West Highland Way Race 2019 – crewing for Iona Mackay *Team Bronde* -Guest Blog by Joanna Murphy

I crewed for Iona in the 2018 WHW, this was my first time “crewing” but being able to bring plenty of my own ultra-running experience to the fore, I was confident I could feed and encourage her no problem. That and the fact I was also accompanied by Neil MacNicol who is a better than average runner (and also Ionas coach). What makes a good crew? Personally I think having running experience and knowing your runner inside out are important. It is knowing what your runner needs without them communicating that to you.

2018 was a success and Iona was 4th female in a time of 21hours and 2 minutes. This was a superb time and both runner and crew were delighted, however as her own worst critic, she wanted better. Less than 24 hours after completing it, 2019 was agreed upon. Armed with new found confidence, the training kicked off in late 2018 with all road/trails/hills leading to Milngavie.
Our friendship first blossomed at the 2016 WHW race when we were both racing it and ended up running the Loch section together. Since then we’ve become loyal training partners and crew for each other. Iona and I ran 20 hours of the Glenmore 24 race together last year so it’s safe to say we are pretty well acquainted with each other – the good, the bad and the ugly!

Trained hard and smart

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Highland Fling 2019

The Highland Fling 2019

TIME: 9 Hours 56 Minutes and 28 Seconds

OVERALL : 100th/647 finishers

GENDER: 9th/173 females

Ready for round 3

“Strong winds are expected to hit much of Scotland this weekend with the arrival of Storm Hannah.” (Herald Scotland, 25/04/2019).
That’s not the weather report you want to see when you’re planning to run a 53 mile cross country ultra from 6am on the Saturday morning. However up until now the sun had always shined on Jonny Fling, no matter what the weather report said, so all would be alright on the day…wouldn’t it?

Somehow it was the end of April and Fling time again. How had that happened? Since my great run at Falkirk (also in pretty awful weather) in February, training had been up and down. My foot had hurt post-race so I’d had a bit of recovery from that, then I got the cold, followed by a horrific bout of sinusitis which knocked me for six, followed by ANOTHER cold… and then finally when training was almost back on track it somehow became time to taper for the race. Not ideal, but with the mantra of “what will be will be” going around and around in my brain and reminding myself that yes a good race could happen, but it was all just a warm up for the West Highland Way in June , I got around to planning, prepping, stressing, and eating before I was ready to hit the hay for my pre race 3 or 4 hours sleep. A bit more stressing came with the horrific weather forecast and 3 or 4 kit choice changes were made before I decided just to be brave and go with a skort but layer up with arm sleeves, a long sleeved top and swapped my lighter jacket for my OMM and thicker gloves. After all skin is waterproof, isn’t it?
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RACE REPORT – The River Ayr Way Challenge 2017

The River Ayr Way Challenge

TIME: 6 Hours 26 Minutes and 45 Seconds

OVERALL : 10th/69 finishers

GENDER: 1st/15 females

After a few months of a blog hiatus I think I’ve finally found my run and write mojo again! My recovery from the Great Glen was slow, painful and tedious and even after a 2 week holiday which was spent gallivanting around Eastern Europe and over a month of “easier” training, I still didn’t have the desire to push myself 100%. Even new kit didn’t inspire me and my lack of speed was really getting me down as I watched friends getting faster and faster and I was struggling to complete an interval session without getting frustrated.

And then something suddenly felt right again. Whether I had just taken some pressure off myself or had finally recovered from the pounding I put my body through at the Great Glen, I don’t know. But I finally felt positive about my running again, I wasn’t feeling out of breath after the first mile and I was ready to get things back on track. After a few months of deciding what races I really wanted to focus on in the latter part of the year (I think this plan changed about 5 or 6 times, but I think I’ve finally got it right!), the River Ayr Way Challenge was chosen to be my next big push.
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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.


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Winter running

Winter running last year. More of the same this time round please!
Winter running last year. More of the same this time round please!

The end of another year is fast approaching and looking back at this years blog posts I seem to just be writing race report after race report with not much in between. This was never my original plan when I first started the blog nearly 2 years ago, but somehow life just seems to get in the way of sitting down and tapping away on my keyboard. Hopefully 2015 will be the year when I can get things back on track!

This year was one that took a while to get going for me as I trundled through the first few months of the year with an undiagnosed iron deficiency. Thanks to a course of iron tablets from March until quite recently I have flown through the year, smashed the majority of my PB’s and found the love of running again and through that the races I’m aiming to run next year just seem to be getting bigger, further and more exciting. With my racing calender already containing the D33 in March (if I get a place!), the London Marathon in April and the Cateran 55 in May it once again looks like it’s not going to be a year for speed. Well, at least the first half of it anyway!

My mileage for the year is currently sitting at 1237 and considering I never really got going until late March, I have to say I’m pretty pleased with that! Last year I gave the Marcothon a go, but around the 18th Of December I got slammed with the end of term cold and I think that’s where the anemia really began as I just didn’t get going again after that. For those who don’t know, the Marcothon is an annual running event held every December. It began in 2009 when Scottish Ultra Runner Marco Consani challenged himself to run every day in November. His wife Debbie then decided to continue the challenge and run every day through December and posted the challenge on her blog. Before long there was a group of runners also eager to embrace this challenge and power through the cold winter month and every year since then the challenge has grown and grown, this year seeing 2900 registered on Facebook and probably many others outside of social media also taking part.

The rules are as follows-
1-You must run EVERY DAY
2- December only. No other month counts. You can’t run the NYC marathon in July, because the weather’s nicer
3-Three miles (5km) or 25 minutes – whichever comes first – is the minimum
4-Yes, it includes Christmas day
5- If you take a day off, you’re out. Sorry. No playing catch-up
6-It’s a personal challenge. If you think you’re cheating, you probably are
7-If you don’t normally run on a treadmill, don’t start. See point above
8-No cycling, rowing, dog-walking, climbing the stairs in your house (yes, we were asked that) permitted
9- You can run at 5m/m or jog at 15m/m – the pace is not important
10-Have fun and share your experiences with other Marcothoners

So, here we go. I have a few days which I already know are going to be slightly more difficult with various social events, travelling everywhere to see family, eating too much… the usual festive priorities and I fear there may have to be a few more early rises this month and possibly even a few tipsy plods, but it’s all part of the fun!

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I’d love to hear how anyone else doing this is getting on. If I manage it beyond the 18th of December it’ll be the most back to back runs I’ve ever done, and as I’m wanting to keep up my long weekend runs as well it’ll be interesting to see how I feel come the end of the month. Will it make me stronger? Will I start to resent running? The moment I have any negative thoughts about it I’ll probably stop as I don’t want to see it as a chore.

Good luck to everyone giving it a go. Here’s to a month of festive, enjoyable runs and hopefully more blog posts from yours truly. I’ll try not to mump and moan my way through them!

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