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Tag: xodus ythan challenge

Ythan Challenge 2013 – RACE REPORT

20130616_191302Xodus Ythan Challenge 16th June 2013

Chip Time: 1hr 18m 31s
235th/470 Finishers
23rd/119 Senior Females
39th/179 Females

For the first time in my three runnings of this race, we were greeted with glorious sunshine when we arrived at the Meadows Sports Centre in Ellon. It was a gorgeous day for running a race, especially one which involved a refreshing dip in the River Ythan and stomping through mucky forests.


Kynon and I arrived to register at about 10am and were once again pleased with the smooth operations in place. I was especially glad to receive a small t-shirt this year! I have never worn last year’s as it was far too large, but I particularly like the design of the 2013 tshirt so I’ll be wearing this a lot.


We went straight back out into the sunshine and met up with lots of friends. There was a big contingent from Stonehaven Running Club and plenty of other well known faces. I was in the second wave with Kate and a couple of the other girls, but Kynon was in the 3rd wave much to his displeasure. I have no idea how they work out the seedings for the corrals in this race; it seems inconsistent as Kynon’s 10k PB and previous Ythan Challenge times are better than mine, but he was seeded slower.


The race was a prompt start at 11am and the first wave swept off to tumultuous applause. Five minutes later it was my time to go and we were  soon gallavanting across the playing fields and down the hill to the riverside. The course followed exactly the same format as the last two years – approximately 2.5 miles of easy running by the river, mainly on tarmac or gravel, 2.5 miles of antics in the forest of the Esslemont Estate, and then 2.5 miles on the same route back to the sports ground with a few final obstacles in full view of the spectators to enjoy.

The riverside path was hot and uncomfortable. I took it reasonably easy as I had 16 miles in my legs from the day before and I didn’t want to go off too fast and hurt myself. The sun was beating down and there was no breeze at all – the river itself was very inviting and I looked forward to the dunking we’d get soon. There were lots of people out and enjoying the sunshine so the were plenty of cheers and encouragement as we headed off to the private estate and the obstacles that awaited.

We entered the forest and first up was a cargo net. This caused no problems other than my ill-advised choice of hair do – a bun on the top of my head which kept getting tangled. In amongst more forest running there were haybales to vault, tree trunks to hurdle and steep slopes to scramble. The descent to the Bog Of Doom followed and I gleefully leapt in and used the high-knees technique to safely and quickly traverse to the other side. It had been beautifully cultivated as usual and the thick, black, smelly mud came up to my knees.

With no hesitation at all it was straight in to the river for a wade/swim of about 25 ft upstream. The water was deliciously cool and washed all the mud off quickly as it came up to my tummy. After pulling ourselves out we had another short run before jumping back into the river again for a longer wade through water which was only knee deep. This was fine apart from the gravel stirred up by competitors which was finding its way into my shoes…

After leaving the water we ran along the river where thankfully last year’s cargo net obstacle had been left out. This caused a huge bottle neck and left runners cold and wet as they waited up to 10 minutes to take their turn. Instead there was a maze marked with tape in amongst labyrinthine pine trees, more haybales, tires, scrambly hills, haybales…haybales etc. I enjoyed the haybales as I’m tall, so traversing them is relatively easy as long as I jump up twisting and roll over on my back. Others of more shorter stature   struggled with upper body exhaustion by the end of the race after hauling themselves up and over.

It felt like there were less obstacles than last year and that the section passed quicker. All too soon we were back on the road back to Ellon and back in the hot sunshine; it really was a gorgeous day and I was glad I had sunscreen on. I was able to pick up the pace on my return journey and kept under 9 minute miles whilst overtaking a few. In the last mile the fastest runners from the heat behind me caught me and I wondered how Kynon was getting on…

vicki2picture by Vicki Shanks

I was pleased to finally get back to the Meadows and had saved some energy for the final tasks. Like last year it involved climbing up and down embankments on tired legs and vaulting more haybales but this time with an audience.

vicki1Picture by Vicki Shanks

In the final meters of the race I spotted Ali on the sidelines hollering “First Stonehaven Lady home! G on, you can take him!” referring to the man a few meters in front of me. What the hell; I decided to be an asshole and put the foot on the gas and overtook him, but he put up a good fight and we accelerated across the line together laughing as we finished.


There was a great spread of food available and I picked up cereal bars, fruit, juice and water and staggered away whilst scoffing my spoils. I caught the announcer saying Kynon’s name and was surprised to see he had finished only minutes behind me in a time of 1hr 16 – two minutes faster than me! He had made up so much time on the course even though his wave started five minutes after mine that he was almost on my heels at the finish.

400698_10151675175384704_407271498_npicture by Vicki Shanks

We settled down in the sun and cheered on the rest of our friends as they came in one by one.

20130616_123624Including Rachel

20130616_124233…and Ronnie.




Another stellar day out from the Ythan Challenge. This remains one of my favourite races in the North East and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes an adventure. It’s extremely well organised and brilliant value for money. Set a note in your calendars to start looking out for entries in January – it usually sells out within hours on the day it opens.

We headed home and enjoyed the rest of our day drinking beer by the harbour – not a bad way to spend a Sunday at all.


Xodus Ythan Challenge 2012 – RACE REPORT

Thank you for all your kind comments and emails regarding my last post, my 2012 West Highland Way Race report! I love to hear from readers and positive feedback is always nice to get. I love to write about running and the way it make me feel, and I’m so pleased that my reports seem to strike a chord with so many of you. Incidentally, today I have a guest blog on Sarah Rooftops on why it is I actually love running, so why not head on over and take a look?

This weekend sees the anniversary of my 1st Half Marathon, Stonehaven, and I’m celebrating that by, well; doing it again! Lets hope the weather is a bit more reasonable this year; it’s forcast for light rain and 14C which sounds like PB weather to me. I’ve been training a lot around Stonehaven recently and I feel confident I’m ready to destroy the course’s notorious hills.

I’m still catching up after my time away, so today for you I have my race report from the 2012 Xodus Ythan Challenge, which actually took place on the 17th of June.Enjoy!

Xodus Ythan Challenge
17th June 2012

1hr 20 minutes 11 seconds
Place: 228/432
Gender: 42/163
Category: 26/105

This was my second attempt at the popular multi-terrain event, the Ythan Challenge. I enjoyed the race so much last year, that I had an alert set in my calendar when entries opened so that I could have the best possible chance to secure a place. It was just as well as after the race opened at 12pm it only took four hours to sell out of all 500 places!

Kynon had managed to secure a place at the last minute through a withdrawal, and I also knew I’d be seeing Niall, Rachel, Ian and Donna, and various other Fetchies at the starting line. When I collected my bib I was somewhat surprised to see I had been placed in the slowest wave! At first I was a bit disappointed, but then I realised I could place myself right on the starting line and have some fun running an agressive race from the front for a change.

Kynon and Rachel were allocated spots in faster waves so headed out before Niall and I who were both in the fourth and final wave. It was frustrating having to wait for our turn! The weather was perfect but it was still a little chilly – a change from last year when we ran in monsoon conditions.

When the starting horn went I flew away with the front starters. I knew that we’d have at least a 2.5 mile run before any major obstacles so I wanted to make up any future time losses by being speedy here. The route took us out of the Meadows playing fields and down towards the Ythan River, where it followed a path for about a mile before crossing over to the other side via a bridge and two steep embankments.

I was having fun running up at the front tightly in a little pack of speedy people. By the 2k mark we were already overtaking the slower runners from the previous wave, although the narrow path made this difficult. At 2.5 miles we entered the Esslemont Estate and plunged into the forest – there was a water stop here which I didn’t need to use so I overtook a large amount of slower runners here too. I was on the heels of a skinny fast guy in a University of Aberdeen Athletics Club kit and I decided that he would be my pacer – he looked like he really didn’t belong in the bottom wave either!

The first obstacles were straight forward – haybales, cargo nets, fallen trees. There were then some steep scrambling climbs up and down the banks of the Ythan, with punishing haybales to clamber over at the top just as your legs were giving out! I was able to swiftly power through the Bog of Doom without much trouble – last year taught me that fast high knees and not stopping were the answer. As last year, we went straight in to the river at this point, and plunged right up to chest level which took my breath away. Out of the river and then up and down another hill, before going back in again this time for a long slog up the river in knee high water. I really wanted to pass some people here but also didn’t want to be an asshole…but they were in my way! My attempts at slying overtaking were in vain however, as a couple of hundred meters after leaving the river I found myself in a huge queue to ascend a cargo net – which took TEN MINUTES to get to! By the time I climbed over I was shivering and my heart rate had dropped considerably.

None the less I was able to push on in good time and continued to overtake for the rest of the race. I found the haybales easy to hurdle by using a jump and roll technique, and none of the other obstacles caused any great problems. I had hit my shinbone hard coming out of the river though and a giant egg was forming under my calf sleeve, and I had two nicely scuffed knees from scraping the ground under the cargo net.

Before I knew it the fun was over and I was heading back to town for another 2.5 mile run. I really flew along the flat path here and felt very strong throughout – I found it hard to believe I’d run 16 miles the day before and was coming to the end of a 43 mile week. Upon reaching the Meadows again I was prepared for the traditional sting in the tail – this time it was running up a steep hill to the football pitches before being made to scramble down it and then re-ascend it again, only to be greeted by more haybales to hurdle!

I ran into the finish to complete the 12k course in 1hr 20 and about 9 minutes quicker than last year. I would have been so much quicker if not for the queue at the cargo net, but that doesn’t matter as it really isn’t a race for time. Kynon and Rachel had already finished, but by chip time we all came in around the same time; muddied, exhausted, and happy!

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