Glen Lyon Ultra – 2017

6th May 2017

30 miles with 4,395ft of ascent

Pre-Race

We stayed at a beautiful AirB&B slap bang in the middle of Loch Tay so we had lovely views from the bay windows, but most of our evening was spent watching the lambs in the field across the path – so funny!

Pizza Hut eaten, kit sorted, chess played – It was now time for bed.

Just to clarify, the Pizza Hut was amazing!

I felt super relaxed about this race going it, never gave myself any pressure and I think that helped because I didn’t feel nervous a in the days leading up to it and also the day itself, I was just keen to get out there running on such a beautiful day.

Morning view from the room

Luckily I’m used to hot races now coming off TransGranCanaria and the CCC which were both roasting, so I was happy about the weather.

Parking, toilet and registration was flawless, big thanks to BAM Racing for putting on another amazing race with great organisation.

The iconic dam at the start of Loch Lyon

I chatted to a few people around the start areas before returning back to the car to get sorted. Double checked the bag, pinned my number on my shorts and applied generous amounts of sun cream to Kirstys amusement (I suppose its better than Cooking Oil).

The race

First loop of 8:

I was stood with Katie and Marc at the briefing and had a little chat with them before we were off. Looking back I think I started to far back but always seem to do this in races and makes it hard work to get by sometimes. Vicky said I was about 10/20 from the back.

The initial climb at the start takes you here

The first hill came within 5 minutes and I ran as much as possible without tiring myself out, on the descent in towards the side of Loch Lyon I ran pretty fast downhill and made up a fair few places.

Loch Lyon is loooongg

There was about 7/8 miles until the first checkpoint which I figured would be halfway around the loch, I was looking forward to seeing Andrew and Libby there for some water. The day was really warm and I was drinking quite a lot but not eating much this early on. The miles ticked by quite quickly and a persevered in my quest of maintaining a nice strong pace.

First of four/five river crossings was wonderful! It was very refreshing in the cool water, I think even one of them was just above my knees – Lovely!

I came into the checkpoint to see all the cheery marshals there including Andrew & Libby. Got my water bottled refilled, had a jelly baby and headed back out. The route carried on following the loch around the other side back to the start.

Trying to be cool

This first half of the route was very runnable so it was difficult to find an excuse to walk at all. I normally love a good excuse to walk but instead just carried on at a quick pace. I overtook a few folk and just before we reached the dam to cross which takes you back to the start. Just before the dam I got chatting with a guy who was doing his first ultra! I was super excited for him as it was a great choice (so far) and amazing weather, I hope you got on well Mikey?

16 miles in – Halfway! – Photo thanks to FishyGordon

Coming into the second checkpoint (also the start and finish) was excellent to see familiar faces and get all I needed from Vicky. Instead of having a drop bag I thought just having a little bag with some food, drink and waterproof gear (HA) in would do the trick. I never needed to change anything, socks and shoes were dry from the heat and everything felt good. If anything I should have dumped my windproof and buffs from my pack because it was so warm. For food I took 2 packets of Haribo and a Trek bar with some Dr Pepper – Lovely mix!

Second loop of 8:

Okay so this section headed up a hill and down the other side to the next checkpoint – This 4 mile section was an out and back as this would prove to be the final 4 miles of the race later on.

Near the top of the hill (road) you can see the dam in the distance

Going up the hill initially was really nice because it gave me a chance to relax and take in the surroundings. Coming down the other side of the hill was fun as always, putting the pedal down and see how fast I can go until I came into the Checkpoint (around 21 miles in) where I saw Lois and some other marshals helping out. I topped up my bottle and was on my merry way.

Arriving in the checkpoint – Photo thanks to Lois Simpson

The loop was coming up now, you ran along the glen quite high up before take a nice sharp descent down towards a farm area, follow the glen back along the low path before climbing back up to the same checkpoint again and finishing the race.

I was playing a yo-yo game with a guy near me who kept running the hills and I just walked because I was tired so he kept passing me on those. I tried to make some conversation but don’t think he was in the mood for it.

Beautiful scenery looking towards Beinn Challuim

There was a really cute little lamb following a guy who must have pulled out as he was walking towards us. It was following him looking for its mother, such a shame! I got a photo of it and hopefully it found its mum in the end.

“Baaaaaaaaaaa”

The descent towards the farm was coming up, all the runners were pretty spaced out now but you could see the route way in the distance. It was really warm and I had been guzzling my water. I ran hard on the descent to lose that guy putting some good distance between us.

The flat section along the glen was very pretty, but I was struggling now as I hadn’t much water so struggled taking my Trek Mini Chunks because their best with water, and my Wispa had turned into one melted mush. I kept ticking people off along this low section before the final climb came. What a relief this was!

“Moooooooooo”

I’d put my headphones in now and was being treated to some Little Mix and some 2Pac – Weird!

The highlight was definitely Pitbull and Shakira (Who’d have thought), really got me back in the mood as I powered up into the checkpoint at mile 27 to see Lois and crew again. I didn’t hang around here and just kept walking up.

Going up the hill a few runners were coming the other way just out on their second loop now so we all called to each other exchanging ‘Well dones’ which was nice. Also saw Helen sweeping so got another well done too! I was really keen to start high fiving but not sure how people would react to that, I’ll save that for another race maybe?

By the top of the hill it was only 2 miles left so I did a quick stride because I thought I was shuffling along now and needed to get in some quick legs for the final descent. It didn’t go great but the final downhill 2 miles were so much fun!! I ran pretty hard and just enjoyed it because you can see the finish from the top. I passed a few more folk coming down and just before the finish Des was in front of me. He started to walk before the final 500m finish so I shouted on him to keep running and he screamed but carried on running.

Coming into the finish – Photo thanks to FishyGordon

Coming into the finish – Photo thanks to FishyGordon

The finish

I finished in 16th place with a time of 5:10:44 – Pretty chuffed with that for a hot and hilly 50km – phew!!

Pretending I have good form – Thanks to Vicky

Super Happy now! – Thanks to Vicky

Overall I had a great time at this race, it seemed like everything aligned and I had a good race, nutrition was on point, my support crew (Vicky) was fantastic, the views were amazing and the marshals did a great job and were always cheery full of smiles – Huge thanks to BAM Racing for putting on such a great event in a beautiful part of the country.

I’d like to point out another thanks to Sarah from Missing Link Coaching who has been coaching me since September last year and I think with her workouts I am getting stronger and they’ve been beneficial, certainly the smarter training approach has kept me injury free for a while now. So huge thanks to the boss for taking the time to work with me on training plans and keep up the support and encouragement!

At the finish with a cupcake

Excellent goodies and great value for money

Now onto the Lakeland 100 in July!

Thank you all for reading.

 

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