Friday, 27 September 2013


What with having a weak will and and a tired body after two ultras in August I changed to the 12 hour race option a few weeks beforehand and started planning a new strategy which was basically get it done and then have a few beers to assist with the sleeping in the tent overnight. Mrs Wife and the little dude decided on Thursday evening that as the weather forecast was favourable they would come afterall and be my back up crew which would save me from being unsupported and give them their first taste of camping out. So car loaded to the gunnels and ultra runner food aplenty loaded we headed up early Saturday morning for the midday start giving us time to set up the tent at basecamp at the Glenmore Forest Park next to Loch Morlich.

Mysteriously our pop up tent did not want to do what it said on the tin but after quite a few tantrums and shouting it was in general tent shape and secure enough to not blow away during the day. Race crew have been scrutinizing campervan brochures ever since and I am inclined to agree it is the way forward.

Race Start
1st lap and all smiles.

I had been confident I could grind a decent result out for the 12 hour race and started off feeling fine and enjoyed the first 4 laps but at the start of the 5th lap just after the wee climb out of camp you go down a rocky path section for about 30 feet and half way along it I slipped on a rock and twisted the whole right hand side of my body and knew I had damaged something. Initially this did not stop me but as the miles and laps went on my right leg and and shoulder just did not want to work and I felt as if I was dragging myself along reluctantly. This feeling did not detract from the event which was unfolding though as on every lap the banter with fellow competitors was great and my support crew were doing a sterling job even putting off disappearing to Aviemore for dinner for several hours.

Pic by Julie Clark
After about 6 hours I had lost count of my laps and the crew had headed off for dinner so I sat down and munched a pork pie and washed it down with a can of red bull, I know it is not the best diet in the world but it certainly worked and found a little more energy. As darkness neared the Mrs returned to tell me of the delightful Italian buffet that her and the wee man had demolished and asked if I wanted any more soup heated up, me replying that as no pizza had been brought back obviously it would have to do.

Andrew watching me leave on another lap.

The race in general is a gathering of all the mad runners you meet over the year at various events all out to see how far they can run on this occasion and it was great to catch up/be overtaken/ get lapped and witness a world record attempt all in the one race.

I was really struggling to move late on and about 10pm had decided enough was enough but after a pause for a coffee and a chat with Doc Andrew Murray and Terry Addison was told to man the f**k up and get out there and finish the job off. There is nothing like running through a forest on a dark twilight night, it was wonderful being out there without a care in the world just me and another 80 odd mad ultra runners although you would not have known it as I seemed all alone most of the time.

About 11.20 I completed my last full lap and continued on to the small laps of the camp to squeeze a little more distance out but really I would have been as well hopping along on my left leg as I was burst on the right side. At 12 midnight the hooter went and the 12 hour race runners stopped and planted their pegs in the ground for their distance to be measured and off I hobbled to my tent. Linda was still awake but the wee man was snoozing away. Those beers I had carefully left out remained untouched as I squeezed into my sleeping bag and tried to catch a bit of sleep but it proved impossible with the discomfort so I just lay and listened as 24 hour runners trundled by through the night.

My distance came in at 67.32 miles in 6th place , I have queried this as I was convinced I had done 1 more lap, but I am not big enough or brave enough to argue with Ada and her cattle prod so 67.32 it is.

I will hopefully be back on the start line next year if I can secure a place and remain fit, support crew hopefully as well although maybe with more improved sleeping arrangements.

Many thanks to Mike, Bill, Ada, Alice, Julie etc.............. . A wonderful event from start to finish and a great family atmosphere.

Race results here :

Sunday, 1 September 2013


The photo above should give an indication to what conditions to expect during this race, although I must admit I had given this issue very little thought pre race. Those big things in the photo only turn if its windy and unfortunately on race morning they were turning at a rapid rate of naughts with a little rain thrown in for good measure. Mustn't grumble though as it was warm and it did clear up and only 45 miles were blowy as the last 5 miles were back in the outward route.

A small field of 21 runners started this year but I am certain that under the leadership of David Meldrum and a cast of many stewards this race will grow in stature in the SUMS series.

Photos courtesy Billy Quigley

So the race begins and Grant sprints off into the distance and I settle in to my stride, second position for 50 miles in the hope I might pull him back in at some point but knowing realistically it will not happen. Tired legs from the Devils two weeks ago and not knowing this route I was a bit hesitant to set off too fast. It was a bit blowy for the first 5-6 miles but it calmed down and as the direction was constantly changing not too much of an issue. I have to admit I did not have a clue where I was out on the country roads but it was all lovely scenery and I noticed that all the way there was next to no litter and the roads were pot hole free which was perfect for the cyclists taking part in the event which was starting 2 hours after our start and following the same route. Checkpoints every 5 miles with water and a drop bag if required meant it was not necessary to carry any supplies which is ideal when racing is the order of the day. Around about the 25 mile mark the cyclists started passing and there words of encouragement all helped, although the "you are looking good" cry was a bit worrying as they had a view of my backside. I reached the 40 mile checkpoint and was greeted by Helen and John Munro and Helen offered to get me a pint from the pub they were stationed outside, very tempting but if I had had one I would have ended my race there and then and stayed in the boozer.

Coke break.

Last ten miles took us past the Whitelees Wind Farm and headed back into Strathaven with a couple of climbs I had not noticed on the way out but with a gentle breeze now pushing us home. I finished 2nd place in 7hr 11 mins 30 secs , some 30 minutes behind Grant. I had not seen him or any other runner for most of the 50 miles, just as well I get on with myself then. My legs were well tired but I had no cramp issues and all the small niggles kept at bay.

A superb race and the interaction with the cyclists and the wonderful marshalls make this an unmissable race and I would highly recommend it for next year.

Podium photo by Noanie Sam Heffron