The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment. (

Best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray. A heavy workload meant the planned midweek miles went out the window. A lowly 4 miles Tuesday, 4 miles Wednesday meant I had a lot of catching up to do if I was to stick to the mileage required last week. I couldn't make the planned run into work happen on Friday morning so I had to come up with a strategy to get the miles done before the weekend. There was only one thing for it, run home from work on Thursday evening. On Tuesday the weather forecast wasn't too bad, dry with light winds. They got it wrong once again, it rained all day Thursday which would dampen my enthusiasm for this wee trip. After work I put on the full winter running gear, this was not what I expected but if I have an idea to do something it must be carried out, the stubborn streak shone through.

Iv'e run and posted about the Buchan and Formartine Way a couple of times lately and it takes up a large part of this training run. Like many rail routes it fell victim to the Beeching cuts in 1965 which is incredible considering the development and expansion of north sea oil. There's talk lately of reinstating this line but having run most of it over the years I just can't see it happening.

At 1800 I left and ran through the industrial estate in Dyce, it's only half a mile before reaching the solitude of the railway line, away from the rush hour traffic trying to leave the area. I crossed a couple of bridges over the queuing traffic, that's where I would normally be if I drove home tonight and there's something quite satisfying leaving the motorists behind, even though there's a long way to go. I clicked on the head torch, put on a marathon talk podcast and made steady progress towards Newmachar.

Door to door by road my commute to work is 26 miles. Looking at Google maps, I figured the B & F Way was a more direct route north. I very roughly estimated a run of around 20 miles, maybe a bit more. For this reason I had no food with me and only one bottle of juice, a foolhardy decision.

Just beyond Newmachar I was surprised to come across a few deep snow drifts, stubbornly clinging on and not giving in to the thawing rain. Luckily they were few and far between, I didn't want to run through any more snow. I averaged around 10.30 minute miles at this stage which suited me fine as I was hoping to be home around 2200. I made my way for Udny Station, the place I ran to last week, only this time the snow and ice had disappeared. From there it was steady downhill run to cross the River Ythan at Ellon, my watch informed me 13 miles had been covered in 2 hours 15 minutes. 

Its an uphill gradient from here and I felt it in my legs, it also showed on the watch where my miles per minute crept up. The   temperature dropped as I left Ellon behind causing rain to turn to snow. I passed through a plantation of birch trees, their skeletal trunks reflecting the beam from my head torch. I reached Drumwhindle where I had to leave the trail and run mostly   uphill on the back roads to New Deer. It was 16.5 miles when I left the track which meant my estimate of 20 miles total for the run was way off. My juice bottle was finished which made me feel thirsty, I needed a drink. I contemplated knocking on the door of a remote house but I didn't think they would appreciate a stranger turning up and asking for a water bottle top up. Hunger was moving in as I hadn't eaten since lunch time, I was running out of energy and beginning to feel fatigued.

It was during one of the uphill walks that I asked myself what I was doing, wandering along dark country roads dodging the odd car with snow falling. I've run  much further distances in worse weather conditions but on this run my mind went a bit negative. And then it dawned on me, a parasite, I've got an ultra running parasite that's invaded and grown inside. It pops in little ideas and suggestions letting them grow until I decide to do them. An example - not too long ago I was listening to an article in the news, the Moray Coastline is among the top 20 most beautiful coast areas in the world. 
Hmmm - Fraserburgh to Inverness would be a great run to do in the future I thought, or rather ultra parasite suggested! Now the seed has been planted, the idea is going to grow, get nurtured and I'll probably end up doing this in the next couple of years. Top ultra runners are not immune, take Jezz Bragg for instance, at some stage he must have looked at a map of New Zealand and thought - Hmmm.
So what is the ultra parasite, what is is doing and why? Well it's something that's inside me so I'm certainly the host, but is it causing harm? Well if I count  exhaustion, dehydration, hunger, muscle pain and leaving me an emotional wreck then in the short term yes. In the long term it's making me very fit and healthy as I get older which is not normal parasite behavior.   And why? To show me the natural world, to humble, to strip back the layers and leave raw emotion and to be thankful for good health.

At twenty miles I could have phoned coach for a lift but there was no way I was going to give up on my target of running home. The temperature dropped even more as I reached Knaven. I couldn't see ahead for the head torch illuminating my exhaled breath. My body cooled down as I began to walk more frequently but determination got me home. It's hard to believe, but the distance door to door? - 26.2 miles exactly. The time taken was 4 hours 48 minutes for one of the strangest runs I have done, both emotionally and physically. 
Tues 4 miles Wed 4 miles Thurs 26 miles Sat 12 miles  Weekly total 46 miles.

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