Seeking asylum in the hills & transcendence on the trails

Results

British 100K Championships / Anglo Celtic Plate (race review)

I’ll keep it brief.

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be racing for my country at the Anglo Celtic Plate 100K and British National Championships in Gravesend.

The 100K road race is a funny one on today’s ultra scene but if you look into the history books (or speak to the human athletics wikipedia A. Stott) it’s a bit of a legendary format – the longest distance road race recognised by British Athletics (sadly). It’s far from my normal cup of tea and if I’m honest I didn’t feel hugely excited about the thought of nearly 50 laps on a 2K tarmac loop coming off the back of an amazing week in the Alps at the Runners Refuge (blog to follow). Don’t get me wrong – it was an honour to represent my country and I wasn’t going to go at it half-heartedly.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Part 3 – Kintyre Way Ultra 2013)

The final part! ‘At last’ I hear you say.

The Kintyre Way was 2 weeks after the Fling and I was really keen to do it after the disappointing performance. It was pretty tight in terms of recovery but I felt that a 67 mile run along some trails with some new scenery was probably the best tonic and would also provide a decent gauge on potential performance for the West Highland Way race  June 22nd.

This was the first time I’d done the race so was excited at the prospect of some new running routes. (more…)


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Part 2 – Highland Fling 2013)

The Anglo Celtic Plate was a race I enjoyed more than I thought I would. The recovery however took longer than I expected. I took a few days off then started running again. I was desperate to get back into the hills after a month or so of training mostly on road (a challenge in itself). Less than a week after the race I took my chance and hit a fairly rough trail for a 25-miler. By mile 22 I had developed a serious pain in my knee and had to walk / shuffle the last few miles. I was worried but thought it was probably just a strain from the uneven surfaces after the relentless pounding of a road ultra. In short, I had done some kind of ligament damage probably just from doing too much and not allowing enough recovery time. So I was worried about the Fling as I couldn’t commit to much training before it. It was only weeks away. (more…)


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. (more…)


West Highland Way Race Report – 2012

The ‘Big One’

Can’t believe I’m writing my report already. It’s done. It’s gone for another year and already I’m dreading the long wait for its return. I love the West Highland Way race. There, I said it. There is always a drama, there are times when you’d choose to be anywhere else in the world but for now at least, it feels like a home-race.

I won’t go in to all the details – there are a lot of other reports for you to get through and you’ve probably heard most of the same stuff from me for a while. In short, training had been good, taper was pretty straightforward and I was more organised than the year before thanks to all we had learned on my first WHW race. I arrived in Milngavie feeling good but perhaps not as confident as I had hoped having pulled out of the Cateran Ultra after 20 miles or so due to stomach problems. It was an emotional exit having won it the year before and had been extra stoked by the fantastic line-up of talent on the day. It wasn’t to be though – so had to try to put it to the back of my mind.

(more…)


GO33 Ultra Race Report (2011)

The GO33 ultra…..

Weather – perfect

Turnout – excellent

Scenery – stunning

Pretty much all the ingredients were there for a great race through the Glen and back. Due to the higher than expected numbers the route was changed at the start which meant a couple of extra up’s and down’s on some forest track. Better than the planned road start any day!

(more…)


Inside my box – SUMS 2011

Well, look what arrived the other day!

It’s not really that exciting is it? Well, it doesn’t really matter what it is or what’s inside the box. Not that I don’t care. I do. A lot. It’s the trophy for finishing 3rd in this year’s  Scottish Ultra Marathon Series.

Whilst I was well-beaten to 1st and 2nd, I guess it is an achievement considering the strength, experience and talent of the other competitors. I dare say I probably had a bit of luck along the way, although I have worked hard for it, completing 6 races and running as hard as I could in each one. More than acceptable in Season 1.

It’s just that the way I was presented it, was much more important to me than the accolade itself. There was no presentation, no clapping and no champagne.

It was given to me by the most important man that’s ever been in my life. My Dad. And, he shook my hand and said “Well done Son.” Does it really get any better than that? For me, no, I don’t think it does. I’ve had such incredible support from my Dad (and the rest of my family) all my life and trying not to let them down is something that courses through me, and always will. I guess the ‘white box’ was an opportunity for him to let me know that I’m doing ok – making every stride of each race (occasionally in the wrong direction), every 4.30am training run, every sickly energy gel, bout of cramp and lost toenail more than worthwhile. I’d do it all over again (except quicker!) for another one of those.

So, thank you SUMS – it was an awesome 2011.

2012????

Let’s just wait and see 🙂


The Speyside Way Ultra – Race Report 2011

Tummy trouble

I was supposed to race the Devil ‘o the Highlands a few weeks before this but stomach problems meant that I couldn’t start. Was pretty gutted. Felt like I’d run out of luck as I’d had gastroenteritis just before GEDM earlier in the year.

So, next thing to focus on was the Speyside Ultra (part of the SUMS series). My folks had booked a cottage up in Buckie so we were all looking forward to a mini-break. My training since missing the Devil had gone pretty well and into race week I tapered and increased the carb intake from the middle of the week. On Thursday it appeared to strike again and I had the worst stomach (I won’t go into details) and the realisation that as well as an underlying issue I must be doing this to myself. I think I know what it is now so if anything, that’s a step forward (and another post). I couldn’t drive up on the Thursday as planned as I needed to be near a toilet so I set out on the 4.5hr drive on Friday with a decent supply of immodium.

The rest of the day was spent trying to get sorted – boiled rice, bananas, trip to the chemist. It wasn’t great and the stress of trying to get myself fit for the race probably wasn’t helping. (more…)


West Highland Way Race Report – 2011

The West Highland Way Race 2011

Where to start? It’s such a long race, and so much happens over 95 miles (or more). This was my first long ultra in my first season racing. It wasn’t  in the plan for this year but I couldn’t resist when the opportunity arose.

Anyway – get on with it.

We arrived at Milngavie just after 11.00pm and the car-park was almost full. It had rained in Glasgow all day. Heavily. But as we walked up to register in the church hall it stopped and almost felt warm. There was an atmosphere around the place of nervousness, excitement and anticipation – what would lie ahead for all runners and support teams?

I registered without any hassle – “enjoy it” was the parting remark. Hmmmm. Off to be weighed and within minutes we were back in the car with almost 2 hours to kill. This was tough. I was desperate to just get going. To finally forget about the tedious planning and prep of food, drinks, times, meeting points, sleep times, clothes, blah, blah, blah. I was desperate to get on with the running bit – to finally feel my legs moving under me and some wind in my face after a week-long taper. I hadn’t run more than 5 miles at a time over the last week and wanted to be reassured that I’d still remember how!

I sat in the front seat of the car – my crew left me alone with my thoughts. They sat on some deck-chairs and drank tea in a carpark close to midnight – the whole thing was bizarre. I felt pretty confident, just ached for the clock to get closer to 12.30 and I could commence the pre-race sock / running shoe ritual.

There was a race briefing 20 mins before the start. There were so many people around I couldn’t really hear what was being said. Next thing I knew I was saying my goodbye’s to my Support and making my way to the front of the startline. It was quite a sight – 150 or so runners all ready to do battle with whatever the WHW would throw at them over the next day. (more…)


West Highland Way Race – it’s here!

Well, can’t believe it. The #WHWrace is actually here! In about 11hours, 160 or so runners will leave Milngavie in the hope of conquering Scotland’s famous trail all the way to Fort William.

It’s looking like it’s going to be a wet race. It hasn’t really stopped all day, so another clothes change might be required! I guess that’s the beauty of a challenge like this – you could know the course like the back of your hand, have trained impeccably, prepared 15 food options but ultimately there’s a huge “Unknown” on the trail for most people……a stomach that gives up holding food, a trip and fall, blistering, a tendon snap….the “Unknown” can strike at any time – and that’s part of the buzz. Getting through it.

Despite being a very late entrant I’ve been keen to get going for the last few days. Yes, I would have changed my training, yes I could be better prepared but I’m feeling good and (so far) am glad to be part of it.

Good luck to all the runners and support teams – it’s such a commitment from everyone and I hope you find what you’re looking for from it.

My sister will be doing twitter updates as usual (@lilacswizzle). Heck, she might even pass on some messages if you keep them clean!  My sister is heading up my support crew with my folks so if you see them have a chat – they like to talk!