FKT: Jack Kuenzle - Ramsay Round (UK) - 2022-07-28

Route variation
Tranter Round
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
8h 38m 23s

Alien vs Predator

Tranter Round FKT. Unsupported. Physically touched the top of each summit cairn.

I ❤️ Finlay.

For extra verification I took an InReach mini. Tracking below:

I came out here at the beginning of July to run the Ramsay Round and then the Bob Graham. Original plan was Colorado but I got spooked by the smoke. Bought a camper van and have been living mainly here and some in Edi. Running is great here, totally love it. Half the process has been learning the physical nature of the running here. You don't need the explosiveness you need in the Whites on the twisty, rocky trails, but you do need to be good at running really steep grass, off trail, scree, skills that are hard to develop in New England. The second aspect is mental. Because alot of this route is basically off trail, you have to learn the lines perfectly. In most areas there is at least a faint scar of a trod, but you have to know all the shortcuts. I was lucky enough to have Finlay's GPXs from 2016 and 2020 and I just tried to follow them as best I could. The only place I confidently, intentionally deviated was from the river to Stob Ban. I don't think his 2020 line is perfect here. There is also tons of micro route adjustments you need to make, cutting small switchbacks etc. I still probably have more to learn here and those cuts could probably make a 1% difference at least.

Ramsay was the original plan but I really hated the far eastern end of the route. This route was originally ran by Philip Tranter in 1964 as a 24 hour round and was the basis to the Ramsay Round. Charles added 5 peaks to this to make the Ramsay. The Easain's are OK (two peaks west of Loch Treig, but the three east of Treig are quite shit and the five-six miles of trail that connects Sgurr Elide Mor to those three is boring and boggy and dumb imo. The Tranter, on the other had, is insanely aesthetic and such an awesome route. Possibly my favorite running line ever. It's all so good I'm not sure even what my favorite part is. It's so varied throughout. The only annoying part is from the river up to Stob Ban. It's just steep heather and off trail but is mercifully only like 20 mins. 

I focused my running for the last month on this route and probably ran the entire thing (in pieces) 3-4 times. 

This was really really hard. I had scouted this effort at Finlay's 2020 9:00:05 splits and then he went rogue and ran a new record at 8:52:xx the day before I raced. I only saw it at about 10:30 PM and had to race to generate new splits off his effort and examine how he did different from 2020. Long story, but it appeared was about 5-6 minutes faster at Sgurr Elide Morr and then lost a couple minutes between there and the Ben, and then split the Ben downhill four minutes faster.

My plan was to go out and just match his splits for the first half and then pick up time on the back half. I was way too nervy tho and just hit it hard from the start. Picked up a couple minutes going to Mullach, another going to Stob Ban Mamores, and another going to Sgurr a Mhaim. I then maintained the same level of effort to Sgurr Elide Morr (last peak on south half/Mamores side) but bled a minute to Finlay. I was fighting for every second, cutting every switch back, I felt like I was nailing everything but he was still gaining a bit. Three minutes feels like a mile when you're behind but an inch when you're ahead. 

This is about when the heat became a problem. Run down to the river (off trail, heather/grass) was fine but the uphill was just completely still and in the sun. I doubt the temperature was much over 70-75, but I just have 0 heat acclimation and there was no wind down low and the sun was baking me. Picked up 4:30 on that section but lost 1:30 on spit up to Sgurr Coire Clourigh. From there I was able to shave a minute or two on most sections to the Ben. At a little past CMD, it started to rain and the rocks/grass were pretty wet. I imagine this only cost me a minute or two running down from the Ben, but that may be an over estimation. Coming down the Ben I was just focused entirely on not falling. 

Overall this was so painful. I've find the more I've trained my aerobic system and executed aerobic training, the more work I can execute aerobically. The problem with this is the delta between my maximum pace sustainable for an hour and for nine hours has become basically the same. Coupled with the up and down nature of this route, I just felt like I was TT'ing every uphill, getting the shit smacked out of myself on the downhill but recovering aerobically, and then TT'ing the ups again....There was no flow state. I don't know if I've ever had flow. This was more like falling down a set of steps with giant stairs. 

Towards the end, I felt I could really run the flats and the downhills close to 90%, but my ability to do steep uphills was severely degraded. Kinda the opposite from my Whites 100. Some additional issues which I'll discuss below. 

Takeaways for me:

-Heat training is 100% necessary for every race I do. I thought this after Whites but didn't actually implement it because the forecasted temps here are, relatively, so cool. Worst case the race is super cool and you get the bump in blood plasma and hemocrit (possibly). It probably wasn't that warm but I was just roasting in the sun on some parts of this. Because of that I was forced to drink some very....questionable...water sources. At one point I filled up out of a shitty pool and there were tadpoles in my soft flask which I had to dump back. This added to my electrolyte issues....

-Gotta pre load the electrolytes (to a degree). I know this normally isn't recommended, but because I was cooking all my own meals and not adding much salt I was actually cramping a little bit in the days prior to this. Just a little bit in the feet and stuff lying in bed, nothing crazy. I ate a little more salt because of this but largely dismissed it. Wow I regretted that. For the back half of the race, every footfall my calf and feet would cramp simultaneously when I pushed off. Doubt it slowed me down but by god was it annoying. I only took 3 salt caps with me which was a mistake. Fortunately, my gummies had some salts so I just ate a bunch of those and downed the caps and it helped some with the cramping. 

-Sleep in the days prior probably doesn't matter. I wasn't like nervous about this specifically but just like very excited and I just couldn't sleep well. I probably slept 5 hours two nights before and 2 hours the night before. I felt like shit and tired, but I don't think it actually affected me much. 

Consumed about 3000 ish calories during this, one muir energy, mostly Maurten, and a couple Clif shot bloks. Used Inov8 270's with socks I sewed onto the top of them to keep scree and sand out (worked flawlessly). Ate 100 mg of caffeine prior but laid off it during the effort as it raises body temp. 

Overall, probably one of my proudest efforts to date. Just went so perfectly imo. A local was alleging on Twitter that this is the first time one of Finlay's summer records has been broken. When Finlay ran it the day before he felt conditions were "very good" but a bit above average in the amount of bog near the river. At one point down there I actually fell into the mud above my knees.