Kirkintilloch 12.5k 2020 Race Report (Andrew)

It’s winter, it’s windy, but that’s weather. Or at least it was until last year when the Met Office started to name its storms. Now, it’s not weather, it’s an event. And this year’s Kirkintilloch 12.5k had a hell of a lot of event…

The Kirkintilloch 12.5k has been our first race for a few years now – you can read some of the previous reports here and here. It’s longer than a 10k, so feels more of a challenge, and it has more ups and downs than a 90s raver, including almost a mile uphill to start, which is a shock first thing in the morning. Races should start downhill, or at worst, a flat. Running uphill to start is just cruel. If you start uphill then you should call your race an ultra, even if the rest is flat. It’s fair warning.

Along with the race conditions there’s the challenge of finding a car parking space as the start line is next to a main road into Kirkintilloch and there’s not a lot of room on the streets nearby to park. Saying that, it’s always a busy race with many club runners (resplendent in their new singlets) and just-get-rounders sharing the start line, so everyone must come by the Kirkintilloch canal to get there.

This year, there was a new challenge: the weather. The race was held right in the middle of Storm Dennis and 50mph winds swept the course. I don’t mind running in bad weather, if you’re wet, you’re wet. You can’t get wetter than wet no matter what Bon Jovi might sing. And wind is okay, as long as it’s behind you. If it’s behind you, you can fly. Unfortunately, we were running a loop so not only were we flying, we were also being pushed back so hard we ended up in Ireland.

Overall…

Course:

Race route: First mile is uphill, the next three are up and down until you reach Woodilee village where you turn and then run up a slope steeper than the north face of the Eiger, before taking another road home until the final 2 km when you reverse the climb back to the start and finish with a nice one mile downhill race to the finish.

Finishing bag: It was the 15th anniversary of the race and there was a special commemorative mini towel (as shown above) instead of a medal. A chocolate biscuit and a bottle of water were also handed out at the finis.

I’m not sure of a towel as a commemoration. It was the 50th anniversary of the the creation of heavy metal last week but no one gave Ozzy Osbourne a soft plump towel to commemorate the first Black Sabbath album. Towels are for beaches and pretending to be Roman. In a race, a towel is what you thrown in disappointment when you quit during it, not what you get at the end when you should be celebrating.

Kirkintilloch 12.5K (Iain)

The Kirkintilloch 12.5k is an “undulating” course – 12 hills in 12 KM. I prefer to call it a course with 12 downhills in 12 KM’s. That sounds less fearsome. Similarly, Mount Everest sounds better when described as a long walk down.

This weekend saw Storm Dennis batter Scotland. If you ever get bored, Google your name and the word “storm” and find out if you were a force to be reckoned with or a bit of a damp squib.

Storm Iain has formed a few times but each time has been deemed “not a threat” or “unlikely to amount to anything.” Which is pretty similar to what it says about me in my school report card.

Andrew on the other hand became a Hurricane which killed many people. It was so destructive the name Andrew has been struck from the Storm naming guide!

The race is one of my favourite events. Today was probably the hardest conditions to run it. The wind from Storm Dennis was bitterly cold and very strong. Thankfully there was no rain or it would have been horrific.

I’d spent the day before running a 15 mile stretch of the Fife coastal path so I wasn’t expecting a PB. A woman at the start told me she’d thought the race was going to be cancelled so had spent the night before drinking wine until 2AM. She woke up at 4AM and she couldn’t get back to sleep due to the wind rattling her roof. I was impressed she made it to the start line.

The race started and I was able to run a steady pace alongside Andrew but I knew that if he decided to go faster I wouldn’t be able to match him.

He waited until 500m to go and then sprinted off. I didn’t try to catch him. I was pleased to finish in just under an hour. Which was much faster than I thought I’d manage.

The first hill

Jimmy Irvine 10K 2019 (Andrew)

There are three starts to a race. The first start is when you start running. For most of us this will be a few metres before the start line as we don’t start at the start as we don’t want to mix it with the top club runners looking to win races. The second start is when you start your watch so you can keep track of how far you’ve run and how long you’ve been running. This second start will be as close as possible to the third start – the point we cross the start mat and hear the beep of timing chips.

Three starts. Three times we control exactly when we start a race as we decide when to start running, when to press start, when to cross the mat, yet still I like to hear the sound of a starting gun, klaxon or just a loud whistle. There is something ‘official’ about having a starting signal that Garmins and beeps cannot replicate. Even better, the start should be marked with an official starter, and in most years, for the Jimmy Irvine 10K it’s been Jimmy Irvine himself. You can read about it here (including more about Jimmy Irvine). This year, he wasn’t here in person, but he was here in portrait as the finisher’s t-shirt had a picture of him and his wife on the start line at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow.

The race has taken a number of different routes around Bellahouston Park however, this year, it stayed the same as last, which I originally thought was great as it features two laps and three visits to the same downhill section. As the race starts on a hill you run downhill for most of the first kilometre. You then repeat it again at the end of the first lap and again at the end of the second. Two laps, three downhill sections. 

However, when I say I “originally thought it was great”, I have now changed my mind. Last week, Iain and I ran around Edinburgh, taking in a number of hills including Blackford and Arthur’s Seats. After checking Strava, I notice something curious. The highest heart rate was recorded at the bottom of hills, and not the top. With the peak rate being recorded at the bottom of Arthur’s Seat after running down from the summit. 

King of Edinburgh

I’d always thought that running uphill was harder. It certainly feels like it. But, the scientific evidence – and what is more scientific than a record on Strava! – shows that running downhill was much, much harder.

So, when I originally thought I was going to write about how the Jimmy Irvine 10K is a nice route as it’s more downhill, than up. I’m now here to warn you that the Jimmy Irivine 10K is a hard race because it’s mostly downhill! Avoid, do something easier like the Ben Nevis Hill Race or the Mt Everest Marathon. Anything except run downhill!

Saying that, I might just be annoyed because I missed out on breaking 45 minutes by 8 seconds. It was still the fastest I’ve run a 10k in a few years but, still, even with three starts, I couldn’t find one that would take my time below 45 minutes…

I blame Iain. He ran off to fast and I decided not to keep up as I wanted to warm up a bit first. Then, to make matters worse, he ran the rest of the race too fast as well! What a cheat! I bet he even ran the downhill sections. I didn’t. I walked them* – you can’t be too careful you know!

So, while there was three starts, there was only one way to finish: second place to Iain again.

*This might be a lie to avoid saying I couldn’t catch up with him even when I was trying to sprint. 

Hebridean Triathlon 2019 (Andrew)

The Hebridean Triathlon is the remotest triathlon in the UK. It was started by the Western Isles Triathlon Club as a trial event for 15 people three years ago and has gradually increased the number of people to almost 40 this year. With a small band of volunteers it’s a small but enthusiastic race.

The race starts and end at Shawbost School and set up and registration is informal and thoughtful – with rain forecasted, the organisers provided everyone with clear plastic bags to store their kit at transition so it would be dry despite conditions.

My legs were still heavy three weeks after Roth but I thought I would still be okay to take part.

Swim

The swim leg takes place in a loch about 2km from Shawbost School. A mini-bus takes competitors while bikes are transported to transition. It’s a simple system and easy to manage. Even easier if, like one woman, you don’t even wear a wetsuit.

“Are you not wearing a wetsuit?” someone asked her.

“There’s not much point,” she said.

“Aye,” said the other, “I forgot, you’ve swung the English Channel!”

Which is a bit like Jasmin Paris turning up for 10k. Or Ronaldo appearing at fives. However, as it turned out, the English Channel may have been good preparation as the course felt longer than 1500m. I thought it was closer to 1800m, and even longer for me as I managed to follow the wrong feet almost to the opposite bank to where we were meant to be going!

The water was warm, almost 19 degrees, but very dark, heavy with peat. One of the bouys had blown away but the organisers had roped in (no pun intended) a replacement at short notice. The original bouy was found a kilometre down the road having lept three fences and numerous crofts. Luckily, there wasn’t any breeze for the race and the water was flat calm. Unluckily, no wind meant midges were out in force turning this triathlon in to a quadrathalon – swim, bike, run & scratch, scratch, scratch!

Bike

Normally on an out and back course you have a ride of two halves. One fast, into the wind. One slow, as you battle it. However, with no wind, their was only the numerous hills to battle.

The thing you have to know about roads on the Isle of Lewis is that they are lumpier than school custard, including one short sharp 15% at the turning point. Thankfully, the turning point is also the Callanish Stones so you have a cracking view as you make your way back to transistion 2.

Given it was only a few weeks since Challenge Roth, the bike leg felt short. But then, after 112 miles, anything feels short.

Run

I’d misread the run route. I thought it too was out and back. While the first five kilometres are generally uphill, as there’s no flats on the run route either, I thought the second half would be easier as we’d be coming back the same way. The only doubt I had was that I hadn’t seen anyone running back to the start. That should have been a big clue.

Instead of doubling back the route takes a left turn and returns through a single track road surrounded by croft houses.

By the 5km point a few drops of rain had become a downpour and, while warm, it was good to see the finish and, finally, a downhill sprint to the line.

Overall

A cracking race that deserves support as it expands. As the remotest triathlon in the UK you do get a real sense of being on the edge of the world as the bike course takes you through crofting towns, views of the Atlantic, and the Callanish Stones.

Plus you get a fantastic buffet at the end!

And with a small field you have a good chance of making the top 10 – or, worse, as in my case, you can be fourth fastest male AKA the fastest loser!

Devil O’ The Highlands – Part 2 (Iain)

Toblerone Mountain

The triangular shape of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps is commonly believed to be the inspiration for the shape of Toblerone chocolate. But I think Mr Theodor Tobler (the creator of the bar) must have walked the West Highland Way and seen the Toblerone-esque Ben Dorain.

I’ve only climbed Ben Dorain once. It was a cloudy wet day with no view from the top. When I got back down, a man asked me “did you get to the top?”

I replied yes.

He said “the second cairn?”

I replied “what second cairn?”

“The second cairn is the real top. The first one is a false top”

DOH!! One day I’ll go back and reach the real top.

Tyndrum to Bridge Of Orchy (CP1)

My plan was to take this section easy. Don’t run past anyone just stay at the pace of the group.

That plan lasted until the first slight incline when lots of folk started walking. I suspect they were following a “walk the climbs, run the flats/downhills” plan but it seemed too early for that so I kept running and overtook them all.

I thought the section was relatively flat but afterwards I noticed one of my mile splits was 6 minute pace!

There must have been a downhill section that I didn’t notice.

I blame the early start. I was still half asleep.

There’s a road crossing at Bridge of Orchy manned by volunteers stopping the traffic. I was amazed I recognized one of them. I’d been at Uni with him but hadn’t seen him in years.

Its a very Scottish thing to say what something is not rather than what something is. Ask a Scotsman what the weather is like on a sunny day and instead of replying “it is sunny” he will say “its not raining”

Ask a Scotsman how an event has gone. Instead of saying “it was good” he’ll say “it wasn’t shite”

I realised this after he shouted “how are you” and I replied “I’m not bad”

Why didn’t I just say I’m good? As I was good. I reached the CP in just over an hour. Right on schedule.

Leaving CP1

Bridge Of Orchy to Glencoe Ski Resort (CP2)

The only previous time I’ve done this section was during a night walk. It was pitch dark and I didnt’ see a thing. I was looking forward to seeing the route in daylight.

There was a kitcheck as soon as I left CP1 and then the first hill of the day. I walked most of it to conserve energy.

After that the route it was a bit dull and samey. Lots of moor! It turns out I hadn’t missed much by not seeing this section previously.

After a few miles I got bored of the view so I tried to listen to a podcast but my hands were so sweaty my touch screen phone wouldn’t respond to my touch. I tried wiping it on my clothes but everything I had was either damp or sweaty so it didn’t help.

After the race I realized I didn’t need to use my hands I could have just said “Siri – play music” DOH!

The midges got worse as the leg progressed. Thankfully I grew up in the Western Isles. Mainland midges are just a minor inconvenience compared to the flesh eating flying monsters I’ve experienced at home.

I reached Glen Coe just after 0900. Thankfully, my support team were there as I’d told them to get me at 0930. I was bit quicker than I originally thought.

I picked up some food and refilled my bottles before heading off. The next section was the one I was looking forward to the most. If asked to describe the next bit I would have to say “its’ not flat…”

Hebridean Triathlon 2019 Race Report (Iain)

All photos https://www.facebook.com/ColinCameronPhotography/

This was the fourth edition of the Hebridean Triathlon – the most remote triathlon in the UK. It’s as far north and west as you can go in the UK before you reach Canada.

It’s also the best value race as it’s only £30 to enter. £10 for each event is a bargain.

Swim

The swim course was two laps of a triangular course. Each side of the triangle was approximately 250m.

I was glad I’d gone to check the course the previous day because it was in a different loch than where I thought.

There were three large buoys in the loch the day before but only two on the day. One had run away during the night, nobody was sure how it had managed to come loose but thankfully it was found, in a local field.

The water was warm (19C) and there was no wind. It was perfect conditions for a swim.

I have done a lot of swimming this year so I was confident of a decent time. The race started. I headed straight to the first marker but about half way to it I looked left and spotted a number of swimmers. They seemed to be taking a scenic indirect route or I was lost.

I like to think that one of my outdoor swimming strengths is my sighting. I usually manage to swim in straight line but I started to doubt my line as I watched so many of them do a Jermey Corbyn – embrace the left wing!

I stopped, I took off my goggles and double checked I was actually heading to the correct marker. I believed that I was so I continued in a straight line. Afterwards a few also mentioned this scenic route swimming but nobody had an explanation why it had happened.

After the first marker I was mostly by myself but occasionally I’d see another man. He was a good swimmer but his sighting was very erratic. One minute I’d spot him way off to my left and the next he’d be way off to my right.

Despite his wayward route we finished at the same time. I checked Strava afterwards. He swam 250m further than I did. Which shows what a difference bad sighting makes.

Snapped by the Paparazzi

Bike

The bike route is an out and back undulating route to the Callanish Stones. Normally a fierce wind either blows you there or back. One year it took 60 minutes to do the out but only 30 minutes to do the back.

I haven’t done much biking recently so I took my TT bike to the race. My thinking was that I might be slow but at least it won’t be the bikes fault.

Within a mile of starting I was passed by a man on an old battered bike. As he passed he said “I don’t think my gears work!”

Which shows you don’t need a good bike when you’re a good biker. He raced off away from me.

Towards the end of the bike leg I spotted a man with a puncture. I thought about keeping going, as stopping would effect my finishing position, but I decided that would be bad karma. I’d hate to be stuck on the side off the road and have people bike by me.

We tried to fix his puncture but, unfortunately we weren’t able to do it, despite using three different inner tubes and having more than one person try to fix it.

After the third tube exploded I called it a day and continued on. Despite losing positions Andrew hadn’t passed. I was happy to carry on knowing I was ahead of him.

Run

The run starts by going straight up a small hill. I started running and immediately felt very heavy. My first thought was I must have eaten too much whilst spending the previous week at my parents home eating my mum’s baking.

I then realised it was because my back pockets were full of the spare parts from the puncture repair. Broken tubes! CO2 canisters and tools. D’OH!

I had to run a mile before I spotted a bin I could put it all in.

I’d ran a lot during the week, which meant my running motivation/energy was very low. I aimed to run 5K and then evaluate from there how fast/slow to do the last 5k.

The course was tough – hilly and wet. The rain had started just after I’d left transition. After 5k I decided my legs didn’t have anything in them so I walked a little bit on the way back.

I kept an eye out behind me to ensure Andrew wouldn’t catch up.

Finish

I collected my medal and a change of clothes and headed to the changing rooms. I was happy to be ‘Top Todd’. I opened the door to the changing rooms and Andrew was there! Already changed!

Feck. He’d gone past me when I was changing the tyre but I hadn’t seen him.

He was happy because he was fourth.

Double feck. If I hadn’t stopped I’d have been fourth!

St Marys Loch Triathlon (Iain)

It is two years since I last did a standard length triathlon. Which is my excuse for why I forgot to take my bike helmet to transition. Thankfully, someone spotted my mistake. I ran back to the car to get it.

It wasn’t my only mistake, I lost my swim cap during the time it took me to receive my swim cap and then walk the short distance to the loch to put it on. I still haven’t worked out how I manged to do that.

The swim temperature was announced as 15C so I was surprised when I got into the loch that the water felt much colder. I swam a little distance to warm up and water suddenly became warm. I assumed it was just a cold patch at the start but the fluctuating temperature was present throughout the swim. On one stroke my hand would enter warm water and on the next the next it would enter freezing cold water. Very strange.

I enjoyed the 2 lap swim. The loch never felt too busy and I was happy to swim round with no one near me. I think swim drafting is cheating so I try to avoid it. I’d rather do the swim using my own power than be dragged along by someone else.

I got into transition after the swim and discovered the socks I had left there were inside out. I had to correct that before starting the bike. A gentleman has got to have standards!

The organiser had warned us that the roads might be slightly busier than usual because there was a classic car rally taking place nearby. There was also a beer festival on. Beer and cars. What could possibly go wrong?

Thankfully the classic car drivers must have been sleeping off their beers as other than a Model T Ford I didn’t spot any classic cars.

The organiser said no-one had ever got lost on the route. It was easy to see why. There is only one road and no option to take any other route.

The route itself was on a decent road surface. The road was undulating rather than hilly but there was a draggy climb near the end.

The race manual describes the course as “It’s almost completely flat (really!) – a couple of small undulations – maybe 5m climb on each. “

Not according to my watch. It shows there was 70m of climbing. Which is not allot but it definitely is not flat course. The trail means there’s lot of small up and down sections.

I like running off-road so I really enjoyed the run but it definitely did not match the description of the course.

OVERALL

It was a great race. I got a PB for the distance and its definitely a course I’d do again. The race gets a bonus point for its t-shirt which is a snazzy baseball style affair.

RunMhor Half Marathon 2019 (Andrew)

For the last year, a man and a woman park their cars at the end of my street and have a canoodle underneath a railway bridge.

They usually meet on a Wednesday and a Saturday. He arrives first. She then parks in front of him and pops into his passenger seat. She’s usually wearing gym gear as if she’s either just been to the gym – or, perhaps not going at all and using it as an alibi. They then proceed and….

… read a magazine, mostly, these weeks. It’s very dull. Occasionally, they share a bag of crisps.

The rendezvous has been going on for so long now – over a year – that they’ve moved into the “I just want to meet and complete a crossword with you” phase of their relationship.

It’s very strange. Although we don’t live on a through road, so it is quiet, we do have work going on and they’re parked right next to Scottish Gas’s compound and portable toilet.

It’s not discrete. Though they think it is.

“Ah”, they think, “no one will spot us if we meet every week at the same time, in the same spot in the same way!” (Except the people who live on the street and walk their dog at the same time they meet – people like me, who, after two weeks, thought “that’s the same cars!”).

I wonder now if they’ve reached the point now where it would be just too awkward to leave their spouses.

“What do you do under the bridge?” They would demand.

And they’d have to admit that it’s mostly reading Take A Break with an occasional cheesy Wotsit.

Either way, it doesn’t appear to be one thing or another. It no longer looks like a torrid secret affair and, yet, it’s definitely not two friend’s catching up.

For some reason, this couple came to mind after running the RunMhor Half Marathon. Or MhorRun as I like to call it, just to to say Moron.

It starts in Balquhidder besides Mhor 84 Motel before running on B roads and cycle tracks loop to Strathyre and back before heading out for a shorter, steeper loop onto hill trails.

It’s both a road race and a trail run. Neither one thing or another.

The first loop is mildly undulating but largely flat. The second features a very sharp climb through switchbacks up a hill before a gentle descent to the finish.

Throughout there’s plenty of water stops and jelly babies to hand. And at the end, if you can handle it, there’s even a free pint.

I took the pint just for a photo but then switched back to water – as a pint after a half marathon would be the equivalent of a Christmas party in one plastic glass.

It’s enjoyable race, with some great scenery, very little to no traffic, and a feeling that you’re running not one race, but two. Eights miles on the road then a trail run 10k to finish. But is it a road race or is it a trail run? I don’t know.

DrinkMhor

Stornoway Half Marathon 2019 (Iain)

I like running. I like music. I like running whilst listening to music.

Whilst running I tend to fixate on one lyric of a song. The lyric repeats in my mind as I run. It becomes a mantra.

Repeating this mantra becomes a distraction from running and helps me get through tough sections of a race. Usually climbs or sections where I’m tired and sore.

Yesterday at the Stornoway Half Marathon I was listening to Scottish DJ Calvin Harris and his song I Feel So Close To You Right Now.

As I got to a hill I stared repeating the chorus in my mind.

“I feel so close to you right now….I feel so close to you right now…I feel so…”

Each time I repeated the lyric I powered further up the hill. I feel so close to you right now….I feel so close to you right now…I feel so…”

About half way up the hill I passed a female runner. She looked at me. I looked at her. She looked horrified. I realised that I hadn’t been repeating the mantra in my mind. I’d actually been saying it out loud!

No wonder she was horrified. She didn’t wants a big sweaty heavy breathing man running after her declaring how close he felt.

I ran away. Very fast.

My next mike split was my fastest in the race as I ran repeating the mantra “I feel so embarrassed next to you right now!”.

The race itself was cold and damp. I wanted to use it as an ultramarathon training run so I added a couple of miles to the start and end of the race so I could get to 18 miles.

I started off with the intention of running at a slow ultramarathon pace but my ego soon got the better of me. Every time someone passed me it would go “Why are you letting them beat you? You’re faster than them!”

I gave in to my ego and sped up.

I need to work harder to ignore my ego! If not the irony of writing that whilst simultaneously writing a blog about myself…

Etape Caledonia 2019 (Andrew)

Winner to the left, loser to the right

Last week, while walking along a neighbouring street, a man ran out his front door with a woman shouting after him. As he got in his car, she screamed at him: “I don’t know why I stay with you!” before she slammed the front door shut and he drove off.

This week there was a ‘For Sale’ sign on their house…

I tell this story because, despite the sadness of an imploding relationship, it had two bright points. One, I always liked their house, so I finally got to see inside it when the estate agent posted photos on Right Move. Two, it just goes to show that you need to follow through with actions to back up your words. There’s no point shouting about something unless you actually do something about it to.

Just like the Etape.

Every year I say I’ll beat Iain and every year I then beat Iain.

Last year was close though. To be fair, he did wait while I had a mechanical so he could have won, if he’d carried on. But he didn’t, so he didn’t. Who said good guys come last? Accurate words!

Last year was also more of a contest because Iain was training for Norseman. He was riding every day. And yet, he still couldn’t beat me. (He might have the legs, but he still had the good heart to wait).

But when we could only draw when he was at his fastest on a bike, it meant that this year I didn’t need to say anything. The contest was over before we even started. I could see the ‘runners up place’ in his eyes. He had a haunted look on the start line. He looked old. Weighed down by a history of failure.

It was BRILLIANT!

Not that I’m gloating. Much.

Anyway, with the result a foregone conclusion it was only a matter of turning up and paying attention to the course.

Pitlochry

The first 10 miles are fast, if you want them to be. As each wave leaves the high street, groups quickly find their own pace. Some sprint, some take it easier as they warm up. A few tight corners and sharp wee hills cause bunches to form but after 10 miles, the roads clear and while you’re never free from other riders, it’s easy to find some space at your own pace.

Hill

The first hill is not steep but it does have three miles of steady climbing. It’s almost a straight road so there’s no need to think about turning or any hair bends to negotiate. Just sit and grind it out.

Loch Tummell

One of my favourite sections. A 15 mile flat run around Loch Tummell. With nice flat roads, good views across to Schiehallion and across the loch, it’s a great section to find a group and make quick progress to…

Schiehallion

Which is not as bad as it appears on the profile. There’s a few steep slopes. A final drag that some will sprint for that ‘frog dancing on a hot plate cycling legs and arms akimbo climbing out of your seat’ shot from the official photographer, but the real kicker is the next mile, which continues to rise even after you’ve passed the King/Queen of the Mountain checkpoint. After that, it’s five miles downhill and a chance to enjoy some easy curves and quick times.

The other side

Largely flat for the final 20 something miles with a good mix of moorland, trees, villages and wide roads. By this stage, you’ll see less bikes but, if you’re lucky, and want to joint them, you’ll find a few groups to latch onto to get your speed up until…

The second climb

Ballincluish. And a 20 metre ladder that starts as soon as you turn off the main road. If you haven’t changed gear before you turn then you’ll be looking at a slipped chain as your ‘reward’.

After that, there’s a couple of miles of rolling hills before the final descent into Pitlochry and a short climb back to the High Street where you can get…

The Goodie Bag

Or bad. As there’s never any goods in the bag. It’s always empty. Don’t expect a banana or a biscuit or anything at all. One year, all it had in place of a treat, was a single page flyer for a new Sainsbury’s… that was opening later that year. (And, in fact, never opened at all after local protests). But while I always complain about the bag, Iain never does. Well, he is used to coming home from the Etape empty handed…