After a good West Highland Way Race I just had a nice easy tick over, no races, no big miles just rest and recovery so I was raring to go for Glenmore. These days I set no goals for my races other than to have fun, PB’s are so last decade and as long as I can remain upright, outside and moving forward, that’s all I want from a race… except Glenmore! 100 miles is a big goal and I was aiming for 25 laps. Nothing is guaranteed but with previous experience I’ve learnt what works for me and how to nip things in the bud if problems arise so I was hoping.
This year Pauline and I had Ken and Gillian for support and around a week before the race we had a wee race planning run and were discussing race logistics and the theme for the fancy dress, with it being Scotland, I had decided on a pair of black dungarees, a metal bucket and some wax in my hair, Oor Wullie wouldn’t be too hard to do, it was suggested that Pauline and I should be Fran and Anna but I’d ordered the dungarees by then, the idea wasn’t lost, Ken was up for borrowing my wee kilt, and with a little supervision of putting on his lipstick and fishnets Fran and Anna looked wonderful (I think Pauline was a bit put out that Ken’s legs in fishnets got more compliments that hers!) Gillian was happy to stuff a cushion up her jumper and with shorts and cap she was Wullie’s best pal Fat Boab.
I left the party around 11.00pm, I was happy lying all cosy, tucked up in my sleeping bag and blankets listening to Fat Boab, Fran and Anna with a few others party on for a while longer, smiling at the sing-a-long to some of Scotland’s finest tunes! I slept ok for the night before a big race, not as deep as usual but that’s normal. I was a tad intolerant on hearing folk chatting loudly at the back of 7.00am, didn’t they realise tents aren’t soundproof!
I don’t think I’m a morning person, so much for a lie-in! Never mind, it was a nice gentle morning anyway, with plenty of time before the 12 noon start to have two breakfasts and go over my race plan with Ken and Gillian, lay out all my food and clothes for them, so it was easy to lay a hand to when I shouted for whatever I wanted. I also promised not to be too much of a diva and laughingly said “Please, please, please, please!” loads since I won’t be wasting time with niceties during the race. Ok, maybe a wee bit of a diva!
Bill did the briefing at 11.30am, then time for a team photo and we were ready to go.
12 noon we were off. Wow! How many runners are there this year? I hope everyone comes to love this race as much as I do, it has certainly grown from the 27 of us on the start line of the first year in 2011.
|photo from Robert Hill|
Each of the four miles on the loop is different, in 2011, I named them, the lumpy bumpy mile, the long run, (a wide track that I made a point of running every step) the up-hill and the down-hill. It always takes a few laps to settle down, this year was no different, I had to adjust my number belt, at first it was loose and burling round then too tight and on the 6th lap (24 miles) I had to loosen one of my shoe-laces but after that I was in my groove, comfortable and cruising, revelling in my surroundings, having a wee blether when side by side another runner.
The weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot, as the day progressed I watched the sun move across the sky and start to dip, there was a wee coolness in the air, it was going to be a clear night, remembering how stunning the night was in 2011 I knew the stars would be magnificent. I didn’t take my camera round for a lap this year but Gillian did, running the route in reverse taking a few photos,
|photos from Gillian|
and Mairi captured the setting sun reflected on Loch Morlich perfectly, always a special Glenmore moment for me, one that makes my heart soar, singing the lyrics of Runrigs Hearts of Olden Glory in my head I am thankful for my good fortune of being alive, healthy and being able to do what I’m doing.
|photo from Mairi Fox|
The colours of Scotland leave you young inside
There must be a place under the sun where hearts of olden glory grow young.
Ken and Gillian were doing a brilliant job, every lap I ate a little something, choosing from milkshakes, custard, rice pudding, soup, pasta, and when I wasn’t sure of what I wanted next time they have done my support in big races often enough to know what I needed whether I did or not. The support around race HQ was fantastic, the boys on the wee kick of a hill just before entering the Hayfield, I could hear them shouting “Well done!” every lap and waved back when I eventually spotted them playing in the bushes, or high up a tree and everyone I went by offered encouragement, I felt a bit guilty not being able to say thank you as I made my way round the field with a mouthful of grub, I hoped a wave of my spoon would do.
As the evening wore on I pulled on my arm-warmers, peaked Buff and gloves, next lap my head torch, when it was dark, I picked up my iPod, it just goes in one ear so I’m not anti-social, each lap seemed to get colder and I’d add another top, it eventually it took six layers and a wooly hat over my peaked Buff, two Buffs round my neck with one pulled up over my face before I felt I was retaining my body heat. I even asked that all my food and drink be warmed, placing my tubs of custard and rice pudding into a pot of boiling water to take the chill off them. The 12 hour race had finished and Pauline took over support for a bit allowing Gillian and Ken to get a bit of a break before she went for a sleep. The stars were stunning, I’d pause briefly to look upward, the frost was also sparkling, that’s a first for Glenmore, it has been bitterly cold in the past with hailstones and fierce winds but never -5 degrees! No wonder I needed millions of layers and I’m glad my sunglasses are light reactive so I was able to keep them on and protect my face and stop my eyeballs freezing! I was a bit concerned that the batteries in my head-torch, although new, might die in the freezing air, so for peace of mind I carried a spare torch but I’m glad I didn’t need it.
Pauline and I have been shouting the lyrics of Runrig’s Clash of the Ash at each other since the 24 hour race round the Inches at Perth in 2008 and at Ally when we’ve supported him in his big charity runs, one lap through the night, I came up behind him as he walked with his drink and shouted “COME ON!” Poor bugger, I gave him the fright of his life, he jumped out of his skin and nearly dropped his bottle but he should know by now the correct response is “ALRIGHT!” and not “Ya wee shite!”
The earlier hours of the morning are the hardest, your body is at it’s lowest ebb but I had a goal to keep my chin up, at the back of 3.00am I went through my 17th lap which also brought my total of Glenmore laps to 200 since the race started and that made me smile, I was with Jenni for bit, she wasn’t going to stop for a sleep this year so we hugged our congratulations on reaching goals.
My 18th lap was my slowest, I did expect to have a dip after the high of the previous lap, although I still ran every step of “the long run” I was walking more, sipping Horlicks from a thermal mug. I yawned and that, for me, triggers the dry boak, so to keep that at bay I was going to have an easier lap and hoped it would pass.
I was watching the sky for the first signs of dawn, as it lightened, the view of the loch was again fuel for the soul,
|photo from Vicki Clark|
the rising sun forgot to bring it’s warmth but my lap times picked up and I was managing to keep my stomach on a fairly even keel. Checking my watch, as long as I just kept moving, staying steady, the 100 miles was on, no heroics needed.
For the last four hours I couldn’t face any proper food, I had some of Pauline’s ginger beer which burnt the mouth off me but helped my stomach, and flat coke. Eventually I warmed up and peeled off some layers counting down to my final lap. Glad to get it done, but sad that I won’t see the beautiful loop again until next year.
Into Hayfield and dib my dobber for the 25th time! Yay! 100 miles accomplished!
Now for a sneaky wee bonus goal, can I get further than the last two years? I’d reached 102 miles in 2017 and 2018 can I squeeze in three miles on the wee laps this year? There was about forty minutes left to go so I had to try. There was no way I could run up that wee basturt hill but I could let gravity work it’s magic on the down, I tried to stomp up the hill, shout my number to Matt and Bill then just let my legs go, arms flapping and concentrate on not crashing into anyone taking the down hill a bit easier, hit the bottom, work my elbows and try to maintain momentum until the far end of the wee lap, catch my breath before the start of the hill , stomp up again… after a few laps I asked Bill “How much longer?” I pushed another wee lap, and another, and another, I asked Bill “How much longer?” Time seemed to have slowed down, I’m sure I can push another lap… it must be about time up!
|photo Robert Hill|
Pauline shouted at me to stop! I was just past Noanie’s party tent and hadn’t heard the count down or the hooter! Yay! I leaned forward and poke my marker peg into the ground for my final distance to be measured! 103.36 miles, bonus mission accomplished!
Pauline walked me back to our tent, happily I managed to stave off the post race spew and faint. I had my camping mattress laid on the grass and for the first time in 24 hours I could stop moving and lie down! I didn’t move for what felt like ages.
Eventually I dragged myself up to sit, freshened up with a wet wipe round my face, a clean top on and I was a new woman… slight exaggeration, maybe just managing to function, we took our chairs over for the prize-giving, it was wonderful to see so many tired but content faces. Glenmore 24 is such a special event, we are so lucky to have a fantastic bunch of people give up their time so we can run to our hearts content. Thank you all for making this weekend phenomenal. Magic happens at Glenmore.
When I add up all my Glenmore races it sounds a bit mad, eight 24 hours races and a very special six hour in 2013, totalling 208 big laps, adding the wee laps I’ve covered 849.64 miles, that means I’ve done 17.64 miles in Benny Hill mode...that really is quite mad!