The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Speyside Way Ultra 2015

Running and blog posts go hand in hand.  A healthy training regime and race program equals regular and varied reporting.  Long training runs gives time to think about topics and experiences to share, I have not done long training runs over the summer so here I am, forcing myself to sit down and post.

I have rescued my ultra running year with my bank card and entry key on the computer. In the space of a couple of weeks I'd entered four races, two I've never taken on before.  First up was the Speyside Way Ultra, my fourth time running this race:

I knew a PB would be out of the question, low training would see to that.  With trepidation the camper was packed and the family headed to Strathlene camp site in Buckie on the Friday night.  The beautiful Moray coast at sunset helped calm the nerves as I turned in for an early night and got plenty of rest for race day.

The alarm went off at five, I felt like shutting it down, turning over and going back to sleep.  Further proof of not quite having running commitment.  The camper skylight showed a nice enough day so I dragged myself up and got ready for the challenge ahead.

I estimated about half an hour walk to the start.  Another runner was camping at the site who gave me a lift to registration.  
It was good to catch up with running buddies and go on my yearly bus trip up Speyside, thanks to Leon for the company and chat.  This year we started from race sponsors premises - Cragganmore Distillery.  A free adult tour pass in the goody bag means I'll be returning for a visit.

Five hundred pounds was up for grabs for the first person to run the 37.5 route under 4 hours, I'd be struggling to get in under 7.

After race briefing we set off, the first four hundred yards on road till we hit the Way to some motivational music.  The forecast was for cloud and about 19 degrees, this would be slightly too warm for me.

The disused railway and associated bridges gave great views.  I didn't have any tactics for this run apart from keeping things steady and comfortable.  Comfortable I wasn't as stomach issues started to affect my race.  After a comfort stop at Aberlour I stepped the pace up a bit to make up for lost time.

I usually grab food and eat walking uphill after the checkpoints.  This year I decided to spend time getting food down before setting off.  This meant I could run as much as the Ben Aigan uphill as possible without trying to force down food.  This tactic seemed to work as I managed to run most of the ascent but I would pay the price of such effort later on.

The day was warming up where Jenni's water stop leaving Ben Aigen was much appreciated.
The fungus trail to the shooting range was very scenic before hitting the tarmac towards Fochabers.
I was still running which was a good sign, time would tell if I could keep it up after the 2nd checkpoint.

Two custard pots, two boiled eggs and a Lucozade Sport set me up for the last 12 miles.  Pauline went though the checkpoint at the same time as me, she was keeping a steady pace ahead.  I decided to try and hang on, this would help me run through my nemesis, the forest section after the bridge.

It was very warm in the forest, the air was still with no cooling breeze.  I wished for a splash of rain but this was not in the forecast today.  I was beginning to struggle, I always do at this stage of the race.  I managed to hang on, only just, until Spey Bay before taking walking breaks. Good to see and chat to Fiona here who took a couple of pictures, many thanks.

Photo by Fiona Rennie
After Spey Bay I struggled to keep running while Pauline went on to a strong finish.  Time began to slip away, I wondered if I would finish under 7 hours.  The tide was in at Portgordon where seals splashed about in the bay watched by onlookers.

Encouraged by marshals, I managed to get running through the streets of Buckie.  Up the hill to Cluny square and completed my fourth ultra of the year, 6 hours 54 minutes.

The grass was a comfortable place to recover with Lynne and Skye while chatting to Alyson and Rhona.  Lynne had brought the campervan to the finish, I was grateful I didn't need to walk the two miles back to the camp site.

Thanks to Sarah Louise Grigor and all who helped marshal this great ultra, much appreciated, I'll be back next year.

Week ending 9th Aug - Mon 3, Tues 3, Sat 18.  Weekly total 24 miles.
Week ending 16th Aug - Wed 4, Thurs 4, Sun 4.  Weekly total 12 miles.
Week ending 23rd Aug - Wed 5, Sat 37.  Weekly total 42 miles.
Sat 8.  Weekly total 8 miles.

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