For those who are folowing me on instagram (@runingarchitect) might have noticed my trip to Scottland at the end of September. It was a special one, as I took part in a skyrace [1].  I have acctually signed up at on the February 1st, which would have given me plenty of time to prepare if I only were thorough with training. Nevertheless, I have tried to make the best out of it and run a great race. If you are not familiar with skyrunning, you might check out the links attached below. [2]

If I talk about a competition, you have to know, it is not about competing for the first place in my case. However, it was one of the kind experience for me. Entering the race, I was fully aware of my poor shape and I have came up with a strategy to survive. My aim was not to get injured and finish the run before the time limit runs out. For an untrained person like me, 29km and 2500 vertical meters are quite a lot. Plus, this particular event is well known for its technical paths. I acctually used the second part to my advantage as I have grown up in the mountains and have been moving on rocks for some time now. The main struggle for me was lifting my bottocks up the hill. The down part was easy (fyi, there were no flat parts). Neglecting the long-term preparations evoked some panic few weeks before the event. Realising, I went tofar down the road, I decided to plan at least to plan the day. I have learnt the track, its technicalities, I maped out pace and splits I have to manage to make the cut (the time limit was 9 hours, running from 10am till 7pm). Additionally, I spent one week in altitude – better than nothing. I have been very excited to see Scottland, and see all those fast people I have only seen on screen.

We have arrived on Thursday and took a little roadtrip by car as Kinlochleven [3] is quite out of reach by plane. I was very enthusiastic watching those grassy hills behind the window and wanted to jump out of the car right away. It looked so idyllic untill I acctually got out the car and realised, everything was soaken wet. Bummer. At least, there was no way I will run out of water :-)). Thankfully, the weather was amazing. Thinking back, I barely remember rain – definitelly not on my race day! Some foggy clouds prowling over ridge made it look more dramatic and exciting.

I have to say, the organisation was excellent. I think the next race I will run will be a let down, no matter how hard they will try.. I absolutely loved the race tatoos! I was so proud afterwards to finish the race, I did not wash my forearm for a week so it won´t wash off :-)) Following the plan I have established before, I have finished the climb as the very last person. Somehow, I made my peace with that idea before the race. I think it was the most important lesson I have learnt that weekend. You have to assess your skills correctly. If you have unrealistic expectations, you will fail. You have know, how hard you have trained and do not count on any miracles happening on the race day. If your legs are lazy in general, there is no way you will suddenly hop around like a deer (it is a slovak expression).

Taking my chances, I have done a great job on that Saturday – mentally and physically as well. I think everyone with a mediocre fitness level would be able to finish it wihtin nine hours (it took me 8:45, yay. I made the cut!). The only trick was to survive those nine hours out there. Not to burn out in the first climb, not to twist ankle between the rocks, no to slip on the downhill and hurt yourself.. and last but not least, not to go mad and endure till the end. I think the mental part was the most important one and my biggest fear was the silence – you were not allowed to listen to the music. Sometimes, a good song can contribute so much to your run, especially it it is a long one like this.. Nevertheless, I made my peace with this rule and run in silence few trainings as well to get used to it.

All in all, it was one exceptional day fo me. I was so proud of myself to finish it. What is more, I was surprised by how competitive it got even at the tail! I have had a full race experience and yet somehow I managed to pass the finish line with a smile (and outrun some people as well!). The next day, I have got to spectace the main event – Glen Coe Skyline. Despite the hurting legs, I could enjoy so much. All my emotions were somehow hightened – probably due to pain. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was amazing. These guys, they are so fast. You have to see it with your own eyes to be able to imagine it. All in all, I loved the whole trip and on the airport, I have already started thinking which one I will run as the next.. I am still not sure, but till then I have put some pictures together from the whole adventure for you in the gallery below, check it out.

As an arcitectural highlight, I have got to see the GLENFINNAN VIADUCT [4], a pionieer work in mass concrete (from the era before the reinforced concrete) constructed in 1897-98. Afterall, I am an architect. I was very impressed as it is still in use and it did not deteriorate over time at all. I guess most of you have seen it in one of Harry Potter´s movie – I am not sure which one but it certainly attracts lots of people to go to visit it.. And there is still a steam engine passing by every now and then, if you are interested..

[1] the official web site of ring of steall skyrace 2016 here

[2] some nice videos by salomon on skyrunning at their youtube channel here and one of my favourite videos here.

[3] Kinlochleven. 56.713736, -4.962816

[4] read more at wikipedia here