A couple weeks before the fling my club mates had organised a 2 day training run over the entire route. It was the week after Perth 50k and I didn't commit to it till the Monday as I wasn't sure how I'd feel. After Loch ness marathon I was broken and it took me a week to recover. After Perth I did a PB and PB at Marathon distance and was fine by next day, goodness knows how that works but I wasn't complaining.
Ian was going to footy on Sunday so he decided to come along for part of Saturday and it would be his last (and first lol) training run for London. Plan was to do Glenshee to Blairgowrie on first day and Blairgowrie to Glenshee 2nd day. Ian decided to run to Alyth which was around marathon distance.
We headed up to Alyth in morning and met Lorna & John, Ian left his car there and we headed up to meet rest gang at Glenshee. By 9.30 we were heading out into the glorious sunshine. I had my jacket on for first mile or so but it was soon discarded and I was down to my vest. There was still a lot of snow around but it was such a gloriously sunny day. I'm probably repeating what I've said before when talking about Cateran trail but I do love this route.
It's basically a tour of many farms, one day I shall count all ones you run through, I'm sure Karen could tell us exactly how many there are though. The first 6 miles were the usual, lovely trails and sinky bogs and a poor squashed Hare, the tortoise clearly had made off safely. We came across fair amount of cows on path in first few miles and Ian went to front and shooed them all away
Soon enough we are the first checkpoint area of race. Then it was 3 miles of road before getting to where we re-join trail.
Ian & Donald were a bit ahead and I climbed the massive style to join them on other side they pointed to the huge open gate to the right. They let me, and everyone else climb it before telling us.
These pics are taken from top of said style.
Might be something to look out for in race if you're running it.
The climbs started again and the snow got deeper as we went on but still the sun shone brightly on us.
We ploughed on enjoying every step and taking in the fabulous scenery. The snow was lovely to run on the bogs were, well, boggy and very icy cold when disappearing into them due to the snow & ice around. Many a time we'd come to a gate and start clambering over only for someone to then go open it. It's not like I've not done this route before! Again, if you're doing race, check first. save your legs.....
When we arrived at Alyth,we had quick pic then
See Fionnas' sad face >>
There was also fair few trees fallen there too which we had to climb over, wasn't too much hassle though, think we managed to jump over one so it's not too much of an obstacle if it's still there. Coming out of Drimmie woods you're faced with a 2 mile steep downhill on road. Sounds pretty good right? Maybe not so much after 29miles running and knowing you've got another 23 tough miles ahead. Just be a tad cautious! We however were finishing at Blairgowrie that day so went for it and enjoyed it.
Back t hotel for bath, food and wine and fairly early to bed for 8.30 start next day.
Typical for Scotland the weather changed completely and woke up to a fresh snow fall and snow continued to fall for entire second day so we were all layered up. We started 2nd day where the checkpoint in race is just at carpark at bottom of *that* hill
We all felt pretty good and there was plenty of runnable sections, it was minus 3 when we'd got up though so we didn't want much hanging around getting cold.
Just before Bridge of Caley checkpoint there's pretty much no point trying to avoid the bogs & mud, just embrace it and accept you'll get muddy. When you get to that CP during race I always liken it to Beinglas, you know you've broken back of race but you also know you've got to dig deep knowing whats ahead. There's a lot of runnable sections after there but there's also a lot of hills. Fionna was powering up all them and putting us all to shame but I guess that's why she won the race last yr :)
the higher we climbed the colder it got but we were all in high spirits and having great fun.
The fun proper started after last CP in race which is Enochdu. As we started the climb towards Glenshee the snow got deeper and deeper. Not the lovely runnable snow of yesterday but silly deep snow which you'd suddenly disappear into up to your knees.
It became an adventure from then and running was getting harder and harder.
the views were quite spectacular though so it was well worth it, despite it being very tough on legs. As we climbed the last big hill a mere 2 miles from end it must've taken us a good hour, certainly felt like it. when we got to top we found this!
That last mile downhill is usually tremendous fun and it great to power down it knowing you've finished. Trying to run down this time was a nightmare and we kept on disappearing down pockets of snow and disappearing again. Look how deep the snow is here, that post is almost covered!
We did make all make it down safely though and got to hotel, had celebratory drink then headed off home happy.
55 miles done over *interesting* conditions.
Hoping the weather next weekend is a tad warmer as we are marshaling.