It's yet another race I'm unprepared for. Lynne and I are off work, getting the camper ready and making our way to Glenmore via the supermarket for supplies. We arrive at the hayfield at five, park up and I head straight to registration. Julie asks if I'm doing 12 or 24 as there's been a computer glitch and it's not listed. I momentarily consider the 12 before admitting to the 24. "No choice then" says Julie, you're doing the 24.
We are early this year and get to choose our spot, the hayfield is considered before heading to the same spot we were at last year. This is a handy area, right next to the steps leading to the car park and perfect for grabbing sustenance on every lap.
The party theme this year is superheros and princesses. I'm afraid my lack of organisation means we don't have outfits for the party so we both have a couple of drinks and play cards in the camper, how unsociable is that.
Saturday is bright and sunny, the highland scenery is at it's best. We prepare my aid station under the camper awning, I make my way to race briefing and a talk from Sean the medic which is just as well, I remove rings from my fingers.
At 12 we are off so it's now time to talk tactics. If you've read my previous two G24 race reports you'll be well acquainted with my method of reaching 100 miles. For those who have not, I'll post it again. The loop is 4 miles, multiplied by 24 hours equals 96 miles, one loop per hour is not enough.
I have to do an extra loop to reach 100 miles which I like to do in the first 6 hours. This means I then have 18 hours at one loop per hour and voila, 100 miles. Simples eh? Well no, not quite.
I'm after my third 100 mile G24 in a row. there's no reason I can't manage using my tried and tested method. I start off doing 45 minute laps, a bit quicker than my planned 50 minute laps but it's okay, I'll settle for this just now.
Lynne is supporting alone and is surprised to see me every 45 minutes. I chat with various runners, we support and encourage each other around the course. The midges are out in force, especially at the half way water station. I drink water with a sprinkling of midges at this station every lap to stay hydrated. Back at the camper, I have some coke and a snack which will keep me going till around 1730 when I'll have something more substantial to eat.
All is going to plan, at 1720 I have completed 7 laps and stop at the van. I have soup, a tuna sandwich and coke before setting off again. It's 1740 which means I now have a 20 minute buffer to the hour. One lap an hour takes me to the target of 100 miles.
The sun goes down fighting, giving a magnificent glow on Loch Morlich and the surrounding forest. On the next lap, I'll take my head torch as I don't want to get caught out without a beam in the dark. I'm averaging around 55 minute laps and keep telling myself to slow it down a bit, take some slower laps, take a breather.
On the dusk round I chat with another runner from Aberdeenshire, commenting on how we both leave our head torches off till the very last minute. The two mile checkpoint has become midge Armageddon, the marquee is lit where thousands of the blighters are swarming, kudos to the marshals who take it in shifts and endure the biting to see to the runners.
My head is not in a good place, Lynne has retreated inside the camper due to the midge. It looks comfortable and cosy, I begin to wish I was in the 12 hour race instead so I can wash up, have a beer and get a good nights sleep. This thought is very tempting but I continue on knowing if I get into the early hours of the morning I have broken the back of the race and should get it done.
After lap 11 it's time for more soup and pick at some snacks. Lynne is going to turn in which is fine by me, she is driving tomorrow. We lay out all I will need through the night, I'll knock on the door first light for breakfast.
This paragraph is about bodily functions, so if you're eating or squeamish, jump to the next paragraph. The twelves are finishing up, loud music is playing from the party tent which keeps everyone going. I'm not feeling too good and take the opportunity to visit the portaloo. Off I go on lap 14, still not 100 percent but trying to convince myself all is well. I've slowed down a lot on this lap, I concentrate on reaching the half way checkpoint so I can have a sip of water. I usually run / walk the uphill section but this time I'm forced to walk it. At the top I can't get running again, then with minimal warning I throw up at the side of the track. It happens so fast I am shocked, I have never been sick at any race, even outwith running I do all I can to prevent being sick. I shuffle and walk off the hill and back to the camper. I look at what I have been eating, no wonder I've managed to decorate the heather. Take a plastic bag, put in broccoli and Stilton soup, Tuna sandwiches, quorn mini eggs, boiled eggs, quorn sausages, mini chocolate rolls, coke and milk. Shoogle the mix together for the next 12 hours then pour it over the heather. How not to fuel an ultra marathon.
I sit at the camper awning - cold, shivering and feeling quite demoralised. I look at my mud covered calf muscles, peppered with midges they begin to spasm in the torch light. The time buffer I have built up is ebbing away. Right, I can sit here feeling sorry for myself or I can attempt to keep going. I can't stomach any food or coke so I take a drink of water, change my top and put on a rain jacket for an extra layer. I'm going to walk a round to see how long it takes. I still have a 40 minute buffer to the hour so off I go on lap 15 in an attempt to rescue my race. It's a steady walk, all the sections I've been running seem to take forever. I try to run but feel completely washed out, it's no use, keep walking. On walking up the hill I make my decision, I'm stopping after this lap. At the 2 mile water station I collect my cup and walk on after thanking the marshals. I walk the downhill too, stumbling and almost going over my ankle. I reach the camper and look at my watch, 1 hour 10 minutes to walk a lap but I don't have the energy for this. The buffer has been cut to 20 minutes, I'm still on track for 100 miles but I need to fuel it. I look at the spread of food but can't stomach any of it.
My mind is made up, I walk over the finish line to complete lap 15 and total 60 miles. Gavin and Bill are at the finish who ask if I want to take a seat or take a sleep to recover before deciding to withdraw. Thanks guys but my mind is made up, my number is put into the fire, I thank the timing marshals and return to the van.
I'm back at the finish, ready to cheer the runners around the short lap. This has to be the best finish to any running race on the planet. Again and again the runners are cheered as they complete the short lap. 24 hour runners arrive to the air horn as they complete 100 miles and join in the madness that is the short lap. Some runners are fast, some walking, some limping but all have done their bit to reach this ending. At 1200 the air horn blasts an end to the Glenmore 24 2016.
So, am I disappointed with my result? Not in the slightest. The advantage of the Glenmore 12 and 24 races is entrants can run as much or as little as they like, it's entirely up to the runner what distance they want to complete. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone wanting to do their first ultra which just happens to be easy on the support. I'll take my 60 miles, thank you very much.
I'd like to thank BAM racing and all the volunteers, marshals and medic who helped make this happen, a unique event in the Cairngorms. Roll on next year, hopefully I'll get another 100 then.
Mon 3, Sat/Sun 60. Weekly total 63 miles.