I’m about 9 hours out from the start of my biggest challenge yet, the 72 mile Great Glen Ultra. This has been my big goal for the year with all of my races so far being, in theory, training runs. At the moment I’m feeling apprehensive and nervous, but also bubbling over with excitement as I can’t wait to see what happens in the 24 hours after I leave Fort William and head North East up the Great Glen Way.
On the other hand I can honestly say I’ve never started a race feeling so out of shape. I’m a stone heavier than I was in March for the D33, I’ve really struggled to recover from the Cateran 55 and I haven’t actually trained consistently since March. I always knew that this would be a difficult year to fit my training around but I thought I’d get around it one way or the other. It turns out that ‘getting around it’ has meant…not doing very much. However, I put in a tremendous amount of work at the start of the year with a lot of miles going into the bank. I hope that tonight and tomorrow I can make one last big withdrawal and power through the 72 miles on muscle memory and heart, if not my legs.
Today I’ve had the day off work and spent the time resting, blethering on the internet and packing up my drop bags. There are 6 drop bag stations at roughly 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 miles, however I’ve seen three different sets of numbers of where the check points are, with the later ones being particularly different from what is listed in the race briefing. I’m trying to be a relaxed and cool ultra runner about this, but the fact I don’t know whether the final check point is at 59, 60 or 64 miles is stressing me out. At that point in the race, 5 miles will be a long, LONG way.
There is a strange sense of calm setting in though as I know that all this is completely out of my control. All I need to do is drive to Fort William safely and show up to the race briefing and start running at 1am. I know I can gut it out through the toughest of times and that I’ll get to the finish eventually. I think a good estimate for a finish for me would be between 18 and 20 hours, but it’s really hard to predict. It’s a brand new race with no previous results to study or performances to compare, so a lot of this is complete guesswork.
The first 30 miles are relatively flat, but as you can see above there are some cruel ascents and descents towards the end of the race which will be rather torturous I think. I’ve got some whiskey in my final drop bag though which will be a good incentive to keep moving.
If you are interested in following the race, there is a website which will be updated with splits when internet is available. It might not be updated in live race time, but they will do what they can when they get the information – I’m number 18: http://racesplitter.com/races/4A04BEEA5 (edit – link removed as no longer live)
Well, it’s time to go. Victory is waiting for me out there on the trail and some exciting new horizons await. Onwards!