let go

I’m not going to better my time in the Harris Half Marathon this year; I found that out three days before the race, when I tripped and badly strained an ankle, unable to walk painfree, let alone run. First things first, though.

2016-07-02 12.10.04
Isle of Harris, 2nd July, mind the running herds

We had decided to add a week to the summer holidays starting off with a week on Harris, respectively some high intensity island hopping for myself. On the first day I dropped the girls off in Northton, before taking the ferry to Bernaray. I drove across North Uist, then Benbecula with barely any traffic for two hours, before arriving in Boisdale, South Uist to spend the night at a relative’s house.

2016-06-30 12.29.55
From the heart of the Highlands to South Uist, 6 hours in the car plus 4 more on two ferries.

After an early rise I found my way to Eriskay, there the ferry left for Barra. The night before I had been given sincere warnings about the dangerous native pest of Eriskay: The Eriskay Pony. That morning passed without any encounter though.

The ferry was packed with a few runners and a full  pipe band on the way to Ardmhòr, Barra. I arrived in Castlebay, where the race started and finished after a short drive and in good time to get my bearings and do some warm ups.

It was there and then that, on a far away island on the edge of post Brexit UK, an Austrian walking down the road shouted “Hola Miguel” and named Spaniard replied “Hi Kurt!” in an act of coincidental crossing of paths. We had met each other at last year’s Harris Half Marathon and again after that on the Isle of Skye, just a few weeks ago.

I remembered from the race report that he was two minutes faster than me on Skye; for Barra I had planned to try stick to his pace as much as I could.

Accompanied to the starting line by a priest and a pipe band, the race was launched at 10:40. A handful of runners dashed off, I was in a bulk behind them with twenty or so others. It did not take long to realise that I misread the elevation map, or the one I had seen was highly oversimplyfied. The winding single track road was not flat as imagined, but a constant up down up down, not too unpleasant really, but unexpected.


Over the next twenty minutes the bulk got smaller and smaller until it was eventually down to the two of us.  By then Miguel and I had had a chat about this (the hills) and that (Brexit), at an average pace of 4:10. I found it increasingly hard to keep up, stopping talking did help a bit though. Around 17k came a steep climb, the only one I had been able to make out from said map beforehand. With almost all my energy spent, I fell behind and switched to walking for a few seconds to help get my heartrate down. A look over the shoulder showed someone coming closer, enough motivation for one more small burst up the hill. After that, from km19 on, it was a steep descent, with one last hill before the finish.

I threw in what I had left on the way down and managed to catch up once again with Miguel on the last km. He had cramps (mine were just about to set in) was running slow and shouted “You go on, overtake!” I shouted back to go on and keep running ffs; I would not have made that time on my own, so naturally switched from pull to push. In an epic, cramp ridden finale we crossed the finish line hand in hand in 1hr:28min. Two minutes slower than on Skye, but in overall ex aequo 6th position – not a bad first two thirds of the Heb3, with one left to go (only, that climax would not be reached).

Heading north after the Barrathon I decided not to leave Eriskay without seeing at least one of the famed beasts. Fortunately, one of them was literally around the first corner.

The Eriskay Pony (two of them, to be precise), snatcher of snackboxes, terror of toddlers.

The bucket list well worked through it was back up north, all the way to Bernaray. I spent the night on the beach, woken up by light drizzle just in time for the morning ferry.

Sunday and the start of the week were spent doing nothing but resting, eating and playing on the beach; so far the good news.

On a training run on Wednesday, already on Hearach turf, I tripped on the edge of the road to Leverburgh, badly strained some ligaments and crashed on the roadside. While falling the thought “Oh nonono, this is not good!” went trough my mind. Getting up I was less concerned with my grazed right side, elbow, hand and bum, but instantly felt gutted, because I knew the race four days later was most certainly off now.

Having limped four very long km back home I got the shoes off and found a bizzarely swollen melon like thing where my left ankle should have been. For the next day and a half I still occasionally pondered  slowly running or walking the Harris Half. Messing up so close to completing the heb3 dealt a nasty, disappointing blow to my running aspirations for this year.

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But anyhow, with one more big event at the end of September there’s just enough time to let the injury pass and hopefully pick up training in a few weeks’ time. By then, race dates will probably have been announced for the 2017 heb5. Until then, I’m grateful for any support you can give.


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