Had you told Ian Fitzpatrick 4 weeks ago, that he would finish in the top ten at this year Highland Trail, I’m sure he’d have been a very happy man. Had you told him he would finish joint third, then, I don’t think he’d have believed you but that’s what happened … because mostly in this life, you make your own luck.
1/ You obviously put a lot of time into training / planning (at least I hope you did) but did you have a specific goal in mind or was it simply a matter of hoping to finish and survive?
Despite what I may have said before – I went there to race it, but that was going to be racing the route and myself, I had no expectations or plans other than I wanted to finish, and drink a beer on my 40th birthday on Monday, the third day of the race. I thought if it all went well then sub 6 days would be doable. I would have been delighted with that. I had never considered that I could finish so high up the field. It really shows that strategy is everything in these multi-day events, the other top 5 finishers are so, so much faster than I am. Javi is so strong, like a mountain goat and the other 3 have been pro/elite riders in the recent past – I don’t belong at that end of a normal race!
|Some bits of the Highland trail are rideable and some bits ……|
3/ Were you ever conscious that people around the world were following your every move via Trackleaders?
It was also a bit odd as my spot wasn’t sending my tracking info to the trackleaders page. I was sending out a manual ‘OK’ message every hour or so. This is linked to my facebook and twitter accounts so I spammed a lot of people during the race. Sorry!
I didn’t check the trackleaders page myself during the race but did get a bit of info about where people where from home. Most notably on the postie path were I found out how near the front I was. This crystallised a plan that was already forming in my head to try to pull an all-nighter and see how close I could get to the front of the race. In the end I rode from Shenaval Bothy to the finish in just under 35 hours, I had to stop for a one hour sleep though.
Although it looks close on the trackleaders page in the end I wasn’t riding with people for much of the time. At the start of course, then in the bothies first and third night, met up with a few people at contin stores, Oykel Bridge hotel and ullapool tescos. The rest of the time it was short conversations being passed or passing people. I did really enjoy these times though. I rode with Lee for 10 hours on the last day which was by far the longest. Afterwards I read a thread on a rival website (sorry Stuart!) which seemed to be getting very excited that Lee and I were racing, elbows out, over taking and leap frogging each other. That’s really not how it was at all! I was well into survival mode for nearly all of that last day.
4/ Was there any bits of kit you took but now wish you’d left behind?
5/ What was the best thing you ate? … I appreciate that might be more to do with your condition than the actual quality of food consumed.
|It obviously pays to do your homework.|
6/ Do you have any ‘stand-out’ sections of the route that you never want to see again?
In terms of favourite sections there are too many to choose from. For so many different reasons. The Ben Alder singletrack, the postie path, and particularly the torridon descent (this being the stand out for me, the best bit of trail I’ve ever ridden) all have fantastically involving riding. Travelling through Bealach Horn, Fisherfield, and to some extent Glen Affric is incredible because of the feeling of isolation. The incredible views from many parts of the route are too numerous to mention.
|Lee Craigie and Ian shortly before the plummet of the Devil’s Staircase.|
10/ Are you going back next year?