Wednesday, 14 June 2017


This could be a long blog, but 100 miles is a long way.

I've always had a pull to this race for various reasons. I've heard many great plaudits about Centurion events and how well they're organised. I did my first ever Ultra on the South Downs back in 2009 I was persuaded by Jen Jackson to come do the Downlands challenge, it was a 30 miler out & back so I'd experienced  15 miles of the downs & that was my only *recce*  So I thought I knew what lay ahead. Jen went on to create the SDW100 & was RD for 2 years before handing it over to James who's certainly ran with it since & created a whole host of new races.

When I told Nick & Susan I'd entered they immediately said they were coming to crew for me. I'd been quite prepared to go solo as I knew the race was well supported with no less than 14 aid stations which are supremely stocked by marvellous volunteers. But I wasn't complaining- Team Santababy goes South. Nick also did that same Ultra in 2009 & Susan had marshaled on the 100 when Jen was RD  so again it had a pull for both them too. Ian is always busy organising WHWrace at this time of year as well as his real job keeping him busy so he was staying home to watch from afar

I had no time to get down to recce it due to commitments most weekends- Marshalling at D33, Fling & Cateran, running London Marathon & occasionally seeing friends & family to remind them I do more than just run. I had to plan my long runs carefully to fit in between all that. I kept checking back on my last training plan for WHWrace and decided that my target for SDW would be same -sub22

I definitely trained harder than I have done for any race. Pushed myself harder, sorted my nutrition out, lost weight & did strength training. After London I was feeling strong & ready and eager for June10th and to get on those South Downs. So given my only recce was 8 years earlier I sought advice from Debs M-C -supermum, super athlete, super Centurion winner. She gave me her plan and I sent it onto my crew to peruse so we could make some plans & ETA for checkpoints. I'll quote Debbie in saying " its a beautiful course, think of it as a long run in a big English garden "

I also read endless blogs from last years race, I perused over pictures of the course and studied the elevation profile. I was ready & excited.

Friday 9th June-6.55am
Ian took me to train station & I was on my way to Lincoln where Nick lives & we were all leaving from there to drive down Winchester.
 I had pretty much whole first class carriage to myself so I moved from my solo seat to a 4 seater and spread myself out a bit and settle down for my breakfast

Had a lovely relaxed journey and Nick was waiting on me when I arrived. We drove to his house and Susan arrived about an hour later. Quick bite to eat  & Team Santa headed south. Journey passed fairly quickly & soon enough we were checking into hotel.

It was a glorious day so after organising my race stuff and going through couple things me & Susan headed down to beer garden for a bottle of wine in the sun. We'd decided to head down to registration for 6 and get number and had made plans to meet up with Steve who'd recently moved to Winchester all way from Oban and with Lorna & Gavin. We were so busy enjoying the sun the wine and the chat we suddenly realised it was after 6! oops. Grabbed a coffee to take upstairs to Nick and we set off for registration a wee bit later than expected. We quickly found Steve, Lorna & Gavin. There was lovely excited atmosphere and I joined queue to get my number.

James was going up & down queue apologising for the wait (it wasn't that long!) and it was after a quick hello to him that I realised I was supposed to bring my kit with me for kit check. Oh my god, I was so embarrassed. I'd read all the instructions twice and somehow managed to miss that. Given that my husband is a Race Director & at least 10 of my friends are I was more than bit mortified. James just laughed & told me I had plenty time to register & kit check in morning. Lorna was much amused by this and took to facebook to let the world know!

We left to go get some dinner at a wee pub that Lorna & Gavin had passed on way - after driving down endless roads we eventually found it.  After ordering food and getting nice bottle red we had bit of wait for our food. Certainly wasn't best meal I've ever eaten, maybe I was unlucky but it has to be worst lasagne I've ever encountered. Thank god the wine was good.

Cant remember name of place so cant warn off- beautiful location though and lovely big beer garden.
We bade Farewell to Lorna & Gav and headed back to hotel to get some sleep. We were all asleep pretty quickly and soon enough the alarm was going off at 4.15 am. tea & porridge downed we headed off to race start. Got my kit checked, number on and was raring to go.
Wandered over to start around 5.30 and caught up with Giacomo who I'd last seen at WHWrace he'd never recced course either but had downloaded route to his garmin. We were all excited & soon enough James & Nici did race briefing before setting us all of on loop round field

Once we were out field we were on South Downs way and on our journey to Eastbourne. The sun soon came out & it was very warm even though it was early.

Debs had advised me to pick up drinks at first aid station at Beachonhill so I made sure I'd drank most of my first bottle by time I got there and duly got it filled up. They had tailwind and although I'd never tried it before I decided to go with that and stuck with that for rest of race.

First big CP is QECP at 22.5 miles (3.47 - 71st) it was very busy arriving here as parkrun had just finished. Saw Nick & Susan here and told them my feet were already hurting, not great so early into race. We took off my shoes and socks to find lots of sand, think it must've been stuck under the insole- no wonder my feet were sore, being rubbed with sandpaper for 22 miles. change of socks and good clear out of shoes and it felt so much better. my crew are ace.

There was a long climb through the woods out of there and this theme would go on for rest of day. The course was rock solid, I'd anticipated lots of lovely grassy hills to run on and nice soft landings. Reality was somewhat different. If there were any loose rocks my feet seemed to find them and bashing my poor wee toes. It was however very pretty, I loved all the little villages and the houses on route made me envious of them living in such a delightful area.

As the day went on it got warmer and I made sure I was hydrating well and refilling at every aid station. I stuck to tailwind in my bottle and drank water & coke at each station, ate couple grapes and bit of pineapple at few places too. I'm not big on eating during races but I do try. I was struggling with a pain in my right groin but it wasn't stopping me running & I was making good progress. My feet were hurting too but hey, its an ultra, its hot- things are going to hurt. After a pretty gruelling hard on feet downhill into Cocking (35miles in- 6.26 68th))I arrived in big field to get big hug from my crew, Lorna was still there too & I enquired after Gavin who seemed be not too far ahead.

I saw my crew at around mile 47 where I surprised by Jon & his daughter Sophie, I haven't seen Jon for years so it was lovely to catch up and meet Soph who was toddling around with wet wipes & then tried to run with me as I ran out.

Next big aid station is Washington (54 m - 10.23 61st)just as I arrived in village my phone rang and it was Ian, it was great to hear his voice, I told him I had been struggling with groin pain and e told me it would probably ease off and not to stress about it. that something will always hurt at this stage. I knew he was right about that! he also told me he was very proud of me and that half of Scotland was watching my progress and willing me on.
 I knew that hard it was for him to be watching the race unfold from over 400 miles away but he was getting regular updates from Susan & Nick which eased his mind somewhat- he knows I'm in safe hands with those two looking after me

I was directed down a hill towards the village hall (yes, that pattern continued!) Jon & Soph were also here as was Lorna, her sis & nephews who showed my a big Saltire they'd came with.  my crew plonked me in seat outside and tended to my every need. I swapped bags here as my back was feeling bit raw with chafing and I thought a dry one might help. Nick offered me all sorts of stuff and I only said yes to Irn Bru which made a group of supporters standing behind laugh out loud. "well she is Scottish" Nick said. My goodness it was good, and chilled too!

I didn't go into village hall, Susan topped up my tailwind and off I went after bading farewell to Jon & Sophie.

I got to Botolphs aid station at bottom of yet another hill which was beside a busy road to find Gavin lurking around so left there together after being shown safely across road my lovely smiley marshall. I said to Gavin " oh yay look, another hill"  he laughed & said "it gets worse" He'd done the 50 so knew what lay ahead. He apologised for having not much chat & I said I was in same boat, he remarked wryly "thats was a bit of a change from normal"
Given we were both in bit of slump I reminded him that running a 100 mile race on your birthday is pretty stupid way to celebrate. I told him i'd been going through the miles & ticking off Scottish races as I did so- then I started thinking about where i'd be on WHW at any given point. It took my mind of things working it all out. Gavin laughed and said "glad its not just me"
The climb went on forever and went on to tarmac road at top where Gav pulled away, I could se him for a bit ahead  but I seemed to loose him.  I was bit confused that I couldn't see him ahead as I went up a big hill and sure enough when I saw my crew next, Lorna said "did you pass Gavin" I hadn't so presumed he had dived somewhere off course for loo.

I was still running pretty well here & quite often swapped places with these two guys, and another couple of runners all doing run-walk sections on route to Saddlescombe farm

I remember looking out to the coastline & seeing the sea here, views were glorious, the smell from the pigs less so!

The hills just kept on giving but i still felt pretty good. Next aid station was Devils Dyke (66.6miles) my crew weren't allowed here but had parked nearby as Nick wanted to say hello to Brigitte Groves  and I was looking forward to getting there & meeting her. Nick frst met Brigitte through UKnet runners & he'd asked her if she knew anyone who could pace me for last section when it was dark. She'd came up trumps & hooked us up with Brian Friend.

This is what makes the Ultra running community so special, people going out their way to help complete strangers. The crew there were superb, thanks so much to  them all for their cheerfulness and support.

My garmin was on low power by then and so was my phone so I went into bag to  get chargers but couldn't find the cables. quick message to crew and they realised with horror they had cables with them.
Wasn't to fussed about garmin but phone is essential part of kit so needed that charged up. Susan messaged to say Nick was heading out to meet me. This was around ditchling (mile 72)

As you can see I'm still in happy wee place. Its always great to see your crew, they put so much time & effort  to looking after me & I'd never take that for granted or be grumpy with them. I could see the sun was starting to get low &stopped to look back and reflect on my journey so far. It was around 9pm by now & I knew I had around another hour before darkness fell

I met up with Brian coming down hill just before Housedean farm, He'd ran out to meet me. we'd never met before & had only conversed through messenger but he  came bounding up hill with smile on his face asking if I was ok. I Gave him a hug and said "you must be Brian!"  how many complete strangers would give up at Saturday night to come running through the darkness on South Downs way. Brilliant. Tried not to hang around Housedean farm & as I was leaving  someone shouted my name out, I turned back to find Mike Churchyard who I got great hug off. Lovely to catch up with FB friends in middle of nowhere!
We got into Southease Aid station (84m 17.31 -43rd)and got bottles refilled. Brian encouraged me to eat something, cant recall if I did or not. I  was eager to get moving

Brian was great company & was telling me many stories of all the races he has done over SDW, his enthusiasm for route is wonderful.  It was great not having to think about navigation in the darkness knowing I was in safe hands. I'd managed to keep on bumping into Gavin at checkpoints but he usually left before I did. At one point we were altogether up a hill and it was pitch black and we all sang Happy Birthday to him, I think that's when he ran away from us :o)
We had picked up another companion by here, I think his name was Bart and was originally from Holland but now lives in Brighton. He decided to stick with us as he reckoned he'd have got lost on his own. We were on a nice downhill trot around mile 88 when suddenly I got shooting pain in my left thigh which brought me to a complete standstill. I tried to gave it a rub and it was like i'd been injected with cement, It was very painful to touch and I tried to start running again but it was painful.  I'd went from feeling pretty strong & still running when I could to painfully hobbling very slowly. Normally I can march pretty quickly but I certainly didn't feel like I was now.

12 miles is a very long way to slowly hobble. We had 2 aid stations left to go through, at 2nd last one (alfriston) was in a church hall, we weaved trough graveyard and entered into a cocoon of loveliness. I sat down for bit of rest, took couple paracetamol and had best cup tea i'd ever had. I had been feeling pretty sick since pulling muscle in thigh and as I stood up to leave there I had to rush to toilet thinking I was going to throw up but nothing came up.  We left thanking the fabulous crew there & get head down to tackle yet another hill. I lost many places here as people marched up hill past us.

I'd broken this section into aid stations and next one was Jevington, I didn't need or want anything here, not even sure why we went in but it was ever so pretty. The guys there told us we'd broken back of t and we could walk backwards and still be comfortably under 24hrs- this was pleasing news to Bart wh was still with us here. One more climb to go. Brian assured us it was easier & shorter than climb out of Alfriston (phew!) he did keep on telling us how glorious the views were too and that we were missing out n the darkness. Maybe he wanted us to jog up there next day to see them ;)  

We did indeed reach trig point quicker than expected and the cheery marshalls pointed out the finish line to us and warned us of the tricky descent. Again I was passed by fair few runners, it was ere we also lost Bart as he could still run and he hooked onto guys in front. Tricky indeed it was, I slipped a few times on the rocks which made for more waves of pain & nausea. I just kept plodding on knowing end was in sight. Brian had called Nick to let him know we were close by. Our head torches were off by now and the dawn chorus was in full voice.

I managed a few short jogs here and there & our hearts were lifted by the glorious sunrise and the birds singing us into that last mile.

I'm pretty sure I drove poor Brian mad saying "where is this bloody sports track" We arrived at the hospital & he assured me we just had to run round there and it was round the corner. I was again passed by a few folk here as I still unable to run more than few metres at a time.

As we spotted the Sports centre (at last!) Susan & Nick appeared, I hadn't seen them for ages and was delighted to see them. Nick & Brian ran round track with me, Nick peeling off to run across & get me finishing. Brian stayed with me and encouraged me to run to end which I did. Lorna ran over with the aforementioned Saltire provided by her nephews and handed it to me to finish with

Finally- 22hours and 37 minutes after I left Chilcombe sports centre I went under the finishing line. Still smiling. 11th lady 74th overall out of 220 finishers.

Reflections- the thigh trouble meant I didn't get finish I wanted nor the time, I was passed by 31 people in those last 12 miles but I'm still delighted I kept going & finished in fairly decent time.

I think I went into this a  bit blasĂ©- yes I'd trained well and was fit as could have been. But I didn't have the full respect for the course- I thought I'd have lots of rolling meadows to skip along, and even though I knew the profile, the elevation and had studied many a blog - I wasn't prepared for the toughness of it all underfoot. The hills, they just kept on giving...
lessons- Respect the course, Respect the distance. I know left nothing out there and gave it my all knowing how many had so generously donated to the two good causes I am fundraising for

my fundraising page - click here

I am as ever indebted to Team Santababy - I know Ians' mind was at rest knowing I was in very capable hands of Nick & Susan and adopted crew member in form of Brian- what a lovely man. He spent most of his pacing duties trying to persuade me back before I'd even finished. That man loves SDW with his heart & soul. Brian, thank you. Nick & Susan- I'm so happy you insisted you were coming along for the ride, and what a ride it was.

James, Nici and the whole of Centurion crew- you didn't disappoint. Beautiful route, superbly organised- nothing you could improve on from what I could see-well done.

Will I be back.....

Sunday, 28 May 2017

London Marathon, yes, again

Its been about 5 weeks since London Marathon. London wasn't my first Marathon, it WAS my first London but then its not the only Marathon .

So why the obsession with it.

Still to this day I have people congratulating me about it. Now don't get me wrong, I was ecstatic to get the time I did. (3.30.56)And I love a bit of adulation, who doesn't. But its just another Marathon. Yes its the biggest in the world, its a superbly organised race. Its superbly supported. Its CHEAP! you get free train travel to start- so so many positives. I have nothing bad to say about London Marathon or London in general who my goodness put on a superb show

But I am in training for a 100 mile race, my good time came off back of training for that. I've ran more Ultra marathons than actual Marathons but people still are talking to me about London. It baffles me. I have a customer who regularly brings in clients and I'm not joking, every time he tells them " Sandra ran London marathon you know"  He KNOWS I run them all the time, he knows I'm training for South Downs way race. But still he regales them in fact I've ran London.

My greatest running achievement ( imho) is my 21.57 WHW finish. I do have some hope to go out and get rid of those 56 seconds and get sub3.30 at some point and I wonder if people will still be congratulating me 5 weeks later if I do.

There are clearly no other Marathons worth doing!

Thoughts, anyone.......

Monday, 24 April 2017

Things are sent to test you

Well I ended my last blog with - London's Calling

And calling it was. My first London Marathon, THE Marathon,  the only one that matters, the longest etc etc

I've had many opportunities to  run it, I actually got in on my first ever try through ballot, got injured deferred then found myself on Ultra scene. silly. Then I've had GFA for ages, being so good for my age, obv. (and thats super soft for girls quite frankly)

So this was the year! Cant say I was excited about it if I'm honest. I love watching it on telly, love tracking folk but being there, I had no desire really. I supported Ian a few yrs back when he was running & loved it but to me I thought I'd need boxing gloves to get folk out my way.

Training for a marathon & a 100miler isn't so easy though, because I was targeting London for a PB it meant trying to get speedwork and long road runs in as well as making sure I got the long trail runs in too. Been averaging 75 mil weeks peaking at 99.3 yes really, and no I wasn't tempted.

2 weeks out I did cutback week after my back2back weekend of 78 miles (that 99.3 week) and did 51 miles & had 2 full days rest, next week again 2 full days. On Good Friday we were both off & went out on out nice wee 5 mile loop we have through blackford & braid nature reserve and I said to Ian I was getting shooting pains in my knee. Randomly, not all time. This was before even leaving house & happened couple times on run. It made my leg buckle, not so good. had good run so thought nothing of it. Rested next day then we headed off to St Andrews for a wee break.

We went out for run around golf course, trails  & beach and although it was glorious, I had a proper niggle in my hip. This didn't go away & only got worse as day went on moving into my back. By Monday I was sitting with hot water bottle against lower back, taking drugs (paracetamol, don't worry) and desperately trying to appt with my stupidly popular busy physio    this guy...

He said he'd call me if he got cancellation and I got apt for Wed morning. He did his best to make me scream a lot ( does everyone else bite their tongue he always tells me I'm very vocal)  gave me some exercises to do. Said I hadn't damaged anything & that "I'll probably hurt" on Sunday, but that I could run. Friday night & Saturday morning my back still hurt. I managed it with wine pretty much.

It wasn't  all about the Marathon though, Ian bought me (us) tickets for Les Miserables for the Saturday for my Christmas. I was so excited about that more than marathon it has to be said! We were both working Friday so arrived at Airport separately, I went straight to lounge and got tucked into the wine & Ian arrived about an hour later. We arrived at hotel and got bite to eat before heading to bed around 11ish. having been up since 6am

Up early Saturday to head to Expo, needed to get there, see bit of it, get back to hotel then head out to Theatre, busybusy!  I forgot to mention I'd bought myself new shoes at airport. I love Kurt Geiger & bought I pair of shoes in same style id had before which were comfiest ever. So I wore them.
Sometimes I worry about my decisions, this was one of them. 6 miles of walking and 5 blisters the day before you're trying to PB at a Marathon

Add to that the Lrg Wine & 2 prosecco with lunch. The 2 Prosecco during theatre (which was magnificent b
tw) We met Gayle & Alan for dinner after theatre.
 Had bottle wine  (that I shared) with Gayle
I guess my prep isn't quite textbook!

On the plus side, my sore feet made me forget about my sore back, that's good right....

Because of my blisters rubbing against duvet I woke up quite a lot during night. not the best. Breakfast of smoked salmon & scrambled eggs, if only I had a bucks fii to go with it, I seriously would've had it.  view from breakfast room looks over London city. proper trendy bar at night to be in I believe

Ian walked me to station to se me on my on way, by then I was starting to feel really nervous. I don't get nerves. Not even for WHW race, I'm usually as chilled as a chilled thing. I think I use my nervousness  leading up to that normally as I'm usually in tears all week watching Home & away &whatnot, Maybe this week because I so worrying about even being on start line it took that away only for it to thrown itself on me on race morning

Its a lonely old world and not one person had spoken to me til I was finally finding my way to green start & heard an almighty holler.Could only be the voice of Gavin, who is even louder than me. What a great wee boost that gave me. they were in jail so I had to kiss them through the barricades

off I went to green start & met up with more Scottish folk! hurrah. David & Caroline at start, knew I wouldn't see them again once we got going. When someone dressed as massive toilet roll joined by pen I made sure I was well away from them!
 I positioned myself  passed on my good luck wishes and suddenly we were off, It took only 2 mins to cross line but immediately I got stressed. So so busy, no room to move anywhere for first few miles it was worse then we joined  the red start. Made it even more busy. I was asked plenty times what time I was going for.Training indicated between 3.30 & 3.35 so I told everyone 3.35  which was genuinely what I thought I would do. No chance of choosing pace had to go with flow at that point, Luckily they seem to have starting points correct so everyone looking at same sort of pace. I deliberately went ahead of 3.30 pacer guy as I as I so used to running on my own and didn't want to be slave to that then lose heart if I lost him. And I prefer to have bit in bank. He didn't pass me till about mile 23
I calmed down about 4 miles in when there was bit more space, I always took the outer route when I could rather than cut corners, I even saw runners run down pavements behind supports. wtf. roads have been closed for you guys, fucking use them and let the pedestrians use the pavements.

I deliberately didn't put my name on vest, not sure if it was because I was nervous about my pb attempt & if ended up walking didn't want *go Sandra, looking good* when you feel anything but! or if it was just a selfish thing,  this was about me.

Have to say, the miles flew by. Incredibly so. I passed Antonia & we had quick hug. I knew she'd pass me later ( & she did, super speedy girly)  There was 2 moments when I got clipped-barged by folk who didn't apologies- they heard me after for sure *insert swear words*

I knew Ian was going to by Fetchpoint at mile 12 ish which is a station set up every year by Fetcheveryone see link here... fetch ( I've supported there before and set up same in Edinburgh, its proper awesome. I was so excited & emotional leading up to there,  was still on course for sub 3.30  at that point and just hoping it wasn't a fluke

The cheers I got gave me massive boost, and I knew that the next 10 miles til I saw them & Ian again would be tough. I sometimes regretted not having name on shirt but most of time I was happy being ingocnito so to speak. Back to FP & I was still running strong, I high fived all way along and again it put spring in step, Didn't see Ian though, then suddenly at 23 miles I heard him scream my name! my goodness what that did for me you have no idea. I kept thinking, when am I going to blow up, when will I need to stop, to walk... it never happened.  I kept telling myself over & over " Sandra, you're an ultra runner, you've ran much further than this etc" I still expected to massively slow down though.

3 miles to go, I kept calculating worse case scenarios in  my head- if I do 10minute miling  from here I will still pb, 2 miles, same thing - if I do this that, the next thing... I swear I didn't even see big ben or Buckingham palace, head was firmly on finish.

That last 200m felt like 2 miles. I was so so delighted to finish in 3 hrs 30 mins & 56 secs. A stonking 10 minute PB!  I was a bit tearful when I finished & even more so when walking past all the baggage handlers who were applauding us. The organisation is tremendous, from start to finish. I walked through to met up area and found Ian waiting and cried again.

I still don't feel like it happened to me, but it did! Even know, it feels like an out of body experience. I ended up with 26.6 miles on watch with all the weaving & trying to find spaces to run but hey, its is what it is.

Bloody hell I've worked hard for it though, I take my hat off to all my friends with young children. How they do it I have no idea. I think I got my time down to bigger mileage, smarter training and better eating. Marathons are damn hard work. Given I'm so close to sub3.30 I may well train for one later in year once I've recovered from SDWrace.

So that's London done. London's not calling anymore  but Winchester certainly is - few more runs to fit in before my 100Miler.

reasons to run, click here!! for my sponsor page- very worthy charities.

Here are the some of the stats, quite impressive reading I think...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

3 nights, 3 hotels,a few wet miles on the way & a little help from my friends.

Last week it snowed.

It was no huge surprise to be honest, I mean my ayephone told me it would. The day before I ran to work in a vest and Lorna Mc pointed out to me I wouldn't be in vest next day She was right, as was my ayephone.  Just as I stepped outside at 5,48 or thereabouts the first few snowflakes started to fall. By the time I was  miles in it was full blown snowstorm and I was finding it difficult to see. I stopped to do a live video ( as you do) as I wasn't sure anyone would believe quite how bad it was.

I mentioned in video that we mustn't let weather affect or stop training run (never have) and I've always said "it could be like this on race day"  Now I did say in the video that if its like THAT on race day then I'd stop drinking champagne AND I'd eat my hat, a woolly ronhill one in case you weren't watching.

I am now a bit worried my sick & twisted crew will ship down some snow.

I took last Friday off work with the plan for 2 days running on WHW route. I've actually not done a big back to back in a long time so although I've been running pretty strong this year it was a big ask for my wee body. Originally I was doing it solo as it was Ian's financial year end at work but the pull of long run on his favourite part of whw was too much of a pull, or maybe he was going to miss me...

So I'd made plans to do it alone, kinda. Plan was to get train to Milngavie and Carol would pick me up and take me to Oak tree. Slight change to go meet Lorna for catch up Glasgow then meet Carol but we still got Oaktree in end. Had lovely dinner with Carol then she went home only to return at 8am to run the first 7 miles with me.  I wanted to leave pretty sharp with a long day ahead of me

Weather was pretty dreich but certainly warm enough for us to be in vests. given that Carol is a small ultra chatty wee blonde and i'm an ultra chatty wee blonde it was a talkative cocktail as opposed to a Molotov cocktail. The  7 miles went in a flash & I sadly waved goodbye knowing I had a lonely 35 miles ahead.

Even though I was on my own & having done this route so very often I made good progress and got to Inversnaid bang on target. I was happy to find hotel open so popped in to use toilet and dry off for few minutes, the rain was relentless but it still wasn't cold. I set off for lochside knowing the rocks would be a bit treacherous, I was right. It made for pretty slow progress, last thing I needed when on my own in middle of nowhere was to injure myself, i'd barely seen a soul since rowardennan, one guy I did pass almost had heart attack, clearly not expecting anyone else to be daft enough to be out in that weather.

As I got to top of Darios hill suddenly the wind picked up and I had to stop & put jacket on as it really chilled me. I decided to nip into Beinglas & get cup of tea to takeaway but once I was inside I decided to run garmin off for  mins and dry out-warm up a little knowing I still had 22 miles to go.

Every waterfall I passed was ferocious, some you'd not normally notice as they trickled down hillside were so full & noisy, rather beautiful. No such thing as bad weather.. Cow poo alley was pretty disgusting, I had to get through herd of cows who gathered round the calfs and glared at me, I shouted shoo like Ian showed me to but they laughed in my face and stood their ground. I was hopped over the style I thanked them for not killing me. If anyone had come along and saw me speaking to cows I'm sure I'd have got a strange look or two but hours on your lonesome can do strange things.

Rollercoaster passed quicker than normal, passed few groups of kids doing DOE and soon enough I was at road crossing. Got to field to find these signs, I followed the advice. I'd suggest anyone out there running soon does too.
Unless you like disappearing into more soggy bogs. not long after going under road I got to river crossing (where there is now a bridge!) and bumped into Mel, first runner i'd seen all day. She said Noanie was just ahead walking the dogs and sure enough there was Rufus & Sam bounding up the trails, I shouted on them and they ran to greet me then probably wondered who hell this drookit wee thing was.

After a lovely Hug from a surprised Noanie I set off up road with her, we were about mile & half away from Tyndrum and it was nice to have bit of company after 8 hrs on my own. I decided a wee walk break would do me good and give me bit more energy for my last 10miles. I bade her & dogs goodbye at Bytheway then ran off on my final stage.

Stopped off at Brodies for a mars bar after realising I hadn't eaten all day. So walked up hill eating that, it gave me spring in my step for my favourite part of course. Still the rain came down, heavier than ever, but I could see ahead there was bits of blue skies peeking through. Saw few more runners from training weekend & had quick chat with Tina before running on. About a mile out from Bridge of Orchy a miracle happened-it stopped raining. 9 full ours of rain and it stops when I have half an our of running left, go figure! Nice to get jacket off and back down to my vest for last push up & over Jellybabyhill. As I crested said hill Ian called me to say he was just leaving Edinburgh & expected to arrive around 9pm.

The glorious sight of Inveronan hotel, speaking to Ian and the killers on loud put a smile on my face & a spring in my step for the last downhill of day. Got into my room and did a victory dance to find I had a bath, was dreading arriving to find a poky shower room. You can keep your icebaths, after a run (a very wet one at that) I need a soak in a hot bubbly bath and boy did it feel good. Coupled with cup of tea, bag of crisps and a cup of tea it was pure dead brilliant.

Can highly recommend this wee hotel, friendly attentive staff, lovely cosy room and superb food. No wifi, no signal on phone and the tv doesn't even get a signal but none of that mattered. Ian arrived 9pm sharp and  we had few drinks in bar before finishing off wine I'd brought with me.

Lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs & smoked salmon and Ian set off in car for Bridge of Orchy so we could get train back there next day. he was running from there, I was lucky enough to have Lorna, Emma & Louise for company for start of the day. Lorna & Louise were doing 5 out & back and boy did those 5mile pass quickly .We waved them off and me & Emma who was running to Kinlochleven (from Tyndrum) set off again and were surprised to see Kingshouse hotel appear rather quickly. Amazing what chatter and not constantly looking at mileage can do.

We got down to Kingshouse to find 4 very tame deer wandering around, now although its fabulous to see them up so close its kind of sad too. They know they will get fed by tourists but its not the stuff wild deer should be eating really. Still lovely to see them. Emma was uber excited!

After a few pics we set off on that god forsaken section to Altnafeadh and the devils straircase. Again this section which usually fills me with dread passed quickly and we were soon climbing up the staircase pondering when Ian would catch us up.  I like the Devil, I never find that climb nearly as bad as the climb out of KL.

We got to top and they may have been some larking around.
Off we went of the never ending descent in the mythical town of kinlochleven. About 3 miles down Ian suddenly appeared behind us just as another runner ran towards us to stop for chat. I gave Ian a quick kiss and he powered on ahead. few mins later we stepped aside to let a runner who was hammering it g past us, we watched in awe as he ran on then skipped up hill past Ian as if he wasn't even on a hill.

Further on we came across a group of walkers, think they were Italian, they stood wither side of trail whopping, cheering & high fiving us, utterly brilliant. Ian said they did same to him. wish I'd got pic but we were laughing so much from the reception we skipped on down the trail . We were now trying to work out timescales as Emma had a bus to catch to get her back to her car. As we got into KL we ran up road to see bus sitting there, we asked driver when he was leaving and he said "now" oh, wait till we get a selfie said we! haaha he did too.  I sadly bid farewell to Emma and tried to talk myself into positive frame of mind for next 14 miles and *that* climb.

As I ran through the town I came across this>
I stopped for a moment and thought about my Mum, and I knew she'd be very proud of me. It gave the positive boost I needed and I ran on with happy thoughts of her in my head.

here is great excuse to put my fundraising page. >>>

As I set off up the trail Ian called to warn me of a possible turn I might miss. There was bit in path with no sign that means its possible to go uphill when in fact you should go left & down. I have been known to get lost but I was ok, although I did see a few walkers head up that, maybe they wanted to though...

Eventually I got to top and once round corner and properly onto Lairig mor I started spotting Ian in the distance in his yellow fling tshirt. It was taking my mind of things watching I'm appear & disappear up and down hills or round corners & I wondered if I was gaining on him. I knew with all those miles in my legs i'd be hard pushed to catch him. Eventually Lundavra appeared and as I wandered up that hill it made me think of last time I did it in the race, good times.

Its a few miles in before you start to see the forestry work that's closed that part of route for past 6 months. At first its just lots of branches and debris all over path making it easy to trip up on my tired legs and catching in my shoes a fair bit. As I crested hill to where main part f feeling was I found 2 bewildered  foreign walkers who were standing on top a muddy mound  just looking around in astonishment. The path totally disappears and they weren't sure where to head. I picked my across the mud mounds and found path again and they gratefully followed, after that part its easier to see the trail even though its mostly covered but they'd be able to watch me in distance as I ran on ahead.

The forestry commission did say they would re open the path on April 1st and they stuck to that, but I do think it was perhaps a tad too early, I'm pretty sure its all been cleaned up now but it would've been confusing to anyone who didn't really know the route. Not that I passed anyone on Lairig anyway but still.

I used to love running through that bit of forest but hey, that why these trees are planted as I explained to the tourists who were horrified and asked why on earth they'd do that. I guess its just the shock of the devastation. Anyway, I was soon enough on fire road and on the never ending road to Braveheart car park. I passed the famous30mph sign and couldn't resist a photo stop by the leisure centre where I got a bit emotional thinking of my last finish there .

Another half mile to go and I arrived at Hotel just as garmin clocked 34 miles. 77 Miles done & dusted, two very different days. Challenging conditions but I loved it all.

Felt strong on both days and finished still running strong and happy. Was surprised to arrive at check to find Ian hadn't checked in but I soon found him next door in pub. Nice wee rehydration was in order for sure and well deserved I felt.

Next day we went for wander around town and seafront to loosen off legs before getting train to Bridge of Orchy to pick up car. Oh my goodness, what a stunning journey that is, right through middle earth ;) passing through Rannoch moor and the most remote station in the UK. Breathtaking scenery. Its nice to sit back & enjoy.

We stopped off in Tyndrum for spot of lunch at Real food café & managed to catch up with John, Noanie, Gavin, Lorna, Mark and few others who'd been on training weekend. Lovely end to a great two days training.

Had to celebrate once home...

As I write this one week on, I'm pleased to say I recovered pretty quickly, a good indication of where my training is at. I took 2 full days off and was back running by Tuesday. Nice easy cutback week. London in now calling.....


This could be a long blog, but 100 miles is a long way. I've always had a pull to this race for various reasons. I've heard many g...