Coast to Coast

​RatRace Coast to Coast 

It was my brothers fault, some crazy idea about racing across Scotland when he turned 40. I admit it was my fault it finally happened this year but he is 43 now and you can only wait so long for perfect fitness. My theory was that once he entered the cost would motivate him to train.

It was a good start but the weekend over Easter training on the course completely convinced him. I have to say he was solid and stuck to the plan. My plan for him was based on the bike, lots to gain if he could sit on my wheel and I could drive us along, couple that to the engine being the engine and all we had to do was get him run fit by doing enough miles without him being broken. 

If we made one mistake in the prep it was not bothering to Kayak, not in the plan but with his family, my family and my racing commitments we never fitted it in. A little arrogant but as we had both done it before we assumed it would be ok. (we all know about assumption being the mother of all cockups don’t we) More on this later. 

About me, ex ultra distance runner, ex 1 day adventure racer, ex triathlete (retired and not retired, various 70.3 events), GB Age Group Duathlete and more recently a successful veteran duathlete who can turn a wheel and jog at a good clip. On the side I am Orange Approach a rather loud and direct coach of runners, duathletes and triathletes who want to get better. 

Or put another way, a handy race brother for a 10 hour race where cycling and running are involved :¬)

We drove up with Em as support crew, this allowed us to carry 3 bikes and spare wheels, we don’t camp so we had hotels and could travel out for better food.


On so many levels spot on but and this is a big but, staff need to give out the same information. Two people gave us contradictory information but it was done and off we went with 2 numbers and chips(baffled by this even now) Enter as a team expect to be treated as a team. Small things but they make a difference.


The Hotel for night 1 and a disaster, there we are just checking the bikes over and it is one of my bikes that fails, 2 broken spokes, must have happened during the week and as I checked none were loose 2 came away in my hand. I won’t name the LBS that I called who basically didn’t want to know and just wanted to get home and will however give a HUGE HUGE CALL OUT TO HALFORDS INVERNESS, 2 young lads, one a bmx’r and the other a road racer and tester. Took my wheel and replaced the nipples, trued the wheel and sent me on my way and all this for no drama and by 1900 I had a bike ready to race(I had a spare CX bike and a set of tubs but really didn’t want to ride tubs across Scotland). Thanks lads !!!!!!!!!

Cawdor Transition visit 1:

I was very relieved when I arrived at 6am that my bike had not been there overnight. I think that is all I will say on the subject. Bike was racked and we headed to the start. 

The Start and first run: 

Experts away and listen to the debrief, made sure we were in wave 1. Run 1 is a kids event really, you just jog along on the flat for around an hour, unfortunately the bruv had a few issues with the camber and so we had to be aware of how his quad behaved. That said we stuck to the plan and held our planned pace (well close enough).  No real drama and an hour so later ….

Cawdor Transition visit 2 and that first bike:

We had already decided that T1 would be chilled out and calm, this was obvious as we had not even put the Garmins on the bike :¬)  That said we had already made places up by the time we were leaving. Doing day 1 in a TRI suit was a very wise move. Putting my brothers bike together on Road tyres was an act of pure genius. 

What followed was 50 miles straight into a headwind with my brother holding my wheel, he was class. I was happy being his bus driver but didn’t want to be a train driver so he soon got used to me surging whenever we approached another rider on a CX bike. Monitoring his heart rate we climbed wise and descended resting where we could and just spent the ride passing people. The only time I really worried about him was the last 2 miles of climb. The wind at this point was horrific and I am not really big enough to fully protect him. That said he dug in and he climbed it, cramp in his quads, burning in his calfs he climbed it. What was really nice though was how he used the descent. All the bike training had improved his bike handling so we made good time down to Fort Augustus…

Fort Augustus and some water sport:

Bikes racked, trainers on and off we jogged to the water. We were somewhat undone here by the brother getting cramp in both hip flexors and quite frankly the worst kayaking in the world. It was the only time we shared tense words in the entire day and that last 5 seconds before we pissed ourselves laughing. I even found time for a little Hawaii 5-0. Jogged back and were done inside 4hrs and 30 mins – SIMPLE :¬)

Review of day 1: 

Solid run, my brother was disappointed we didn’t sub hour but on the grand scheme of things it was a good run

The ride, he was brilliant all day. We got everything right. 

The Kayak, lol and the one place we could have really improved but given how short a part it was no major damage. 

We had despite the wind hit our target. 


For reasons beyond common sense I had booked 2 rooms in the lodge, on reflection having finished by midday we could have stayed in Nairn or Inverness. None of the things in life I like were here. It was without a doubt camping but with solid walls. I don’t camp and paid a premium for the pleasure. Safe to say we showered and got out of dodge fast and went on the hunt for a good meal. Parking challenges when you book a hotel are not good enough. I shall take some of the blame for not realising the lodge was actually in transition. There you have the only plus about the lodge, the next morning we wheeled our bikes to the start. 

Day 2 start and ride:

The announcement of no Kayak due to the weather, sad but also great news for us :¬)

No results anywhere, poor. 

Request that slow people start first, poor and how would you know when there are no results? 

Kit check, before the ride meant anything from have you got stuff to empty your bag. 

There were also questions and hazy answers around kit carrying and getting the bikes out of the last transition. As we worked out later, I could have carried nothing and a near empty bag on the yomp.

At this point I was getting my first feelings of completer land with timing and not a race at all. That said as I stood in transition (wave 1) it was obvious that various other “quick” people had also decided that getting away was wise (Em told us later we had been smart as she saw carnage at the single track) 

We had put offroad tyres on the brothers bike with a view to knocking out another good bike and then yomping. Our start along the canal was excellent as was the initial trail riding. For a lad with very little skill practice offroad I have to say he just got on with it. Sadly we were visited by the puncture fairy twice in 10 mins. At this point we had our 2nd round of heated words. I had lost my foam sealant and not heard the call. There was a mini stress by both parties with me being concerned about the tyre being damaged. It soon passed and we were moving, there was no 3rd puncture. 

As my brother got more fatigued it became harder to surge passed people and after getting ‘Simon the leach’ on tow his fatigue showed in a terse exchange. Simon took a tow and then dropped us. Then it happened, for me the moment of the entire weekend. We were approaching a group that ‘Simon’ had latched onto and I commented that I was backing off so we didn’t just collect people. So here we were climbing side by side and CATCHING the group in front, we were chatting as we rolled passed. Hitting the top John(the brother) shouts “GO NOW” and with a few clicks we went full gas. A few minutes later we looked back to see ‘Simon’ in no mans land. Even now when we chat he has no idea why he suddenly had all this jump but we used it. It was AWESOME!!!!!!!

Em was waiting just before the gate and we gave her our bikes. Ironically she could have handed us basically empty bags and shoes there instead of us riding with them. There was no control in place. Defies the same rules for everyone feeling and there is no doubt this rule was abused by people. 

The Final Transition and a walk with some jogging:

30 mins of stop clock available, a full change of clothes and get ready to go for a walk. It was nice to put running gear on. Even got a kiss from Em :¬) 

No longer 14 miles but 15. In our heads we still thought 3 hours is solid and that was how we approached it. For the next 3 hours we jogged the flat cruised the downs and walked the ups and all the time seemed to be moving at or around 12mm. I could tell you we saw 100s of people and how the mountains are lovely but really it was a 3hour walk in wind and I hate walking. On the final technical descent we were able to shout to a chap ahead who had missed the turn which felt like the right thing to do and then we arrived at what can only be described as the biggest disappointment of the entire event…

The Finish:

We see the sports centre we turn the corner, no funnel, no people no line. In fact, we walked into the hall and then they said “OH have you scanned in?” the damn mat was outside. We had missed it in the entire underwhelming experience. 10 hours of racing to finish in a doorway. 

We were then bused to the “official finish line” 

Never in all my days has an event finished so badly. I appreciate the Kayak was cancelled but some effort at a line would have been nice. 

Getting off the bus I frankly didn’t care about the medal or funnel or picture but fortunately had my brother there who had achieved a great feat for him. We had done 10hours and we were in the top 10. Analysing the rather rubbish results we were 6th, 3rd team and first full vets team.

We would have been happy at 100th as long as he had worked hard and achieved.  

Review of day 2: 

The ride, he was brilliant all day and that moment on the hill will stay with me forever. 

The yomp, what can you say ?  We did it and on target even with the extra mile. 

The Kayak, lol. It not happening could only be good for us 

We had hit our target and I am very pleased for John. 
Closing down:

John was brilliant and even though I coached him and watched his training he still did far better than I expected, I feel very proud of my little brother :¬)

It’s a good event that has a lot of potential but as a racer it is let down on a few levels. I have fed back and made comments through the blog so shall leave it there.  Depending how they come back to me could dictate the future but I fancy racing this over 2 days and 1 day.

I am tempted to look at some other adventure racing again as I got a bit of a bug for this. Probably look at a few that involve maps and checkpoints if they still exist. 

John and I have talked about doing the event in 1 day, I think he needs a good year of training so although he could go back next year giving it a few might be wise. 

Really though this was about my brother John and him training for and then achieving a hard goal for someone who does not do endurance sport. It was my please to support him.

Finally :

Thank you to Em for being our crew. She drove around during lugged bikes and generally organised us. The cottage and food on the last night was the stuff of legend.

Sarah and family: thank you for giving John the space and time to train . Your dad(husband) is AWESOME!!!!



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