The Nairnshire Challenge Knee Injury – A hill too far

At the weekend I ventured up to Nairn to take part in the Nairnshire Challenge – a 13 mile run, 18 mile cycle duathlon – but it turns out that being good on a bike doesn’t prepare your body for a half marathon…

The Nairnshire Challenge is an annual charity event held in the hills just south of Nairn and last year I was a spectator as my other half took part in the race she has been watching since she was a kid. I’m not sure how it happened but somehow her and her family coaxed a promise out of me at the time to return the following year and take part in an ill-fated attempt to keep up with her.

I’m no runner, never have been, and to be honest after about 20 minutes I’m bored out of my skull. This isn’t helped by the fact that I get little pains everywhere – sore hips, sore knee, sore neck, the lot. I could use the excuse that I’m just not built for it, but that’s blatantly not true, I just don’t practise. When I first started on the mountain bike everything hurt. The difference is though that I enjoyed it so much that I just kept pedalling, and after a couple of months of practising the body got used to it.

Well, in a show of masculine pride I agreed to take part in the Challenge while thinking, “I’m a fit guy, I can cycle for hours without hurting too bad. How bad can a half marathon be?” The answer? It can hurt a hell of a lot…

In the run up to the race I managed about 6 x 3-mile runs alongside the usual mountain biking. As I passed the 5 mile mark during the race I began to realise that perhaps I should have done a little more than 3 miles… The Nairnshire Challenge is made harder by the fact that it’s a hill race – fully on mountain tracks but with a fair bit of elevation throughout. On the second major hill, around 6 miles in, my right knee began to hurt, and by mile 8 it was aching like crazy.

I struggled on, running a little, walking a little, counting down the miles until I could get on my bike and make the pain go away. I was running with my brother and he was having an easier time of it so he was pushing me on, preventing my speed slowing to a crawl. As I dragged my aching carcass over the 13 mile mark and into the bike field I slumped down beside my bike and suddenly it didn’t seem like such a life saver.

I’ve never had knee troubles on the bike before but as soon as I set off on the 18 miles the knee started aching again. Despite this I pushed on; at least I knew how to cycle, none of this on-foot caper! I was making great speed and overtaking dozens of skinny looking road bikers on my road-tyre equipped Rockhopper. The comeback was not to be though and with a mere 3 miles to go my knee suddenly locked up and I toppled off my bike in pain. I’m not sure what happened but I just couldn’t get the knee to bend at all – there was no pain when it was straight, but trying to bend it in any way was pretty damn sore. In the end I got back on my bike and made it home pedalling one legged the rest of the way – thank god for clip-in pedals. I got a few funny looks on the way in, grimacing as my left thigh threatened to cramp up in protest as my right leg hung limply on the other side.

In the end, despite the last 3 miles, I made it in quicker than I was expecting, but I don’t think it was worth it. As I write this my leg’s propped up on the table and the chances of taking part in 10 Under the Ben are pretty slim I would say. I think next time I feel something hurting like that I might consider stopping, or even better, I might consider training a bit more in advance and avoid the problem all together!

[tags]Nairnshire challenge, nairn, race, running, knee, injury[/tags]


Colin started mountain biking in the early 2000s and has haphazardly, and with barely increasing skill, dragged his bike around the majority of Scotland's trail centres since then. Colin has oodles of hard earned experience in how NOT to do things - listen, be warned and don't repeat his mistakes...   More about Colin... Google+ Colin

5 Responses

  1. Stuart says:

    found your blog site when looking for last years 10 under the ben results – good site!

    sorry to hear about the knee injury.. I know a few folk that did the nairnshire challenge at the weekend and it sounds like a good event, although probably better for runners than cyclists;)

    hope the knee gets better and maybe see you at 10 under ben!


  2. Colin says:

    Thanks Stuart! The Challenge is indeed a pretty good event – really well organised and everyone’s always in good spirits – but you’re right, it’s more a runner’s event than for bikers.

    The leg’s still pretty sore so racing in 10 under the ben’s looking unlikely but I might come anyway up to mechanic for some friends that are also entering, don’t want to miss out altogether!

  3. Catriona's Mum says:

    Hi colin
    Just came across this by accident while I was looking up the web for the Nairnshire telegraph.
    Read the piece before I realised it was you–got a good laugh.
    Hope you are wella nd that your knee is better.

    Frances x

  4. Colin says:

    Hi Frances,

    Thanks for looking in! The knee’s a lot better now but it clicks a bit strangely every now and again. We’ll see you in a few weeks anyway, Cat’s been telling me about Mhairi’s BBQ. Looking forward to it!


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