It started when I got out of the car and was immediately covered in midges – only little ones, but they were everywhere. They were even worse at the registration area, and apparently it was the same last year. Everyone who’d done it before was happily covering themselves with bug repellent, and the marshals were all wearing full body cover and mosquito net hats so they knew what to expect, although they’d not mentioned anything in the race notes. Which was nice of them.
The race itself went like this:
0-10k: Clouds of midges, few hills.
10k-20k: Wiped what I though was sweat from my forehead, hand came back black with midges (repeated 500 times), few more hills, and some downhill single-track that would’ve been lovely to run down except for the midges and having to stop repeatedly as there were too many people on it.
20k-30k: Arms, legs, face, hair, neck all covered in midges. Most dying or at least incapacitated by sweat or the bodies of their brethren. Midges in my eyes, and swallowing a lot too. Definitely worse in this stretch. Also some hills and frustrating downhill single-track queues.
30k-42km: Just wanted to die, would have set myself on fire at this point to get rid of the bugs if I’d had a lighter. Fortunately getting stuck behind a group of people running 14min miles on the final downhill bit of single-track took my mind off the bugs for a bit.
On the upside, I’ve never been so glad for a race to be over, so I guess there’s that.
In defence of the race organisers they’ve just said they’ll put something about the midges in the race notes for next year so people can come prepared (or not at all) – but I won’t be there, even with all the bug spray in the world. It’s three days since the race and I’m still scratching the hundreds of red angry welts on my arms and legs. I’m sure from October to March without the bugs it’s a lovely place to run, but the amount of narrow track still makes it an awkward race route. It seems like all the uphills are wide open fire roads, and all the downhills are narrow twisty single-track, great on your own or at the front, but if you’re anywhere near the middle of the pack or running even/negative splits it’s just too annoying having stop and wait for people because there are hardly any places where you can pass them.