Last Friday myself, Neil and 6 other CAACers headed off to the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides to take part (amongst other things) in the Barrathon – a half marathon which involves a complete loop of the island. After various close misses (Scott and Kerry had to abandon the bikes in order to get on the ferry) we all made it on board. Now usually it’s a fairly decent sized ferry which heads across the Minch to Barra, but the usual boat was out of action and so we got the much smaller Islay ferry instead! We quickly got seated in the cafeteria and had our pre-race meal. However, things were about to get rough! The waves became bigger and one by one we started to give in to the sea sickness. It was relentless, with the total time to sail to Barra being over 6 hours! We arrived in Barra gone 11pm still feeling ill and dehydrated. Not the best preparation for a half marathon, but at least we made it!
The next morning was sunny and although still feeling a bit fragile, a night's rest and a bowl of porridge and we were good to go! We all ran the half the next morning. Neil managed to get a late entry and the two of us ran round the course together. Having not trained properly in the last month and a half because of my foot troubles we decided to just take it easy round the course and not pay attention to how fast we were going. We had a really enjoyable run (apart from the mammoth hill at the end) and came through in 1:48:25 which I was pleased with given the circumstances. Even better, my foot seemed to have survived and didn't seem to get any worse from the race. The rest of the CAACers all ran really well and brushed aside the previous day’s illness to collect several prizes and good times! The race was followed by a buffet and ceilidh in the evening. A true Hebridean experience!
The following morning was supposed to be a sea kayaking adventure. However, high winds put a stop to that and so we cycled over to Vatersay instead. Another small island beneath Barra connected by a causeway. The winds were very strong (first time I’ve actually had to pedal to get down a hill!), but we also had moments of sunshine. We arrived at what must be one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland! Some of us went in for a dip, but the sea wasn’t as warm as it looked!! We finished off the cycle with a drink in the most Westerly bar in Europe! We turned up soaked from head to toe, and the bar lady gave us a towel to dry off!
Fortunately the ferry ride home was far calmer and we made it back to Oban with no problems. Really enjoyed my first trip to the Outer Hebrides and hope to return next year to complete some more half marathons in the Hebridean series! Perhaps Stornoway and Benbecula!