Well 2020 kick started really well training had been very consistent and the race calendar was looking very healthy. 2019 was a poor year for myself as injury and a hernia operation held me back from training so 2020 was going to be a bit of a trial and error year and figure out what needed working on.
D33 was the first race up and has been my kick off race for the season for the past 5/6 years or so. March 2020 covid restrictions were due to kick in the week after the race so we were fortunate that the race crew were able to host the race.
With 2019’s race in the back of my mind the plan was to run well within my capabilities and just finish a race. However I seemed to run well at the start and was hold very decent pace by my standards and was still managing to have a good yap with Emma Roberts for a good part of the first half. At the half way point I picked up my replacement bottle turned with very little time lost and had the finish as my focus. During the run I managed to bag an estimated marathon PB of 3:22 however the miles form 24 onwards were getting slower and I was starting to feel the faster start. I came into Duthie park with a sprint on only to find out that the finish was an extra couples of mins away, my son Callan met me and ran the last couple of hundred metres which always puts a smile back on my face, I finished my first ultra since oct 2018 and also PB on the course by 9mins with a time 4:22:38.
I also had quite a few athletes I coach from evolve running on the course which was great to see each of them finish and a few of them this was ultra No 1 in the bag.
Covid restriction put a stop to many other races so the summer was spent with Gav of Tay&Ram in the hills – Cairngorms bashing and tackling the easterly Munro’s as part of a plan to get hill fit. On top of this working from home also gave me an opportunity to run through lunchtimes and work on some speed, this was great as running through the day was a bit of a treat from sitting at the home on the computer.
The next race which was planned to go ahead was the 2nd race from the CGM crew the Bennachie Ultra, a relatively new race on the Ultra scene with this being its second year of being held. My plan was simple this was not an A- Race, so just get around and I thought quite reservedly that 6 hours would be a decent hill training run. On the lead up to the race it now seemed that there may not be many races for the year and a change of mind to and that I might just give it a good crack with that my race mind set came into play. Little did I know that the planned 6 hours I put as my estimation meant that the we would be placed in wave based on my estimation. The race course was in great condition for the time of year and tried to run easy for the first half as I knew the second half with the climbing would need be well considered. I passed many of the earlier wave runs and think I passed them all by mile 18/19 and had the last 12-13 miles pretty much the only person I saw was Robbie Simpson who overtook me on the downhill section form Oxen Cragg to the finish, this last 12 miles it was difficult to know if I was running well or not in relation to the race. I was delighted to see the finish in a time of 4:50mins (2nd place Vet over 40 was a pleasant surprise too), I really felt I had more in the legs at the finish and was looking forward Speyside way race. Bennachie ultra was a really well organised event, great location and course.
Speyside way Ultra was next, this was one I had been looking forward too, the race organisers with all the local restrictions etc. must have had a rough time getting this one over the line but from a runner’s perspective it was seamless no issues whatsoever. This time I selected my best estimated run time and was placed with the correct wave based on my estimated time and we were set off in the darkness of the early morning from Craggenmore distillery. The course was wet, a bit slippy underfoot during the trail sections and maybe my choice of road shoes wasn’t the best idea. By the time I got to Craigellachie the headtorch was now in the race pack. The climb over Ben Aigen seemed to go well and was cheered up by Sharon Hassan at middle earth who played Happy birthday on her fiddle.
The 18.5 mile point I slightly up on my planned time so all seemed to be going well, I was fuelling every 30-40 mins and taking on approx. 80gms an hour of carbs to help sustain my effort, the road section to Fochabers was slick with no issues and was really enjoying the race until the 33 mile point where I went the wrong way or as we ex-military say ‘’Navigationally Embarrassed’’ and this seemed to throw me off just a bit. Once I was back on track with five miles to go I took my first walking break and this was the start of my walk run strategy as I was starting to cramp up! The signs to Buckpool and Buckie were a welcome sight, the last stretch to the finish I had to focus on getting back running consistently for a strong finish as a PB was on the cards. It was great to see some race supporters cheering and clapping through on the last few turns before the finish and I tipped over the line with a PB of 7 mins in a time of 5:14:16, 11th overall and a 3rd place veteran.
The typical feel of catching up before and after the races has gone and miss the banter that normally goes along with catch up with fellow ultra dafties but hopefully sometime soon normal service will resume – in the meantime happy training and racing!
Race gear & Nutrition
D33 Bennachie Ultra Speyside Way
Salomon Vest Salomon Vest Salomon Vest
Salomon Sense shorts Salomon Sense shorts Nike Shorts
Rockay Razer Socks Rockay Razer Socks Rockay Razer Socks
Suunto Baro 9 Suunto Baro 9 Suunto Baro 9
Hoka Carbon X Salomon Sense 7 trail Brooks Hyperion
Spring Energy Gels Spring Energy Gels Spring Energy Gels
Maurten 80 mix Maurten 40 mix Maurten 40 mix
Precision Hydration 500 mix Petzl Nao head torch