Third time at this race. Could I make it 3 wins?? Fitness was in the ‘ticking over’ phase so I wasn’t expecting fireworks from my pace and there were a couple of youngsters in the starting lineup that I suspect were going to be there or there abouts.
Ok, excuses out of the way onto the race report! Steven and I headed up to Killin the night before the race and basically bagged a full house in a very sweet Air B&B deal. The details of which will remain with me in case we head up again in future years. Had a half decent sleep, well, it was at least 4 hours which is a bonus for me before a race (is that another excuse I hear?).
The weather was cool and calm but not cold and so I opted for a t-shirt rather than long sleeves. Packing light was the idea and so I opted to use the drop bag at half way where I had my Active Root Green Tea in a softflask along with some emergency gels. The plan was to drink a small amount every 15 minutes after half an hour. In my small bum bag was another Active Root, phone and foil blanket, both mandatory, and a couple of gels in case I needed them. My plan was to race with just Active Root if possible.
After a briefing we were off and I found myself at the front, although I could hear feet close behind me and once we got the the first big climb out of Killin I was caught by the chasers. I’d opted to stick on the Nike Next%, the route is mostly hard packed trail or tarmac, with only a few miles of forestry roads, but I think it was a mistake. As Stuart Paterson and I took turns to lead on that first climb, I took a left hand turn and landed hard on my left hip and knee. Knee burst and hip in pain I wondered if I was going to complete the race and we were so early into it. It did alter my agressiveness on the climb and as I caught up with Stuart again I decided that I should run behind him and use his pace. He was quick on the climbs though and I had to work hard to maintain contact both with him and the ground as I slipped and slided all over the hill. As we reached the top and started the decent onto the Glen Ogle Viaduct, I’d gained a few meters on Stuart and decided to attempt to open up the gap a little more on the decent to Strathyre. It didn’t really have the desired effect as a few glances behind as we approached Balquhidder would see Stuart less than a minute behind me. I think the gap did open up a bit more as we ran through the rollercoaster up and downs through Balquhidder and into Strathyre Caravan Park where I’d pick up my second soft flask of Active Root.
After crossing the main road, there is another steep climb, it was here I took my second tumble, my feet slipping from under me on a wet muddy section before meeting the forest road. Ouch, landed on my hands this time and although it doesn’t affect your running it hurt more than the first fall. I picked myself up, cursing I had picked those shoes, but hoping I wasn’t losing too much time to Stuart. I continued with the sipping active root every 15 minutes and energy levels remained fairly constant. I went through the marathon distance in about 2:53 ish and with all the major climbing done I was starting to feel it as I climbed the long slow drag back up the Glen Ogle Valley. Man, that is a long road to run up! It never seems to end and I could feel my effort rising, trying to maintain pace but inevitably it had started to slide and I thought I might even get caught here. There are some very long straights on the viaduct and a few glances behind before a corner would show nobody there.
I reached the top of the viaduct and cross the main road once again, delighted that there was about 5k to run and it was mostly downhill, however, my quads had taken so much of a battering that steep descent into Killin was brutal! I definitely lost time here as I tip toed and tentatively ran down some fantastic trail. I was glad to see the steep descent even out in the last 2k and then it was a gentle decline as I reached the village boundary.
There were about 1 million tourists all out with cameras at the Falls of Dochart that morning as I ran past, sodden with sweat, tired, bedraggled and filthy. Some were not impressed. I entered the park behind the village hall where the finish was and in their cruelty the race directors make you run a full circumference around before crossing the line.
I finished in 3:39 to take the win, a few minutes slower than when I ran it 4 years ago, but I am 4 years older and I don’t remember my quads ever being that sore in a race! Something to work on.
Stuart was only a couple of minutes behind me in the end, nothing over that distance, and ran a great race. Some Pyllon Ultra team mates had great runs too, Mark and Des and it was great to see Sandra back running ultras after a bit of a break with injuries.
Organisation was, as usual, superb, Bill (I’m not sure if Mike was there this year) and Ada and the rest of the marshalls and race team were brilliant. The Glen Ogle 33 is one of Scotland’s gems in the ultra scene, long may it continue.