confusion and Craig broke the news that we were about 6 miles from Lundavra. That must have been a long 6 miles for David after that.

Fort William – Happy Ending
But of course every story has to have a happy ending and THEY DID IT – 23 hours and 2
minutes! They overcame some obstacles (turns out David’s sore shin was a stress fracture!) so I think you will all agree that 23 hours, with a stress fracture and in those conditions is pretty AWESOME!

It's all about me
My support leg (Glencoe to Fort William) took 6.5 hours (Garmin link here). Personally, I think the last 26 miles is probably the toughest section and the conditions only made it worse. But I really enjoyed it. I felt good, there was no injury niggles and it’s the first long run I have done in the last few weeks where I haven't had a hangover. Overall I felt pretty GREAT :)

So will Craig and David do the race again next year? There's only one way to decide...FIIIGGGHHHTTT....

Well actually, I was thinking a poll, but you gotta love Harry Hill. However, I have not worked out how to add one, so I'll save it for November when the 2013 entries open ;)

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