Glenmore 24 – 12 Hour Race
2nd September 2017
Miles Ran: 45.984
8th of 16 Females
17th of 34 Runners
The Glenmore 24 event is one of the Scottish running scene’s hidden gems. Once a year, usually on the first weekend in September, a hayfield near the shores of Loch Morlich near Aviemore is transformed into a festival of ultra-running madness. Since it was launched in 2011 with 27 runners, BAM Racing have grown this event into a three-day spectacle with a Friday night themed party, 24 hours of beautiful trail running, and then a prize giving where every runners achievements are acknowledged.
You can choose to participate in the 12 hour event, which takes place from Noon until Midnight on the Saturday, the 24 hour run which starts at Noon on the Saturday, or you can find three friends and enter a team of four into the 24 hour relay. Camping in the Hayfield is free, and organised with military precision by Cat, Mike, Bill and their team of marshalls, and you’re allowed a friend to come and support/bully you at basecamp in the Hayfield throughout the event.
I ran the 12 hour event in 2014 and found the looped format a big challenge mentally. I distinctly remember getting very bored as soon as it got dark, and I really struggled with motivation to keep going towards a finish-line which didn’t exist. In the awful wet conditions of 2014 I managed 51.8 miles, and was quite happy to make that my one and only appearance on a looped ultra starting line. Time is the greatest healer, however, and for some reason last December when the events opened for entry, I decided that in 2017 I would give it another shot. For all the challenges of the run, the event itself is so enjoyable that I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun.
As it happened, I didn’t have the greatest day. I’m simply not trained for this length of running at the moment, and there’s only so far you can rely on base fitness and muscle memory. Predictably, I happily trotted the 4 mile loop hitting marathon distance in about 5 hours, was able to keep on pushing until 50k where things started to unravel, and then accepted that the wheels had truly come off my wagon and I was looking at walking for the rest of the event.
That was ok – I truly didn’t mind. I enjoyed a social lap with my Stonehaven friend Vikki who I hadn’t seen in months, I walked a lap with the Race Medics, one of whom was brand new to ultramarathon medicine and learned a lot from this weekend of madness, and I walked a final lap by myself in the darkness which gave me some time to reflect on what was going on.
“If you don’t want to do it, then don’t do it”
It wasn’t a case of my body failing me, but to a certain extent it’s me failing my body. On the other hand, life in 2017 has been a tremendous challenge; dealing with bereavement, living apart from my husband, the associated constant weekend travel to see each other, moving house, selling a house, a new job, and an increase in work travel too. Those are just the big things. There are a plethora of other micro-stresses which have been wearing me down and as a result I just haven’t been looking after myself in the same way that I used to. Recently my self-care strategy has been: “If you don’t want to do it, then don’t do it. If you are not going to enjoy this thing, go and do something you will enjoy instead”, which has been beneficial to my mental health, but not so much to my physical health. I really enjoy beer and burritos with friends. I don’t enjoy isolating myself from my new friends to go and train in the rain. Do you see where this is going?
A combination of putting on a noticeable bit of weight and not training for long distance carrying that extra weight (i.e 6hrs plus of running) meant that my core simply collapsed on me, making running absolute agony after a point. My legs felt reasonable, but my stomach muscles felt like they were splitting apart and my under-trained core muscles simply gave up. Let this be a lesson to all of us about remembering that building a strong ultra-runner starts with building a strong core – it’s the central system that literally ties us together and should never be neglected.
So with one more race this year on my calendar, the Chicago Marathon, I know what I need to do to enjoy this race as much as I can. A little bit of core work every day and perhaps a little less beer, and then when I get back from America, I can (once again) start thinking about how I get back to being the strong ultra-runner I was a couple of years ago.
For now, please enjoy some pictures I took on my sunset lap of the course. The sun shone all day and the weather was truly gorgeous – what a difference from 2014!