· Adidas Ultra Boost
· Nike Combat base shorts
· Nike Red/Black 5” shorts
· Nike Blue Run T
· Garmin Forerunner 225
· Nike Waist pack containing foil blanket (VLM one)
· Nike vented race socks
· Nathan handheld water bottle with pouch
· Orange Tailwind with 500ml water (pre race)
· Berry Caffeinated Tailwind with 12oz water at CP3
· 2 salt tablets
· 2 Honey Stinger Gels
I’d entered the Glen Ogle Ultra when Entry Central would allow and show my eagerness to get a place being provided number 12 on race day. I assume the numbers were allocated on a first come first serve basis from the entry system. My initial intentions for the race were: a little end of season blast in one of Scotland’s most beautiful valleys, on a cracking course and a race organised by brilliant directors. It’s friendly, fun and tough all rolled into a few hours of running.
Since the disappointments of the G2E and Clyde Stride earlier this year, I went back to basics. My hips flexors on both sides had let me down on both races and I made a very concerted effort to rectify the problem. Three to four 30-45 minute gym sessions per week, concentrating on core, hips, stability and mobility and I seemed to be making progress. I was enjoying it, so decided to also working on legs and upper body. I noticed the progress via an unwanted side effect of gym work, larger biceps, pectoral and shoulder musculature. Now, let’s be clear, I won’t win any Mr Universe competitions, in fact you’d be lucky if I had the musculature for the old “Mr Muscle” cleaning liquids adverts from TV, but my running tops and vests were getting a little tighter around that area and a few pounds had crept on over the months. Oops, seems I’d taken the gym work a bit too far and so cut back on the upper body work, but kept up with the core and stability work. I figured if I had made gains in the ‘for show’ muscles then I must have made gains on the ‘not for show’ muscles. A little while ago, I had one of those DNAFit genetics assessments and it showed that I am almost a 50% split, genetically, suited to power based sports and endurance based sports. I don’t think it means that I would be bad, good or average at either, but the testing allows you to tailor your training to align to your genetic make up. That position in the power/endurance scale has made me wonder if I am a ‘quick responder’ to power and strength based exercise and hence the “Arnie” (minus the steroids) look. I don’t have a typical runners physique so there may be something in that.
Anyway, as always when I start to type and think at the same time, I go off on a tangent. Getting back to the pre race. There was a post on the Glen Ogle Race Chat Facebook page about a twin room being given up due to somebody not being able to make the race. Steven was travelling up on Saturday morning to Marshall at the race, as was I. So I emailed him and asked if he fancied splitting the room costs. We stayed at the Old Bank B&B and Jennie, the owner, was very accommodating, even getting up at 5:45 to get some breakfast things out for us. The B&B was very nice, quiet (apart from Steven’s snoring), clean and comfortable. I watched the Salford City game on the TV while Steven selfishly drank red wine and ate Walkers Sensations crisps (the family bag size too). Earlier in the evening I went to the race HQ to register and collect my number, chip and t-shirt, so that I could just chill and relax on the morning of the race.
Sleep didn’t come easy, it never does the night before a race, and I think I saw every hour on my watch from 11pm to 4am when I said enough and got the Kindle out and read until around 5:30. I got up and took the car down to the car park so that it wasn’t that far from the race finish and consumed some of the prepared breakfast I had brought with me. I then walked back to the B&B and sat down to a large coffee, a slice of toast on butter and a mini banana. All this time I was consuming a 500ml of water with some Tailwind mixed in.
I’d had a panic during the week. I’d been given Tailwind by someone (I can’t remember who) a number of months ago and thought that I hadn’t used it all, but on the Tuesday evening before the race I could not find it in the house. A quick email to Mike at Tailwind and it was in my hands by Thursday! Top customer service from Tailwind UK.
Steven leaves for the marshal’s race briefing around 7am and I do my prerace sh!t, shower, shave routine, get myself ready and head down to the race start around 7:45. I do a brief hello to some well kent faces and a wee pre race chat from Bill and we are off.
The race starts in Breadalbane Park in Killin. The first mile of the race is through the town of Killin main street, past the Falls of Dochart and then immediately climbs the hill known to the locals, I learn, as “The Waterboard”. I think there are some Scottish Water buildings on the ascent of this slope. Before we leave the park, James Stewart, is already 10 metres ahead of me and I wonder if he is carrying the great shape that he has been in for most of the year, into this race. Wins at the Clyde Stride and Glenmore 24, breaking both course records already this year showed me he was the front-runner for the race. My own tactics for this race were simple: To finish. This was the overriding aim for today. If my hips, again, gave up in the 20 odd mile, then I would walk/hobble to the end. I did feel confident that they wouldn’t but having not run beyond 24 miles in training since the G2E, I could not be sure how they would be at mile 26 or 27.
As we run up through Killin I close up behind James and another chap comes along side us. We leave the tarmac and start the first climb. After about 200m it is just James and myself. I consider opening up conversation, but the pace and angle of ascent make it difficult to breath properly and I just get my head down and climb. I knew this is the highest point of the race and the next 8 or so miles are essentially downhill. As we approach the top of the climb, I sense that James is a couple of steps behind me and as we get onto the flat and I regain my breath and legs I open up my stride a little on the descent to CP1. Just as I approach the road I glance back but couldn’t see James or anyone else. If there was someone close, I wasn’t aware of it and I assume I’ve opened up a small gap.
The descent down through Glen Ogle is superb, I felt really good and just let the miles tick off while taking in a little of the scenery. It really is stunning. The only thing that spoils it is the A84 that also runs through the valley!! I reach check point 2 at the bottom of the valley and take a glance back. I see somebody, but can’t quite be sure. I must have taken my foot off the pedal a little, James appears to be gaining on me. So I open up again, through the little twisty turny parts of the route and then through Balquidder. I push hard on this undulating unclassified road. There is along climb just before Balquidder and a quick glance back shows that I must have been mistaken earlier, there was nobody behind me. I look at my watch for the first time and see that I have been moving at sub 6:30 pace so far and we are around 15 miles into the race. I feel good so maintain the effort.
The exit from the unclassified road onto a back road that run through Strathyre was a bit of a nightmare for me. As I approached the T junction there was a post at the opposite side of the road where the runners arrow was. However, someone had decided to rip it half off. So it was upside down and point left. I knew the route had changed from 2013 and I could not decide which way to go. I ran left a little and spoke to a lady walking her dog, I ran back to the sign and tried to rectify it to see the correct way, then I ran to the right to see if I recognised any of the road. Confused.com!! I ran back and asked the lady if she knew the way to the ‘Shoogly Brig’. I think she was a tourist, as she had no clue what I was talking about. ‘DO you mean a bridge’ was the reply. ‘Aye’ says me. ‘Well there is a bridge up this road’. I run up the road, but as soon as I approach ‘the bridge’, I realise I have gone the wrong way. I can see the A84 running through Strathyre and I have missed the Shoogly Brig. I get up onto the main road and hare down. I can see the lollipop man and head for him. Thoughts are running through my head about time penalties, disqualification, hang on where is CP3? I’d run past it, so had to run back to the car park to CP3, I could see the Shoogly Brig just beyond !! Ada Stewart (I think unrelated to James) helps me get my drop bag and I set off for the climb out of Strathyre passing Julie on the way and taking in some caffeinated Tailwind. Ah Bisto!!
This is a tough climb, uphill for about 2 miles in total, it really saps the legs. Add into this 18 or so miles in the legs and a 5 minute mile while running around the streets of Strathyre like a headless chicken and I really start to feel the climb. I must be hemorrhaging time here, the pace has slowed dramatically and my breathing is laboured and short. I reach the top and start the descent into Kingshouse, and I can now feel all the previous downhill miles in my quads. I live at sea level, far away from any real hills, so I don’t get to run on hills very often, so the pounding on the way down from the ‘Waterboard’ climb and into Strathyre has taken it’s toll on my quads. By this point the heavens have opened up and I am utterly soaked through . Unlike 2013, the temperature is almost mild and with 2+ hours of running done it doesn’t feel cold. I continue to sip at the Tailwind in my water bottle and get back to the tarmac outside the Mhor 84 hotel. It’s this point that you join back onto the cycle path to Killin and I pass some of the others in the race. All very friendly and wishing me well. When I can, I return the gesture.
The route, now ascends up through the Glen Ogle valley to the final CP. I’ve only used one drop bag in the race and only 12oz of Tailwind and although I am starting to slow a little with the constant climb, I feel really good. Marathon distance comes up at 2:54 and with most of the climbing already done I start to relax the pace. There are a few points on the old railway line that are poker straight and I take the opportunity to have a glance behind to see if I can see any movement. There is none, I’ve built up quite a lead. Most importantly, my hips are great, no pain, no tightness, I know I will finish the race, primary objective will be completed. I run through CP5 with the ever present marshals asking if I needed any water. I politely decline as there is still some Tailwind left and I make my way past the burger van to some great cheers through the pouring rain! The last three miles are downhill and on the first drop my quads start to scream at me. Ouch, this was painful. We are always being told to never lean back on the decent. That’s ok when it is 100m long in a cross country race, but when it is 3 miles long and you’ve already ran down for about 15 miles, that is not helpful advice!! I take it quite tentatively on this last section, damage limitation, but once onto the not so steep descent I open up again and I pop out back where we turned off the road in Killin, some 32 miles previously. I feel great and pick up speed as I run down Killin main road and back into the park where it all started at 8am. I pick up speed again going around the park and cross the line in 3:36:55, a new course record for this route. I finish relieved and delighted. Delighted to have an unexpected win, but more relieved that I finished. Finishing in one piece was the main goal and I achieved that. Had the race been 10 or 20 miles longer, I knew at that point that I would have made it, I felt that good at the finish.
The months of gym work had paid off. I was carrying a few too many pounds for racing, but maybe I need to in the future, to keep the body strong enough for these events.
I’ll take this win and effort into my winter training with the hope of building onto it. For now it is a little recovery then back into the cross country season. Adulation must also go to Rob Sinclair on his ultra debut coming in second and giving James a real battle.
It has been said many times on Facebook, but I would just like to add my thanks to Bill, Mike and Cat for laying on such an excellent race, their direction and production is first class and carry it out effortlessly. Thanks also has to go to all the marshals and helpers, the race would not go ahead without them and that needs to be recognised. Thanks also to Mike at Tailwind UK, for getting product to me in record time!!
Until next year folks.
The Old Bank, Killin
Information on Killin
Information on Strathyre