22nd May was the 19th Nairnshire Challenge but I’d only heard about it last year. It’s a duathlon – 10 mile run / walk and 20 mile bike ride (or so I thought). Julie who I’d met on the way home from Tiree had told me about it – sounded like good fun and not too far from my parents so I could visit them at the same time.
I’d previously taken part in the Highland Cross a few years ago – 20 mile run / walk and 30 miles on the bike – both events are similar in that they are a trail / hilly run and the bike ride is on road – the Nairnshire Challenge is just shorter and therefore easier, I thought!!
I camped in Nairn to make it easier to get to the start in the morning – sleep was interrupted though by the scary German bikers (ask my Mum) camped beside me – if they could scare by snoring these guys could!
I walked the 3 miles into Nairn, dumped my rucksack and tent, etc and registered before getting on the bus that took us to the start. A wee bit chilly when we got off the bus, then the sun broke through, then it threatened to rain – jackets were on and off and back on again before the race had even began.
Finally we were off – I thought I’d be able to run the whole “10” miles but not a hope – the first 3.5 miles is uphill and undulates after this. You start at the 30 mile mark and the markers go down as you run and cycle – I actually prefer this – psychologically it seems to help – well it did until I got to the 20 mile marker – ie I’d run 10 miles and there were no bikes and more running to do – another 2 miles more running before we got to the transition point – the challenge as it turns out is 12 miles walk / run and 18 miles on the bike.
The bike section is tough – more uphill which I’d been warned about – you think you have got over the hardest section but then it goes uphill again and for the first time ever I took cramp while cycling – and boy was it sore – I couldn’t move my left leg – I was trying to pedal with my right leg and keep my left leg extended out to the side – this does not make for good cycling – luckily it sorted itself out as quick as it came on and pedalling with both legs resumed.
I find it easier to judge how long it will take to do a road run but not a hilly trail run, especially when I’ve not done it before. The bike ride can vary hugely as well, especially if it is windy. I had a guesstimate of getting to the finish line in 4 to 4.25 hours, so I was really chuffed when I got to the finish line in 3 hours, 32 mins and 25 seconds – but disappointed that my parents weren’t there to see me as they were still driving to the finish – I’ll need to make a better guesstimate next time.
Would I have got a better time if I’d had a better nights sleep and / or not walked the 3 miles to the start? Who know’s but will find out next time – not next year but definitely will be doing the Nairnshire Challenge again.
Would thoroughly recommend this event – really well organised and fantastic support from all the marshals and volunteers.