23rd September 2019
Abracs Rat Racers go Coast to Coast for Cancer Research UK
The weekend of the 14th and 15th of September is one that will forever stick with 7 of the Abracs Team as one hell of an achievement. The Rat Race Coast-to-Coast takes you on a breathtaking 105 mile route taking in some of the most mysterious and wild locations in Scotland the weekend saw us run, cycle and kayak past the historic Cawdor Castle, the legendary Loch Ness and the mountainous Glen Nevis and Glencoe, the route is described as unforgiving Highland terrain and unpredictable weather that breeds tough folk, across the weekend we found out why.
The long drive from the Abracs HQ in York to Nairn in Northern Scotland was a scenic journey filled with anticipation, nerves & carbohydrates, followed by a smooth registration for the event and a quick assembly of a tent, the team saw the sun set on a stunning Scottish evening with some takeaway pizza and a few games of overly competitive table tennis before getting some rest ahead of the first day.
After what was a pleasant evening, Day 1 saw the weather deteriorate, with colder temperatures and some wind coming in. Still eager to get going the team hit the start line at 9am sharp, setting off as part of wave 2 we set off on the 7 mile trail run from Nairn to Cawdor Castle. The run was a reasonably simple route following the Nairn coastline before cutting in through the woods, down some narrow track and along the river towards the transition at Cawdor Castle. Despite some uneven surfaces and a couple of slips on the muddy forest tracks everybody got through unscathed ready to climb on the bikes.
A quick transition to top up the water bottles and pull on the cycling shorts and the team were heading out on the bikes for a 48 mile ride south west towards Fort Augustus. It is safe to say that no amount of training could of prepared the team for what was to come. 40mph head winds, ice-cold rain and a 5000ft gain in elevation made for what was probably the most difficult part of the entire race. Cycling around the final corner and looking down on the campsite below was a very welcome sight knowing that the challenge of Day 1 was complete. Burgers and beers helped keep spirits high, as the rain stopped around 9pm the team hoped that would be the last we saw of the dreaded rain that weekend.
The team woke on Day 2 with some aches and pains but the dry weather was enough to give everyone a boost and get them back on the bikes. The whole team boosted by the dry weather powered through the off-road cycling, making great pace along the flatter canal tow paths before some great fun negotiating the forest tracks flying down hills and trying to avoid the huge potholes and rocks strewn across the route As we came down one final hairy slope we could see the road in sight and knew that there was only 13.5 miles of road cycling to go before we would ditch the bikes for good. The road cycle was a relatively flat and scenic route, following the waters edge of Loch Lochy we wound around the quite roads and towards the transition at Fort William.
At the transition it was back into the running shoes and after a quick food stop we were ready to take on the 14 miles which would take us from Fort William to waters edge of Loch Leven. However this again was not as simple as anyone had hoped. The route was up and down trails and streams littered with rocks and mud, which at one point took us through a fast flowing river where the water came above the knee. The route wrapped around the mountains, with breathtaking 360º panoramic views. We then swept through a valley before approaching our final climb, a 2000ft gain in elevation up a thin and muddy trail path, and as they say what goes up must come down, and with what can only be described as a slide down the other side of the mountain we were brought back down to road side and to the waters edge at Loch Leven. Muddy and wet from our numerous falls it was into the kayaks, only 1 mile of open water stood between us and the finish line, the cramps and aches began to surface but knowing we were so close the adrenaline pushed us on and as we climbed out the kayaks and the crowds cheered we sprinted down the final straight and across the line claiming our finishers medals and enjoying some well earned food around the open fire.
Bodies were shattered, knees sore and ankles aching, but spirits were high, all 7 Abracs Rat Racers had completed the challenge and enjoyed some well earned cold beers and a warm shower, knowing they had completed a mammoth challenge and all for a great cause.
There is still time to donate, please click the link below. The team would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has already donated to support Cancer Research UK, we appreciate and value every contribution we receive.