Tag Archives: highlands

Up to Speed

Until the last month or so, I’ve had one of the least active periods of my life since I started running seriously in 2006. I had my first ‘proper’ injury in the new year (tendonitis on the top of my left foot), then life got a bit too complicated (I’d moved up to Perth, Scotland in December for work) and the running took a back seat. Whilst my injury still had a firm hold, I hatched a plan for a big project: check out my post on Twitter. It’s sometimes good to bite off more than you can chew, but my plan to run all 116 miles of the Fife Coastal Path in less than 24 hours on the ‘longest day’ was definitely a step too far with the other pressures in my life, and I shamefacedly dropped the plan in June. I will resurrect this plan, though. I managed 100 miles last summer, on a hillier route, so it should be within my capabilities.

I’m now firmly established in Perth, doing the new job, life has eased up on me, and I’ve re-discovered the joy of running, especially racing. I’m still dead keen to get a 3:15 marathon under my belt; to take the struggle out of getting into a future London Marathon as much as anything.

As I said, I’ve rediscovered the joy of racing: from 22nd June to 6th July I raced 5 times! They were 2 short and 2 medium hill races, plus a flat road 5 miler for good measure. This renewed enthusiasm led me to cast about for a marathon to run at the end of the summer, to see if I could put this 3:15 thing to bed. The Moray Marathon looked good, but it’s on 1st September, a little too soon to train properly for. The Loch Ness Marathon is on at a much better time, 29th September, but it’s £46 to enter and very hilly for a road marathon. Then I found the Newcastle Town Moor Marathon on 27th October. It only costs £17, is near my family, and would give me plenty of time to train. It’s a very small event (you could guess that from the website), on a lap course on the Town Moor. And it gives me LOADS of time to train.

And training I am doing; combining hill running, a bit of speed work, and some slow stuff. I just need to mix in plenty of long, slow runs to get my stamina up to scratch. To help with that, I’ve just found out I’ve got a place in the Glenmore 12 hour Trail Race (I was on the reserve list), little brother to the 24 hour race. Getting in training for that should be a real boon to my endurance for the marathon.

I’ve been really enjoying the mountain and hill running since I moved up here. Another endurance event I’ve entered is the Glenshee 9. That’s 21 miles, 6000 feet of climb and 9 Munros. That’ll really punish those legs! Again, training for that will build my endurance, and on that note, I’ll leave you with a few pictures I took when I had a big run/walk this Friday and Saturday, over the hills between Blair Atholl and the Linn of Dee, spending the night in the ‘Tarf Hotel’ bothy and taking in 3 Munros

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Making the most…

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted again.

After the Seaview 17, I was looking forward to a full ‘summer season’ with my family. We had arranged use our friends’ cabin up in Perthshire during the first week in August. One of the ‘attractions’ I was planning to visit up in Scotland was the Glenshee 9 hill race, part of my crazy plan. Unfortunately, that part of my crazy plan wasn’t to be; the race was cancelled because of a low number of pre-entries.

The cabin was bigger than our house, set in a lovely pine wood. Check out my pictures. I made the most of the track through the forest, getting in a little run every morning we were there.

I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow description of the rest of the holiday. A few headlines and pictures should suffice:

We took a walk up Glen Derby from the cabin.

We climbed the mountains to the west of the Cairnwell Pass. And I snuck in a few few extra summits by going for a run whilst my family headed back to the car!

I had a superb run into the Cairngorms from the Linn of Dee, whilst the rest of my family looked around Braemar Castle.

We canoed on Loch Morlich and climbed the Fiacaill Ridge, near the Cairngorm ski area, a superb scramble. And I snuck in another extra summit with some sly running!

We climbed Ben Vrackie, near Pitlochry.

I had a day out on An Socach, near Glen Shee, with my friend, Richard.

Not bad for a week in a British summer.

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It’s a Crazy Plan…

but it might work. Well, I know that the events I was going to do anyway over the summer won’t stop me getting round another marathon in September, but beyond that they’ll be great endurance training, as they’re mostly long or very long (ultras).

So, in the summer, I shall mostly be doing:

  • 11-12th May – The Ridgeway 40. Or Ridgeway 80 if you’re me.
    This is a walking event (that takes runners), 40 miles from the start/end of The Ridgeway National Trail at Overton Hill to Streatley on Thames Youth Hostel.
    The proper event starts on the morning of 12th, but for the last 2 years I have set off from the finish at around 10pm the night before and ran though the night to the start. Setting off on a long journey on foot overnight feels very intrepid and it has been quite a special experience the 2 times I have done it. It has also earned me ‘celebrity’ status, including royal treatment at the mile 29 ‘tea & cakes’ checkpoint.
  • 9th June – Welsh 1000m Peaks Race.
    Approximately 20 miles and 8000m ascent, covering all the 1000 metre summits in Snowdonia. A classic in the fell racing calendar.
  • 30th June -1st July – South Downs Way 100.
    Miles that is. I’ve run 100 miles once before, and it was the toughest thing I’ve done: I’m hoping this one will be more straightforward. I ran the 95-mile West Highland Way Race 3 weeks after my last 100, and it wasn’t too bad, so it’s not a far-fetched hope.
  •  29th July – Seaview 17.
    A lovely, scenic run along the South West  Coast Path from Countisbury to Minehead. Roughly 20 miles (the 17 is alliterative and possibly refers to the ‘as the crow flies’ distance), with plenty of climbing, especially the monster up to Selworthy Beacon.
  • 4th August – Creag Dhubh Hill Race.
    A possibility for my first few days of my main summer holiday in Scotland. 4.3 miles, 1319ft of climb – fell races are very accurately measured! It’s part of the Newtonmore Highland Games, which sounds fun.
  • 5th August – Glenshee 9 Hill Race.
    Another classic: 21 miles and 6000ft, covering 9 Munros. I really want to do this one, but will need to do the Welsh 1000s to qualify! After all, the race the day before is a bit short.
  • 19th August – Lomonds of Fife Hill Race.
    Another holiday possibility. 10.1 miles, 2493ft.

I probably won’t be able to fit any other races in before the Kent coastal Marathon on 2nd September. I’ll need to mix in a bunch a speed training with that to get my sub 3:15.



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