My Tranter Round
16h 7min 31s
The story goes like this…
Tranter Round is the Scottish Classic 24h challenge over the mountains in Glen Nevis. You summit 19 mountains with 6000m vertical and total of 60km distance in less than 24 hours. That is the rule of a successful Tranter Round completion.
First of all. I wasn’t planning to do this round. Everything started 2 weeks earlier on the 4th of July on Saturday. Scott Brown SBF came down from Glasgow for a training reccy run doing the Ramsay Round Leg2. I never done that leg so I was very excited to do it. We finished the run in 8h 30min doing 50km of distance and almost 3000m vertical. I felt great and a plan started growing in my head! Why not try a Tranter??! It will be only 10km more and double the height!
Scott was coming back in 2 weeks for another training day in the hills. This time reccying leg 1 clockwise so it was a chance for me to start running with Scott on Leg1 and then continue back on the other side of the glen to finish Leg2 at Glen Nevis Youth Hostel.
I decided I am going to ask few people for help on the way back (Leg2).
It was a very short notice and it was hard to get someone to help. Finally Donna MacDonald and Michael Connely agreed to help. Helen Smith and Davy Duncan were already on the team. Not running but meeting me somewhere along the way between the out and backs with food and water.
Everything sorted! We have a team!
Scott Brown Leg1
Donna MacDonald Leg2
Michael Connely Leg2
Helen Smith and Davy Duncan Leg2
Me and Scott got the time sorted. 6am was the ideal time! So I would have plenty of time to finish! If I will feel alright to continue up the hills and get it done! There was that flexibility that If I don’t feel good I will just pull out and continue back home down the glen to the car park.
I didn’t sleep much that night. Maybe 4h… It was horrible! I could not sleep. I woke up at 4am grabbed mu stuff, mug off coffee in my hand and out the house. 50min drive to Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. Scott was camping in the area so I got him some hot water for his breakfast. It was going to be another exciting adventure on the hills!
We set off exactly at 6am up the Heart Attack path climbing Ben Nevis.
The weather was not ideal. It started raining and the temperature dropped down very fast. Once we got to 800m vertical up Ben Nevis we had to stop and put our waterproof gear on. The visibility was very poor. Clagged over from 700m and up. 0 visibility. I was definitely going to rely on my GPS device. I really wanted to get the first three mountains done as quick as possible. After that we are laughing!
The weather turned very bad after Carn Mor Dearg and we had our full waterproof gear on. The wind and rain was going hard on us. The temperature to feel was around -3. I am struggling with low temperatures especially on my hands. My hands go very numb and I can’t move my fingers. At some point even my feet went very numb and sore from the cold. We stayed quiet and continued climbing, running, descending trying to stay warm which was almost impossible in these conditions.
On the way down from Spinks Ridge we took a right corner avoiding the steep descent. I am not familiar with that area. Agin my GPS batteries went flat and I had to replace them very fast. Scott took us down from the ridge and finally the cloud was higher and we could see where we are going! I found a good line down below the ridge. This route adds probably around 5 minutes to the total time.. but I rather stay safe if I don’t know a route and the conditions are far from perfect.
We started heading to our next hill. Another disaster struck here. We mistaken the hill and we climb the Sgurr Choinnich Beag before Sgurr Choinnich Mor which is not part of the round. That added around 200m to our total climb and at least 15min of extra time… We took this mistake as an extra training and we continued to Sgurr Choinnich Mor. The scree climb was absolutely easy! We found a perfect line and it just went so fast!
The visibility on these hills was absolutely stunning. We continued over Stob Coire an Laoigh to Stob Choire Claurigh and on to Stob Ban without any issues. We were perfectly on time here. 6 h of going untill Stob Ban! Perfect!
We found a good way down and we descended to the glen. It was a very long way down. Sadly no paths and pretty rough terrain with lots of holes and hidded streams under high grass. It took us longer than expected but we reached the river. Scott wished me good luck. He headed off in the glen to the car park past Steall Falls. I continued up Sgurr Eilde Mor.
The sun came out and I was sheltered on the North East side of Sgurr Eilde Mor from the wind and rain. It was getting very warm at points.
Michael Connely and Donna MacDonald are waiting for me at top of Sgurr Eilde Mor. I am already late.
By the time I got to the top I noticed Michael waving at me! I was 1h late… I completely missjudged the time in the glen which led to this situation. Donna wasn’t with Michael. It was only me and him on the way back to Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. We descended to the valley between Sgurr Eilde Mor and Binnein Beag/Mor. Michael was leading the way. Sadly we went too far left on the path. Michael didn’t know my route I had to take charge and make a navigation correction. We lost maybe another 5 min of time on that part. Not a big deal. I will still do it under 24h no problem.
Michael was carrying a lot of water, I think way too much which was slowing him down significantly. I always use the rivers on the way. I never start running with a full flask of water. The water here is so clean I just need to keep an eye for any dead animals which can pollute the water.
We steadily climbed our way up Binnein Beag. That was our second summit on this leg. Michael took few photos and off we went down through the steep scree. On the climb up to Binnein Mor we slowed down and had few stops. Once we got to the top my Garmin Forerunner 235 died and I had to switch to my phone and charge my Garmin watch for 1h:30 min through the powerbank I was carrying with me as well. Roughly that time takes to fully charge this watch to 100% battery.
When I sat down I started fiddeling with my phone and all the notifications came up. I wasn’t expecting that… I should leave my phone in plane mode!
A tip for future! You can record your strava data through your phone on airplane mode no problem! No maps but it nicely records speed, elevation and position on the map! That’s all you need! I think I was sitting down for about 15minutes and suddenly I got very cold. We started moving again.
Once we got to the first out and back I told Michael that he doesn’t have to go with me, he can wait and save some energy for later. When I got back to him he was very cold, wrapped in a survival foil blanket. He didn’t want to continue. I understand that. He was pretty much upset about the fact that he has to leave me. But I was feeling great and I didn’t want to leave now when I was not far from the finish line. Especially when I only had 5 tops to finish the round! I showed Michael the way down. We were just next to a downhill path which was connecting with the path leading to Kinlochleven where Michael lived. I was a bit worried but he was perfectly fine. And I knew he will be safe.
I am very thankfull for Michael for leaving me a pair of hand warmers which saved my hands! Up to that point I could not feel my my fingers. These little hand warmers are just absolutely magic. I kept them in my gloves and they kept my hands warm and able to move!
From there there was only Me, Myself and I on this crazy adventure. Sadly the sun wasn’t with us anymore. The cloud came low down and the visibility was down to 20m if not less. The wind chill was absolutely horrible. Feeling it around -3 maybe -4. I was told that later on.
I was eating good and drinking plenty.. maybe not much but enough. The sun was out maybe for only 3h that day so I wasn’t feeling much dehydration. It was more of a rainy day which kept me hydrated!
I scrambled Am Bodach.. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger they say! That hill is a beast of a climb. I love it as much as I hate it!
I started to think there won’t be anyone anywhere on my way. And it will only be untill the end. I had enough food and water. But someone to talk too sometimes is nice, especially when you can’t see much and a little bit of reassurance would be nice!
SUDDENLY! I got a fright!
Someone shouting me! That was Helen Smith and Davy Duncan! They are here! What a joy! I was so happy to see them! I think that gave me a big morale boost! Another thing was a nice refill of lucozade sport and some homemade boiled salty potatoes! I recommend these potatoes to anyone that love to run long distances.
I took it all, got a lot of warm encouragement from Helen and Davy and I continued my adventure. Only 3 to go! But I still hadd to tackle the Devils Ridge with the Devils Staircase… Well lets get it done on the safe side!
I was very caucious on my way. The path is very narrow with steep drops on both sides. I made it to Sgurr a’Mhaim and now to repeat the same on the way back. No problem but very slow! Visibility maybe 10m with wind and rain. It was just soo horribly cold. Next step was getting down to the small loch.
I stopped there for only 5 min to refuel and dig out some food. My hands went so numb in just 2 min I wasn’t able to do what I want. In 5 min from stopping I realized my body started to get very cold. My body temperature dropped very fast. I had to start moving again. I had enough food in my and I ate all the potatoes! I think this will be enough untill the Hostel! I climbed to Stob Ban in record time! Feeling absolutely amazing! At least that’s how it felt! Touch the cairn and down to finally reach Mullach! I was just following the path. I didn’t take any shortcuts. I was so happy to just get it finished I followed the easy road. I got off the mountain following the traditional fence line and onto the forestry road. My legs were not too bad but body was cold and tired! I took 2 shortcuts through the forestry. I couldn’t find them they were really well overgrown. I followed the GPS precisely and I managed to find the entrances. I slipped and tripped few times on the mud amongst the trees..
On the road I felt like a new man! I Never stopped running since I got off the mountain. I was going faster and faster with every step!
There it was.. cattle grid and the Youth Hostel sign! I flew pass Helen who was waiting for me at the finish! She wasn’t expecting me to be there so fast! I think I made some good time!
Epic! I finished my first Round!
TRANTER ROUND FINISHED in 16h 7min 31s
WIN! What a beauty!
Thank you friends and family for allowing me to do this!
Helen and Davy invited me for dinner. I couldn’t say no to that!
Hot coffee and some hot food was what I needed!
TIMES FOR MY TRANTER ROUND
Inov8 Mudclaws G260
RAB Spark waterproof jacket
Sports Underwear – Ebay
Aldi cycling socks
Homemade Buff – White/Red
Gloves – Ebay
Sports MMA Polish long sleeve underlay – Husaria
Lochaber Athletic Club Vest
Inov8 Race Elite 3 waist pouch
Inov8 Race Elite running vest with 1 flask
Garmin Etrex 30x navigation GPS + batteries ( spare batteries used, main ones died on Spinks Ridge)
Garmin Forerunner 235 (battery died after 8h 30min – sadly you can’t charge it when it’s recording)
Powerbank 500000mAh + watch charging cables (used to recharge my watch)
Babyfood from Aldi – banana, apple, mango pouches, chicken caseroles, pasta bolognese, pumpkin and blueberry
Boiled salty baby potatoes
Pot of rice pudding
2 Mars bars
1/2 Lucozade Sport
Water + Zero 5 electrolite tablets (about 6 tablets)
Salt tablets – Ebay, brand unknown (about 20 tablets used)
Caffeine tablets with glocose