Scottish Islands Peaks Race – 2015


I’m breaking with tradition and writing this on the same day that the race finished.

As I’m working my way through the buffet car on the Edinburgh to London train, I’ll keep it brief.

First, a little bit of background.  The race itself has been going for over 30 years, involves sailing 160 nautical miles from Oban on the west coast of Scotland, and a less than cheeky 11,500 foot over 60 miles of GPS free fell running.

We attempted the race last year but everything didn’t quite go to plan, so we were back with a vengeance.

Head to Glasgow on Thursday morning with 3 bags of kit including enough snickers bars to feed the entire fleet.

Peaceful train journey rudely interrupted by a broken down freight train ahead, 1.5 hour delay.

Arrive in Glasgow, run (run!) across the city centre scattering peanut based confectionary in my wake to catch the Oban train containing other runner Angus.

Chat to Es Tresidder (who also had an early cross Glagow run, but with a family.  Feel less proud of my achievement). He admires our carb loading pizza and Guinness strategy.

Arrive in Oban, see RMan briefly, met by one of our sailors. Kit check.

Meet rest of team, food, wine.

Miss last ferry, pile into dingy, get wet.

Dent the whisky stockpile (it would only distract the poor sailors), chewey peanutty snack for pudding, bed at 1am.

Morning comes round fast, club vests on and catch up with everyone at the start line. Must find a better photo pose.

Go out hard, hang on to it, speed up at the end, finish in 35 minutes and manage not to be sick.

Energy levels sorted by a popular sweet snack bar, have a bit of a rest and cruise to Mull. Not much wind but everyone in the same metaphorical becalmed boat.

Rain starts as begin running and doesn’t stop for 6 hours, beginning of recurrent sailor joke about skinny wippets and bad hill weather. Almost zero visibility due to wind, rain and mist. We remember the route from last year and carefully make it round in 5h 45m. Back on boat at 22:45.

Hot shower, hot food, snickers, admire Dolphins, help drop the spinny, bed.

Get bounced around the cabin, various sails (in bags) land on me during the night. Maybe get 2 hours sleep before landing on Jura at 05:30. Sailors obviously missed both parts of “smooth sail and full English on arrival”. Forgive them as it’s light and have chocolate based treat to hand.

Head up sunny and rain free (!) paps.

Employ cunning fell race tricks and get us down in super quick time. My sister and family set up a mini aid station and give us some lovely cheers as the heavens opened. we finish in 5h 30m, wet.

Boat, snickers, hot shower (LOVE the shower), hot food, snickers.

Worry as the sailors faff around for ages with ropes and sails whilst big waves splosh over the boat.

They seem to know what they’re doing / I can’t see straight let alone help.  Leave them to it and go to bed.

Get bounced around but this time I land on the sail bags, much better this way round.

Get approx 10 minutes sleep (apparently 2 hours) and roused as we come into Arran at 21:30 on Sunday night.

Sailors swear at the yellow brick tracker as its rebooted (again) so they can see where we are during the run. Pointless as no phone signal but remote families happy with our sudden progress as the website finally updates.

Snickers, ginger cake (from my mum, picked up on Jura, totally hit the spot and a welcome snack alternative), wet wet weather gear, head for the hills.

Rain turns to hail on the Goat Fell ascent. Get lost in this mist on summit. Have a snickers and break out the compass.

Find path, decend briskly, trot back to the boat for 02:30 Sunday.

Sleep deprivation, darkness, wind and no engines allowed make for a hairy pickup. Short wave radios help to get us in the right place to be yanked on board.

Snickers, water, too tired for a shower, in bed fully clothed.

Roused in an hour to don sailing clobber and prepare for final run to the finish line at Troon.

Creaky legs deliver us into the race office for an official finish time of 05:19, 5th in class and 9th overall.

Retire to boat for celebratory snickers, rum & ginger wine, crisps and bed.

Awesome weekend, thanks to the organisers for everything, hope to be back again.

Update: I jotted down some notes on what kit I used, if you’re interested.


4 thoughts on “Scottish Islands Peaks Race – 2015

  1. Luke you are completely nuts ! 🙈You obviously thrive on participating every year, well done you👍x
    Linda x


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