Post race thoughts
I had spent most of the last 2 months saying to everyone who would listen that I was finishing this race if it killed me. After having DNF’d both the Paris by Night race in January and the St I'lltyd 100km at tee start of May, I had gone through more than my share of writing a plucky ‘gave my best but just fell short’ blog entries!
The coach journey to the start was nearly 2 hours and I spent quite a bit of this getting an idea of where the Great Glen route was entering or leaving each town. At registration I collected my timing dobber and race number. I then divided up my 6 drop bags into the correct IKEA bags for my race number. It was great to be there in plenty of time and I listened to podcasts for most of this until the race briefing before the 1am start. For the middle of the night it was brighter than I expected.
I enjoyed my steady plod to CP1 and chugged both of my drinks as well as inhaling my first energy bar in about 30 seconds. The light was growing by the minute and although I did really enjoy some of the views before sunrise, I was able to stop using the headtorch about 3:30am
Persevering to CP2 after it got light was considerably easier than the night section. It was still cold but I settled into a run/walk pace with 4/5 other runners all walking the same inclines as if we were synchronised. I also managed to duck under this shortly after CP2
At CP3 I was really looking forward to buying a cold drink in one of the shops but they hadn’t opened yet. There was also a very funny moment where one of the marshalls was saying to another runner he had to eat all of the drop bag before he could leave This included lots of jovial swearing and brightened my mood somewhat. Luckily the main hill out of CP3 was winding and manageable. I find direct climbs where you are forever going in one straight line and can’t see the top far more soul destroying. The view coming out of the woods was incredible.
I knew the climb out of CP4 was the toughest part of the race so was very cautious and steady for the rest of this section. I also ran along with Tina and Pauline who were great to talk with.
My beer at CP4 seemed a tad premature but I viewed it as being around half way so worth celebrating even if it was only 10am!
The 470m climb to the high point of the course after this was very hard but I treated it as the main challenge of the race which helped slightly. I had to do an army crawl under this which was fun with a running backpack on
The other notable points of this section were the mushroom bridge and viewcatcher. I’d had the latter of these as my laptop wallpaper since May last wear so it was quite a buzz seeing it at last
I was able to maintain focus after this and made it to the high point of the route.
After this, the race turned into a test of my will to persevere to the finish but not focus solely on it. I knew 30 miles left was too far to start doing this.
I had an energy drink at CP5 which helped and took some sun block in the view it was better to use it too late than not at all!
The climb out of CP5 was difficult but nowhere near as bad as CP4. I listened to podcasts until reaching CP6. The outer part of my left knee had stiffened up after knocking it about an hour into the race and I was struggling to run so walked the last bit into this checkpoint. I had my strongest beer and was amused by the humour on one of the chairs.
My friend Guillaume had ran 16 laps of a 4.2 mile loop at Last One Standing on an injured knee a few years ago so I knew finishing with an injury was possible. I had set this as my main goal for this year so it was definitely the hill I was willing to die on and I had just under 6 and a half hours to cover the last 10 miles so quitting genuinely wasn’t an option.
I had a bit of a cry on my own leaving this checkpoint and it was the highest ‘runners high’ I’ve ever experienced. Knowing I was going to finish was amazing. I had psyched myself up for this section for well over a year and it was finally here. Despite my pace dropping considerably I was able to constantly keep moving and finally made it to the finish just before 9pm.
This is definitely my proudest running achievement to date and I am so happy I didn’t let anything stop me from finishing. It also gives me some authenticity around my main goal of running my first 100 mile event next year.