The Deer Runner

The Deer Runner

Monday, 15 October 2018


I’m not sure if blogs are as popular as they once were and with the hits on my introverted un-promoted musings already low, I was in two minds whether to resurrect this or not. Anyway, I am on holiday and with some time to spare, I’ll give some updates on my ultra running escapades albeit with one reader missing.

As I write this I’m sitting indoors, the windblown rain is cascading down the window. Usually I’d be out on the trails with the sun beating down, soaking up the southern French scenery. We’re here during Autumn for the second year in a row. We’ve been lucky with the weather so far but with two days to go, wind and rain has moved in. My favourite trail run, a 13 mile round trip to Naudech was postponed due to mist, it’s now cancelled due to the storm, I won’t be at one of my favourite running places looking down on the valley this year. In case you are wondering, my blog picture was taken at Naudech during 2011.

So where have I been, where am I at and where am I going?

Last year I had a new running partner, I began training with Lynne, we entered a couple of events together. 60 miles at Glenmore 24 and the Tunnel Trail Run at Peebles where we ran together, Lynne upping her mileage, me strengthening my ankle.

As my ankle recovered I went back to ultra events, Jedburgh and Glenogle to finish off the year.

I’ve not completed many long distance runs. It’s easy to look back and forget the dedication and training to complete two West Highland Way’s and one Cateran 110. There were DNF’s as well but the same amount of work went onto them as well as the successful finishes.

Lynne, Skye and various other friends and family supported me over these long distance attempts of course but there was one person who knew me better than the rest. She knew her “Loon” inside out, was there alert, diligent and ready at every checkpoint at every long distance race including the demanding Cateran 110, and I don’t mean demanding for the runner but demanding for the crew.

My mum took to ultra crewing like a duck to water, catering and welfare was a speciality, even dished out the boot of a car. She was a hard working woman, was married to a self employed husband and selflessly brought up five boys.

Heather was good hearted and enjoyed crewing my ultras, having a sixth sense and knowing what was required, from a change of socks to a couple of pain killers. The West Highland Way 2016 was the last event my mum crewed, a disappointing DNF at Glencoe where she knew her loon had had enough and was going to pull out.

And now to December, a dark period of time and one of the reasons I’ve left my blog for so long.

My mother lived life to the full despite the cancer diagnosis. She had successive operations and always bounced back, her cheery and upbeat outlook in life seeing her through.

An admission to hospital where an operation was required, business as usual we thought, we were used to Heather taking things in her stride, thinking she would be out and back on her feet in no time.

It wasn’t to be, on 31st December we lost the most kind hearted, generous, good natured, fun loving and caring person in the world.

2018, a year to recover from shock. I entered my usual familiar ultras, the D33, Fling, Cateran, Great Glen and G24. I didn’t run any of the races particularly well but was just happy to be fit enough to complete them, no matter what the time. I also crewed Wilson on his second successful completion of the West Highland Way.

Dramathon, Jedburgh and Glen Ogle on consecutive weekends will finish 2018 and leave a few months of winter training before a new season.

Decisions, decisions. The 2019 D33 has the option of D99, a farewell gesture from the race organisers, is the longest ultra race in Scotland. Then there’s the Stupid double, a 133 mile run to be completed within 31 hours. I’m holding back before entering this, I’ll decide towards the end of the year which race to enter depending on how my training is going.

Once again, I’m not entering the WHW. I have my eye on a race right here in southern France. The Occitane 6666 is a mountainous 72 mile ultra with 7,000 meters of climb. Held in June, I’m apprehensive due to the terrain and heat, both of which I’ve experienced while running in these parts. Participating in this one will be a logistical challenge due to limited holidays, flights etc.

What about my ultimate ambition? East to West Scotland remains on my wish list but don’t know if I’ll ever be fit enough. Family holidays take precedence over this so I hope it doesn’t become a pipe dream.

It’s time to bring this post to a close. I started this Blog back in 2011, partly to chart my first West Highland Way race and partly to allow my friends and family to follow my training and running adventures. My folks would diligently follow my posts, remarking on how well (or bad) things were going, the scenery and sometimes the posts involving family.

This post was always hanging over me, reminding me to pay tribute to my mother, just as I had to my father in 2015. So here it is, posted in my blog forever, I love you mum.

The Deer Runner.

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