Race Across Scotland

A wee race summary

Had over 24 hours now to let the Race across Scotland sink in.

Thought I’d write a more in depth summary for those who were dot watching me and wondering at times what I was doing.

So I lined up on the race in Portpatrick at 0550, ready for a 0600 start. However, we didn’t set off until 0610 as Wayne kept us anxiously waiting whilst he could take photos and update social media 😂.

I set off at the front with Abdullah Mohamed setting the pace. We lead upto checkpoint two before we took a break for 10 mins. Rob the eventually the winner took over us at this point and lead the race from then on.

I ran with Mo until about the 40 mile point before splitting up. I got into checkpoint 3 Glentrool in second and spent about 30 mins there. I left CP 3 in 3rd, making my way to St John’s CP 4 and where my first drop back would be. This part of the leg is where I had my first major issue. My Garmin watch froze which meant I had to reset it and in turn lost all my data including the race GPX. Luckily I remembered the route and was able to get to CP4 in 2nd place. I was hoping I would be able to load the race gpx file back onto the watch. But I wasn’t able to due there being no WiFi. I had a map and compass but racing and navigating in the dark is not ideal. I ended up staying at CP4 for 2 hours. I then teamed up with two other runners to get me through the night to Sanquhar.

The leg from St John’s to Sanquhar I would say is the make or break for people in the race. Most people who DNF tend to do it after this leg. Its about 26 miles of hills and boggy ground, then add in darkness, bad weather it equals hell.

I set off just after 2300 with Rosie and Gareth. It was a testing night, navigating animal tracks and boggy ground. At 19 miles into the leg was a bothy. I took refuge for an hour, trying to get some kip. Rosie and Gareth, had 15 mins then went on. After an hour at the bothy, I then continued to on Sanquhar. Half way there I got a bacon buttie and coffee from a farm house. That gave me a boost and I got to Sanquhar in quick time.

At this stage I was in 10th however, only the leader and Rosie had left the CP. I quickly took of my feet and got straight back out, making my way to Wanlockhead.

I spent a hour Wanlockhead getting my watch sorted before making my way to Beattock. The route to Beattock was a challenging having the highest amount of elevation gain of all the legs.

I arrived a Beattock in joint 3rd with Rosie. I was getting a dark again. Me and Rosie team up again for the next leg to Boston memorial hall. This leg gruelling, it was different to last year as a high trail had been added to it, thankfully Rosie had recced it before. This new part was testing, the elevation plus the weather made it extremely difficult. Unfortunately for us, the decision had been made to revert back to the old route due safety, however we were already out on the trail to be notified. The high route hit me hard, I was exhausted after it. I had plan to run through night but decided to sleep in a bothy for an hour. Rosie continued on to the next CP. After my hour, I made my to CP, I was still shattered, kept drifting across to side road as I kept falling a sleep running 😂.

Eventually I got to the CP had an hour and half there before heading to the final drop bag CP at Fairnilee. At this point I was in 4th and men’s bronze place and I thought I was looking good for the bronze. However, another runner was picking up pace and looking strong. I tried to pick up my pace but I was caught about 6 miles out from the CP.

At this point my head went down a bit as I was carrying an injury and knew that I was only get slower. I got to Fairnilee just be 1700 on Monday. Spent 45 mins there before heading out to Lauder CP 10.

On getting to Lauder, I’d close to gap on the 4 in front. Quick turnaround at the CP and was straight back out. However, It all went wrong straight away. The Southern Upland Way in Lauder goes through a field with cows in. Trying to avoid the cows I got disorientated and ended up off course in no mans land 😂. It was just a waste land and I was in the middle of it. I ended up falling off a bank in to a large stream smashing my head torch. I managed to sort it, cross the stream to the other side as the GPS said the path was there. However, the path was 10 ft up on a mud ledge. I had to scale some trees to get to it. That was 30 mins lost and any chance of a podium finish pretty much out of reach.

It was a lonely 13 miles to the final CP at the watch water fishery. I got there at just after 0500 it was amazing. The guys made me a cooked breakfast and I had 45 min kip. Eventually leaving just after 0600 for the final 21 miles. On leaving the hut, the view was simply breath taking, rolling hills with an amber sky. I really couldn’t describe the emotions I felt in that moment.

Cockburnspath here I come, I did the first 11 miles at a fast pace before catching up with Rosie. I had made ground on the others but it wasn’t going to be enough and injury was getting worst. For the remaining 10 miles I teamed up once again with Rosie. Rosie was pretty much getting 1st lady and a new female course record. We both deteriorated in the last few miles slowly down to 2mph.

When you finally get to the coast, there’s still 2 miles left to get to the finish. For me these aee always the worst 2 miles of the race. Everything is hurting, your so close to the end but 2 miles which takes usually 11 mins at this point was gonna take a hour.

As me and Rosie neared the finished line, we both agreed to cross together as we shared much journey together. It was great to have someone of her experience run along side, she’d represented Scotland in various ultra running events.

After the longest 2 miles, we had done it. Sub 80 hrs, joint fourth, 1st female and new cr for Rosie.

Such a different experience, compared to 2018. However, sometimes you have to go through the pain, dark times in order to progress.

Once again, I hope you enjoyed the dot watching. Thanks for the support.

Report by:  Jon Ward
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