Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recovery Outing!

On Sunday after the prize giving Graeme and Fiona joined us in Fort William. We went for a walk/run in Glen Roy. It was a beautiful day for an outing on the hills. Perhaps it was a bit mean to drag Neil up there but he did opt for the lower walking route. Sunday night we had a great time at the pub catching up with others at the WHW party. Monday we drove back to Edinburgh and we departed on Tuesday. There was a security breach at Edinburgh airport just as our flight was about to leave. They evacuated the terminal and those of us on planes had the pleasure of disembarking and going through security again. Many people missed their connecting flights in London - we did make our flight back to Vancouver. Race/crewing report to come! Neil captured some great video clips along the WHW and the crew have some spectacular photos to share as well! Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hazards on the Trails in Scotland





The weather was quite nice today in Edinburgh. We decided to go for another run (despite it being close to the WHW) It's amazing with the jet lag how it can take a few days to feel normal. I have heard 1 day for each hour and we are 8 hours difference in time and sure enough we are starting to feel "normal". A run seemed like a good idea and both Neil and I really enjoyed our outing on the Pentlands from Colinton for about 1.5 hours.

After the run we made a trip to Morrison's to buy supplies for the WHW. Neil really enjoyed the biscuit selection and chose some of his childhood favourites! We went to Tiso's Outdoor Store to stock up on fuel for our camp stove as the weather forecast is for rain so warm soup may be a hit not only for the runner but crew as well.

We had a family dinner in Colinton at Dante's which we all really enjoyed. Charles had recorded the final game of the National Hockey League Stanley Cup Game - the Vancouver Canucks versus the Boston Bruins. The game was in Vancouver - huge excitement for the city. Emails and texts were buzzing on the phone in the middle of the night - the Boston Bruins won - what a let down for Vancouver after all the hype. Unfortunately there was a lot of rioting in Vancouver after the loss with over 100 arrested. We really are peaceful folk! ;-)

Charles and I were planning our timing as crew and plan to get out for a bit of exercise during the event. There is one section where we can not access Neil for several hours.

For the finish we have 2 nights booked in a hotel in Fort William of which we will most likely arrive a little late on the first night! The family was planning a family outing on Sunday. I heard perhaps an early rise...and a climb up?? There is a prize giving at noon on Sunday and a party at the Ben Nevis Pub that we plan to attend. Anyone out there know approximately what time the gathering at the pub starts? Back to Edinburgh Monday - then fly home Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

St. Andrews

Neil and I on the beach at St. Andrews

St. Andrews Club House

Neil's Dad and I along the path of the first tee.

The remains of St. Andrews Cathedral

Where Kate met William for Coffee

Royal Air Force Fighter Jet from Leuchars RAF Base.

Today we took Neil's Dad on a road trip to St. Andrews. We always ask him where he would like to go for a day trip when we are here - this trips choice was St. Andrews. There is a family grave in the cemetery in Leuchars which is close by. So first stop was the cemetery in Leuchars. There is a Royal Air Force Base here and wow did we get a demonstration of fighter jet flying. They flew single and in pairs the entire time we were there. A reminder of the incredible speed and power of aviation. Neil brought me to St.Andrews on my very first trip to Scotland 22 years ago - so it was nice to visit again.

It was busy when we arrived and we were lucky to find a parking spot on the street. We walked to the remains of St. Andrews Cathedral. Along the way we noticed a coffee shop advertising "where Kate met William for coffee" in the window. For those of you who don't know...both Kate and William attended St. Andrews University.

We had lunch on the University grounds and then walked down to the home of golf, the Royal and Ancient and the Old Course, St. Andrews. It was really something to see the golfers tee off on the first hole of the old course. Some were definitely better than others!

We walked on to the beach and enjoyed the sand and the sea breeze. There is a mile of sand beach and we noticed a few runners heading out along the beach.

On the drive home we took the coastal route which was really nice. The rolling green farmlands and views of the coast were spectacular. The Ambrose side of the family has deep roots in this area of Scotland.

For those of you who don't already know - I am in the crew car for Neil this year. Eldest brother Charles and I are on to make it a great race for Neil. Neil has done it with me 2 years in a row and this year is his turn! You may have noticed on my blog that last weekend (or the last time we were in Vancouver) we completed Vancouver 100 together. That was the deal! He did V100 with me and I helped crew for him for WHW. I have completed WHW 2 years in a row (which is a challenge when you come from Canada) and now will have the opportunity of seeing the route from the road and crewing! Neil has been awesome helping me complete my Ultra goals - this one is for him! (No pressure Neil...just do your best!) I look forward to cheering all the runners on.

Cheers from Edinburgh!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


West Highland Way Lunch - From L -R Ian, Karin, Neil, Donald and Murdo. Keith Hughes was here earlier but missed the photo!

Making my way up the Pentland Hills.

Almost there!

There was an old Bentley car display on the Royal Mile from around the world. They are touring Britain in the cars.

The Scots Monument on Princes Street.

View from Allermuir.

Colinton below.

Having fun here in Edinburgh! We have had a busy few days catching up with everyone. Today we met up with other West Highland Way folks for lunch in Edinburgh. It is a great opportunity to connect and get us focused on the WHW race. The "meatball" sandwich was popular. Neil and I opted to share the vegetarian having been on the road now for a few days. Later in the afternoon we went for a run on the Pentlands starting at Hillend. We went up three hill tops finishing with Allermuir. The weather was great - I had a few flash backs to severe wind and cold conditions up there on previous Christmas visits. It was a beautiful run and we stopped to re hydrate at the Flotterstone Inn on our way back. I really notice the long summer days here in Edinburgh - Vancouver is at the 49th parallel and those degrees further north here in Edinburgh really make a difference for long summer days.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Trooping the Colour

The Queen and Family.

Neil enjoying a bacon roll in Hyde Park.

We did well this AM and woke at a decent time - 8am. Sometimes this can be way off due to the 8 hour time difference. First thing today we went to Hyde Park to try out the new bikes. They were fantastic and what a great way to get around the city. We returned the bikes after aprox 1.5 hours knowing we wanted to see the Royal procession and thought better of taking the bikes with us. We had a great view of the Queen and all members of the Royal Family as they passed by in their carriages or on horse back. What a spectacular event for the public to participate in. We then carried on for some shopping. I found a nice dress for Kendall and Chris's wedding (the weekend after we get home from WHW in Vancouver)and we finished the night with a nice dinner out. Looking forward to arriving in Edinburgh to catch up with family and friends.

Carolyn and Neil

Friday, June 10, 2011

Having Fun in London!

Going for a run in Hyde Park

The new bikes available for use around the park - maybe tomorrow?

A busy night at the Wilton Arms.

The flight from Vancouver to London went well. I can honestly say it was the first time I wish we had more flying time! I had some "work" to do on the flight so never really relaxed until the last 4 hours of the flight. I was in a good comatose state when the crowds were departing the plane. I slept half of the taxi journey to the hotel. Once checked in we went for a run in Hyde Park which woke me up and energized me for the rest of the evening. It was a fresh spring evening in London with a buzz of activity. It is the Trooping of the Colour tomorrow - celebrating the Queen's Official Birthday. We plan to visit a few of our favourite shops and then have a dinner reservation booked. It is our 21st wedding anniversary this weekend and what a great place to celebrate here in London!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Vancouver 100km

Final words of encouragement from Vicky(crew)

Crossing one of the many creeks on the Baden Powell trail

Coming up the Hollyburn Ski Runs with Yak Traks on our shoes and poles

Beautiful blue skies with a jet's contrail

The dodgy snow bridge - first passing.

Another snow bridge - deep snow!

Climbing up Black Mountain from Cypress Bowl

A view from where the snow started.

Top of Black Mountain - Yak Traks and poles hid in the bush for our return journey

Coming down the boulder field on Black Mountain

Crossing a log on our way to the turn around at Nelson Creek - 50km complete.

Climbing back up Black Mountain - almost at the top!

At the top of Black Mountain - the sun is starting to set - snow camper in the background

Coming down the ski runs with head lamps and warmer clothes.

Finished! 26:54 - a long journey! The chairs felt really good!

Earlier this year we decided that Neil was going to run West Highland Way on his own. We have experienced the journey together for the past two years and I have truely appreciated his commitment to be my companion out there. We decided to do a different ultra together prior to WHW and chose Vancouver 100.

This is a year of record snow fall on the local mountains which meant miles of trekking through very deep snow. The Vancouver 100 goes from Deep Cove on the Baden Powell trail to Nelson Creek (Horseshoe Bay) and return to Deep Cove with 16,300 feet of ascent and 16,300 feet of descent. We have spent many weekends training on the course checking out the different sections and planning what type of equipment to bring to assist us through the snow sections. Craig, the RD and friend Marla decided to enter as well. We all agreed Yak Traks and poles seemed to be the simplest and best way to go with the current conditions.

On Saturday June 4th we started at 5am in Deep Cove on the best weather day yet this spring. The temperature was forecast to reach close to 30C. The skies were brilliantly clear. Vicky was our crew for both Craig and Neil, Marla and I. We had planned to do the journey together. Wendy was coming out to help out at some point during the evening. We predicted aprox 24 hours for the event but with the ever changing snow conditions we really didn't know.

Despite the snow, the weather conditions were perfect for the night journey so we were determined to complete the 100km's. Neil, Marla and I were a good team. Marla handed out electrolyte tablets regularly, Neil kept reminding us to drink and I tried to keep us focused on what we needed at our next crew stop. We made the first quarter to Cleveland well under 5 hours. We put on our larger packs with our Yak Traks and warmer clothes for the upcoming snow sections. The significant snow on the trail appeared at the top of the Hollyburn Chute. We came upon a back packer Andrew who was planning to go to Mount Hanover on the Howe Sound Crest Trail. Andrew continued with us throughout this snow section until the top of the Bluffs. We were heading to Nelson Creek and Andrew decided to take a food break and then carry on to Horseshoe Bay. We made it to the turn around at Nelson Creek 50km feeling quite good.

The climb up Black Mtn on the return journey was nasty. It felt so good to reach the top. Good news...text messages from Marilyn, the Vancouver Canucks won! I'm sure if we listened closely we could have heard the roar from the celebrations in the city below. On Black Mountain there was now a group of winter campers. They told us they were in awe of us - I told them I was in awe of them sleeping in a tent up there over night. They too reminded us that the Canucks had won.

Craig was with us for the next section through the snow. We came into Cypress feeling a bit chilled and decided to put on some warmer clothes. I opted for a few layers, toque and gloves. It felt really nice heading out being all warm and cozy. With the sun now setting we anticipated it would be cold coming down the ski runs and we were all prepared.

On this section from Cypress we had to cross a snow bridge which was looking dodgy on the way out and we knew it would be in rough shape from people going over it and the warm temperature throughout the day. When we arrived at the snow bridge I could tell that Neil and Craig were a little concerned. Sure enough it was looking thin and not weight bearing. Craig went first and dug a ledge with his heels and showed us what we needed to do to get across. We had to do a standing jump and land on the other side high up on the slope. Neil went second and demonstrated it again. This was serious - Marla and I could not get it wrong or to put it bluntly we were gone! I passed my pole to Neil and found the notches in the snow for my feet, dug in and from a standing jump thrust myself across the bridge. I recall landing on the side of the slop of snow looking up at Craig asking for help. You might pull me down I recall him saying - he dug into the snow grabbed my hand and got me up the slope. Repeat for Marla and we were all over it safely. The adrenaline rush carried us out to the ski runs.

This was a highlight for me - running down the ski runs with the twinkling lights of Vancouver below. It was a long way down. We planned to take the Yak Traks off where we put them on earlier. Funny thing since the day had been so warm the snow had melted meters - they came off sooner! It felt great to get them off our shoes. Wearing them for hours they were starting to irritate our feet.

Next section was the Hollyburn Chute which was rocky with patches of snow. Craig slipped and cracked open his head lamp - Marla saw the battery disappear down the creek. Craig, being prepared for such adverse events, had a spare head lamp in his pack. The temperature was warming up as we came into Cleveland Dam - off with the toque and jackets. What a pleasant surprise to see Marilyn and Wendy greeting us on our approach to Cleveland Dam. We had all previously ordered burgers and fries for this stop. Although I was feeling well I didn't think I could eat it. The others gulped the food down. I had a couple of bites and that was all I could get down.

We changed our shoes, socks and packs and then headed out for the last quarter. Wendy guided us up Nancy Green Way to Grouse and lead us through the gnarly section here in the dark to Mountain Highway. A couple of rolled ankles and trips but we were all still moving forward. Neil, Marla and I made our way to Deep Cove with the assistance of Vicky at regular stops. It hurt, I felt nauseated but we kept it going. The sun came up and that always somehow provides energy to carry on. We arrived at Deep Cove just before 8 am for a total of 26:54. What an incredible day, or 2 days! - now that was great endurance! Congratulations to all who participated. WHW in 2 weeks...hmmm...Go Neil Go!