Speyside Way Ultra Race – 19/08/2017

There were a few MRRs entered for this race, most of them had ran the Fling earlier in the year and saw this race as the next challenge to undertake.  Those running were Steven Morrison, Alan Swadel, Robert Bruce, Karen Norvell, Sally Bruce and a newbie Ultra runner Kirsteen Carmichael.

All week the weather had been looking bad, with rain and wind predicted, but, the weather forecasters stuck to their reputation and the weather on the day, was mostly dry and warm, the occasional drizzle, but that just cooled us all down.

We all arrived in Buckie and registration was from 6:30 (why do we keep doing these long races with such an early registration) this was quite straightforward as there is a limit of 150 runners.  Buses are put on to take us to the start.

The start is at Cragganmore Distillery, where a piper leads us to the start and then we are off. After the rain of the previous days, we were expecting it to be muddy but it wasn’t too bad underfoot as you could run quite easily to Craigellachie, where the first checkpoint is.  After that you cross a road and start up a hill, a perfect place to have a walk and a snack.  After a few miles, you see the sign that takes you offroad and up Ben Aigen.

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This is a decent climb and it was a mixture of walking and running.  After what seems like miles and miles, you eventually come to a decorated part of the road, with flags and the smiling face of Jenni, who offers you water, coke or ginger beer, before entering Mordor and a muddy slip slide down, it continues down until you eventually come to a road, where Karene was marshalling and you run on tarmac until Fochabers, this is a runable section, until you get to Ordiquish chicane, which I find I can neither run down or up, so I walk, as it’s quite steep, at the top you get to the next check point, this is 24 miles, then it’s tarmac for a few miles into Fochabers, then offroad, to Spey Bay, this bit is a lovely run and it was nice to be amongst the trees again.

Spey Bay came and went and finally there is only 6 miles to go, you run through the woods, which were quite muddy in places, until you get to Port Gordon, where Neil was marshalling (Steven was also there, having finished ages ago, got showered and came out to offer encouragement)

After that there is only a couple of miles to the finish, and just for fun the end is uphill, which everyone loves.

Every MRR, finished the Ultra, and were happy with their times, Steven placed 8th, an awesome effort.

Well done to all runners, marshalls, volunteers and organisers on a well organised and enjoyable Ultra, with a nice bit of bling

Report by:  Robert Bruce

 

Glen Lyon Ultra – 6/5/2017

Highland Fling 53 Mile trail Ultra – 29/04/2017

Saturday saw 6 Team Yella runners on the start line at Milngavie for the 53 mile Ultra Marathon that is The Highland Fling.

Steven Morrison and Fiona Brant as previous participants and Alan Swadel, Robert Bruce, Sally Bruce and Karen Norvell all running the full distance for the first time.

The Fling is a fantastically organised and well attended event, with entry this year being allocated on a ballot basis … the only MRR to miss out was Neil Purdie, who ably stepped up from support crew to relay runner.

The race started at 6am in pretty much perfect running conditions, slightly overcast with cool temperatures, which remained throughout the day with only the odd shower.

It breaks down really into 4 sections…. Milngavie to Drymen (which is the first relay handover and the leg that Neil ran) then over Conic Hill with it’s seemingly endless steps up, ridiculous descent and awesome views over Loch Lomond down to Balmaha (first checkpoint and the chance to grab some breakfast!!)

Along Loch Lomond side to the next two checkpoints of Rowardennan & Inversnaid is what can only be described as ‘technical’ which means in effect doing your mountain goat impression and trying not to face plant as you are attacked by random tree roots …. some people actually enjoy this section!!??

Finally you make it to Beinglas Farm and the final checkpoint… 11 or so miles, including the Roller-coaster and infamous coo – poo alley takes you to the red carpet finish at Tyndrum.

All 6 runners finished…. some of us a little slower than others…. but the experience over this beautiful course and the fantastic people that you both run with and meet along the way is truly brilliant.

Steven : 10 hrs 15 mins (123rd)
Alan : 11 hrs 32 mins (283rd)

Steven & Isla

Fiona : 11 hrs 53 mins (345th)
Sally : 13 hrs 36 mins (586th)
Robert : 13 hrs 42 mins (598th)
Karen : 13 hrs 42 mins (599th)
There were a total of 681 finishers with the final runner over the line in 15 hrs 51 mins and the first one home in a new (ridiculous) course record of 6 hrs 41 mins!!
Ding Ding

Report by:  Karen Norvell

G2E Ultramarathon – 01/04/2017

Having quite liked the 30 something ultra marathons last year, I’d decided to try one of the longer races this year. Having received a rejection email for the Highland Fling back in October, I quickly entered the Glasgow to Edinburgh G2E (before I changed my mind). It follows the towpath along the Clyde and Union canals which isn’t exactly my favourite terrain. But the timing fitted well to have the D33 ultra as a test race.

For G2E being a one way run, logistics aren’t too bad, being as you can easily get the train back Glasgow. So drive down, overnight stop, run, get the train back and then drive home seemed to be the easiest plan for me…. with a contingency of booking a hotel after the race if it all went tits up.

Registration was easy and I put in a drop bag containing a change of clothes, to be taken to the finish. The race brief was quite simple, with a couple of notable points. Take care on the muddy or cobbled sections, so you don’t fall in. The canal must always be on your right or your going the wrong way! With this years start being moved from the nearby park, down to the canal bank there’s only two turns to make, so its a very easy route to follow.

Starting around 20 places back, I soon settled into a comfortable pace. Yeah it was quicker than I’d originally planned but I struggled to keep to the slower pace on my last couple of long runs so just went with the flow. Some people surged ahead and you can kinda tell you’ll be seeing them again later (hopefully). Chatting with a few people who were on their first ultra and just out to finish in 9-10 hours, their current pace was probably fine for a marathon but this was  going to be two of them and then a few more miles for the fun of it.

Around 6 miles in, everyone had settled down and there was a fair distance between the individual runners that I could see. At 13.1 miles, the first leg is the longest, between the start and CP1 at Auchinstarry Bridge. Approaching the CP I got my pack off and had managed to fill up the bladder with the Tailwind powder I was using for fuel, just ready to add water and scarper without losing too much time.

Getting closer to Falkirk, the towpath was becoming busier with other runners and people just out for a wander. It had turned into a glorious spring morning and the impressive Falkirk wheel was drawing a few tourists. I was expecting to see the wheel from aways back, but it remained hidden by the trees until your right there. Dodging past a few people who were trying to frame photos, then across the bridge to CP2 and 22.5 miles completed.

Until the 1930s, 11 locks used to link the two canals, but they took hours for the barges to navigate through and thousands of gallons of water. The wheel is a wonderfully efficient solution, raising and lowering 24m in one go. So this is the really big hill of the day! A short tunnel cuts through the hill and a couple of locks gets you up to the original line of the Union canal. It wasn’t long to passing the marathon distance, then the half way point and 3h 41min on the clock.

With the milestone distances ticked off in quick succession, then there was a long dark tunnel to go through. It was good to have a decent torch handy and it was even better when I took my shades off! All this happening and the path being quite busy, the section to CP3 at Linlithgow was probably the highpoint of the race.

 A fairly quick pitstop to refill the bladder, assisted by Kristian and straight off again and apparently in 7th place. On the way to CP4 at Broxburn, the earlier fast pace, sun and longest ever run were starting to show. Its the little things combined that screw with your head. I had a sharp edge on a finger nail that was bugging me, no matter how I nibbled at it. One of my trainers had developed a squeak with every stride… or maybe it was my knees. Then I was needing a pee but looking back I was being caught by another runner, who was the lead lady. We exchanged places a couple of times and chatted for a few miles, arriving at CP4 (42 mile point) together in 4th and 5th places.

I messed up opening one of the Tailwind stick packs, spilling half of the powder. Still it was a quick stop and we were only a few minutes behind the 3rd place runner. My drink now tasted really weak but it was only 10km to the last CP. Briefly the sun gave way to a dark cloud and a few minutes of rain. I should have loved it, but it sucked. Here the route is heading away from the finish point, the crosswind was now a headwind, low on fuel and that bloody squeak. Yep that was the low point. Scoffing my emergency squirrel bar and piece of fudge helped perk me up again and eventually CP5 at Ratho appeared just in time.

Another quick stop and only 10k remaining but Charlotte was away a few metres ahead and increasing the gap minute by minute. With no sign of anyone chasing us down and no sign of the chap in third place, I figured the race was between us two and she was looking stronger than I felt… besides, weather I beat her or she beat me, I’d still be fourth male… So I had a walk for a minute. Fudge and fresh fuel kicking in and rested after the walk, I got going again. Arthurs Seat comes into view and the final 5k wizzed by, made even better with loads of people saying “well done” as I passed. 500m sign and then the finish banner is in sight. A quick shoulder check and thank god there’s no threat that needs a sprint finish.

So that’s it. 54 miles, 87km covered in 7 hours 46 minutes for a medal, t-shirt and a great sense of achievement. Will I do it again? Probably not, but…..

Report by:  Neil Purdie

D33 Ultra – 11/03/2015

2017 saw 5 MRRs enter this event.  Neil Purdie, Robert Bruce, Alan Swadel, Sally Bruce and Karen Norvell, all of us were using it as a long run as part of our training for the Fling, apart from Neil, who was using it for the G2E.  Karen, Sally and myself travelled through on the Friday and Neil and Alan were coming along in the morning.

When Karen, Sally and myself got onto the train carriage, it turned out Sally knew everybody on the train, so as we got to our seats, Sally didn’t sit down until the train had got to Keith as she worked her way through the carriage talking to everyone (welcome to Sallyrail).  We all got settled in the Hotel and went off for some shopping (I had to trail around the shops with 3 women shopping, I was ecstatic) We finished off the evening with a carb loading dinner.

The morning dawned and we made our way down to Duthie Park in a dreich day and it continued to be dreich, despite me wearing my “magic, keep rain away hat”.  We met up with Neil and Alan and also Shirley, a Forres Harrier, who had been training with us.  The event was it’s usual friendly place with everyone speaking and renewing old and making new acquaintances.  Soon enough, it was time to line up and go.

Off we set and it rained for the first 2 hours, before it decided to settle down.  The D33 is a relatively straight forward Ultra to run, it is an out and back, starting in Duthie Park, you run 16.5 miles along the Deeside way, turn around and come back, finishing where you started, the paths are good to run on, with only the odd place with mud, although there were puddles due to the rain, everyone who ran did well, despite a couple of us having been ill, everyone managed to finish this excellent event and should be proud of what they achieved.  The times are as follows.

Neil Purdie:  4hr 14min 20sec

Robert Bruce:  5hr 10min 54sec

Alan Swadel:  5hr 11min 54sec

Sally Bruce:  5hr 47min 20sec

Karen Norvell:  6hr 4min 57sec

For anyone who is considering an Ultra this is an excellent one to start with and the unique medal is excellent.

Report by:  Robert Bruce

Speyside Way Ultra – 20/08/2016

Lochalsh Dirty 30 – 11/06/2016

Having been disappointed to not get a place on the Devil of the Highlands I was hunting around for another event for the calendar and this caught my eye. With a distance of 30 miles, about as short as Ultras come, how hard could it be?

The days leading up were the usual mix of emotions, pouring over the route map, other peoples strava stats, past results. I came to conclusion that 5 hours was my goal which pretty much meant 8 min/mile on the flat sections.

Neil and EdI had a charity ball in Duffus on the Friday night so it was a 4.45am alarm call (I was already awake to be fair). A nice clear drive meant I arrived in plenty of time at 7.45 for a 9am start. Registration was in the village hall in Glenelg. A pretty little village on the shore that looks over to the south of Skye.  Bacon was on the grill but I resisted the temptation as I didn’t want to mess with my usual pre-race rituals. Neil arrived having spent the night in a tent fighting off midges.

It was made clear that this was a self supporting race with a couple of water stops but no drop bags. Weather was overcast but humid with the threat of showers so packed  a waterproof but shed most other stuff out my backpack other than 1.5 litres in the waterbladder, a few gels and a couple of mini bags of emergency haribo.

GZm8p1L0VbwkP5JlDOZ7BUVRBvM0UcTAYfu113OKY6E-128x969am we were off along with a good crowd doing the walking challenge. Straightaway I found FpW-iE__VXHFVbPkG4P5QObLbu7zKkOt3MC7ATLlm80-128x96myself in second place as we trotted off down the round. I settled into a comfortable pace as the leader stretched away. I was going quicker than I had planned but a few minutes in the bank for later is always good. After 2.5 miles you leave the tarmac onto the trails. The first section winded through the woods before hitting a beachside path before the first checkpoint around mile 7 (no water available). Straight after you are met with the first big climb before turning off the track and heading into a muddy rollercoaster few miles. Hard to find much rhythm with ankle deep mud and short sharp climbs and descents so it was a welcome relief to start the final descent down to the lochside. Now on a single track road, it was approximately 6 miles to the next checkpoint at Shiel Bridge. Ordinarily it would be an attractive run past old cottages and fishing boats but today it was just about getting the head down and eating up some miles at my race pace target. Pleased to reach the next checkpoint around mile 16, I asked if they had any water and they pointed up the track saying there was a tap. A bit peeved I set off but must have missed it and so found myself starting the main ascent of the day. It was generally good path for the first couple of miles and I managed to keep running but as the gradient grew my legs were seriously protesting so I was reduced to striding. I got my first glimpse of the leader ahead but he was well up the hill. It was one of those endless climbs and I kept glancing back to see who was behind but couldn’t see anyone. 09KBwzzp3jcIDhhLqEjazcHzF_3MEJhF9SxYGfw1eSI-96x128My water supplies diminishing and legs spent, I was in a bad place so relieved to reach the summit. I dug deep to try and get the legs moving again but the rocky and gravelly path was technical and you had to have your wits about you. The path then moved into moorland so I was able to pick up a little more pace. I was glad to reach the next checkpoint where the nice men had big bottles of water and filled up my water bladder. Next up was some forest track to a bothy before taking a well trodden footpath back towards Glenelg. It was about 8 miles to go and I was really struggling.  The path was what you would normally describe as gently undulating but today they were mountains. I was sure runners behind would be closing in but still no sign yet. I took my last gel and my emergency haribo. ‘Eat the miles’ was my mantra as I dug in trying to tick off the miles… I had 6 miles to go at just under 4 hours so I knew that sub 5 was on. I was visualising my usual routes at home  – 5 miles – that’s running to Burghead from home,  4 miles – thats like running to Hopeman and back, 3 miles – that’s the parkrun, 2 miles – that’s the cycle path to Hopeman, 1.5 miles – that’s one parkrun lap, 1 mile to go….. Now back on the coast the village was in sight. Nice and flat then suddenly a surprise incline for absolutely no reason other than pure evil as it was straight back down again and then 400m to the finish at the Village Hall. Phew – second place in 4 hours 46 mins. The winner coming in in 4hr 32mins. I needn’t have worried as 3rd place was around 5hr 7mins. Neil cruised in at around 5hr 36mins and I think a top 10 finish. He had a strong last few miles overtaking a couple of folk.

We both agreed that it was a lot tougher than we expected. A course that had everything – road, trails, mud, rocks, hill and scenery. There was a good atmosphere in the village hall with plenty of food and for those staying on for the evening a ceilidh. At £20 odd it is good value  – a medal and certificate but no goody bag. Water at every checkpoint would have been simple enough and welcome but otherwise well organised.

It was nice to phone home and when Isla (6) asked if I won the ‘Ed’ race I could also tell her yes and also that I came 2nd overall – a rare occurrence.

Report by:  Ed Dunbar

Glen Lyon 30 Mile Ultra – 07/05/2016

I’d been cautiously eyeing up ultras for a while and after the Glentress marathon , I was left trying to decide between the Kintyre Way or Glen Lyon ultra. Glen Lyon swayed it by being much closer and also got a thumbs up being organised by the BaM team, who I’ve only heard good things about.

 Glen Lyon Route
With a 7:30 registration and having driven past the end of the Glen Lyon road several times, I knew that getting there would take a while, even before venturing up the longest enclosed glen in Scotland. So heading down Friday and overnight camping seemed like a good idea. Driving up the glen from Bridge of Balgie, huge mountains tower high either side of the single track road. As a closed road rally stage with pace notes, this would be great. However several cars, a bin lorry and countless lambs sunbathing on the road made for slow going, so time to enjoy the views until finally reaching the big dam wall and hydro plant that heads Glen Lyon.
Alan and Lyndsay were already camped out and after a bit of a catch up about recent exploits I got my tent pitched and then went for a walk up onto the dam wall to see a little bit of tomorrows route. As the afternoon turned to evening, several more marshals, organiser crew and runners turned up, including David (Eds brother in law) and a few peeps I’d met at previous races. So plenty of chatting about anything and everything so long as its running related! As the sun vanished behind the dam wall, the temperature dropped sharply, so it was time for some food and not long afterwards an early but chilly night.
 Glen Lyon profile
Dawn broke cool dry and overcast, with a bit of wind blowing up the glen. Pretty much ideal for a few hours running, so I opted for a t-shirt, gloves and shades, but packed a long sleeve top and jacket just incase the weather turned nasty. More cars had been arriving all morning and by the time of the race briefing, a crowd of 78 runners had appeared. This was the first time running the event for the BaM team and they had decided on a lap of the loch then cross over the dam wall back to the start point with a CP and drop bags. Before going over the hill for a loop of Glen Lochay and then returning back over the hill to finish. The bonus being going over the dam should give us an extra mile for free… Apparently some people complain when a route is short!
We were away at 9:30 sharp, dropping down hill away from the dam. After blowing up at Balmoral, I knew it would be a very long day if I got it wrong again, so set off fairly easy and working forwards untill I found a comfortable pace. At the bottom of the short road section, the route turns back and starts to climb high over the dam on a landrover track. By the time I had reached the bottom of the climb, the leader had pulled out a good lead and that was probably the last time I saw him as a person instead of a dot in the distance. The other really fast runners also vanished soon after and the field quickly thinned out with some run/walking and others just doing a walk.
 Neil getting going
By the end of the climb and subsequent descent the track starts to follow roughly the same level above the loch and you can make out the line of it away into the distance and along the far side of the loch. The race brief did mention the risk of drowning, as there’s several stream and river crossings. Some of which can be carefully crossed on the stepping-stones and some of them your going to get wet. At the first big stream crossing I made it half way over on the rocks, before encountering a couple of submerged rocks. Not being a mountain goat, I decided it best to get properly wet feet than trying to stay dry and risking a fall so early in the day.
By now the few runners immediately in front and behind would be fairly constant company, yoyoing back and forwards for the rest of the way to the head of the loch and a thigh deep river crossing before a short climb to the check point/ water station. After the CP the track continues to rise for a bit then levels out again as it heads back down the loch, which meant going into the headwind. Way ahead I could make out Jenni and David and slowly but surely I was gaining on them. It took 10Km and maybe I was going to regret it later, but I finally caught up with them at the dam wall and followed them into the CP. Split time of 2h 18min 53sec and 17th place.
Wullie had been following me on the return leg, but he quickly filled his water bottles and got out the CP whilst I was still filling my pack and Jenni was taking more photos. Having run the Fling last week, Wullie slowed as soon as the road started to steepen. Part way up the 3km long hill, Jenni, David, Wullie and myself were back as a group, walking bits and briefly running bits when the gradient eased. At the top I’d pulled out a bit of a lead and pressed on down the other side towards the next checkpoint and the start of the second loop.
The high road along the top of the glen is another landrover track which has some fair size undulations as well as gradually climbing. Early on, you pass a hydro pipe which crosses the glen and makes a good aiming point for the way back. You can also see the low road in the bottom of the valley, but its a long time and several gates to get through before you can see the steadings and finally the zigzag track that you’ll need to go down. The zigzag descent was rough and loose, which isn’t what your needing at this point but I passed Wullie again whilst he was taking it steady. From the high road, the lower road looked level. However it turns out to have a few lumps in it, which took the last out of my legs and the usual suspects passed me by once more. However I was still chuffed with 4:04 for the marathon distance.
Now the not so fun bit, climbing back up to the CP being the first goal. It didnt seem to take too long, whilst walking up and chatting with Wullie. At the CP, I had a quick top up with water and got going upwards again. The last few runners were heading down hill, about so start their lap, yet meanwhile Frances Britain (Forres Harriers) was running up and passed us a few hundred metres before the top of the hill. We got running again once the road levelled out and up ahead a race was well and truly on for first place lady. Fran was closing the gap on Jenni and David, but I think they spotted her. Now on the downhill, they vanished into the distance, only reappearing on the final stretch towards the finish. 30 miles had been and gone but the bridge at the bottom of the road was insight and the finish a short climb beyond. The final wee hill wasn’t too bad and the finish comes into view again. The crowd of marshals and other runners was great, clapping and cheering as I crossed the line in 5hrs 9min 46sec and 13th place.
Next in was a proper ultra dafty, who passed Wullie on the way down and gave me a good run for my money. Next week its a Double Catteran ultra for him, so good luck there! It was great to see Wullie cross the line next as he’d been a great support throughout the race but he wont be doing back to back ultras again… well maybe not.Looking cool in the shades
After a quick dip in the river and change into something warm, it was back to the finish line for some soup and cheer in other runners before the next bit of exercise. Trying to bump start somebodys car up a hill because the wine cooler drained the battery!
Should you do an ultra. Absolutely, its way more fun than a 5k
Report by:  Neil Purdie

HOKA Relay (Dawn of the Supergirls) – 30/04/2016

Leg 1 – Joey

Leg one is the fast leg, 12.something miles from Milngavie to Drymen. Having done leg 3 before this was a fine change and not as challenging on the legs. There were a few hills but nothing that I hadn’t trained for in Monaughty Woods, my back garden.
I set off at a comfortable pace in my superhero outfit and before I knew it I was half way and met by Sally Ally and Karen at the first road crossing.
My overall time was 1hr48 and I was in 12th place. Faye had requested I got a good lead so to take the pressure off her. I don’t think my section is a picturesque as the rest of the whw but it’s still pretty impressive to be a part of the relay team doing the first leg.
The highlight of my day was getting a distress call from Faye during her last few miles. So at her request I went in to rescue her and had an enjoyable few miles on the lochside. That’s the leg I now want to do if we get a team in next year.

Leg 2 – Faye

Who is Faye trying to drown

Who is Faye trying to drown

As team captain of the mighty fine team FlingerBlingers Take 2 I thought it only right I did the longest leg! Leg 2 Drymen to Rowardennan. A decision I quickly regretted as I was about to begin my leg and i realised I was extremely undertrained.
So my report goes like this:-
I started, I hit the wall, I finished.
A few points I’d like to add, the scenery of Conic Hill and Loch Lommond is breathtakingly beautiful. Ultra Runners are the best runners in the world, fact. I have wonderful friends in my team mates. And finally never ever get cocky half way through a run, it can all go horribly wrong.
We had a wonderful day and I for one thoroughly enjoyed every painful minute of my 14.6 miles. I especially enjoyed my dip in Loch Lommond at the end to cool off.
I am very proud of my team, we finished the race in 10hrs 36mins 42seconds and were the 5th ladies team!
Will I do it again? If my team will have me then hell yeah!
Over and out, Superwoman runner number 2.

Leg 3 – Sally

My ‘Leg’ of this years Highland Fling was the 3rd & (most technical apparently) which starts at Rowardennan and takes you up, up & along the side of Loch Lomond for 14.19 miles (as my Garmin confirms) to the next changeover & checkpoint at Beinglas.

As Faye came in from her awesome leg & we swapped the timing chip over, Joey grabbed my jacket off me saying I wouldn’t need it as I would be too hot (& which I was grateful for later) & off I went!

The route starts off right alongside the loch which is stunning and soon you start to feel the incline as you follow the trail path up. I soon came across some of the full flingers who were just over the halfway mark at 27 miles & offered my support to them as I huffed & puffed my way up the hill/mountain! As pretty much most of the full flingers were walking, the ‘incline’ showed no signs of levelling up & nobody likes a show off – it wasn’t long before I was walking along with them!

This part of the fling is very much steep narrow paths which meander along with some very very stony & gnarly rooting to keep your eyes focused on the ground which also seemed to pass the time away but before you know it you’re 10miles in & realising you’re never going be at the checkpoint within the 2 1/2hrs you thought it would take to complete the leg! You are literally following a very narrow path between a sheer drop down to the loch & a cliff face! You come across some beautiful waterfalls & bridges along the route & climbing up & over rocks I actually thought I’d come to a dead end at one point as the path literally stopped??! But there was a clever dog with a couple of hikers who jumped up and over the couple of boulders as big as me & then I realised this was the way forward!! This was just one of the obstacles within the leg as you also have to scramble not only up but down some very steep rocks/stones some which act as as steps, then there’s the ladder & you have no option but get up it!

As you come away from the end of Loch Lomond the land stretches out & the descend across & down into Beinglas allows a good stride & stretch out of the legs (albeit too little too late possibly) I came flying down off the hill into the checkpoint where Karen awaits the chip transfer & she’s off on her glory leg….…

Leg 4 – Karen

Beinglas Farm to Tyndrum ‘The Glory Leg’

Waiting on the path for Sally to come in I was a little nervous I won’t lie. It had been a long, but massively quick day, since we waved off Joey at Milngavie at 6pm and here I was at 3.30pm waiting to take the team home.

The only two things I had known about my leg was that it contained the infamous Coo Poo Alley (Faye was worryingly overexcited that I was going to get properly muddy!) and there was a Roller coaster run to the finish. On Friday night I was also told about a tunnel … A TUNNEL!!

I got the chip from a happy, smiling Sally and was off like a rocket, having not done this leg of the relay I could only go on hearsay with what I was going to be running on. The trail is a proper mix of stony paths, muddy alleys, forest trail and a bit of road …. what I didn’t appreciate was the elevation change I was going to experience! To be honest though, I must’ve done the hill training properly because I don’t actually remember noticing!!

I did march up the very steepest bits but flew down the hills and tried to keep a steady pace on the flat bits … The hardest part of this section is that you are constantly passing full Fling runners who are pushing as best they can towards the end of their 53 mile / 11+ hour journey… and you receive a constant stream of ‘well done’ and other supportive banter …. incredibly humbling and so inspiring.

With about 4 miles or so to go I was lucky enough to have a full Flinger ask to tag on with me as we were going down the steep forest section … he was looking for some company and a steady pace to keep him going … I reckoned I could manage that and we duly rocked up to the finish together, it was magic!

Heroic music playing in the background

Heroic music playing in the background

I stopped to take pictures over my 12 mile leg and I was able to look up occasionally and enjoy the amazing scenery… the tunnel was OK and much to Faye’s disappointment Coo Poo Alley was dry!!

All in all my leg was ace and I covered 1336 ft in elevation, covering the distance in 2 hrs 4 mins … the rest of the team were waiting for me and we rocked down the red carpet together … Fantastic and emotional …. Am I tempted to do the full Fling …. Watch this space 😊

Report by:  The Supergirls

Highland Fling 53 mile Ultra Trail Race – 30/04/2016

It all began one cold dark October night. I sat crunched over a laptop my fingers twitching. I was poised like a tiger ready to pounce. I was also suitably lubricated by red wine. My mobile alert rang out and I was off, punching in my details as fast as possible and click……my eyes were glued to the little eggtimer spinning round and round…. Done. As quick as I could I logged on to see the entry list, I was something like the 700th entry and it had only been open a couple of minutes. I was in. Within minutes it was sold out and the Facebook page was alive with a mixture of those delighted to get a place and those that had disappointedly missed out.

Fast forward to early March, training had been going well to that point with long weekend runs and the anticipation of the D33 ultra as a wee test run in a couple of weeks. I was however having increasing discomfort with ankle pains, Achilles problems and sciatica. Nothing that a few Ibuprofen couldn’t sort I thought but as the D33 neared it was getting worse and combined with a flu bug I took a late decision to pull out. A session with a physio friend Fiona, an appointment with a Podiatrist to get some orthotic insoles and the purchase of a trusty foam roller and kinesiology tape and I was on the comeback. I took it easy for a few weeks training wise, sticking to my daily 5ks but come April I knew I had to get some long runs in. After a rainy 26 miles with Neil P and Steven M one Sunday and then the next weekend an epic ascent of Ben Rinnes in the snow followed by a further 20 odd miles over Rothes to Fogwatt I was feeling more confident. Judgement day was two weeks away. My tapering involved a few training bike rides as on another cold dark, wine lubricated night I had signed up for the Loch Ness Etape. That’s another story, but it did go well considering.

In the days before, I was very pre-occupied with my preparations. Sorting my favourite kit, preparing my drop bags with essential fuel, pouring over the race details pack and analysing past results to work out my intended splits. Although I had completed my first two Ultra in 2015 – the D33 and the Speyside Way Ultra (37 miles), this was a step up into the unknown. Thankfully, Steven M, was a very useful source of advice and tips having done it a number of times already.

On Friday, I drove down to Tyndrum (the finish) to drop the car off. I walked up to the finish and I could feel a wave of emotion as I visualised myself running down the finishing straight the next day. It was now feeling really real. I met my Brother in Law, David, and we caught the train down to Glasgow. As we travelled, he pointed out of the window at parts of the route and I imagined how I might be feeling. Registration at the Burnbrae Inn in Bearsden was buzzing with the support team and other competitors. We shared a table for dinner with a few others and swapped stories of our running exploits, fuelling preferences and our long suffering families. I made my excuses at 8.30 and Steven, Ed and Graemeheaded back to my B&B. One last check of the kit and lights out.

4.30am the alarm went and I inhaled a couple of Muller Rice and a banana before sharing a taxi to the start with two Norweigens runners who were also taking part. The Car park at Milngavie was alive with people and as you always find at Ultra events, lots of hugs and handshakes as people reconnected with folk they had met at other such bonkers events. After a race briefing from the legendary Jonny ‘Fling’ Duncan we were off at 6am sharp. My careful analysis some night before had determined that I wanted a sub 10 hour time so Steven and I set off at the back of the Sub 10 hour wave. We had to do the first 12.4 miles to Drymen in 1.40 by my calculations. It was a cold morning but very little wind and the run up to Drymen was moderately undulating on good paths and sections of tarmac so we passed through in good time at 1.39.

The next section was up to Balmaha (19 miles) and included an ascent round the shoulder of Conic Hill. The top Ultra runners tip is to walk steep uphill sections to save the legs. During these walking sections you fuel up. Steven’s mantra ‘ just keep moving’ playing over in my mind. It wasn’t too long before we hit the top and we started a steep descent down stone steps towards first drop bag stop at Balmaha. This section was playing havoc with my ankles so was particularly tentative. We reached the drop bag point and rifled through our supplies before stuffing our faces furiously with banana, haribo, babybell and Lucozade.

The next three sections of 20 miles or so through Rowardennan, to Invernsaid and then onto Beinglas were a bit of a blur to be honest. I encountered some of the toughest terrain I have faced in a race and when you have tired legs your mind has to be extra sharp to avoid potential face planting. The course weaves along the eastern side of Loch Lomond along rocky and rooty up and down paths. Steven was taking the lead and I was just doing my best to stay as close as I could. The drop bag feed fests were welcome and necessary but despite the tough terrain we were also keeping to my schedule.

From Beinglas, the last drop bag stop, it is 12.7 miles to the finish and you have to negotiate Coo Poo Alley and the Roller Coaster. Having negotiated the tough middle section, the finish seemed within touching distance and mentally I was feeling good, my legs however did not feel the same. Fortunately Coo poo alley did not live up to its legendary status although I did remind Steven that he was wearing red as we passed through a field of cattle. The Rollercoaster challenged the legs but before long we were crossing the main road with around 3 miles to go. Steven by this point was struggling with stomach cramps but I could see we were on for beating his PB if we could just keep moving. Steven gamely accepted my words of encouragement although I’m sure inside he was telling me where to stick them! Every incline by this point looked like a mountain but gradually the last few miles ticked by and you could hear the distant sound of the bagpiper at the finish. As we rounded the last bend we were met by the famous red carpet, flags and cheers. We crossed the line in 9hr 14 minutes – absolutely spent but delighted especially as Steven beat his PB by two minutes.

After numerous cups of sugary coffee, delicious home made soup and a couple of baked potatoes with cheese and beans I felt that I was beginning to replace some of the 8500 calories expended.

Claire Reilly was the next MRR in at 11hrs. Bloodied and bruised after a fall but still in good spirits. Steven’s Dad, Graeme, a Fling stalwart, was next in impressively finishing in 11hr 11mins despite a lack of proper training due to an injury. Fiona Brant completed the squad coming in at 12hrs, a fantastic effort and a good training run for her attempt (and Claire’s) at the West Highland Way race next month. T-shirt and bumper sticker well and truly earned by all.

It is a superbly well organised race and the atmosphere is second to none. The Ultra community are so welcoming and you find yourself thriving on the positive vibes of everyone. I have ticked this off my list but could well be drawn back again……

Positions:The finishers

Ed Dunbar 9hr14.03 50th

Steven Morrison 9 hr14.04 51st

Claire Reilly 11hr03.31 218th

Graeme Morrison11hr 11.27 232nd

Fiona Brant 12hr00.13 331st

Report by:  Ed Dunbar