Scottish 4000’s Duathlon – Saturday 19th July 2003
Supported by Nevis Range, Off Beat Bikes & Glenmore Lodge
Britain’s most challenging Duathlon - for experienced mountain runners who like biking!
The historic route links the bridge by Glen Nevis Hostel and the Norwegian Stone by Glenmore Hostel. The summits of all the 4,000ft Munros must be visited along the way. In the early days it was completed on foot and is an 85-mile run with 17,000 feet of ascent. Members of the Rucksack club first attempted it in the 1960’s as a walk and later as a run by Alan Heaton in 1979. In June 1980 Alan established a record of 26hrs 5mins in bad conditions.
In July 1980 when a number of us lived in London, I paced one of my earliest running friends, Chris Dodd, when he set a record running east/west of 23hrs 14mins. At the end of August 1981 when still relatively inexperienced, I made a solo-unsupported attempt east/west and completed the route in 26hrs 31mins. My then KIMM partner, Stan Bradshaw, of Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers lowered Chris Dodd’s record to 22hrs 33mins running west/east in 1982. Finally, on 4th July 1986, with the experience of many more miles behind me, I set the existing record of 21hrs 39mins as a solo-unsupported run west/east. Since then Colin Donnelly has completed a solo supported west/east crossing in 1993 of 23hrs 19mins.
Since then the route has become popular as a road bike/run duathlon. The first attempt I was made aware of was by Gary Tompsett and here is a selection of times achieved. Angel’s Peak was only upgraded to a Munro in recent years.
· Gary Tompsett 15:30 1994 East/West (not Angel’s Peak)
· Mark Seddon 12:59 1996 East/West (not Angel’s Peak
· Mark Hartell 12:35 1998 West/East (not Angel’s Peak)
· Alec Keith 13:46 1999 East/West
· Paul McClintock & Duggie Gillespie 13:20 2000 West/East
· John Coyle 12:41 2000 West/East
· Jim Davies (RECORD) 11:36 2001 West/East
Paul McClintock was telling me about their day out on the 4000’s and said what a good race it would be. So – when you are climbing out of the Lairig Ghru onto Ben Macdui at tea time on Saturday 19th July, suffering from the bonk and hating every minute of it, you know who to blame!
Details of the Duathlon
The distance is 32miles/13,400ft ascent on foot and 61 miles by road bike. The event is only open to very experienced endurance mountain runners who preferably have Elite MM experience and who are capable on road bikes. To enter you must feel certain that you can complete the event within 50% of the expected winner’s time – ie within 18 hours. It may seem elitist but this is a very low-key event with minimal backup, no manned mountain checkpoints and we don’t want our resources to be stretched too far. If you decide to retire we are not offering a 24-hour emergency recovery service and you will have to do your best to sort out the problem. We really don’t want anyone out on the hill alone after 23.00hrs.
J Davies Times
Glen Nevis Hostel Bridge 128 718 00.00 Start
Ben Nevis Munro 1344M 167 713 01:03
Carn Mor Dearg Munro 1220M 178 721 01:36
Aonach Beag Munro 1234M 197 716 02:17
Aonach Mor Munro 1221M 193 729 02:30
Aonach Mor Gondola top station (East side) 188 757 02:47
Nevis Range Ski Car Park - Arrive 172 774 03:03
Nevis Range Ski Car Park - Depart 172 774 03:09
Glen Feshie Car Park - Arrive 851 985 06:22
Glen Feshie Car Park - Depart 851 985 06:26
Cairn Toul Munro 1291M 964 972 08:26
Angel’s Peak Munro 1258M 954 977 08:39
Braeriach Munro 1296M 952 999 09:18
Stream Junction Lairig Ghru - Manned 973 997 09:40
Ben Macdui Munro 1309M 989 989 10:20
Cairngorm Summit Munro 1245M 005 040 11:05
Cairngorm Ski Car Park 989 061 11:24 Race Finish
Norwegian Stone – Glenmore 977 098 11:36 Record Timed
At the start, finish and each of these locations you will record your arrival on your electronic card (Si-Card) using the Sport ident timing system. Each competitor will be given an Si-Card at registration. With a bit of luck we’ll be able to provide you with some splits after the event. Don’t forget in the heat of the moment to punch at all these places – also both on arrival and departure from Nevis Range and Glen Feshie so we can time the transition and in case we have to group at Feshie.
These will be fairly low key and be a mix of Lowe Alpine Dryflo, SPORTident SI-Cards and a few alcoholic prizes. Off Beat Bikes at Fort William have provided special downhill bikes for hire at extremely preferential rates. Nevis Range has provided special gondola, dining and biking packages at preferential rates. Glenmore Lodge has been very flexible in the provision of facilities. To all these organisations we extend our grateful thanks.
Men: 1st – 5th, 1st V40
Women: 1st – 3rd
Fastest road bike from Nevis Range –> Glen Feshie
There is definitely NO prize for the fastest descent by Mountain Bike!
Except in the case of an emergency such as an accident, competitors may only receive assistance at the 3 transition points – Nevis Range Ski car park, Glen Feshie car park and Cairngorm ski car park. At Nevis Range and Glen Feshie, the race organisation will make the competitor’s bag and bike available at the transition, also water. Anyone who is accompanying a competitor to the event will be asked to help out with the organisation of the event rather than support an individual competitor. The entry fee is £35 and will be payable when you enter. It will include camping at Fort William and Glenmore Lodge, also support for the group. Transport back to Nevis Range on Sunday morning for competitors who are leaving cars there will be £12 per competitor and this is payable at registration.
On Both Mountain Sections
Lightweight rain top and bottoms, section of map 1:50,000 scale or larger (including escape routes), compass and whistle, small first aid kit including plasters and small roll of bandage+safety pin, sufficient food for the section, thin balaclava and gloves, emergency survival bag (not an orange poly bag but a very small ultra thin bag specifically manufactured for one use only). From Glen Feshie onwards a small torch with batteries to last 4 hours and an extra lightweight thermal top.
On All Bike Sections
Lightweight rain top and bottoms, small first aid kit including plasters and small roll of bandage+safety pin, sufficient food and drink for the section and cycle helmet. A spare tube, pump or gas and simple tool kit are required for the long road bike section.
Friday 18th July
Proceed to Nevis Range ski car park where we will be present from 15:00 to answer questions and help with the loan of special downhill mountain bikes. You can register from 18.00 in the café and leave your labelled road bike and your helmet (if not using your helmet for the MTB descent) at registration. You can also then deposit a labelled kitbag containing everything you will need during the event at the Nevis Range and Glen Feshie transitions - a few clothes, food, and torch. We will provide suitable labels and after you have finished with your bag at the Nevis Range transition, it will be moved on to Glen Feshie.
Option to Mountain Bike down from top of the gondola
Nevis Range and Offbeat Bikes have kindly agreed with a plan to offer an exciting option to the competitors. A custom-made MTB track has been constructed all the way from the col by Sgurr Finnisg-aig at 630M down to the main car park at 100M. There is an evening hill race from Nevis Range on the Friday evening at 19:00, which climbs the MTB track. On Friday you have the opportunity to ride up on the gondola with your own mountain bike or one hired from Offbeat Bikes and practice the descent to Nevis Range. Because of the hill race you must not descend by bike after 18:30hrs from the top. Until 20:45 you may leave a bike LABELLED & WITH HELMET ATTACHED, by our sign underneath the top gondola building. We will position it on Saturday morning at the checkpoint so that you can jump on it as you descend Aonach Mor during the race and ride it down to the car park. Those of you who are arriving later than 20:45 on Friday evening and are starting from 05.00hrs can have your bikes taken up to the top on the first gondola at 08.30hrs Saturday morning. Nevis Range recommend that the MTB descent is only attempted during the race if it has been reccied or attempted before.
There are various special options that you pay for on the Friday and commence at 15:00hrs. All helpers will receive complimentary tickets on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning for the gondola from me:
· £7.50 – Carry bike up on gondola, leave it at the top and gondola back down
· £11.50 – The above and a main meal course at the top of the gondola restaurant
· £9.75 - Carry bike up on gondola, test ride down (leaving before 18:30hrs), carry bike back up on gondola, leave it there, gondola back down.
· £13.75 – The £9.75 bike option described above and a main meal course at the top restaurant.
· £17.50 – Multiple trips down on Friday, last one beginning at 18:30hrs.
· £21.50 – Multiple trips down on Friday, last one beginning at 18:30hrs. Also includes the main meal course at the top.
· £10.00 – Very special bike hire charge offered by Offbeat Bikes from Friday 15.00hrs to Saturday morning. Offbeat Bikes who are based at Fort William have a Summer presence at Nevis Range ski hire. They have some proper downhill bikes and come with full-face helmet, body armour and gloves. However, only your own helmet is compulsory for the event. The bikes come with ordinary pedals, no SPDs or toe clips. You can hire these when you arrive at Nevis Range even if it is late, as we will have access to all the bikes.
If you are practising the descent, you must bike with EXCEPTIONAL care, as at this time of day the track will also be frequented by walkers who take priority. Please don’t forget this.
There is a café at Nevis Range that stays open until about 17.00hrs and the restaurant at the top of the gondola will stay open until 21:00hrs, serving puddings, cake, beer etc. as well as main meals. The last gondola down will be at 21.15hrs. Registration closes at 23.30hrs. or when everyone has arrived. Please ring my mobile 07836 384853 if you are going to be late.
When you have finished at Nevis range you can either head off for more food in Fort William or go to a campsite with whom I have made special arrangements. Lochy Caravan and Camping Park is situated behind the High School at GR126764, 1st right off the A830 Mallaig road. When you enter the site, if it isn’t too late, visit reception and tell them you are with Martin Stone’s group for the race. I will settle up for the group on Saturday. Pitch your tents in the bottom left corner of the site and before you go to bed it is essential to move all cars off the site and park them in the nearest school parking area about 150M along the road from the camp site entrance. We are not allowed to drive any cars around the site on Saturday morning and must be very quiet. You’ll have to carry your kit back to the car, which could temporarily be brought back to the main gate.
A convenient place to obtain a decent (so I’m told) bar snack is the Lochy Bar at Caol. From the campsite go to the A830 and turn right. After a mile turn left over level crossing and you’ll soon see the bar on the left.
Saturday 19th July
EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBER
If you retire during the event, you must get a message to me on mobile 07836 384853 to explain the situation. Failing that, you must report to Nevis Range or Glen Feshie transitions and ensure that they understand your movements. If you cannot contact the mobile number, you can in an emergency leave a message at Glenmore Lodge reception on 01479 861256. It is essential that at the end of the day we know you are safely off the Cairgorms.
You can start from the bridge opposite the youth hostel at 04.00, 05.00, 06.00 or 07.00hrs. When you register we will ask you for your intended start time and to avoid us hanging around at the start unnecessarily, please be punctual. We expect those of you who hope to be in with a chance of winning to start in a mass start at 07.00hrs. We expect those of you who may be out for 18 hours + to start nearer to 04.00hrs and carry a torch on the first mountain section.
Some competitors will have friends who are delivering their vehicles to the finish and you can be dropped off at the start. Our van will be available to move people to each start. It will leave the campsite entrance at 25 minutes to each hour and drive to Nevis Range. Those who need to leave their vehicle for collection on Sunday should drive to Nevis Range and park at the agreed location close to the café. You should be ready to board the van at 15 minutes to each hour. We will give you a lift from Nevis Range to the start. This will also be your opportunity to give us a labelled overnight bag of kit and a tent for the evening, which we will transport to Glenmore Lodge. On the hour you will all start by dipping your Si-Card in the start station.
DESCENT OFF AONACH MOR
When you descend off Aonach Mor you must take the NNW ridge and from approx. the 900M contour you may head directly for the checkpoint approx 25M to the east side of the station at the top of the gondola GR188 757. If you have chosen to descend by MTB your labelled mountain bike will be in position. The track contours NE gently down to the col from where the fun starts. There are no prizes for setting the fastest time on this descent and I would prefer it if people don’t try to get too close to the record – 4 minutes. Those of you who are running down can join the MTB descent route at any point but please be aware that descending bikers have ABSOLUTE PRIORITY at all times.
NEVIS RANGE TRANSITION
You must record your time both when you arrive and when you leave the transition. You will find your kit bag by your road bike and it is up to you to sort yourselves out and make the transition as efficiently as possible. There will be cups of water available, that’s all. For the helpers and those in less of a hurry, the café should be open at 09.00hrs to do breakfast. If you are descending on your own MTB, we will need to place your bike in your vehicle after you leave transition. If the vehicle is unattended you will need to give us a key and some means of linking your bike with the right vehicle. For those who do not have a vehicle at Nevis Range, we will find a way of moving your MTB on towards Glenmore Lodge in another vehicle.
THE LONG ROAD BIKE
The A86 is a fast road and care needs to be taken, especially on the narrow and twisting section at the east end of Loch Laggan. The record for the duathlon was set by Jim Davies without the assistance of another cyclist and the style of previous attempts were the same. For anyone who wishes either to attempt the record or to try for one of the prizes, the rule will be NO DRAFTING or riding with another rider. If you overtake, it must be done cleanly to introduce a gap
The A9 (T) is out of bounds and you must enter Glen Feshie from Feshiebridge on the road up the east side of the valley.
The cut off time at Glen Feshie will be 15.00hrs. Unfortunately the farmer at Auchlean has a reputation for being really miserable with walkers and so SNH have built a car park about 1KM north of the farm on the east side of the road. This will be the transition point and you must continue from here on foot. We will provide your transition bag but in the event of bad weather you should not expect any shelter from the elements. You must record your time on your Si-Card both when you arrive and when you leave the transition.
This 21mile mountain section to Cairngorm is high, exposed, crosses wild country to Cairn Toul and has a Mcknackering climb out of the Lairig Ghru onto Ben Macdui. What do we do if the conditions are foul? The equipment specified is the minimum in optimal weather and I expect your experience to help you to determine what is safe for you. I have decided against anything other than voluntary grouping. If you decide to wait for some company at Glen Feshie, the clock will keep ticking. If you are the last competitor to leave Glen Feshie and are on your own, you will have the company of the grim sweeper. We will have a compulsory manned checkpoint at a stream junction in the Lairig Ghru and this will confirm that competitors are safely off the western Cairngorm plateau. We do not want anyone to continue from the Lairig Ghru checkpoint later than 20.00hrs. If you set out from Glen Feshie and after reaching the plateau you subsequently realise that you are running out of time, please do not go to Cairn Toul or Angel’s Peak but head directly for the summit of Braeriach. This will save well over an hour and hopefully bring you back on schedule. Our sweeper will collect the controls on each peak and our marshals will not leave Lairig Ghru until everyone is accounted for. If you wish to retire at the Lairig Ghru checkpoint or the time is later than 20.00hrs, our marshals will indicate the track you should use via the site of the old Sinclair Hut to retrieve your bike at the Cairngorm car park.
Road bikes (with helmets attached) will have been transported round to the Cairngorm car park from Glen Feshie ready for the final descent but we will not provide your transition bags as these will be dropped off at Glenmore Lodge. You should be able to cycle the short distance down to the Norwegian Stone without cycling shoes – it’s almost all downhill.
ROAD BIKE DESCENT TO NORWEGIAN STONE
I expect you are confused as to why the race finishes at the Cairngorm ski car park and yet the route is described as continuing down to the Norwegian Stone beside Glen More Hostel. The simple reason is that I don’t trust you guys to not go mad and race each other like lunatics down the incredibly fast descent which has sections of hairpin bends on it. So, when any competitor arrives at the Race Finish at the ski car park there will be no overtaking on the way to the Norwegian Stone. To do so will incur disqualification from the race! If you arrive at the ski car park together, you can cycle down the road together but you will both be credited with the same time in terms of setting the record.
ACCOMMODATION SATURDAY NIGHT
It is only a gentle 1KM up the road to Glenmore Lodge GR987 094. Your bags will be in the Bynack Room and this is where you leave your bikes overnight. The Lodge has kindly allowed us to camp in the grounds. I will settle the bill for the camping. You are welcome to use the showers in the lodge and a bar will stay open till as late as you like, serving bar snacks until 22.00hrs. We will have a short presentation at about 23.00hrs. You can book B&B at the lodge for £18 per person but it costs £9 more if you want a single room. To make a booking for B&B, telephone the lodge on 01479 861256. When you check in at reception (which is manned until 23.00hrs) you have the option to book and pay for a breakfast for £4.50.
Sunday 1st July
After a leisurely breakfast, a minibus and trailer for bikes will leave Glenmore Lodge at 10.00hrs and transport those who need a lift back to Nevis Range. Price is £12 to be paid at registration.
Any Questions Not Answered Above?
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