I've noticed over the past few years of travelling that I don't need to go the the other side of the world to have an epic time (although that is pretty cool also). A day trip to Strand hill or going to the beach when the rain is pouring out of the heavens can be as much fun.
I had three places in mind to visit that I have never been before, with the plan to visit them sooner rather than later, Norway, Iceland and Scotland. Mostly for their beautiful scenery and their vast landscapes, we all know I am a sucker for a beautiful mountain range. When the opportunity arose to tag along with Shane to Scotland I jumped at the idea. He was taking part in the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline mountain race which consisted of Friday's VK (vertical kilometre) and Saturday's 29K 'Ring of Steall' their was also Sunday's official Skyline race 55K but he raced that last year and felt that two races was adequate for one weekend.
I am at this stage in my life where I want quality over quantity, if that means grabbing three random days in Scotland rather than planning a week long trip and waiting for the perfect moment to go with a group of friends; as fun as that would be I prefer the spontaneity of these random three days. Therefore a weekend in the highlands with one of my best friends felt like the perfect adventure.
We had an early flight into Glasgow on Friday morning where we collected our rental car, we didn't want to waste time in traffic so got on the road straight away but not before grabbing some Muesli and almond milk from Tesco's, two coffee cups and spoons from Starbucks. We pulled in at the 'Black Rock Cottage' sat on the side of the road for breakfast with a view.
My little cottage in the hills, I told Shane there was one condition for me going; if we got to see this cottage.
We were completely blessed with beautiful weather, a gruelling hike onto the 'Ring of Steall' to station two and then following the rim we hiked in the direction that the runners would be racing from. I spent the day hiking with Angus who we were staying in the house with; we spent most of our time taking in the scenery when the mountain tops weren't wrapped in fog. Although there wasn't visibility all the time it had this beautiful calming effect, when you were surrounded by the unknown, in this cloud it felt incredibly unusual but some what comforting that the real world was blocked out.
Incredible how quick the weather can change, one minute you're surrounded by fog and next your squinting from the sun.
Our flight home was that evening and although we had to be back in time to return the car we couldn't help but squeeze one more hike in. Sunday held the grand daddy of Skyline Scotland, a gruelling 55K race with 4,750m of pure skyrunning the least we could do was cheer on our friends who were wild enough to enter.
Kimberly Strom Crushing it.
We Airbnb'ed it with some just as excited mountain runners which made the weekend even more enjoyable; mountain running is an exciting sport that brings like minded people together but along with it's social aspects it can also have those lonely moments, because it doesn't gather the social statues that football or hurling does, you can find yourself in those quiet moments more times than you would prefer. Hence why the accommodation worked so well, we sat at night chatting over race maps, making dinner and taking a well deserved trip to the pub for a few sociables on Saturday night. The Airbnb worked perfectly, since we were staying in a quiet residential part of town, a five minute walk from Kinlochleven's town centre but far enough away to feel as if we were in the middle of the wild.
Although I am no mountain running or skyrunning expert, race reviewer or genius within this field I don't feel as if there is much more to know about this sport other than the fact that it is one of a kind, everything from the race course to the people involved. Whether your a runner or not, when you show your face you instantly feel welcomed; you see people at their lowest but you are their to congratulate them when they are at their highest. Ever since I first heard about skyrunning I was intrigued but always felt that this was Shane's world, he traveled to these events alone hence why this weekend was so special to me; it allowed me to get an insight into the unknown. I knew the gift that Shane was given but my level of respect has shattered my previous sky high limits and is on a completely different planet; the elements, the push, the strength, physically and mentally, I had my own new understanding.
A weekend like this does not just simply appear and leave, it has an effect and then actions must be taken; I decided to enter the Garmin Mourne Skyline Granite Trail Race, 21st October 2016, training has begun and I am so excited.