Race Report – GB Ultras, Race across Scotland

BY EMILY BEAUMONT

Apologies in advance – this is long, I’ve left a few details out, so it could have been longer. Plus, I remembered more of the little details in the first few days and less at the end. Second half of the race being as scatty as my brain was!

I first heard of GB Ultra races in 2018, the Race Across Scotland interested me at the time but thought I was out of my depth, so was considering entering the 100 mile grandslam – 5 100 milers in one year. I decided against this as some of the dates clashed with other things. In the back of my mind I was also considering the Hardmoors 200 event, although it was tight on time limits, I knew the course which would have been a benefit. Beginning of 2019 I was still undecided on my goal for the year, then two amazing female friends did the Spine Race, one finished, one didn’t – but both showed true determination and were inspirational. After that I knew I had to attempt a 200 miler and give myself a challenge. I entered early February, and decided to keep it quiet, as I didn’t want the added pressure of people expecting great things from me. I wanted to be able to just go and run/walk/crawl the route for myself, my way. Only a handful of people knew by the time race day came.

Race Across Scotland follows the Southern Uplands Way, a 214 mile path from one coast of Scotland to the other. The race started on the West coast at Portpatrick and finished on the East coast at Cocksburnpath. The race itself was to be a few miles longer than this due to some checkpoints being off the route, the gpx file I loaded onto my watch stated 219 miles. I had 100 hours to complete the race and had been warned that it was a tough terrain and was not to be taken lightly. My mantra throughout the race was ‘if I can do a 100 mile race, I can do a 200!’ – this being slightly different my advice to many people ‘if you can run a half, you can run a full marathon.’ The distance had never really bothered me, as I was confident that in the time allowed, I could do this. In my head I had three challenges to make this a success;

1. Feet Management, I had been pre warned that the route was wet, meaning risk of trench foot. Changing socks and shoes and drying out feet with talc powder at checkpoints would be important. In the months before, I used a moisturiser on my feet to soften the hard skin areas.

2. Sleep, I needed to plan this right so that I wasn’t too tired to make silly errors, also I probably wouldn’t have the time to sleep for too long each night. And I worried that if I slept for too long my legs would seize. I thought about going through the first night without sleep as I had done this on many races, and it could result in me gaining some time for the later stages. But thought best to perhaps see how I’m feeling and assess when I get to the first night checkpoint.

3. Fuel, on previous longer runs I have struggled with eating on the second day. I would have to force myself to eat regularly. I had the car stocked with many different foods – savoury and sweet – and Scott would be at each checkpoint to make sure I have something decent.

I didn’t train specifically for this, I mean, how can you train for a 200 plus miler? I just kept with the 2 long runs a month, usually a marathon and ultra race. I had done 5 marathons and 5 ultras so far in 2019, the longest race being North Tyne Trail Race which was 90 miles. I went to club session once a week for speed work and entered the club’s parkrun handicap and 10k leagues to keep me focused, achieving PB’s in both distances throughout the year. I also kept up my run-every-day streak, which I had started in October 2018. I kept sensible and made sure I had shorter recovery runs after my longer runs. I took July easy, as the months before had high mileage, my longest run this month was 20 miles – I worried that I had took it too easy. Early August, I swept the Hardmoors Farndale Marathon two weeks prior to the race, getting 10 hours on the feet training, this eased my concerns.

I was unable to recce any part of the route before race day, I had to rely on the file I had loaded onto my watch, following other runners and the signposts. I had been told that the route was well marked by the official signposts, and the organisers would not be including any additional signs or markers, only at the checkpoints where they were off route. I had given myself a couple of nice-to-have targets – I wanted to be finished on the Tuesday night, so sub 90 hours, and I wanted a silver buckle. Instead of a medal, you got a belt buckle either gold (finishers 1-25), silver (finishers 26-50) or bronze (finishers 51+), depending on where you finish.

The race was to start on Saturday 17th August, I had had two days off from work prior. Thursday was spent packing for the race and our holiday to Corfu which we would be going the day after finishing the race. My husband Scott was going to be my support crew, so midday Friday we set off to the west coast of Scotland. The drive itself was long, and the realisation that I would be running farther than our journey to the start sunk in. I got registered and kit checked on Friday night at Portpatrick, then we had a short drive to Stanraer where we were staying overnight. We found a pub for a meal and pre race drink – a bottle of cider. Alarm set for the morning – 4:30am wake up call for a 6am race start.

When we got to Portpatrick on the morning I got sorted with a tracker, I knew two other people who were running the race, both ladies were keen Hardmoors runners – Lena and Claire – I stood nervously on the startline with them. The air was cool but knowing how hot I can get running, I started in my vest with compression arm sleeves and shorts. 66 runners on the start line, we waited while the organisers took plenty of photos and videos, to be honest I was a little annoyed at being delayed, just wanting to get started. Eventually at 6:10am we started to the sound of bagpipes. We set off up the steps to the cliff tops, where we followed the coast line as we went low to a couple of hidden bays and back up to the cliffs. This path was for two miles, it was a beautiful coastal path that got me excited for what was to come. At the lighthouse, we turned inland up a road. It was pretty much road all the way to the first checkpoint except for a few trail sections and a big bog to get our feet wet early. First checkpoint reached, 13 miles in – only another 200 or so miles to go, gulp! I didn’t have much here and quickly got on my way.

Shortly down the road I saw some guys drying feet and changing socks already. I had started in waterproof socks, but the bogs had gone over the tops and my feet were slightly wet. I wondered if I should change or not, but decided to get further on. This was a good decision as further up the road, there was a track with a stream running down which lead to a boggy marsh. I laughed back at the guys telling them that they were going to get wet feet again. Hopping over bogs and puddles, then tripping and falling into nettles, it seemed like no time at all had passed and I was at the next checkpoint. Here I got some sandwiches and other bits to eat, as I was starting to get hungry. The next checkpoint wasn’t until another 18 miles.

I headed out and got talking with a lady called Sara, after I called her back from going the wrong way. We chatted mostly about running, and our journey to this challenge, we ran across the moorland, into a forest, past the first bothie (emergency shelter), through more woods, climb up a hill, and a steep loose rock downhill. We drifted apart through a felled section of the forest. There was a few other runners and a few pleasantries were past. A mile up the road everyone was surprised to see a checkpoint. A family had set up a checkpoint outside their house with water, biscuits and bananas. This was much appreciated as everyone had been running low on water. This section had been a taste of what was to come, careful planning was going to be needed to ensure I ate enough through these longer stretches, as I realised I was very hungry. We had our first rain shower further on, as people stopped to put coats on, I carried on as I could see the sky was looking bright. The shower became heavy, but after 10 minutes it stopped and I was soaked through but soon dried out. I was shocked to see that my watch had died, usually the battery lasts about 20 hours but the large gpx map file I had loaded onto it had drained it. My power pack was with Scott, as I didn’t think I would need it yet. Oh well, I still had people around me to follow. This was my first error, as we lost the path, Sara was following her watch, the other guy with us had nothing to navigate trampling through a small woods and climbing through a rough field and still no sign of any fingerposts or any other runners – as there had been a few behind us. Sara got her handheld gpx out, I rang Scott to check the tracker, and eventually we found the right path.

The route then followed a river, the path seemed to go on forever, I was ahead and alone. My phone started ringing, it was Scott, I had missed the checkpoint. I had been watching out for the signs that I forgot that the checkpoint was actually off route. I headed back passing other runners who were now on their way out, half a mile later I found the bridge I should have crossed. Scott had walked out to meet me from the visitors carpark, he hadn’t been allowed to crew for me until this point. He had a cup of tea made for me, perfect but then pointed up the road to where the village and checkpoint were. I got walking while trying to drink my tea, it didn’t work so well so passed it back to Scott when he drove past me and started running up the road. The checkpoint was much farther than I realised.

In the checkpoint, I took my shoes and socks off to air them out. The hot food available was curry, which I don’t like, so Scott asked them to give me plain chicken and rice. I grabbed some more tuna sandwiches and other bits. Then went out to the car to fill my bag up with more snacks for going off on my way, and got the charger for my watch. Talc on the feet and dry socks and shoes, I also put my long sleeve top on as the evening was drawing in. I set back out to retrace my steps to the bridge while I ate more food. The route lead me up a valley to Glen Trool, and climbed gradually up and over a mountain range and past Loch Dee. It had now gotten dark, so I got my headtorch on.

I was caught up by a Chinese-Norwegian guy called Jin. He talked about races in Norway and about the races in the UK he had ran, he had done this race last year. We caught up to the group of people in front of us, I was feeling good, so I powered on ahead on my own. This was another longer section, there were more bogs ahead before reaching the next checkpoint at St Johns Town Of Dalry, it was after half past one in the morning. As I entered the checkpoint hall there were many people asleep on air beds and chairs. The marshals sorted me out with some spaghetti bolognaise and tea, Scott brought me my stuff in for my feet. A had another cup of tea and some more food, I tried to rest my eyes for a while, but I was a bit too wide awake on adrenaline to sleep. So, decided to carry on without sleep. I went to the car first to get some further food supplies for my bag, and Scott walked with me through the village until the street lights stopped.

Out of the village I headed over a field, there were no other visible headlights, I think I was the only stupid one out here. The waymarkers weren’t very clear and the paths were either faint paths leading in many directions or none existent. Most the time I was generally in the right direction with only a few minor corrections when I spotted a waymarker to the left or right. This took a lot of concentration and I was pleased that I wasn’t suffering from tiredness yet. As dawn broke, I could see some civilisation, a few farm houses and cottages. I wasn’t sure how much further I needed to go to get to the farm house who were selling bacon butties, I was sure I had about 6 miles, but the path was through continuous bogs on rolling hills and it was drizzling, it took a while. It was hard going and energy sapping, I started swearing to myself, through a wooded section that was still very much wet underfoot, surely I must be close?

Eventually I got out onto a track, it was downhill so was nice to get moving properly again. But then I was stopped, Wayne the race director had wandered up to take photos. He let me know that he had left hot coffee and dry clothes in the bothie at the bottom of the hill if needed. How thoughtful, except I don’t like coffee. I got running down the hill, and ran past the bothie, the drizzle had stopped and I knew I would dry out fast enough. As I reached a farm house I couldn’t work out if this was the one with bacon butties, but there was no one around so I went straight past. I was hungry but didn’t want to bother anyone if it was the wrong place. It wasn’t too much longer to the next checkpoint, 7 or 8 miles. I continued up the road, I was sure I could smell bacon but nothing was visible. Up the road I saw a little girl looking at a sign or poster, probably waiting for the person whose head I could see bobbing over the top of the hill. As I got closer, I realised it wasn’t a girl as it was much too thin. But a scarecrow, but the head over the hill was still there waving at me, being polite I waved back. I was in heaven – bacon buttie and cup of tea from these angels that had appeared from nowhere. I felt alive again, pulled back from the dead, then they pointed me up the hill.

The climb up and out of the valley didn’t seem to take too long, and soon I was running down the other side dodging the odd clump of grass, the bogs I just ploughed through, following the waymarkers as well as I could. In the distance there was a small town, I was sure this was Sanquhar, where the next checkpoint was. Once on the road, I kept a constant run into the town, Scott was there, he had came out to meet me, we jogged to the checkpoint together. Shoes and socks were off first before food, this checkpoint had chilli, so I got Scott to make me some noodles. Scott wanted to put something on Facebook, but I asked him to wait until I got over 100 miles which would be the next checkpoint.

I brushed my teeth before leaving, this always makes you feel fresher, I planned to change my clothes at the next checkpoint, which was only 8 miles away, at the village of Wanlockhead – Scotlands highest village. No surprise then that this short section was tough climbing, my legs now felt stiff and uncooperative with the hill climbing but not painful, and even on the few downs there seemed to be no life in the legs. This worried me, I still had over two days left and my legs were feeling this bad now. I swore a bit more. I managed to get a shuffle going up the road for a mile to the village.
This was a very quiet checkpoint, very few runners were here. I grabbed some clothes from the car and some baby wipes, I put in my order for beans on toast then went to get changed in a separate room. It felt good to have clean clothes on, I think the others had been quite stinky. I used the baby wipes to wash the sweat from my skin. I felt much better. I don’t remember if I took my socks and shoes off here, as I’m sure I changed without taking them off. Oh well, there had been no bogs over the last section. I didn’t manage to eat all of the beans on toast, so I picked up some food to eat on the go including a banana (which I later lost). The marshals suggested I had an hours sleep as it was now almost 6pm, in hindsight I should have, but I thought best to push on to the next checkpoint. I don’t think I realised that I had 20 miles to go to get there.

The first 10 miles went well, the first 5 being rather hilly the legs still weren’t behaving but better than they were on the section before. The next 5 were a little more runnable and flew by. I was curious whether Scott had put something one Facebook, so I turned on my phone data to have a look. I was overwhelmed by all the messages and good wishes from everyone. My running club had also found out my secret and there were posts on their Facebook page. This cheered me up and made me more determined to push on. As I went across the dam at Daer Reservoir, it got dark and I needed my headtorch again. The next 10 miles in the dark were interesting as the route went up a hill, it seemed like miles in the dark with no way of knowing where the top was.

Once up, it followed the fence line up and down some smaller bumps. My eyes started playing tricks on me, the reflection of the headtorch beams made it seem like I had a bridge over my head. My mind thought the lights to the side of me were runners cheating across the field. I dug in knowing this wasn’t real, once out of the field and into the woods, things seemed clearer. I had to concentrate through what seemed like a maze of bogs through the trees, I felt like I was going in circles as the path was so repetitive – down a wet path, cross the cross roads, up a wet path, down a wet path…. I could hear voices behind me, I think I saw headlights, but no one caught me up. Was it in my head? Eventually the path broke, I was still in the woods, but the path was no longer wet. Less concentration was needed, so my head started seeing faces everywhere, in the bushes, walls and stones. I was startled when I though I saw a boy sat in the grass beside me, only seconds later he disappeared. This didn’t worry me too much as I was still conscious enough to know it wasn’t real. I got out onto the road, I had some logic at this point and navigated myself down the road. I was still seeing stuff; a passing place sign doing the jig, a conversation with my boys walking beside me, men in cow onesies… Two runners caught me up as I saw the lights of the village, this woke me up. They started running down the hill, so I followed on, as I got into the village Scott and one of the marshals met me and we all jogged up to the checkpoint at Beattock.

Shoes and socks came off, into a sleeping bag across some chairs, told Scott I wanted two hours and I tried to sleep. It was uncomfortable, I tossed and turned, moving one way then the over, just couldn’t settle. I did drift off a few times, but then gave up and decided to have some food. Scott seemed to think I had only had an hour. Jacket potato and beans, and a cup of tea. I gave my legs a clean down with some wipes, and checked for ticks as the legs were itchy, I had some spots but no ticks, the itchiness was from my day 1 nettle fall. The marshals told me they were diverting the runners from the high path on the next section, we would be taking the old lower route. It was still dark when I left the checkpoint.

The legs felt fairly fresh today, and I got moving pretty well, it wasn’t long before the sun rose. Across farm fields and through little nature reserve then on to a gravel track, this was where the diversion started, the track stayed low through the trees, the higher path I could see on the side of the hill. I turned off to rejoin the route, but I wasn’t sure if this was correct so I started to take my bag off to get the map out but saw I had a lady following me, she assured me this was correct, so I put my bag back on. I followed the lady, and was surprised to see the trail lead out over the tops between Galloway and Scottish Borders. Fantastic views up the valley, this section made me very happy and I was reminded of the lake district. But my joy soon disappeared when there was a long road section. I was tired, hungry and my feet were feeling very sore on the hard tarmac, I felt down, swearing to myself often again. I had a hot head and cold hands which was not like me. After a few miles I gave myself a kick, and forced myself to run to the next tree, then to the next lamppost, then to the corner. It may not have been fast, but I was back moving again. It had been 8 miles of road to the checkpoint which was near Ettrick.

This checkpoint had airbeds, but I was worried about noise of people coming in and out. So I opted for sleeping in the car. I had my socks and shoes off again, this time I had no problem sleeping, and I could have slept forever but Scott woke me after an hour, as I had asked him. Reluctantly I went back to the checkpoint for some food. The feet feeling sore even with my flip flops on, and I felt cold and was shivering plenty. I sat there with a foil blanket on, eating some chicken stir fry, it had loads of broccoli in – which I hate – but managed to eat plenty it was tasty. I slowly started feeling better. A kind marshal sorted my feet, she put blister plasters on the pad of my foot for extra support, then used rock tape over the top to keep it in place. She also used the rock tape for the blisters I had on my right foot on two toes. Putting my socks and shoes back on this felt instantly better. I said my goodbyes to the marshals and headed out, there was a light shower as I walked back up the road.

The shower didn’t last too long, and I was soon back up on the hill tops, with such amazing views. I felt very happy indeed, in the distance I could see where I was heading towards – St Mary’s Loch. These few miles really did lift my spirits, and I worked out I was around 150 miles into the race. There was a good run down to the Loch, then I followed the path along Loch where I met Scott. He had parked up and walked to meet me, he offered more food too me, I guess I only had stir fry and did really need more, especially when Scott pointed out the next hill.

The next section breezed by while still challenging, the views were amazing. I was overtaken by two guys, they didn’t get too far ahead, but seemed to wait at certain turns to ensure I was following. It soon became dark as I entered a village. I was surprised when the path lead me along the road out of the village, in my head I had thought the next checkpoint was here. A few cars were along this road, so I had to keep ducking into the hedge and covering my headtorch beam, eventually I met up with Scott. Who gave me the awful news that there was still 8 miles to the checkpoint. I swore and stormed on, refusing food and drink that was offered. Two headtorches had almost caught me up, they stopped when Scott offered them some water. The path headed up a lane, the two people caught me up – Jin who I met earlier and a Canadian woman called Laurissa. I followed these two all the way to checkpoint, when I found myself dawdling, I forced a run to keep up with them. Not much was said between the three of us as we were all tired, although at one point Jin was singing a kind of Nordic folk song which was very beautiful. The hills were continuously rolling, it seemed like a long time before we reached the checkpoint Fairnlee.

At the checkpoint, I was diverted into a back room where there were air beds, Scott passed me a sleeping bag from the car. He went back to the car to sleep, I told him and the marshal I wanted 2 hours. Shoes and socks off, and snooze. I stirred early with people entering the room, the marshal told me I’d had less than an hour and a half. I couldn’t settle so got up, the board on the wall stated there was 51 miles to go. This made me feel good, as it felt like I was on the home straight and the thought of 50 miles left didn’t bother me. I checked my watch to discover the battery had died while I slept. I went through to the kitchen for tea, soup and bun, I had two servings of these. The marshal went out to wake Scott as she could see I was eager to go. Watch charger sorted, clean socks and shoes on, bag topped up with snacks and away I go, it was still dark.

As day broke, I was feeling recharged, legs and feet good as I got moving really well. I had a great run through Galashiels and Melrose. On an uphill I decided to catch up on Facebook and get some positive vibes from all the messages. Scott met me at one point with a banana, much appreciated. I had a slight detour where I went round three sides of a large rectangle field, missing the short length that I was supposed to have done. I decided I would get an hour sleep at the next checkpoint since I didn’t get the sleep I wanted at the last. So, when I saw the signpost for Lauder 6 miles, I pushed on running along the road, the route turned off the road, across a field and up a farm track. When I got to the checkpoint at Lauder, it was fairly busy, so after checking in I went to the car for a sleep.

When Scott woke me after an hour, I went to get changed into some fresher clothes while he got me some food ready. Soup and pizza here, as well as my usual cup of tea. Scott had bought some fruit, which was refreshing. Lena was here, she had, unfortunately, been timed out after falling asleep and not making it to the checkpoint in time. I had a quick chat before I headed out.

I had a slight route complication, my watch pointed me one way but the signposts pointing another. I started by following the signs, as I could see the direction I was going was likely to meet up with my watch. But then I wondered if it would be counted as a short cut and get disqualified. I carried on slowly while I got me phone out to check the tracker route. Luckily, I was going correctly. I headed up and across some waterlogged fields. I caught up with two guys I had spoken to briefly the day before. It wasn’t long before I had past these, moving stronger. I had some curious cows run around me, but they were too afraid to get too close, I just walked until they had settled away from me. Scott was there – in the middle of nowhere, on a farm track – he had came to make sure I didn’t need anything. I had a drink of fizzy and grabbed a snack but otherwise was ok. The route went across a moor, reminding me of the North Yorkshire Moors. From what I could see of the profile on my watch, this was the last of the high hills. It was a long gradual climb, but with a consistent fast paced walk I was soon up. I replied to a few messages on my phone as I walked. Once over the brow, I could see the edge of Watch Water Reservoir where the next checkpoint would be at a small fishing hut.

I knew the checkpoint had all day breakfast cooking for runners, so had been looking forward to getting to this one from the start, plus knowing only 20 miles left after this one, I was full of high spirits. I almost caught up with Jin and Laurissa before getting there. Once in the hut, I asked for everything for my breakfast. I was surprised to see how much was actually on my plate, I ate it all apart from giving Scott one slice of toast and a bit of bacon. Not sure I really tasted any of it, as it was inhaled! I was ready to go straight away, not wanting to spend any more time here when I was so close to finishing.

The road climbed up hill from the reservoir, but then a gentle down for a mile so I ran at first, this felt good but then I started to feel sick from the food in my stomach jumping about. I slowed down to a jog. The route followed through fields, past a windfarm, along a track, I reached a pretty little valley with purple heather glad to see it before the sunset. I started to feel cold, so put my jacket on. Scott was waiting at a little village, I put a long sleeve layer on and my fingerless gloves. I carried on along the river, through a few boggy sections, past a monument, and two farm diversions. I could see vehicle lights in the distance, I knew this was the A1.

Then there was a light heading towards me, I knew this wouldn’t be Scott as we didn’t pack a torch for him. Was I hallucinating again? Then I heard an unfamiliar voice mentioning my name. The lady and her son had been marshals at various other points, and were heading home but had stopped to give runners encouragement if they saw they were close to them on the tracker. They offered me skittles and grapes, then walked down the lane with me. It was so nice of them, and it was good to just talk to keep me awake as my eyes had started seeing things again. We shortly met up with Scott who had parked up beside the A1 and walked up park of the lane. The lady, whose name I didn’t get, said farewell and wished me luck on the last 6 miles. Scott had worry in his voice when asking why they had been with me, I reassured him that they were just being supportive.

Scott showed me the best place to cross the A1, the path followed along by the railway line and road for a mile before heading into the woods. There was another diversion sign, but my watch wanted me to go another way. I followed the diversion signs, up the hill and zig zag back to the general direction my watch wanted me to go. But then the path split in two, and there were no signs to follow. I was back and forth trying to work out which way, I took my phone out to check the tracker, my tired mind just couldn’t figure it out, I must have wasted 10 minutes by now. I took a gel out of my bag hoping this would help give me some clarity. It worked, and I figured out which way to go to join up with the tracker and watch route. The gel had woken me and I was moving well again through the woods, I was head down towards the coastal section.

At the caravan site the signpost pointed up the hill, I got halfway, and my watch was telling me I was wrong. I headed back down to look for a sign to direct me off the road but there was none, so I headed back up. The tracker wouldn’t load on my phone, so I rang Scott to see if he could see where I went wrong. He told me to head back down. I still couldn’t see the path. My watch was wanting to take me through the caravan park, but I couldn’t see any signposts. I went back to where I saw the last signpost, there was a board here with a map, it clearly showed the Southern Uplands Way going up the road and turning at a building at the top. I decided to ignore the watch and follow these instructions. Once I got up to the top, the path followed a narrow trail along the cliff tops. My watch was now telling me I was on route.

I had a good run along the cliffs, before the path turned back inland. Passed a few houses and under the A1. There were two headlights coming towards me, it must be Scott. No, it was Jin and Laurissa, they had completely missed the coastal path section and were having to go back. I could see the lights of Cocksburnpath, and a few people hanging around – that must be the finish. As I got closer, I noticed it was the RD and a few marshals all with video cameras. I was a little disappointed Scott wasn’t there. Ok, not sure where I’m going now, I’ll follow you guys. Me thinking the finish was just around the corner I got running well, the guys directed me and as we round the corner there was no finish, another corner passed, across a market square? Down a lane, ooooh I can see lights, people and the finish line – I was still running and upped the pace a little more. I crossed the line as a small crowd cheered. It was almost half past two on Wednesday morning – the poor neighbours, I hope everyone wasn’t being too loud.

I felt like I could have kept running for longer, but pretty pleased it was all over. I didn’t get emotional, which I thought I would have as I had a few moments throughout Tuesday where I was close to tears of joy because of how I was feeling and knowing I was ‘almost’ there. The RD presented me with a gold buckle, not giving me any time to freshen up for the photos he then took. Once inside I had a cup of tea, shoes and socks off for the last time on this race. The medic checked my feet, but I already knew he would say they were fine, just a few blisters. I got a shower, and it felt like the best one ever, even if I did have to keep pressing the button, it was bliss. More cups of tea and food, while Scott went to have a sleep so that he could drive home safely. I was quite surprised that I hadn’t seized up yet, but after a few hours in the car there was a little stiffness. I didn’t sleep until I got home.

66 started, there was 28 finishers, I came 18th in a time of 92 hours 18 minutes. I didn’t get my Tuesday night finish which I had wanted, although I did get the gold buckle – a step up from the silver I had wanted. All my garmin watch recordings plus the estimate for the section I didn’t record, got the total distance at 230 miles. I know I had gone wrong on a few sections, but I think the rest of the distance was from the times I was slightly off course, this all added up over the 4 days.

Recovery – I slept for a few hours on the morning, popped into town, had a few more hours sleep, then finished the packing for our holidays. We were flying at 7:30am on the Thursday morning, I wanted to keep my run streak, so at 3:30am I went for a mile plod round the block, so I didn’t have to do the run in the heat when we landed. Yes, it was slow, but there was nothing hurting just a little aching and heavy legged. I had elephant ankles – ie. no visible ankles – they were very swollen. Whilst on holiday, I did run a mile every day before breakfast, a few days in, I managed to see my ankles even though they were still swollen, they now had some shape. I didn’t get a lot of recovery as we were out and about every day. A week and a half after finishing, I did a steady 12 miles on the moors on the Saturday and the Sunday I ran my fourth fastest 10k, I had felt great but was sensible and slowed for the last couple of miles (obviously didn’t slow that much). After this, I definitely felt my legs and I had another week of steady short runs to ease them. I was pleased with my recovery, and soon felt ready for something longer, but again being sensible I had an easy September, with only a few 10k races planned. Most weekends I very jealous of everyone else doing longer trail races.

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