The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Part 1 – ACP 100K)
The title pretty much covers the 3 races since I last posted a blog after the D33 in March. 3 races – all very contrasting.
1. The Good – The Anglo Celtic Plate 100K – Perth 2013
I was asked towards the end of last year if I wanted to be considered for selection for Scotland to run the above race. I immediately said, ‘yes please’ and only afterwards thought about what the race entailed. An ultra road-race is something I’ve never done before and I knew it would be a different sort of challenge. On paper it’s just a straightforward 62.7 mile race on tarmac. Easy. Just run round a 2.4K loop of a park with support at the start / finish line. In reality, it’s a beast.
After some chasing in February it was confirmed that I hadn’t been selected as one of the five. More than a little disappointed. I was however reminded of the talent on the Scottish scene, which I certainly hadn’t forgotten as I’ve raced almost all of those selected in front of me.
Sadly a couple of weeks before the race one of the team suffered an injury and had no choice but to pull out despite the hard training and huge potential for a seriously strong performance on race day. I was then asked to join the team. Despite feeling that I was good enough to be in the team (way back at the first phonecall) by this time I partly felt that if I wasn’t good enough to be selected first time around then I hadn’t earned my place (or the confidence of the selector). The chance to run for my country however wasn’t one to be ignored and I was confident I could do well. I had planned to do the race anyway so accepted the offer.
I met up with the Scotland team at the Hotel in Perth the night before the race. We chatted, we ate and all seemed keen to get going. The team-talk before dinner suggested that we’d have some really serious competition from the England team – there were more 2:20 marathon runner mentions than I can ever remember. The Scotland squad however is full of very experienced and talented ultra runners, so I wasn’t too put-off by the big names and fast times. I had a plan that I hoped to stick to.
The race started just after 7am on a cold but stunning morning. The park looked fantastic as the sun rose and the mist started to burn off the River Tay. I tried hard to stick to my race plan early on despite feeling good and other runners (and team-mates) picking up a half lap on me.
I went round some more.
Felt pretty good.
I felt bad for while – sore hips and groin (perhaps from the relentless pounding on tarmac).
I felt good for a long while and put in some really consistent laps. The support each time I passed really kept me fresh and I looked forward to the short uphill each time I went round to use some slightly different muscles.
After 50K I started un-lapping myself of the super-fast marathon machines and gained a number of positions. Not that I had any hope of understanding where I was in the race. My support were giving me all the info they had but there were errors on the lap board and a lot of confusion. There’s no slowing down either so you have just a couple of seconds to communicate anything as you pass (as well as picking up drinks / fuel without breaking a stride).
I chatted with a number of people as I covered the 42 laps of park running. On a loop you get to see people going through a whole number of stages, from comfortable cruising to pained slogs and backwards running (I kid not). Can’t imagine what the innocent park visitors thought of it all.
With less than 15K remaining I was even more confused about the number of laps I still had left to do. The board said I was in front of someone I was sure I hadn’t passed. Next time round it had changed again – all very difficult if trying to push for a position.
I was glad to pass the supporters who had cheered me right through the race for the very last time and I picked up the pace to get home. I was handed a flag before the finish line and felt I earned the right to wave it as the 3rd counter for a winning Scotland team.
I finished 7th overall in a very decent time and the Plate was staying with its host. It was a whole new experience and one that I hope to do again. Huge respect to those who race these all the time. Thanks to everyone who supported me especially my official support Thomas Loehndorf, the Scotland team, the other runners (from all nations) as well as Team Pyllon. Next up, was the bad……..