Monday, 20 August 2012

John Lucas Memorial 50

For those not familiar with the John Lucas Memorial Ultra, it also goes by the name of the Round Strathaven 50, the race has been running since 2006 however due to low numbers in 2011 it was cancelled, this year Grant Jeans who holds the course record from 2010 in a time of 5:53:24 sent out a FB message in an attempt to recruit some of the SUMS stalwarts along, i don't know whether its too close to other events with the Devil O' the Highlands 2 weeks earlier and the Speyside Way a week later. the RS 50 also shares the calendar with the charity cycle event which attracts over 150+ with the option of either a 15 or the full 50 miles which starts a couple of hours after the ultra.

The weather forecast was looking good in the lead up to the event and proved no different on the day, it felt strange doing an ultra on a Sunday as most opt for the day before, anyway the race started at 8am from Strathaven Park and we immediately headed uphill and out of the village at this point Grant Jeans was leading, the usual for Grant closely followed by myself, i had no idea the positioning behind me as i wanted to keep Grant in my sights for as long as possible,we continued along the undulating country roads passing through the checkpoints of whitelaw, Drunclog,Exotic Birds where at 15 miles i took up the lead as Grant stopped for water, i knew Grant wouldn't be far behind but i continued to hold the lead,as we came through Sandford and then at the  halfway point (Stonehouse) my support crew of  Mr David Mooney who kindly gave up his day was following closely behind me (in his car) supplying the necessary food and replenishing the bottles for my waist belt commented that i had opened up a gap.

 On leaving Stonehouse you come down a hill just at Mile 26 followed by a steep uphill climb at which point it was a run/walk situation, once at the top it was back to normal service, the weather just seemed to get warmer as the miles came in. prior to checkpoint 6 (Glassford ) again you have another brutal climb, which they tell me is where a lot of the runners pull out. David was doing well with the encouragement but by 32 it was starting to take its toll on me, my Glut was sore and my calf's were starting to cramp up, i tried to strap an ice pack to my thigh but i could not move with it so it was a case of just keep moving, it seemed like an eternity that this was going on, as i came through checkpoints 7 and 8, Chapleton and then Auldhouse (mile 40) the cramp started to ease off, Possible due to taking some electrolyte tablets in my water, i managed to get a decent spell of running, it was a case of just trying to break down the miles in segments, Mr Mooney at this point was willing me on before i knew it the miles where starting to pass by in my head.

I was eventually back at checkpoint 1(Whitelaw) knowing that i only had the first 5 miles in reverse to the finish, the conditions were still very warm and the driver of the race car said to me its all down hill from here, i continued along still feeling slight niggles in my calf's but my only though was to get to the finish line, the miles seemed to pass by very quickly and then the driver held his hand out to indicate a mile to go at this point David came up beside me and said you've led for the last 34 miles don't throw it away, after my previous race a fortnight earlier i could not believe the position i was so i raced downhill for the last mile, throwing in a 6:55 mile to cross the line in 6:43:19 only to find Grant standing at the finish having pulled out at 31 miles.

I would like to say a big thank you to Strathaven Strider's for their post race hospitality, and race organisation and to the following people,

David Mooney - Phenomenal Support throughout the day
Lee and all the Marshall's for giving up their time
The Cyclists who all gave encouragement throughout the route
The Sponsors with some unbelievable prize giving
and the people who all took part without  which there would be no event

Post Race Thoughts - a very tough undulating 50 miles all on road with some nice climbs thrown in running through some lovely villages definitely something to pencil in to your diary for 2013 if you want to think outside the SUMS series.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Back to Blogging (Devil o'the Highlands 2012)

As you will see from my last blog, its been a  long time, in fact nearly a year, how the time has flown. anyway fast forward to July 2012 and here we are, i raced the Stride nearly 3 weeks ago and got to 32 before pulling out with a calf injury and that point i felt deflated, i had done the recces and was up for it but on the day it all went wrong so i decided to contact the organiser of the Devils which was my next race, a fortnight later and tell them that i was not coming because i thought i would be out for some time. a few days later i was recovering quite well and sent away another email saying if the space was still available can they keep my name in, back came the reply to say that they had just returned from a weekend away and that they had done nothing so my place was safe.

My Back up crew of Sam Green and Paul  Brown arrived at 3:30am to pick me up and we headed of for Tyndrum. on arrival i met some Colin Knox, Ada and John Kynaston to mention a few, John was supporting Katrina and we had a brief chat about his Lakeland 100. i then head round for the brief prior to the start..

Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy
The start all seemed to happen pretty quickly and before i knew we were off, Thomas and Casey quickly set off at a pace, so i tucked in behind them, my plan was simple, hang on for as long as i possibly could and see what i had at the end, i had agreed with my support crew to get me at Victoria Bridge for a refuel, the first checkpoint, Bridge of Orchy seemed to arrive very quickly we were well under the Hour mark.

Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe

Casey continued up the hill followed by Thomas heading through the gate, i started to think at this point that this may be too fast, i knew my support was only a further 2 miles away at Victoria bridge as i came down the hill i got some welcome words from Marco and Lucy, i refuelled and head up on to the Rannoch Moor, i could see in the distance that Casey had opened a Gap on Thomas and i seemed further afield, hoeever feeling in reasonable shape i continued on, i was about a mile from the next checkpoint when David Mooney, gave me a cheer, he was out doing support for two other runners. i came of the moor and through the checkpoint still in third and feeling good.

Glencoe to Kinlochleven

I had agreed again to meet my support at the foot of the devils, where i would refuel, for me it was a walk up and eat while i was moving, something i learnt from Sharon Law in last years WHW race. as i got to the top before descending into Kinloclochleven i could feel my calf starting to pop, this was all i needed, i continued down to the next checkpoint where my crew were waiting, again all the cheers from everyone was amazing,

Kinlochleven to Fort William

I started to walk up the Larig Mhor eating a rice pot whilst my crew filled my bottles, Paul caught up with me and gave me the bottles we agreed to meet next at Lundavra, as i started running one of my bottles was not tightened properly and i lost the contents, it was so warm by this time that my other bottle was done. i approached the wilderness team at around 32 miles where i was offered water, as i stopped my calf cramped up and i was on the ground in pain, the wilderness team member,Jeff Smith kindly massaged my leg at this point the fourth runner came by, Craig Cunningham, Craig said why don't we work together, so we did for a few miles but again i had to stop as my leg cramped and gave it a massage.approaching Lundavra i got another refuel and could see Craig not too far in the distance, i thought at this point that i would try and hang on in there for fourth spot but before i knew it as we came through the clearance heading towards the road Craig was not that far in front, he must have went through a bad patch also i was thinking. as i came down the road its hard to gather pace but somehow i caught up with Craig and we agreed to work together towards the finish. my support team where waiting at the bottom of the road  saying not far to go , before i knew it we could see the finish line so myself and Craig agreed to cross together as we had helped each other over the last 11 miles.

Fort William

After crossing the line and collecting our goody bags,i got changed and had a quick chat with Thomas and Marco where i found out that Thomas took first spot ahead of Casey,i passed my congratulations to both, unfortunately i could not stay for the prize giving as my driver Paul's wife was in hospital and although he had agreed to support me had to get straight back home. i had went to advise the timekeeper that i could not stay, i was advised at this point that i would not be sharing the thirs spot time as it was ruled that Craig's toe crossed the line first, this was disappointing, we had worked together, finished together but separated in time by a toe, i was not happy at this point as it was not a third trophy or even a vets trophy it was the recognition of a joint third time. anyway i have now calmed down in the cold day of light and accepted the decision by the race director, as Thomas said a lesson learnt :-)

I would just like to say congratulations to everyone who took part, the people who cheered everyone on and special thank you to my support team and especially to Paul for giving up his time whilst his wife was in hospital.