After the D33 it was time to hit the hills. On Saturday the 21st I completed the Gordon Way, an out and back equalling 23 miles. The trail crosses the Bennachie range so provides much needed hills to strengthen my leg muscles for the Fling and DC110. I struggled walking up some of the steeper hills and wondered if I have left this sort of training a bit late.
I've dropped the training program. It's been calling for 70 mile weeks which there's no way I can fit in. Life is limiting the time I can commit to training, whether this will be detrimental to completing the DC110 remains to be seen.
A fellow DC110 entrant posted on Facebook looking for company training on the Cateran Trail. Alyson was looking to do a night section so I got in touch and suggested Blairgowrie to Spittal.
This was the same 32 mile section I completed with Mike and Keith this time last year.
We agreed on Friday night where I would leave my car at Spittal and get a lift from Alyson to Blairgowrie. I parked at the cemetery and walked to where the Spittal of Glenshee hotel once stood.
It was an eerie and sad sight, standing at the perimeter fence I shone my torch on the shell of what was once the backbone of the Cateran race.
We left Blargowrie on what was a perfect and still night for running, not unlike the race conditions last year. The night time view over Perthshire was spectacular with city and town lights sparkling in the cool air. Good company and chat meant the miles flew by where we both took note of difficult sections of the trail. We stopped at what would be the race checkpoints where I had boiled eggs and crisps, my Chia Charge bar would stay in the back pack tonight.
A loud crack sounded out above my head on the way to Glenisla, loud enough to startle us both. There was something wrong with my head torch, even though new batteries were put in, Alysons LED Lenser torch was leading the way. A subsequent check of the head torch revealed a burst and leaking battery.
After Glenisla is was time to head for the hills, the snow started not long after Loch Shandra.
This was no light dusting, the landscape quickly turned white requiring a careful descent to Forter Castle. We thought the run would be completed soon with only the road section to Dalnagar and the last five miles to Spittal to go but this training run had a sting in the tail.
Anyone familiar with the Cateran will know the first 5 miles can be a bit of a mud bath with some marsh thrown in for good measure. A layer of snow on top of this made a rather interesting end to our run. Zero grip meant slow progress with very few opportunities to run. Now wasn't the time for heroics, we decided to take our time and complete the run safe without incident.
I didn't think the Cateran landscape could get any more scenic but the addition of snow made it picturesque. The wind increased towards the end, freezing hands that had to open gates. The run ended with a comedy moment, we didn't recognise the final quarter mile track back to the Spittal. Believing we took a wrong turn, we doubled back and climbed a small hill before realising the mistake and finally ending the run.
Cold and wet we said goodbye at Blairgowrie and went our separate ways. Thank you Alyson for the company and opportunity to run the Cateran at night, it was good getting back to the special trail.
Week ending 22nd March. Tues 4, Wed 7, Thurs 6, Sat 23. Weekly total 40 miles.
Tues 4, Wed 6, Thurs 4, Fri/Sat 32, Sun 4. Weekly total 50 miles.