Tiree Ultra Marathon

I guess I’m not one for doing things the easy way and if this had been any other race, I might have been tempted to DNS as three months with no training following a calf injury meant that I was less than prepared for it. However, Tiree holds a special place in my heart, the destination of the sort of boyhood holidays where it never rained, the miles of clear blue ocean and golden sands were deserted and there was rocks aplenty to climb. I’d wanted to go back for years and had been toying with going to run round the island when I discovered Tiree Fitness and the Ultra Marathon.

As I said, I never like to do things the easy way, so despite my distinct lack of training, I worked till 2am on Saturday morning, then drove overnight to Oban, stopping for a couple of catnaps on route, to catch the early (only) ferry of the day. Arriving at Tiree, I proceeded to run, fully laden, the 6 miles to the campsite, before pitching my tent and heading off for some much needed coffee and cake. The following morning saw an early rise and a jog down to the start line, some three miles away. The start line must be one of the most beautiful of any race and I’m afraid the picture doesn’t do it justice. Start

Will Wright, the Race Director, had designed a course that showcased the beauty of the island and was technically challenging. 7 water/refreshment stations were spaced round the course, nicely sub diving it into roughly 4 mile sections. The first section round to Hynish included the first two beaches, including Balephuil Beach, one of the endless golden beaches from my youth, Beaches

before a technical fell section round the base of Ben Hynish and the reward of Happy Valley. The water station at Hynish marked the longest road section with three miles along the road through the hamlets of Mannel and Balemartine, before joining the beach at Balinoe for the last mile before the refreshment station at An Talla.

From An Talla, it was a mix of beach and road towards Scarnish, this is where my lack of training and the miles in my legs caught up with me and I hit the wall, way to early in a short ultra. The relatively firm beach felt like I was wading through treacle and the hills on the road section, whilst little more than undulations seemed mountainous. After Scarnish and a short road section, the course dropped onto the longest beach on the island, over 2 miles of thankfully hard packed sand. This is where the navigational trick of following the footsteps was used as I sought to get the shortest possible line over the curved beach without missing the exit point. Leaving the beach we hit a technical mile or so following the coast to the halfway point. I had opted not to leave a drop bag here, a decision I regretted as it would have been nice to get some chocolate milk or some variation from water/Hi5 zero that I had been drinking.

The next section was mainly off road and started with a few technical miles round the eastern art of the island and looking across to neighbouring Coll. Dropping down onto the inevitable beaches, I caught another runner, Archie, who was struggling with cramp and we ‘ran’ together for the next 10 or 12 miles. The following section took us up to a stone age broch at Dun Mor and then onto the Ringing Stone. This section was almost all off road and clearly marked. After the next refreshment point, it was pointed out that the tide was beating us and we may have to go over the rocky outcrops rather than on the beach in front of them. After Balephetrish Bay, we climbed some steps up to the road and then some long miles along the road, the route then took what seemed a long detour, which Will had promised was well worth it, to a hidden beach. It was indeed a gem. As we left the beach, I decided to push on and feeling reinvigorated ran over the machair and dunes to the last two beaches. These were hard going as the tide was in and pushing us onto the softer sand along the top, however the finish was in sight and as I climbed up from the last beach I could see the finish line ahead. A short burst took me to the finish outside Will’s house and then onto the neighbouring pub where hot pizza and coke provided the necessary finish line fuel whilst the barmaid sorted out a goodie bag and T-Shirt. I loved this race, the opportunity to run round such a gorgeous island and the amazing support from the whole community was fantastic. (Images below (c) Rhoda Meek)

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Garmin Stats

Time: 8.17.31
Distance: 34.77 miles
Ascent: 1082 feet

Learning Points

  1. Three months of injury enforced rest is not good preparation.
  2. The additional miles commuting didn’t help, next time I’ll take my bike.
  3. Working and then commuting through the night doesn’t work well either
  4. Use the drop bags, it provides a motivating goal and reward.

I’ll be back next year, a sub 7 hour race  is easily achievable.

Dragons Back

Entries closed for the Dragon’s Back Race on the 8th September. I had intended to make my entry as complete as possible over the summer however injury meant that I didn’t get the multi-day events in as intended. I now have the long wait until places are released on the 30th September to see if I’ve achieved a place. Fingers and all other bits of me are crossed. I have a couple of plan Bs up my sleeve.

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West Highland Way 2014 – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It’s strange to say that while I DNF’d (did not finish) this race, it was an amazing confidence builder and I’ve come out of it buzzing with excitement and ready to go again.

After picking up an injury during the GL3D, my training had been limited to several short runs, a park run and my ‘long run,’ an accidental 10 miler. Despite losing lots of planned training runs and time on the Way, I was still confident of my fitness for the race. I had just tapered for a long time.

This race really had its ups and downs – less than a week before my toe hit the starting line, I began the search for a replacement support runner due to an injury. Thankfully social media and the great family of Scottish Ultra runners got me a replacement within minutes, thanks to Katherine Harrison for stepping in. It was lovely to meet you and a shame we didn’t get to run together.

As the days counted down, my wife and OIC support Fiona began to panic about the scale of the job and the thought of letting me down; everything was listed, written down, typed, photocopied and transferred to her phone, lists were created to keep track of the lists. A Facebook post by Fiona served to calm the nerves as reassurance poured in from all corners.

Race Day

Kids were collected from school, shipped off to Gran’s whilst I napped; pizza was eaten and the final final kit check completed before we set off to Milngavie playing spot the runner as we neared the town. Registration was hassle free, I was chipped, weighed and ready to go, quick detour to collect my team hoodies and then a walk round Milngavie pointing out the route and selecting the best cheer points.

Back at the car, the final preparations were under way when I succumbed to the first of many midge bites making a last minute coffee. Katherine arrived and we had a great blether about the Way, our racing experience, dogs and everything else. I knew she was the perfect choice for support runner in those final hours of darkness.

As the race approached, I met some ultra friends and chewed the fat until the race briefing. Fiona left to get a good spot while the final minutes crawled by. The race started and I was overwhelmed by emotion as we ran down the high street towards the path. The street was completely lined with people cheering and supporting every single runner.

I have a habit of starting to fast and burning out, so I set my garmin to a low max heart rate and ran under that for the first 10-12 miles. Due to the darkness, the landmarks came up unexpectedly quickly and I was soon running towards Drymen. I gave Fiona a status update and was told I was well down on my schedule, I confidently replied I’d make it up.

Entering Garadhban forest, I turned off the heart rate alerts and ran/walked to feel, passing people as I climbed Conic Hill and skipping down the steps. As I ran into the checkpoint, the marshal called my name and high 5’d me. He was a work colleague of my sister and hugely positive about my performance. It was so unexpected and such a great lift.

Fiona had done an amazing job, everything laid out for a quick cuppa, a wash and change, some midge repellant and my food and drink replenished, I was out in less than 5 minutes and heading strongly to Rowardennan.

I hated this section during the Fling in 2013, but this year I ran well counting down the miles. By now I had made up the time I had lost at the start and left ahead of schedule. I had a quick pit stop – no crew but the race marshals went above and beyond – and off towards Inversnaid.

The section to Inversnaid was good and I was pleased to be able to run all the downhills and flats and only walk the up hills. By this stage in my Fling I was resolved to a power march to the finish. Another quick stop, more amazing race staff, and I was off. This is the tough section with more ups and downs and really technical rocky sections that a runner with my abilities is forced to use hands and feet for. As I cleared the technical section and entered the more runnable trail, I became conscious of a pain in my calf/ankle and worried it might be the injury from GL3D flaring up. I quickly realised it only hurt if I walked so had an added incentive to run.

Into the checkpoint, quickly dibbed in and then headed down to the field to meet Fiona, again it was a slick, well oiled rest break, and I was washed, tea’d and sent on my way incredibly quickly, with some good natured ribbing from another crew as I was packed off.

As I left the farm and headed onto the next hill I could tell the wheels were coming off, my ankle/calf was hurting whether I walked or ran; I was sweating buckets with sweat rolling down my face in streams. I mentally went through the full gambit of things that my crew had been briefed to say to me about quitting; imagine the humiliation at failing, just keep going till the next checkpoint and re-assess it there, mtfu, keep moving forward, etc. but two miles away from the checkpoint, I realised that it was foolhardy to continue I turned and began the walk of shame back along the trail, my race over.

I was truly heartened by the fact that every runner I passed took some time to ask how I was and if I needed anything. I sent texts and called Fiona, but there was no signal. I inadvertently called my father in law and he called back, unexpectedly, he was heading to Tyndrum with the kids to cheer me through and immediately diverted to collect me. I then called Katherine to stand her down, I didn’t want her making a wasted journey. She managed to message Fiona on Facebook, who was sitting in a Crianlarich hotel drinking coffee and using the wifi to give updates, the joys of being a support crew. I returned to the checkpoint and was given a ice pack and seat by the Trossachs Mountain Rescue. My friend Robin was sitting taking food on at the checkpoint and was devastated that I’d withdrawn (sadly Robin DNF’d at the Devil’s Staircase). My crew turned up and I showered and picnicked with them before being driven to A&E, my second trip in as many months – I’m getting a loyalty card. The verdict after X-Ray is tendon damage caused by the stress of the continual pounding. I think that it’s either the old injury not completely healed or weakness caused by the old injury. I need to work on strengthening and protecting that ankle from now on.

The Good
So many positives to take from the race, my initial race strategy worked, I gained 30 race places between checkpoints 1 and 3 and was well on course for a sub 30 hour finish.

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The Bad

DNF and no running for the next few weeks, nuff said

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The Ugly

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Great Lakeland 3 Day

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This was an important race for me for a number of reasons

– I was using it towards qualification for the Dragons back
– it would be an excellent tester/pre-race for the West Highland Way

As a race, it was so far out of my comfort zone it wasn’t true. I’ve never ran or even spent much time in the lakes, this race was a traditional marked race on a set course, but an orienteering style event with checkpoints and freedom to choose the route. My only other experience of something similar is the 7 Hills of Edinburgh, where the course is so busy that there is a snake of competitors to follow.

Day 1

The event centre was in the village of Pooley Bridge near to Penrith. I arrived and registered before pitching camp for the night. On registering I was given the map for the following three days running and spent the night pouring over it looking at the best routes and deeply regretting my decision to enter the elite course.

The following morning, I checked in my overnight drop bag and stood nervously preparing to leave for the ferry which would take us to the start. It was certainly one of the most glorious ways to start a race.

As we sailed to the start, I took the opportunity to check out my competitors footwear, Inov8 was the shoe of choice and I was glad I had brought mine. I was a lot less glad they were sitting in the car, but that another story.

Each competitor dibbed in at the start before heading to the first checkpoint. For the elites, that was Place Fell and the first of many tough climbs. After that, I followed the Coast to Coast (C2C) path for a bit before heading off the path and a brutal climb up to Gray Crag, I had a real low point there, stressing about my poor navigation skills. At the summit, I met Paul, another competitor with similar skills and ability to me and he dragged me through the rest of the first day and the second day.

Checkpoint 3 was Kidsty Pike so we re-joined the C2C and followed it through the checkpoint to Haweswater. At Mardale Head we made the first of many navigational errors and selected the path to Gatescarth Pass rather than Smallwater Beck, realising our error when we found the wrong checkpoint. The path along through Harter Fell should have brought us back on course, but error number 2 meant we missed the junction at Harter Fell and carried on South over Kentmere Pike before realising our mistake and heading back to Harter Fell, finding the correct path, we soon got the point at Mardale Ill Bell (no. 5) before following the ridge along to Yoke (point 6) and then dropping down to Gartburn Pass and Kentmere. From here, a run though some farmland took us to Till’s Hole and Birk Rigg before heading down to the finish. It was an excellent but long day (albeit the winner took just over 5 hours) we took over 10 hours, but that did include a 2 hour detour.

Day 2

This promised to be a long day and Paul and I set off early. Checkpoint 1 was at Gartburn Pass which was near where we came off Yoke the day before, then some sharp navigation took us down to Troutbeck and the climb up to Wansfell Pike (point 2) before was dropped down to Ambleside and the checkpoint at Bilbo’s Cafe. Deciding it would be rude to go all that way without stopping for a cup of tea, we retired into the cafe for some refreshment.

Leaving the cafe, we had the challenge of using an orienteering map to navigate through the town and after some challenges, got onto Nook Lane which we followed up onto the Horseshoe and up to High Pike. As we climbed up the weather came down and we reached High Pike in some pretty thick mist, barely able to see 10 foot in front of our faces and struggling to stand in the wind. The next checkpoint was round the Horseshoe at Great Rigg but somewhere about Hart Crag we lost the path and couldn’t find it again despite our best efforts. We eventually made the decision to head down into the valley and back to Rydal, missing the checkpoint, it’s better to be safe than finish.

We got to the point at Rydal at 1550 hours and decided that we didn’t have sufficient time to make the other two checkpoints (Lingmoor Fell and Sergeant Man) before the course closed so reluctantly headed along to the finishing camp to end a disappointing day.

Day 3

The final day started with some better looking weather, but still low cloud. We set off sharp and joined the C2C path up towards the first checkpoint at Seat Saddle before dropping down and then ascending up to St Sunday Crag, where we were again enveloped in thick fog. This time we stuck to our guns and using a combination of map and compass found the correct path and as the mist rose, we were privileged to witness some astoundingly beautiful views. Unfortunately Paul, my running partner, was finding it really tough going with his knee and IT Band hurting considerably. He asked me to push on without him and said that he’d take the boat from Patterdale back to the finish.

I pushed on down the Crag, passing Ian Corless (Talk Ultra) on the way down.

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I ran through Patterdale, stopping to re-fill my water bottle and put some Hi5 energy powder in the bottle before heading up to Boredale Hause and then following the valley down to Sandwick and then round to Kailpot Crag and the next checkpoint. From there, I followed Fusedale Beck up heading for Loadpot Hill, the path would take me past the top before coming back round to it, but I decided that I could cut a significant (3k) amount off the distance by going straight up. I followed a gill up and it became progressively steeper where I was climbing on all fours to get to the top. Looking at the map, I climbed 200 meters in height in less than 500 meters distance. The top was relatively flat and I made my way to the checkpoint and then followed the old Roman Road, High Streets, back to the finish with just one more checkpoint to go at the junction where I would turn to Pooley Bridge.

It was on this long runnable descent that I became aware of an intense pressure in my right calf, which was, at times stopping me run. I struggled through the pain and reached the end, where Shane Ohly was effusive in his congratulations. However, when I downloaded my chip, I had missed a checkpoint, there was another fell, Steel Knotts, between Kailpot Crag and Loadpot Hill, which I had completely overlooked whilst planning my route. I’m still kicking myself at the stupidity.

I had an amazing time, the other competitors were really friendly and the event staff and marshals were so friendly and helpful. I’m really looking forward to doing it all again next year, but I might step down to the A or B courses rather than punish myself on the elite.

The Lakes are not an area I’ve spent much time before and I’ve discovered just how beautiful they are. I will make some time in the future to go back and run in them and have already been looking at ultras down there to try.

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Suffer Better – Rannoch Station to Bridge of Orchy

Whilst Reading a thread on FaceBook a running route was mentioned that I had been thinking about running for a while but was struggling with the logistics. The post provided the obvious answer and I kicked myself for not thinking about it.

The plan was to get the train from Tyndrum to Rannoch Station then run to Kings House along the old drove road before joining the West Highland Way back to Tyndrum; about 26 miles according to the FB post.

Starting at Rannoch Station the route follows a well maintained hill road for the first 3 miles and I made good progress through a large forested section, providing shelter from the winds. After this it crosses rough moorland with the path barely discernible in places and, where it is, generally under water. There is a power line that generally follows the line of the path and this provided my navigational guide through this section. The open moorland was exposed to a strong wind blowing from the east and this was occasionally accompanied by driven rain which was icy cold and stinging.

After 4 miles on the moor, I joined another hill road which led past the Black Corries Lodge and down into Kings House, joining the West Highland Way behind the hotel. I was beginning to question the distances at this point, Strava told me I had run 13 miles and I knew that it was roughly 19 from the Ski Centre to Tyndrum, giving a distance of 32 miles.

I ran the climb up from Kings House past the ski centre and continued along the path, for some reason the miles just seemed to tick away and it seemed no time at all before I reached the Forest Lodge. I had to make a decision here; I had arranged for my wife and daughter to meet me at Tyndrum as we were going to have a night at the Auchtertyre wigwams and I didn’t want them hanging around for ages for me, on the other hand, I was feeling strong and felt I could run the extra miles. I decided that time with the family was best and re-arranged our meeting place to Bridge of Orchy.

At Forrest Lodge I joined the road and before I knew it was at the Inveroran Hotel and about to commence the climb up the hill, this was a fast walk and I quickly submitted the hill and began to run down the descent, reaching the bottom in 25 miles. I decided to run along one of the forrest roads to make the route up to 26 miles and returned to the car park bang on the 26 miles.

Lessons Learned

  1. My endurance is improving constantly, I felt good for the entire run and could have run the last hill if I’d pushed myself
  2. I got my nutrition spot on, I had a bowl of porridge for breakfast with a large handful if raisins and copious coffee, a cereal bar at Glencoe and a snickers as I headed towards Bridge of Orchy, which in truth wasn’t needed.
  3. Giving Back

    Next weekend I’ve volunteered to marshal on the Highland Fling and will be assisting with drop bags at the start and at Rowardennan. I ran the Fling last year and loved it, this year I’ll give back to help the organisers and racers.

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Dundee Green Circular

Much of my training recently has been runs to work and back, in an effort to incorporate hills and trails into that training, I have used the Green Circular Route in Dundee, specifically around Camperdown and Templeton parks.

The Green Circular Route is a cycle route surrounding Dundee, about 27 miles in length. It’s a mix of road and trail, with the trail being generally easy underfoot. The North section of the route is hillier with the South section following the river and being relatively flat. The route is used for the Dundee Adventure Marathon and Half Marathon.

Training on the route made me keen to run the full circuit and a child free day off work gave me the opportunity on Friday. I’d done a couple of hard runs the day before, so would be running the distance on tired legs.

I started at Invergowrie, picking up the circuit at the underpass and began the gentle climb through the technology park to Charleston and the underpass at the Kingsway. Entering Camperdown Park the route climbs over the next couple of miles, I passed a couple of runners doing hill reps at this point.

The route crosses into Templeton woods and on to the slightly more technical trails. After a mile or so the route leaves the trails and joins roads for a few miles, but affords a fantastic view of the Sidlaws.

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Following the road for a couple of miles, the route then joins another path and winds along past Trottick and other reminders of Dundee’s industrial and textile past, including the viaduct at Fintry

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The route follows the Dighty Burn past Douglas, Claypotts and Barnhill before dropping into Monifieth, under another viaduct.

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The route follows through the streets of Monifieth before crossing the railway line and onto the Riverside.

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From here, it’s a long flat run back to Invergowrie; for me it was into the teeth of a strong, energy sapping wind. I felt my pace falling off slightly due to the wind and the tiredness in my legs from the previous days run. The is the most beautiful part of the course, as it runs along the golden sands of Broughty Ferry. I detoured past the restricted area of the docks onto the main road, by this point, I had adopted the ‘ultra shuffle’ as I made my way towards the Tay Bridge and the detour past the building/demolition works going on.

As I passed the Discovery, I decided to run into Tesco to collect some Yop! Yoghurt drink, before rejoining the route and passing the monument for the Tay Bridge Disaster

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This was the home straight with the last couple of miles remaining and I kept going for the end, finishing and feeling good back at my car.

On Saturday morning, I ran Parkrun with my son, he was desperate to beat his PB, but a combination of a chesty cough and the strong wind defeated him. For me it took my mileage over the three days to 41 miles, 12 on Thursday, 26 on Friday and 3 on Saturday.

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Run a Marathon? I don’t do sprints

The marathon is not a race that I’ve ever really enjoyed, even back when I used to run road races regularly. The distance is so ubiquitous that performances are compared without reference to the different terrain or weather conditions. My best marathon was at London in 2004 when I ran 3.57, my worst was over 6 hours at Glencoe in 2012. These races are not in any way comparable other than the distance, but when you tell someone you ran a marathon, the distance is the only reference for most; when you tell them you’ve run an ultra the reaction is different.

However, on Sunday, I drove to Loch Katrine to take part in the sprint part of the Loch Katrine Running Festival, 26.2 somewhat undulating miles along Loch Katrine and I have to confess I smiled for the entire race.

Loch Katrine holds a special place in my heart, having spent school trips, Scout camps and walking breaks there in my youth, so when my friend told me about the race I was keen to take part. The race was organised as a one off fund raising venture for but proved to be so popular that it has become a fixture on the running calendar. My intention had been to run as a training run and test my nutrition, hydration and pack for the West highland Way race, however it didn’t quite go to plan.

A somewhat hairy drive over the Dukes Pass with snow and black ice prior to registration made me somewhat nervous about the race and the extreme cold when I registered had me questioning my choice of shorts and vest for running in. However, the sun was beginning to warm the day up as the race started and I decided against wearing my buff and gloves.

I felt relaxed and comfortable over the first mile and realised that I was running faster than intended. I slowed slightly for mile 2 but still felt comfortable and decided to race. Running along the loch side was gorgeous, with the snow covered peaks smiling down. As the course undulated along, I ticked off the turning point for the 10k and the half marathon and my next goal was the top of the loch at the 10 mile point which I hit in sub 1.30. At this point, I was looking out for the front runners heading back towards the finish and was soon spotted Dr Andrew Murray running back.

I hit the halfway point at PB pace and began the homeward leg with a focus on a PB, and maintained that pace for the next 6 miles. About 19 miles I could feel the wheels coming of and my pace slowed by a couple of minutes a mile as I struggled to push myself towards the end. I crossed the line in 4.21, an excellent time for the course, to be given my medal and a hug by race director Audrey McIntosh.

I was initially disappointed with myself for dropping the pace in those last few miles, I was running on empty, but I should have been ok, I’d been eating well and taking on fluid. Having reflected on my performance, trying to maintain a pace I haven’t trained for over the distance had depleted my energy reserves and had had built a large glycogen deficit. I was craving sweetness and drinking my electrolyte solution to try and replace it. Of course I was using a zero calorie solution so that wasn’t achieving anything. Foolishly I had Cliff Shot Blocs in my pack but never even thought to use them.

PS I did get a few pictures but I’m having some technical difficulties uploading them onto the blog. That’s what happens when you buy a camera off eBay.

Training

My training has been going well this month and I’m on track for another 300 km month. I’ve broken my Parkrun PB and my young son has gotten seriously into Parkrun and beats his PB on an almost weekly basis, I’m going to struggle to stay in front of him at this rate.

Fundraising

I’m using my big event over the next year or so to raise money for COPS, please use the button to donate via justgiving. I have a couple of fund rising ideas that I’ll unleash in the next few weeks so please dig deep. £1 from every reader would destroy my target.

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February – Mud, Sweat and Ready Meals

This blog will cover February’s training and the start of March. I’ve come a long way in terms of my training in terms of both distance and endurance.

The month started with a Parkrun at Perth accompanied by my youngest daughter, my other two kids disappeared into the distance. The course was somewhat damp and the grass section akin to wading. I’m proud to register a personal worst and a defeat at the feet of no. 3 child.

The following day maintained the mud wading tradition as I tackled the Forfar Half Marathon, a course that prides itself on weather related challenges, either ice skating or, this year knee deep paddling. This is a race I love, weather and terrain combine so that it’s impossible to compare times year on year, each one is different.

The course is essentially a circumnavigation of Forfar, running round the loch then through some lovely countryside, passing the refuse site, there was a long deep puddle to wade through, I did contemplate swimming. The last couple of miles involve crossing a newly ploughed field, before returning to the loch side and the finish.

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The finish line is understated but the post race meal is legendary, carbs were consumed in excessive quantities.

My focus this month was on back to back days, so I didn’t rest on my laurels or lie about digesting the over-indulgence, Monday was a day off work and a tough training run. I took the bus to St Andrews and ran 22 miles back to Dundee, along the Fife Coastal Path, another excellent training route.

I followed that up with three days of double runs, training both morning and evening. I had been running to work, but the route is all flat and on roads, since I’m training for events that will be hilly and off road, I decided that aspect of my training needed re-focused. I have been driving half way and then running various routes which incorporate hills and tracks, with the potential for off trail scrambling. To make up distance and train when I’m tired and energy depleted, I have the run back to the car.

The rest of February continued with runs to work interspersed with parkruns. I set a PB having run the long hilly route (15 miles) to the start through snow and ice and then paced my son to a PB the following week, really proud he knocked 2 mins off his time.

I know this is February’s update, but last weekend I decided to get some training in on the West Highland Way as well as testing some gear for the Great Lakeland 3 Day race in May. I drove to Bridge of Orchy and pitched the tent beside the river. I then ran along the Way to Tyndrum and back, chasing the setting sun, despite being an easy section, I managed to nose dive at the sheep creep under the railway.

Back in the tent, the rain started and remained constant for the night. I cooked dinner on my gas stove, I’d bought a prepacked meal from Tiso as I’d considered fuelling the GL3D on 12 hr ration packs. Needless to say, it wasn’t a test sensation and I’m back to the drawing board for light, convenient calorific meals. The mornings porridge and raisins were a great success and I’ll definitely be taking that to the lakes.

The Sunday saw me running from my camp to Glencoe Ski Centre, one of the checkpoints on the race. I started running with a long sleeve top and quickly began to overheat on the climb, once I got to the exposed top, my choice of gear paid of and as I climbed over the moor, it became apparent that the rain overnight was snow on the higher ground as I ran through 2 or 3 inches of wet snow.

I refueled at the ski centre with snickers and a yoghurt drink, both of which I find suit me and provide a good mix of calories and protein, I’ve moved away from gels as I find them to sweet and quickly find my stomach overwhelmed.

The return journey to the car felt good and, while I walked a few of the hills, I had plenty of energy to run the downhills and flat sections.

My goal race is the Dragon’s Back in Wales. This is advertised as one of the worlds toughest and I’ve had some debate about this and comparison with arctic ultras and the legendary Marathon des Sables. The Telegraph recently rated the Dragons Back as one of the worlds 8 toughest races, read the article here, which points out the race has more than 10 miles of ascent. I’m reading ‘Survival of the Fittest’ by Dr Mike Stroud and he says

You are more likely to succeed in completing multi-marathons in the ultra-dry Sahara at 40 degree C than you might were you to do the same in Britain at the height of the summer.

Finally, it’s important to remember that I’m running these races not only beaus I enjoy them, but because I want to raise money and awareness for Care of Police Survivors (COPS). The ongoing trial of a male for the murder of PC Keith Blakelock brings this into focus. Please dig deep and give generously. If you pledge £1 per month between now and the Dragons Back, you’ll have donated £15 to this worthy cause and won’t even have noticed it. My Just Giving page is here.

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The Dragon’s Back
Race DayJune 22nd, 2015
West Highland Way Race
The Big DayJune 21st, 2014
The big day is here.
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