Monday, 28 June 2010

A Pride of Rampant Lions

My WHW report is work in progress but I write as slow as I run but here’s a cracking report from Gail’s Anglo-Celtic 100km


2010 was to be the year I got my own back on the WHW. Alas, I was selected to represent Scotland in the Anglo Celtic plate, which, as luck would have it (or was it an English conspiracy?.....hush my mouth…) landed on the same day.

It didn’t take long to decide that I would prefer to represent my country. I may not have that opportunity again, and the WHW wasn’t going anywhere.

So I trained hard on the roads, harder than I’d trained before. I did loads of build up races which helped my speed and boosted my confidence. I had run Keswick in a PB, for the 1st time breaking 9 hours last September. This was a hilly course and I hoped I could do better on the flat, scenic Boddington course. I wanted a PB and thought 8.45 was a reasonable target. Then I heard the British qualifying time was 8.39. So why not go for that. In the past I’ve always covered the 1st half in about 4 hours and the 2nd in 5 hours. I was going to try and start a bit slower in the hope that I wouldn’t burn out so soon. I knew it would slow drastically in the 2nd half, but I hoped it would be later on in the race, where I’d have more in the bank and be able to hold on for longer.

All my training had gone to plan. I doubted towards the last couple of weeks before the race whether I’d done enough mileage. But that’s not an unusual feeling before any ultra. We travelled down to Boddington in a hire car. Steven and I picked it up in Kirkcaldy, drove to Bellshill to pick up Grant, then onto Abington to collect Issy. En route we hit terrible traffic and got lost in Bellshill. A potential 6 hour journey was more like 8 ½ hours. Not the greatest preparation the day before the race. On arrival, Steven, Grant and I had a quick recce of the race route in the car before going straight to the pre-race briefing. The race organiser seemed to take great pleasure in telling us that Scotland was the only complete ladies team, and all we had to do was finish. I’m sure as a UKA official he is meant to be impartial, but my ar*e!....

I went to bed, not thinking this is in the bag, but rather I’ve got 62 miles to run tomorrow and if I don’t I’ve LOST the ACP for Scotland. No pressure then! I slept quite well and turned up for the race not feeling too bad. The nerves kicked in when we arrived at Boddington Manor. Everyone appeared to be the same. Grant was super confident despite having a back problem for weeks. Scott didn’t complain of anything but I knew he was nervous about a foot/ankle problem he’d had recently. I was glad he was there – good friend and clubmate, and his Dad. I knew how important it was for him to represent his country for the 1st (and I’m sure not the last) time. Issy and Nathalie were also on edge – Issy always questioning her fitness and Nathalie running for Scotland for the 1st time. Les was an old hand but had a problem with his back.

We all had our own goals and before we knew it we were off. We ran alongside runners doing the marathon and the 50K. This was great as there was plenty to watch and think about. And it always surprises me how you can lap people running the marathon! Always gives you a boost. We were to run 28 laps of a 3.5km loop. It was very scenic and flat and myself, Natalie and Issy all settled in and ran together at roughly 8 min mile pace for the 1st few laps. I had a good blether with Natalie for a while then she broke away. I was happy to plod on at my own pace and felt quite comfortable. Issy fell back and it was difficult when I lapped her, to see she was having trouble early doors. Grant lapped me after about 6-7 laps I think, up with the “fast boys”. Scott lapped me later and I could tell he wasn’t comfortable. He told me his legs were very heavy. But on we went. I felt fairly comfortable for the 1st half of the race, going through 50K at about 4 hrs 07. This was all par for the course. I knew I’d thrown in 2 or 3 fast laps early on but felt OK and was running steady now. It was all time in the bank. I lapped Issy again and she was really struggling. I really thought she was going to pull out. This put extra pressure on to finish as 2 runners were required to count for the team. I was delighted to hear on the next lap that she was still in the race.

Update from the WHW – Richie was in the lead at Bridge of Orchy. This was what I wanted to hear and it gave me a wee boost and spring in my step. Unfortunately, not long past the half way mark I started to feel sick. In spectacular form, at the next drinks station I vomited my guts up. Always nice in front of a crowd. I didn’t know what I could take till Margaret, Les Hill’s wife came to the rescue with some flat coke. It went down well, then I was off again. It wasn’t long before I felt the same way again. I knew I was in deficit and my pace was slowing all the time. At the start of the race, because of the new rules where your support can’t run with you for any distance – they can only move 1 meter from the drinks station, I was struggling to get hold of my drinks as I ran through. One thing I really wanted to do in this race was not walk. However once the vomiting started I had no option. I had to stop every lap to walk, refuel as best I could and vomit when the need arose. And it was oh so difficult to get moving again. I perfected the mega slow shuffle to make it look like I was running – debatable I’m sure. But I was sent off with a flee in my ear each time and told to keep moving. I did my best and did in fact keep running for the rest of the lap, only walking at the drinks station. I always vomited in front of an audience at the drinks station though– such an attention seeker!

I was counting down the laps and was told on 2 separate laps that I had 9 to go. The lap counters were at the opposite side of the lap to the drinks station and our support, so it was not easy to verify this. It sorted itself out but I was not impressed when I was told I had 3 laps to go as I entered my final lap. The lap keepers were shouted at accordingly and they confirmed I was right. Thank the Lord!

I was so desperate to finish. I had been desperate for the past 2 hours. It’s not easy running 30 miles with nothing in the tank. But I had to finish. I couldn’t lose the ACP. If I had to walk or crawl I would. My hoped for times had long gone. I knew I wasn’t going to get a PB or even sub 9 hours but that didn’t matter. I just wanted to finish. I’d seen loads of people drop out. I wasn’t going to be one of them. I’d been lapped by Scott twice but then unlapped myself. I knew from our support he was having mega problems with his legs but he was still going. So was Issy despite feeling rubbish from 90 minutes into the race, Nathalie was now having problems with her hip I think, but was still running. Grant’s back was giving him problems and he was way down on his hoped for time and Les’s back had gone. But everyone was gutting it out to the end.

I have to admit to walking some of the last lap – when no one was looking! I started running before I approached the lap timers and ran towards the manor. I saw Steven who gave me the Saltire to run with till the finish. I held it with pride as I crossed the line with great relief. I was greeted by Scott’s Dad, John who gave me the biggest hug. I don’t think he thought I was going to let go! Then Steven got the same. Relief at finishing, joy at winning the ACP and I came in 3rd in the British 100K championships to boot! Now I’d stopped running, could I have something to eat now please?!! Thank you to Scott’s friend’s for buying me a ham roll and a cup of tea!

Then I heard the news I’d been hoping for, Richie had just won the WHW!!! With tears welling up I shouted to Scott to give him the news. He felt the same. So many hundreds of miles away Richie had made our day!

Within the next 90 minutes the whole Scottish team was home. We had all gutted it out with our own personal battles on the day. None of us had done what we wanted time wise but we had all achieved in our own ways. Another one put down to experience. Yet another character building race.

I don’t know why I was sick. Not a problem normally for me during ultras. Maybe it was the heat. It certainly was hot at times. I didn’t feel I was sweating much, but did feel I was overheating, and regularly had to throw bottles of water over myself. The long journey down to Boddington the day before maybe didn’t help. But I can’t think of anything else.

Boddington was tough. It was a challenge for Steven to go down as team manager. Experienced as he is at supporting, managing a team is a whole new responsiblilty. He didn’t just have to look after me, but the whole team. The new rules where you can only move 1 meter from the drinks station was hard for all the support. I was certainly conscious of the fact I was barking demands from a distance. I knew this was required but I felt very demanding and there wasn’t much time for please or thank you. So I’ll say it now! – Thank you to Steven, who did a sterling job for me personally and for the whole team, and to all the other support and runners in Team Scotland – for emotional and physical support. For Margaret and Les a special thanks for the flat coke, which will now be an essential part of my supplies in future ultras!

As I ran this race I thought, well at least I’ll not have to do 100K again as I’ll not get selected again, but like the WHW last year, me and the 100K now have unresolved issues. See you in Perth!

Gail Murdoch
June 2010

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Sue's report from the Heart of Scotland 100

Heart of Scotland 100 Report
Sue Walker 1st and 6th June 2010
104.44 miles and 13,200 feet according to the website.
108.4 miles and 15,200 feet climbing according to Sports Tracks and 2 x Garmins

Where to begin? Well, the real beginning is back in 1909! Baden Powell had started scouts and held the first scout rally in Chrystal Palace. A group of girls gatecrashed the event and caught his eye. He told them that Scouting was for boys. They complained and asked him for something for the girls and so in 1910, Girl Guides was started. Fast forward, 100 years, it is the centenary for Girlguiding and I’m county commissioner for Girlguiding Fife. I hear about a 100 mile event taking place in Scotland and I’m intrigued. It’s too close to the West Highland Way for the other ultra runners in the club, but it’s got a firm hook in me. I make enquires about entering and am told I need to have completed a 50 mile event to qualify. Despite a knee problem the fortnight before, I managed to get around Rotherham in October, finishing in 12:30 ish and that’s qualification done. Qualifying ticked off; I now enter the event and break the news to one and all!

As part of my preparation I enter the Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon (55 miles) followed by the Deeside 33. Unfortunately, the incessant flatness of the canal tow paths brings on an ITB problem which puts me out of the D33. After some brutal massage and stretching, the ITB eases enough for me to resume training and I recce more sections of the route, concentrating on those sections I expect to do in the dark.

The route is incredible. The event starts and finishes in Dunkeld. From Dunkeld, you run over to Kirkmichael, then round the back of Ben Vuirich via Daldhu and Shingag to reach Blair Atholl. From there, via the falls of Bruar, you head North along the old A9 before cutting across to Kinloch Rannoch via Loch Errochty. After breakfast in Kinloch Rannoch, you head via the sides of Schielhallion up to Pheiginn Bothy and then Fortingall, Aberfeldy, the Hermitage and back to Dunkeld. All in all, it’s an official 104.44 miles with 13,000 feet of climbing.

I chose to start at 10am with the Walkers – how apt! - giving myself the full 48 hours to complete the event, though I really am targeting a pre darkness finish on the Sunday (36 hours). I plan to run the flats and down hills where possible and walk the hills. I set my watch alarm to remind me to eat and drink something every 30 minutes. My challenge is to finish this event. I’ve put together a pacing schedule to help my supporters but in fairness, all I want to do is rise to the challenge and complete it. There will be no heroic sprints at the start but hopefully no major slumps either. Nice and steady is the way to go. I’ve checked in with LDWA and they are happy for me to have running support provided they don’t get in the way and are self sufficient. All systems go then, and Ken, Fiona and Pauline travel up to support over the weekend.

It felt very odd to be gathered in the busy square in Dunkeld and not know another soul! Very different from most races in Scotland where I would expect to see club mates and friends from other clubs. After a few rousing tunes from the Vale of Atholl pipe band, we were off to Loch Ordie. This first checkpoint was not accessible to supporters. I assumed that the checkpoint would be based on a 4x4 vehicle with maybe water and jelly babies on offer. Not at all. There was a 15’ square marquee pitched with sandwiches, and biscuits and apologies for only having bottled water to drink. Off I went to Kirkmichael, allegedly past some Ospreys but I didn’t see anything. The route to Kirkmichael was greatly improved since my last visit in the snow in February. The landowner had cut a path in the heather, built a new gate in the deer fence and created a new path down to the Cateran Trail. There were even way markers. The first village hall stop and my chance to meet the support team was Kirkmichael. On the drop down to the Cateran trail track, I met Helena and Gail complete with route finding GPS – well it was a navigational challenge! I stopped at the hall and had my route card punched and popped in to see what type of food was on offer. A vast array of sandwiches, crisps, custard, rice pudding and clootie dumpling! I was even offered a strawberry by Marie Dokes’ husband. Marvellous! Off we trotted, the happy Carnegie Harriers - me, Helena, and Steven. Gail played leapfrog with the car and caught us later. Steven stayed with me for a good while before returning back to Enochdhu for the promised lift home. Thanks for the company everyone, I enjoyed it.

Daldhu was 20 miles in and was again a marquee check point offering salad and quiche and tea, coffee and puddings. Quiche went down well but I couldn’t quite appreciate the salads. Off again, in drizzle now to Shinagag, passing several Duke of Edinburgh expeditioners on the way. Navigation wasn’t too difficult though crossing the broken bridge over the ravine was challenging. I opted to scramble across the burn instead as I thought any falls would be gentler! It was easier though wet! On the way into Shinagag check point, I got a text from my eldest daughter Kathy. She’d threatened to send me texts containing the words of songs. Her idea was that I’d get the words in my head, sing the song, and generally be distracted from any aches and pains. First up was ging gang gooly, gooly, gooly gooly whatsa ging gang goo, ging gang goo……….(sing along now!)

From Shinagag the route headed across the moors for a mile or so on some easy tracks before descending for a good couple of miles into Blair Atholl. Beans on toast on offer here but I settle for a couple of slices of toast and some running company with Pauline. We were chatting so much along the river path that we nearly missed the route. I switched back to concentrate mode and enjoyed this very scenic section with several follies on the way. At Calvine, I tried a plate of cold pasta but decided against it eating some sultanas instead. Ken then kept me company along the flat, old A9 section to head into Dalnacardoch. A quick cup of soup and a sandwich later, I stopped at the car to put blister plasters on some hot spots and dress up for the weather. It was properly dark now, and the rain was starting in earnest. Fiona was chumming me on this section while Ken and Pauline were heading off to get some sleep in Kinloch Rannoch. In the end, it was far too wet for them to put up the tent and they dosed uncomfortably in the car instead. Meanwhile, Fiona and I trudged along the tarmac road for a couple of miles before going cross county at Maud Loch heading to Errochty Dam. I had reccied all of this section so I knew roughly where I was meant to go even if I couldn’t see any landmarks. Some very helpful marshal had placed red and white hazard tape at intervals along the route. That was a very welcome confidence booster. When we reached Errochty Dam, there was a kit check. I got off lightly by being asked to show my compass which was tied to the front of my rucksack and in regular use. Others had to show their bivvy bag or first aid kit, usually from the bottom of the rucksack. The weather by now was truly foul and a great number of people pulled out here. Marshalls were advising people to proceed only if they felt strong enough and were well enough equipped for poor conditions. Luckily Fiona and I were so we carried on. When we left the lochside path, we had a couple of miles to go on rough, boggy terrain before reaching an unmanned checkpoint. We got stuck behind a small group. The lead walker had clearly reccied the route and was rallying his small group. He didn’t seem too pleased to have us tuck in behind but equally, didn’t move aside to let us pass. He made sure everyone knew that he knew where he was going and we all reached the flashing red light marking the self checker at the same time. After that, Fiona and I left the group behind and we made our way uphill for another mile. A deer fence had recently been installed and the ground underfoot was churned up and ankle sucking mud. It seemed to take forever – during which time day broke and the rain stopped - before we reached the top of the col. Apparently, we were then meant to descend on faint path for 0.75 miles on initial bearing 140°, later bending round to 175o, to reach track beside the main burn (track not shown on OS map) and cairn. I covered this section in daylight in a recce when the ground was snow covered, and then again in daylight on the event, and on neither occasion did I find the faint path on the bearing and nor did I find the first cairn. After a bit of stumbling about (with no one in front to follow!) we tucked behind some other walkers till we found the large cairn and after that the descent in KR was straightforward. I realised on arrival that I was a bit ahead of schedule but planned to press on anyway. I put dry socks on from my drop bag but didn’t bother changing shoes as I knew I still had another 7 miles of bog to go. Robin from Perth had offered to come up for 5am to chum me on this section. Luckily, he decided to get there early and was ready to go with me after breakfast. We must have been on our way by 4.15 ish. Again, I had reccied this next section over the flanks of Schielhallion and more or less knew what was coming. It was a hard slog over burns, bog and heather. When I sunk 18” into a drainage ditch, (and had to crawl out fulfilling my promise to run, walk or crawl the route!), Robin picked the way for me calling out when he spotted another drainage ditch. Pheiginn Bothy was warm and welcoming with a log fire and candles burning on the mantelpiece but I managed not to linger. Another steady descent to the flat road section to Fortingall and Ken and the crew met me at Keltneybridge for a shoe change and I switched from trails to road shoes. There was still a climb to go out of Aberfeldy but I knew the running surface was fine from here. At Fortingall village hall, the LDWA checkpoint staff apologised to me for not being well enough manned up to provide waitress service!!!!. Pauline was chumming me on this section and we soon crossed the narrow suspension bridge and headed into the Tay forest. When I arrived at the next checkpoint, the Sunday papers were waiting along with tea, coffee and sandwiches. As the marshal clipped my tally card, he said, ‘so you’re Sue Walker’. I was a bit puzzled but headed off. A mere 150 yards down the hill, I saw the reason for his comment. There was my sister Trish and daughter, Lizzy, together with a guiding friend Helen with a poster attached to a tree. The poster had been made to support me by Helen’s brownies in Rosyth. I saw the poster another 3 or 4 times over the next few miles. What a fantastic boost. Pauline, ’encouraged’ me to trot along the riverside path into Aberfeldy. It is a very scenic, flat path but the miles seemed to elongate. I had to stop to take some paracetamol as I had a pain in my knee. Even worse, though, was the toothache I was experiencing. That forced me to inhale paracetamol every 4 hours till I finished. (Wisdom teeth are all getting extracted in mid June and I sorely need it). At least the pain in my jaw was distracting me from running aches. Then we crossed over General Wade’s bridge and into the Scout and Guide hall in Aberfeldy - very apt given the cause and the company I had (Fiona and Pauline had been in Helen’s guide unit at one point and Val was a Queen’s Guide!)

Val chummed me from Aberfeldy up that endless climb on forest tracks to Loch Kinnard. My tummy was a bit upset here so Val didn’t have the cheeriest of running companions then. Once at Loch Kinnard, I knew the worst of the climbs were over. The remaining 10 or so miles was lumpy rather than hilly though the pace was fairly slow. We bumped into WHW runner Andy Cole on the forest tracks. He was keeping things nice and steady in preparation for this year’s WHW. Pauline and Ken drove on ahead to Dunkeld and walked back through the Hermitage to meet Fiona and me and escort us in. We must have looked a very odd posse as we made our approach to Dunkeld. The sun was out, kids were playing tennis in the park as we crossed under the A9 and finally crossed the bridge and ran into the square in Dunkeld. As I entered the Drill hall in Dunkeld to surrender my tally for the final time, the tally clipper rang a hand bell and everyone present gave me a round of applause. What a welcome for each finisher. Robin and his wife Ann had come out to Dunkeld from Scone to see me finish, and the sense of relief and achievement when I finished was immense.

I really can’t thank my fantastic runner supporters enough – Ken, Fiona, Pauline, Gail, Helena, Steven, Robin and Val; my sister Trish and daughter Lizzy and Helen and her brownies for their support en route.
When I eventually downloaded Garmin info (I used my own and Pauline’s and recharged them in between), I covered 108.4 miles and 15,200 feet of climb in a time of 32:23. I started just before 10am on Saturday and finished well before dark on Sunday at 6:20pm.

I didn’t manage to get my report finished quickly, as after a couple of days R&R, I then mucked in with all the final preparations for our guide camp. I’m back now from a weekend of celebrations with 2000 members of Girlguiding Fife, including 400 campers. We had a ball.

Thank you to everyone for their support – both practically, via messages and by sponsoring me on my just giving site,here

On the run I ate jam sandwiches, marmite rolls, quiche, Tuc biscuits, jaffa cakes, fruit pastilles, custard, rice crispie cake, rice pudding, mints, sultanas, maltesers, tablet, porridge. I drank Nunn juice, tea, coffee and soup.

Sue Walker June 2010

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Sue’s Big Hearted Run

When Sue first said she planned to run the Heart of Scotland 100 with a goal to raising funds for the Guides Centenary Sue's just giving page a hundred miles celebrating a hundred years did seem quite appropriate. Both Pauline and I volunteered our services for support, well, it was only fair, the amount of times that Ken and Sue have supported us.

We arrived in Dunkeld to an invasion from the south side of Hadrian’s Wall. No worries though, they were friendly marauders, easy going, relaxed and the majority of them have had generous servings of birthdays. This maybe the Heart of Scotland but it was a bit weird that ours were the only Scottish accents to be heard; even the pipe band was not immune from a pitch invasion.

This is a Long Distance Walkers Association organised event which put on a 100 miler every May bank holiday in a different location every year and this is the first time they’ve held it in Scotland, and what a brilliant, well organised event it was too, each checkpoint was manned by a different region laying on groaning tables of sandwiches, cakes, pots of custard, fresh fruit, dried fruit, urns of tea and coffee and I’ve never see so many chocolate digestives!

The first checkpoint we could get into was Kirkmichael, I wouldn’t call it a one horse town more of a wee pony place but the shop cum post office cum cafĂ© cum centre of the universe for Kirkmichael did a lovely mug of hot chocolate and bit of carrot cake, this was very civilised for support. Gail, Steven and Helena arrived and chummed Sue for a few miles, Pauline kept her company from Blair Atholl to Calvine then Ken until Dalnacardoch were I would take on the night shift, the weather so far had been fairly perfect for running, not much wind, a bit overcast and cool, well, I felt cold just standing about. There had been a few wee bits of drizzly rain but it was now decidedly dreich as Pauline and I got organised for Sue’s arrival.

After a bit of foot repair we were both kitted out in full body waterproofs and head torches, we set off up the long pull up the tarmac road, just as the rain started stotting down. I said to Sue that as this was her challenge I wouldn’t be taking over any of the navigating, it’ll keep her alert and awake to stay in charge of the instructions besides I went a bit squiffy on the Deeside 33, an out and back on an old railway track! I’m only here for the scenery and the blether, hmm, all that we could see was in the circle of torch light but we blethered plenty.

After the tarmac road, a wee track, a dam, a tented checkpoint with loads of choccy digestives the terrain took in the proper meaning of challenging, thick ankle grabbing heather, big burns where there used to be wee burns, wee burns where there were none, bogs to pull your shoes off and slimy slippery mud just to make placing your feet loads more fun! At least we weren’t cold! There was a steep, steep long climb up the side of a deer fence which was quite handy for hauling yourself up with or just to hang onto when your feet slid out from under you. I felt it tough going and I’d only had a stroll up Pitlochry High Street and not over 50 miles in my legs! At the top we stopped for a wee breather, I said that that was harder than the Devil’s Staircase with 70 odd miles in the legs, Sue didn’t disagree.

We looked down the hill, there were lots of twinkling head torches below and a few that were a bit off course but they were heading in the right direction. After another climb we meandered a bit ourselves, not exactly off course but we gave ourselves a wee bit more than necessary. This side of the hill’s puddles and bogs were freezing, up until now they had just felt cold, Sue thought it must be ice melt working it’s way down. We could see Schiehallion in the slow dawn, Sue pointed out her route skirting up round the side of it. I felt a twinge of guilt; I was leaving her at Kinloch Rannoch for warm dry socks and a lie down.

Breakfast was served in the school at Kinloch Rannoch, I went into the hall with Sue, and I was asked if I’d like porridge and a full cooked breakfast, I declined since I was just support, all this was for the walkers and runners, but could I have a cup of tea please? He soon brought Sue a steaming bowl and said to me “You look like you can use a bowl of porridge are you sure you don’t want one?” “Ok, I will have one.” The next question was “Would you like honey and whisky on it?” Eh! I’ve never heard of that before, so I answered yes. It was lovely; I’ll definitely have that again but only on special occasions, I’ll stick to my usual honey and banana for normal.

Robin had arrived and was going with Sue over the next tough section. I headed into the ladies toilets to get changed. I took my hat off ruffled my hair, looked in the mirror and wondered if you can still get flokati rugs? I think I’ll put my hat back on. Back at the car I put the front seat right back, got all cosy under a couple of blankets with my hat pulled down over my eyes, bliss. Ken and Pauline had spent quite a cold uncomfortable night in the car, they had planned to pitch a tent for a few hours sleep but it was just too wet to bother.

Ken drove round to the next point where we’d see Sue, I don’t know where it was as I was still dozing but slowly came back to life. Robin handed over to Pauline who would see Sue into Aberfeldy but just after the Tay Forest checkpoint the cheering squad had arrived, Sue’s sister and her daughter. Also Helen, a Guider, had tied on to a tree a banner that she’d painted with the help of her Brownies.

Next in the support relay was Val, ready and waiting to run when Sue came into Aberfeldy, just a pot of custard in the scout hall and they were off to Loch Kennard, this checkpoint was about a mile walk in from the car park for the crew and the cheering squad, I was now bright eyed and bushy tailed… just some positive thinking here I was more bleary eyed and bushy haired but it was firmly kept under my hat. I got myself ready to run again where I’d go to Rumbling Bridge with Sue.

Sue was still looking great and still smiling after 92 miles; she just wasn’t sure what to eat any more but was happy-ish to take the tablet I offered. We caught up with Andy Cole for a wee while, he was the only WHW family we saw, we’d had a text from Karen and George via Lesley wishing Sue all the best, they pulled out after 50 miles saving themselves for the main event in June. This section was fairly straight forward, mainly following a wide forest track, at one point Sue had a feeling we’d missed a turn point and thought we may have to go back. Although Sue was in charge of route finding I was kinda paying attention to where we were too, and I didn’t think we’d gone wrong, so off I trotted, pushing on up the path to catch up with a runner ahead and check if I could see our turning, speaking to the guy, he confirmed that the bloke in front of him had recced the route and this was correct, relieved I pushed on back to Sue, who’d while I was away, checked the map and was happy to continue on.

I’d received a text from Ken saying that they’ve parked the car in Dunkeld and that he and Pauline were just walking into the Rumbling Bridge checkpoint. That’s lovely, a full escort from Team Sue to the finish. Then another thought dawned, that means I’ll have to run the last 3 miles instead of driving round to the finish and standing with my camera. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll manage, I’d only covered 24 miles with no sleep, a mere trifle! I don’t know why my legs were protesting a bit when I sprinted on ahead at points to get some photos. I laughed at Pauline in the woods standing in front of a bench, barring it from Sue and waving her onwards, not that Sue looked like she was stopping anyway, she has had a tremendous run, maintaining a steady pace, never loosing her sense of humour, or having a strop or tantrum, with a smile that lasted the whole way, covering twice as far as she has ever gone before. What an inspiration!

There has been a lot of discussion lately comparing running 50 miles to running 100 miles. In my opinion physically there’s not much difference but mentally they are poles apart. I now have a new weapon in my arsenal for this year’s WHW. Smile like Sue!