2016 – A year of adventure, thousands of miles and a million more smiles.

I can’t actually believe I’m sitting writing yet another yearly review. They say that time goes by more quickly as you get older, and I don’t exactly class myself as old yet but that year seriously flew by and yet I managed to fit so much in. As has become customary, here’s a wee look back at another fantastic year.

JANUARY

The year started with the annual plod up the Ochil hills with some running club buddies on the 2nd of January. It was cold and misty but as an annual tradition to kick start the year, we braved the elements and had a great day out.


The rest of the month saw many, many training runs on the West Highland Way, ahead of the big adventure that loomed in June, and many a brilliant day out with friends.

FEBRUARY

The start of the racing season! February saw a very, very muddy run round Devilla Forest at the annual 15k hosted by the Carnegie Harriers. It was no where near as cold as the previous year, but it was much MUCH muddier. I had a great race, knocked a good few minutes off my time and got absolutely caked in mud.

Thanks to Bob Marshall for his awesome photos
Muddy harriers. My socks started off with bright orange in them…

MARCH

It was finally time to kick start the Ultra season! My winter training had gone pretty well up until now, but I’d put my back out at work in the week leading up to the D33 and was pretty worried right up until the morning of the race that I wouldn’t be able to run. However everything seemed fine on race morning and I ended up having a storming race, taking 25 minutes off my time from the previous year finishing in 4 hours 39 minutes and 9th female overall.

Possibly about to fall over, but job done!
Photo – Fiona Rennie

The Alloa Half marathon was the weekend after the D33 and I wasn’t feeling quite 100% recovered, but I was ready to give it a good shot. It turned out to be a roasting day which was a bit of a shock to the system after a long slog through the winter training, but I managed to have a pretty good run and match my PB of 1 hour 37 minutes, even though I stopped to fix my shoe and sock after the first few miles. I have big plans for that race next year, but we’ll see how winter training goes before I set any goals!

APRIL

I had a bit of downtime at the beginning of April when Craig and I went to Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia. We had an amazing yet harrowing experience which really opened my eyes to a lot of horrible things which have happened during my lifetime. Definitely something I will never forget.

When we arrived home it was pretty much straight back to it and down to London for the marathon. What an experience! I never got round to writing a blog post about it as I couldn’t really put it into words; the whole experience was just phenomenal! I had a pretty good race and even though I wanted to take my time and enjoy it (and also save my legs for the Highland Fling race the following weekend!) I got a bit carried away and swept along with the crowds and finished in a comfortable 3 hours 56 minutes.

The following weekend arrived and it was time for the first big race of the year; The Highland Fling, a 53 mile race along the first part of the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Tyndrum. I had been on this route so many times so far this year and was more than ready for this race… except I was now regretting going that little bit too fast at London and REALLY felt it in my legs on certain sections of the course. However I was delighted with my time of 10 hours 36 minutes and my overall performance and now felt more than ready for the big one which was now just 6 weeks away!

A few of the WCH runners ready to get going!

Thans to Lucja Leonard for the photos en route and the awesome support!

Just outside Beinglas and feeling strong! Photo – Clark Hamilton

MAY

With just a few weeks left until the West Highland Way race, May was full of last minute training, preparation and planning for the race. I’d never felt stronger or been leaner and I was more than ready to get going!

Churning out the kettlebell swings.

JUNE

It was finally here, the race I had thought about every single day since I been selected the previous December, the iconic West Highland Way race. I won’t go into great detail as it’s all in the race report, but I will say that it’s something I’ve thought about every single day since and something I will never forget. Never did I think I’d be capable of doing something like that, and it’s given me the courage to try just about anything.

JULY

July was a month of complete downtime. Craig and I jetted off to Canada for just under 3 weeks and travelled from Vancouver to Calagry and over to Toronto and had the most amazing experience. I did pop on my trainers once or twice and ran around the amazing scenery, but it was mostly about relaxing and spending quality time with my awesome other half.

AUGUST

Back to it! It was time for the final race of the Triple Crown series (all 3 races on the West Highland Way in the same year) at the Devil O’ The Highlands. After a bit too much downtime on holiday I wasn’t quite sure how this race was going to pan out, but after toeing the start line with the speedy ultra girls, my competitive hat was firmly on and I gave it my all. I had an awesome race and finished 9th lady overall in 7 hours and 47 minutes taking 43 minutes of the previous years time!

Pretending I ran all the way up the staircase! Photo – Josh Hewitson

SEPTEMBER

Another month, another big race! I’d heard great things about the Glenmore races, which are run by the awesome BAM racing and decided to give the 12 hour race a go. A few guys from my running club had signed up for the 24 hour race, but I kept my (almost) sensible head on and decided against it this time around. The weather was stunning, the location was amazing and I was delighted to blag my first podium position at an ultra, finishing 3rd lady overall in the 12 hour race!

Sun burnt and delighted.

2 weeks later, I was toeing the start line of the River Ayr Way Ultra. I thought I’d have 3 weeks in between races, but I got my dates wrong! Oh well! It was a new race to me so I was excited about a day out with the Wee County Harrier ladies. It turned out to be another stunner of a day for racing and the course and organisation were fantastic, I’ll definitely be doing it again. I was pretty shattered and had a lazy few last miles, chatting away to new friends that I’d made along the route, but I somehow still finished 3rd lady!

Pretty sure the shoes were dark purple when I started!
Coming in to the first water station. Going too fast!!!

OCTOBER

More downtime which meant more travelling! This time it was off to the Faroe Islands for some hiking and photography. I thoroughly recommend a visit, it’s stunning!

I’ll just let that mess with your heads for a little while…

NOVEMBER

It was finally time for the last race of the season and I had a bee in my bonnet. Glen Ogle was my very first Ultra in 2013 and I have ran it every year since, so my 4th time running it I was DETERMINED to finish in under 5 hours. I was delighted to finish in 4 hours and 54 minutes feeling strong and happy! I was going to call it quits with Glen Ogle as soon as I got under 5 hours, but I’ll need to go back next year and do my 5th race on the course to earn my BAM pot!

Cold and chilly Wee County Harriers
Heading up the main road at the start. Photo – Alison Downey

And with that, another racing year comes to a close! I couldn’t sum it up in just a few words as I’ve crammed so much in and had the most amazing time in doing so. 2017 is going to have to be pretty spectacular if it wants to beat this one!

See you on the flip side!

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