The day had arrived to run my first ultramarathon. The preparation was hardly ideal, I had been training for the Snowdonia Marathon, but had been unable to make it down the road courtesy of the move to Aboyne, so switched to doing the GO33 instead. My longest training run was a wee 16 miles, and a bout of tonsilitis on the week of the race hardly helped either.
The weather forecast had looked promising throughout the week, and we weren’t let down with a cloud inversion on the drive up to Strathyre from Callander and clear blue skies above.
We met up with our friend Carolyn who was running with her friend Claire before the start of the race, and walked up to the start on a forest trail above Strathyre. The start of the race was hillier than I had anticipated, albeit on good ground. I was holding onto the 11 minute miles that I wanted to aim for before pulling some time back on the drop down out of the forest.
The next section climbed slowly then very rapidly on cycle trail 7 before contouring gradually up the old railway line and over the Glen Ogle Viaduct up to the second checkpoint. I ran straight through as I still had plenty of water in my Camelback.
The race then moved into a circuit in the forest were things went a little astray. Caught out by an upside down sign, that wasn’t upside down we found ourselves back at the drop into the forest on which I had eaten my flapjack made by Vickie on the way in. We followed the same way back to our entry into the forest, before running up and down the hill that we should have exited on to make the mileage up. The upshot was that we did more hillwork than we needed to, and I paid the price for this as I tore something in my right thigh.
On my way into the third checkpoint (which was at the same place as the second) I was met by Vickie, Steve and Liam, and told Vickie that I was struggling a little as I had just felt the pain in my thigh. Stopping at the checkpoint I refilled my camelback and picked up a calzone from my drop bag , which was absolutely awesome. The next stage was very slow, and I lost a good half an hour in this section despite it being downhill, as I simply couldn’t run!
When I met Vickie at the final checkpoint I was very close to dropping out there, but ultimately settled on a horsekilling dose of Ibuprofen and carried on in the knowledge that there was just 6 miles on tarmac left. I managed to catch up and overtake most of the people who had overtaken me on the previous section in a good final section and had to be happy with my final time of 6:07 with Carolyn and Claire coming in about 15 minutes later.
I really enjoyed my first ultra, and it certainly settled any doubts in my mind about whether I could actually run the distance. I was a wee bit disappointed by the time, conciled somewhat by the knowledge that I would have run it about an hour quicker had I not injured myself. That said, I’m not feeling too sore after the race and am looking forward to trying out my new Inov8s now the race is over. Have to wait 7 weeks though….even big boys don’t get to open their Christmas presents in October!