CELTMAN! – mountain run

So you are thinking of doing the CELTMAN! Thousands of people sensibly resisted the temptation to enter the CELTMAN!in 2012 – 127 were not so wise and actually turned up at the start. Of these, 101 of them finished the full course, while 11 missed the cut off for the mountain section and were sent round a low-level alternative.

In this first CELTMAN! My wife and I supported our friend Chris in the cycle and the run – I then rode shotgun for him on the mountain section. Mountain running is my thing, so here are my thoughts; based on our own experience, chatting with other competitors, and looking at their blogs. This may help you prepare for your effort. If you are thinking of doing the CELTMAN! you need all the help you can get.

First, the mountain section is big and scary; a serious Scottish one. You will ascend steeply, 1000 meters in less than a kilometre; straight up!  At the top is a rocky ridge, sometimes quite broad, but occasionally reducing to a narrow path with big drops on both sides. You need a head for heights.

Second, there is a good chance that the mountain will be sheathed in cloud. We had not had a chance to recce the route so the terrain was unfamiliar. I wish we had micro-navigated from the first summit. We didn’t, and found ourselves a bit confused in thick mist. In anything other than clear weather, it is advisable to get your map out and navigate; noting the ups and downs and correlating these with the contours on the map. Use the magnifier on your compass and take your time.

Third, the mountain section is very, very rough underfoot. If you are used to running cross country in England, Holland or Denmark, you will not know what hit you when you enter the mountain section of the CELTMAN! – before you compete you really need to get experience of terrain which is mountainous and rough.

Fourth, when you reach Corrie mich Farquhair you are still a long way from home. After an open water swim, a 120 mile bike ride and 19 miles of mountain running, you have still got 7 miles to go. For 4 of those miles you will have to watch every single footfall in case you trip and hurt yourself. You need stamina and presence of mind when you are knackered.

Finally; it is worth it. There is nothing, absolutely nothing in this world, better than the taste of cheesy pasta and a glass of beer in Torridon village hall when you have finished the CELTMAN!

 So go for it and enjoy yourself!

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