And so closes 2015 from a racing perspective. I say racing as that is what I did in this race. I tried my hardest and am very proud of my efforts. 8 weeks ago today I was lying on the couch in a state of stiffness so bad that the coroner would have declared rigor-mortis weere it not for my shallow breathing. The recovery since G24 has been infinitely better than I expected, and so much so that I decided to go out at try to take this race on. Originally, I had entered GO33 as a kind of end-of-season send off.
Of course, there was the small matter of Robert and Rob on hand to see that not only would I have to go harder than ever before, and in the end they just had too much for me on the day.
Let’s start in the middle of the run. Coming out of Strathyre is the second of the 3 main ascents on this challenging course. I was running alongside Rob Sinclair, he’d been ghosting me for a few miles down to Lochearnhead but after the winding cycle path we got to chatting. I’ll call two things now; 1) he is an absolute gem of a fella and I am delighted to have made his acquintance, 2) if he wants to, he will do some serious damage in ultras as he is exceptionally talented.
But, I digress, Rob and I ran together for a good 13+ miles, sharing stories and chatting. He told me to move ahead anytime I felt like it, little did he know I was suffering. My right leg was tighter than the Celtic board in the early 1980s and my hamstring, calf and quad were taking turns to yelp at me. In particular, my calf protested everytime I tried to increase pace or effort on hills.
The hill at Strathyre was when it sparked worst, I winced and let Rob run on. He ascended like how angels do when they are transported via the lightbeam to heaven, meanwhile, I imagined that I was running up the hill like an epileptic Orc chasing after a good guy. The reality was nowhere near that of course, I actually ascended this hill about 2 mins quicker than the previous year. I then caught Rob on the descent as I tried to put in an effort to get back onside in the race.
Meanwhile, Enthusiasm’s Davie Gow – #teampyllon buddy and good friend – was out and about the course relaying information to us. We were over 5 mins down on Robert Turner who’d gone hard to open up a massive, and ultimately unbeatable, lead. It would appear he wouldn’t be letting this one slip.
As I begun the ascent back up towards the viaduct, about 10 miles from home, and on the steep cycle path I stopped to, well, pee, and Rob ran away from me. Our chat had revealed this to be his first ultra so I dug in to try and close the gap as best I could.
Nearing the final checkpoint, about 4 miles from home, I cut the gap on to about 15 seconds. After crossing the road I pushed as hard as I could for a KM: let’s see what he had. I ran a 3:50 km, and he opened the gap! F*** that. Genuinely, I said that out loud. With the challenges I had been facing in my right side there was no way I could hammer out that pace.
Incredible though that pace was, Boab Turner was way up ahead securing the course record in a sensational time of 3:36 and change. He now holds the honour of the CR both ways. It was genuinely nice to see him come back from his two DNFs at Glasgow to Edinburgh and Clydestride this year. He’s a quality horse and when fit takes a fair bit of beating over these distances. I hope to see him on a start line of some big races next year.
Rob meanwhile popped in for 2nd place at around 3:43, some 3 minutes ahead of me. What pleased me most about this run was the fact that I had a race plan that would have me round in 6:58 /mi average and I did 6:59 /mi. I matched the old CR and whilst I fell short of the win, I had to face a level of adversity and angst that I hadn’t had to hitherto in 2015. That is evidenced in the fact that I am stiffer than a Tory voting for tax credit cuts two days after the race.
Upon reflection, the schedule since July for me has been hectic and this was maybe one big effort too many. On one hand I ran almost exactly as planned from a numbers point of view but quite far off from a how I expected to feel. I had hoped to have a tank to dig into if I had to push the pace, instead, I had to use that contingency to hit the base race plan.
And in many ways, that makes the result all the more pleasing. 3rd place and another podium.
Well, that’s 2015’s racing done. A couple of nice wins, a brilliant day with #teamvambo and a whole heap of incredible memories.
There’s so many people I could mention and thank, but I’ll keep the GO33 thanks to a minimum (of sorts). See you all on a trail sometime soon.
- Gerry C, thanks for the chat, the runs together and the lifts all year
- TeamPyllon, for the encouragement, the support and relentless banter
- TeamSub4 for the same reasons as above
- BaM Racing, for services to racing in Scotland all year round. You have been very kind to me this year. Blessed to have your races available to me and others
- Charlotte Black, stunning win as first lady
- To every person who gave up their time to so that we could all have fun on the trails
- And congrats to every person who had the guts to start the race, regardless of the outcome