RACE REPORT – The Hoka Highland Fling Ultramarathon 2016

The Hoka Highland Fling 2016

TIME: 10 Hours 36 Minutes and 52 Seconds

OVERALL : 170th/625 finishers

GENDER: 31st/206 females

Fling Bling!
Fling Bling!

I’ve been involved with the Highland Fling Race for the past 3 years, but this was the first time I’d actually be running it. In 2014, Jemma and I swept the first half of the race, in 2015 I marshalled at Balmaha after having to defer my London marathon place, and this year I finally got to run this iconic race.

Friday night was spent making final kit choices, catching up with my family and stuffing my face with pizza. I managed to get a decent nights sleep (as decent as 4 hours can be!) and bounced out of bed the minute my alarm went of at 3am. Ouch. I was meeting a few club mates to travel through to Milngavie together and on the walk up the road to meet them was surprised at how mild the weather was. We’d had snow and high winds a few days previously, so these balmy temperatures and lack of rain were unexpected to say the least. I’d worked up a sweat carrying my dropbags up the road at 4am!!

Once we’d arrived in Milngavie we went about our own pre-race preparation and I caught up with Jemma and my little brother who was running not only his first ultra, but his first distance over 21 miles! Big jump, but I knew he’d be more than capable of completing it. Drop bags were handed in to the correct vehicles, hugs were dished out a plenty and before we knew it we were listening to Johnny Fling giving the race briefing and heading to our start pens.

Johnny Fling and the fabulous Fling van! - Photo - Chen Chee Kong/Running in Scotland
Johnny Fling and the fabulous Fling van! – Photo – Chen Chee Kong/Running in Scotland
A few of the WCH runners ready to get going!
A few of the WCH runners ready to get going!

MILNGAVIE – DRYMEN – 12 MILES, 1 hour 46 minutes

I decided to head to the back of the sub 10 hour pen and see what happened. I knew a sub 10 time was probably way too big an ask, but after hearing countless stories of people getting penned in and chugging along slowly for the first few miles, I decided I’d rather be at the back of the first wave and have some room to move than be boxed in going through all the gates. This turned out to be a very wise decision as not once did I feel the route was too busy. And after all… races are for racing, aren’t they? What would my little legs be capable of today?!
Just before 6am, a very slow count down from 10 began…. and then we were off! The whine of the timing chips as they went over the start mat made me grin; I was finally running the Fling! All the miles of the year so far had lead up to this and it was brilliant to be back on the West Highland Way and refreshing the route in mind, seeing as I’ll be back in 6 weeks to race the whole thing….

The first few miles slipped by rather quickly. Before I knew it I was leaving Mugdock park and running past the amazing Carbeth fiddler. Everyone was in high spirits and although I did feel I was going slightly too fast, I decided to stick with it and see how I felt a bit further along the road. I’d turned up to the race wearing a jacket which I had taken off just before we started to run and was wearing a long sleeved top over a vest and arm sleeves, but even with just that at not even 7am, I was getting too warm! I decided to push on and take my long sleeved top off when I next got the chance to walk up a hill.

Drymen check point and grinning like a Cheshire cat. My face hurt by the end of the race! Photo - Lee McKemmie
Drymen check point and grinning like a Cheshire cat. My face hurt by the end of the race! Photo – Lee McKemmie

I ran pretty much the whole way to the road section leading up to Drymen, only slowing to walk a hilly section of road at about 10 miles and to try and eat a banana. Up until now I had only eaten one or 2 shot bloks, so decided to try and eat something with a bit more nutritional value, but as soon as I opened it I felt sick. The texture and smell were really not appealing to me and I managed just over half of it before carrying the sticky remains in my hand all the way to Drymen.

I was looking forward to slowing my pace on the climb out of Drymen. The velcro on my timing chip had been rubbing my ankle for a while so I took the opportunity to duck off the path and fix it while I had a bit of space around me. Heading up the hill into Garadhban forest I slowed to a shuffle up the steeper hills and ran the flats and downs. As I crossed the road into the next section of forest, I heard someone shout my name and looked up to see Sue from my club out taking photos. So lovely to see a smiley face at a random point in the race!

Really staring to warm up now! Photo - Sue Woods
Really staring to warm up now! Photo – Sue Woods

The section up to Conic hill was where I had my first struggle. Not even 17 miles in and already my mind was playing games with me. Why was it so warm? I really should take a layer off, but it’ll be cold slogging up Conic, so I might as well keep it on. Why am I running up hills? Idiot. Why is my top wet? Oh great, my bottle has sprung a leak….

.. and so on all the way to the top of Conic hill. I met a few familiar faces on the ascent and exchanged some chat with others who were also feeling the burn on the way up. Just before I reached the summit, I heard someone yell my name and I looked up to see the amazing Ruth Howie cheering me on. Ruth is part of my support crew for the West Highland Way race (which is now less than 2 months away…. yikes!), and it was so lovely to have pop up and support at various locations throughout the day. I’m sure if I’m having a low point on race day, she’ll find a way to pull me out of it with her awesome enthusiasm!

With thanks to Monument photos.
With thanks to Monument photos.

Once over Conic hill, the first low passed. I was in and out the check point a Balmaha within a matter of minutes, stuffing my face with strawberry laces and poweade as I left. Real food still wasn’t appealing to me and all that I’d managed to eat between Drymen and Balmaha was a babybel cheese. I stuffed my backpack with what was left in my drop bag, even though I already had plenty supplies that I hadn’t yet managed to eat and set off on the next section to Rowardennan. This is usually one of my favourite parts of the route as it’s technical but pretty runnable, but today everything was getting to me. The beach section probably saw lot of swearing, but it had to be turned off for a few minutes as there were cameras about – quick, fake a smile!

Photo with a backdrop! Thanks Chen Chee Kong.
Photo with a backdrop! Thanks Chen Chee Kong.
Milarrochy bay. Photo - Patricia Carvalho
Milarrochy bay. Photo – Patricia Carvalho

I picked up the pace for a good few miles and enjoyed the trails and the beautiful weather until I hit the bottom of the stairs a few miles before Rowardennan. If you know the WHW, you’ll know what I’m talking about! I had nothing in me. A couple of walkers I had ran by not long before breezed by me as I huffed and puffed my way up, one step at a time. I swore at myself for thinking running London the week before had been a good idea, even if I hadn’t raced it. Karen Wallace caught up with me and stopped to check I was OK before bounding up the hill like she had springs in her feet. How I wish I could climb hills like that woman!! Soon enough the slog was behind me and Rowardennan check point was in my sights. I bounced over the timing mat and into the bustling area, was passed my drop bag and perched myself on a rock to fill my bottles and have a harsh word with myself. I was only half way there, yes my legs were tired but this was nothing compared to how I’d be feeling when running the whole thing! I managed to eat part of a cereal bar, a few jelly sweets and some more cheese and after refilling my water, I was on the move again.

Not feeling the love! Photo - Lee McKemmie
Not feeling the love! Photo – Lee McKemmie

DRYMEN – ROWARDENNAN – 17 MILES, 2 Hours 49 miles (race time so far – 4 hours 36 minutes)

The hill out of Rowardennan is a slog, but it was a good chance to catch up on some chat with those walking around me and slow the pace and eat some more. The weather was still stunning and I was glad of the shade of the trees for a bit as it started to get slightly too warm! I enjoyed stretching out my legs on the down hill and technical section and by the time I reached Inversnaid I was feeling tired, but ready to get a move on in this race! My only whine so far happens here and I know it has been said before but I feel the need to repeat it; the lochside is no place for headphones. I was stuck behind a runner for a good mile and a bit who couldn’t hear me (or just didn’t want to let me by!) and there was no room for overtaking on the path around him. Please pay attention!!

After some more cheese (seems to be all that worked for me today!) and a mars bar from the left overs box, some help from Paul from my running club to fill my bottles and a quick chat with Karen, I was on my way to the technical section. I love this section, but this would be the first time I was going to run it on tired legs and I was worried I’d injure myself. I’m clumsy at the best of times, so slowed right down and moved aside when anyone was catching up. My legs were tired, but I was enjoying myself. With the technical section over, I picked up the pace again and bounded over the next few miles of tree roots, rocks and rivers. I started to pass runners who had previously caught up me and was feeling strong again.

Just outside Beinglas and feeling strong! Photo - Clark Hamilton
Just outside Beinglas and feeling strong! Photo – Clark Hamilton


Beinglas check point. Ready to finish this race!! Photo - Lucja Leonard
Beinglas check point. Ready to finish this race!! Photo – Lucja Leonard

ROWARDENNAN – BEINGLAS – 13.5 MILES, 3 hours 17 minutes (race time so far – 7 hours 53 minutes)

I was now ready to get this race finished. I bounded through the check point, grabbed my drop bag and was helped by Norrie Hunter to keep things moving. He told me I’d got there in just under 8 hours and was on for a strong finish, but I knew I had the hills of the rollercoaster approaching so I wasn’t holding my breath! Karen caught up with me here and did her awesome hill bounding thing again as I huffed and puffed my way out of the checkpoint. The path along to the sheep under path was pretty ripe but not too bad, the climb back up the the other side was pretty painful but bearable and the jaunt up to forest above Crianlarich was enjoyable as I passed several group of walkers who all cheered me on.

Nearly there….

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

The last set of hills arrived and I was feeling good. My legs were feeling strong, my feet were feeling OK, my head was a little fuzzy and I was running low on water, but I only had 4 and bit miles to go! I powered through the forest section, jogging the ups and flying on the downs. I was overtaking people again and feeling brilliant! I crossed the road and just as I was about to cross the bridge before Auchtertyre, someone out supporing cheered me on and asked if I was OK for drinks etc. Amazing!! You were in exactly the right place at the right time! I refilled my water, thanked him and trundled my way round the last few miles. Under the road, along by the river, into the last section of forest and finally, FINALLY, I could hear the piper near the finish line. A quick watch check revealed I was just over the 10 and a half hour mark and I was elated!!

A strong finish line sprint and a grin that says it all. Thanks for the cheers Ruth!! Photo - Monument photos
A strong finish line sprint and a grin that says it all. Thanks for the cheers Ruth!! Photo – Monument photos
High five to Claire!
High five to Claire!

BEINGLAS – TYNDRUM – 12 MILES, 2 hours 43 minutes (race time – 10 hours 36 minutes 52 seconds)

Coming round the last bend I heard Angela cheer me on. I could hear the cowbells and cheers of the crowd and I lifted my head and picked up the pace for a quick run down the red carpet, high-fiving my friends as I did. I was grinning from ear to ear as I received my medal and goody bag and plonked myself on a chair in the finishers area to get my breath back. What a race!! From feeling so tired and low not even 20 miles in, to finishing feeling tired but still having something left in the tank proves to me that I am ready for the big one. With only a few weeks left for big miles, it’s definitely time to get back out there and keep on trudging on!

The Fling is one of the biggest events is the Scottish Ultra marathon calendar and it deserves all the credit and hype it gets. It’s amazingly well organised and runs seamlessly from start to finish. Thank you to everyone involved both on the front line and behind the scenes. Without you this race wouldn’t be what it is. I’ll definitely be back next year to have another crack at it!!

West Highland Way Race Training – Weeks 3 & 4

Loch Lomond on a beautifully still day.
Loch Lomond on a beautiful still day.

West Highland Way Race Training – Weeks 3 & 4

The last few weeks have flown by! Training is going pretty well and I’m still really enjoying it, but I can’t believe it’s now less than 5 months until race day. I’ve had a bit of a set back in the past few weeks as I’ve been taking part in my Exercise to Music qualification which has taken up my entire weekend for the past couple of weeks, but even though I haven’t been churning out the huge mileage I usually do at the weekends, I’ve been busy learning how to grapevine, boxstep and even Chasse (without crashing into the person next to me, which is a huge thing for me considering I’ve got 2 left feet!) and taking part in approximately 8 classes a day on every day of the course. It definitely counts as time on feet, even if I’m not running anywhere!

My positives for the past few weeks -I’m feeling strong! I started back at my strength and conditioning classes at Renegade Fitness in Stirling and I have some of the best coaches working along with my training programme and trying to get the best out of me. It’s working, I had DOMS for about 3 days after last Friday’s set and trying to perform my full routine at the ETM course for my mock assessment on Sunday proved somewhat hilarious!!

The Renegade gym. All the fun of TRX, kettle bells, strength equipment and good old burpees!
The Renegade gym. All the fun of TRX, kettle bells, strength equipment and good old burpees!

Anyway, I digress. The training programme for the past few weeks has looked a bit like this;
WEEK 3 (11th-17th January)
Monday 11th – Total rest. Well, running about after 3 year olds at work, but as rest-y as it gets on an average day!
Tuesday 12th – 3 mile lunch run with the dog and then 7.2 miles of hill rep loops with the club in the evening. My coach pushed me hard on the last few and I felt empty but delighted at the end. Hills at speed are still not my friend, but they’re getting easier!
Wednesday 13th – it snowed again, so this run was lovely and slushy. 6.1 miles at about 8/min miles and managing to stay on my feet!
Thursday 14th – 6×5 minutes at club training. I wasn’t sure how I felt when I first got to training as it was FREEZING, so considered taking it easy, but ended up giving it about 75% and feeling good after. Didn’t get any warmer though as I wore shorts and it snowed… 6.7 miles averaging 7.51 min/miles.
Friday 15th – Rest.
Saturday 16th – 8.1 miles on the flat at a reasonable pace. Still a bit icy, so being careful not to over do it!
Sunday 17th – Went up to Balmaha for an out and back to Rowardennan with Karen Wallace and Derek. Amazing run in ankle deep snow – it was so crisp and quiet and the Loch looked like glass. A bit cold, but a fantastic run! 18.1 miles.

Total – 49.4 miles

Karen and I happy the loos were open!!
Karen and I happy the loos were open!!


Hills and snow = toguh training!
Hills and snow = tough training!

Week 4 (18th-24th January)
I’m loosely following Bryon Powell’s programme (from ‘Relentless Forward Progress’) of training up to 70 miles a week for a 100 mile race, and every 4 weeks or so he fits in a cut back week. I’ll happily follow this as I don’t want to over do it and come race day have nothing in my legs, and if it’s recommended by an expert then it’s worth looking at.
Monday 18th – Rest
Tuesday 19th – A long over due crap run. I still struggle with winter training straight after work as all I want to do is go home, eat and lie down. So I went home, had some food and then decided to run. Terrible idea. I managed about 6 miles, but I felt sick for about 5 of them. I struggled on, knowing there will be a lot of hard miles on the WHW and I could feel like this a lot of the time, but gave up after 6 and went home.
Wednesday 20th – Feeling fresh, I went for a speedy 3 miles at lunch time at about 7.30 min/mile pace.
Thursday 21st – Felt great after work and made the decision to go straight out when I got home, instead of sitting down and eating something first. Had a brilliant 6.1 miles at a pretty fast pace and had to turn around and go home even though I felt like I could have carried on for much longer!
Friday 22nd– 6.3 miles steady.
Saturday 23rd – Got up early and ran 11.1 miles with Skye. Attempted yoga on my return.
Sunday 24th Strength training in the morning followed by a steady 6.7 miles in the evening.

Total – 39.5 miles

I’m noticing a big difference recently. I’m tired, but I’m not wiped out like I used to be after a hard week of work and training. I look forward to my runs and every training session I find I’m trying to push myself further. Nights are starting to get lighter which is always a bonus, and before I know it, it’ll be light when I’m leaving work and I’ll manage to get a couple of hours training in after work while it’s still light. It’s only 4 weeks until the D33, 5 weeks until the Alloa half (which is already full and we have about 80 runners from the Wee County Harriers entered!!) and 11 weeks until the Fling. This year is going too fast and even though I’m excited about all the upcoming races, I also want time to slow down a bit as it’s now only 18 weeks until the WHW race.

Oh help!

Looking forward to the first ultra of the season at the D33 and *hopefully* getting under 5 hours!
Looking forward to the first ultra of the season at the D33 and *hopefully* getting under 5 hours!

RACE REPORT – The Cateran 55 Ultra Marathon


TIME:11 Hours 30 Minutes and 45 Seconds

OVERALL :40th/68 finishers (8 DNF)

GENDER: 8th/21 females


I’ve been struggling to start this report as I’ve still not recovered fully from this wonderful weekend. I was thrown straight back into the midst of things at work on Monday, even though my mind was still else where and really haven’t had a second to sit down and actually reflect on the weekend yet. So that starts now…

On Friday afternoon, I sprinted home from work at 2:30pm, hurried to finish my packing and cramming the car full of everything I could possibly need for 2 days away, said my goodbyes to Craig who was just leaving for a night shift and then sped up to the station to meet Kat who had very kindly offered to be my race crew and marshal for the weekend. After a last minute dash around the shops, picking up nothing that I actually really needed along with plenty of things I didn’t need, we were on the road North to Glenshee. The drive up was lovely and the weather was pretty much on our side, but as we got closer to our destination I suddenly got very nervous. Even though I have been planning and training for this race for months, I suddenly started to have major doubts in my ability. 55 miles – that’s a very, very long way.

I arrived at Gulabin lodge, the new H.Q for the Cateran races, just after 7pm and registered with Julie. The goody bag is superb – a nice small holdall containing a beanie, chia charge bar and some other tasty goodies. I went to round to find my allocated room in the lodge which I was sharing with Kirsty Burnett and Carol Martin – 2 ultra running superstars who were very lovely and gave me a good few pointers about the race and how to pace it. The remainder of the runners who were staying over night arrived in dribs and drabs over the nest few hours and over dinner I met load of new people who helped me calm down and think about the main goal of my race, which was just to enjoy a lovely long run in the hills with friends.

I was worried I wouldn’t get a great sleep as I had been like a coiled spring, ready to explode all week and my energy levels were through the roof, but as soon as I had all my stuff laid out and had a good natter with the ladies, I was settled in bed and pretty much out like a light. I woke up a few times during the night and was slightly disturbed by the noise of the wind and rain on our sky light, but quickly drifted off again only to be woken by my alarm at 5am. I hopped out of bed, got my kit on and headed to the breakfast room for a good feed of porridge, coffee and a banana and had a quick chat with everyone before I headed back to my room to double check my drop bags and get my camelbak ready. My stomach was now doing back flips and before I knew it we were gathered outside the lodge for Karen’s race briefing. We were reminded that the 110 mile runners were still out on the course so to give them the support they deserved when we saw them and also to look out for each other – 55 miles is no walk in the park! Briefing over, 76 of us all walked over to the start of the trail and after a final few well wishes and hugs from my friends Karen shouted “go!” and at bang on 7am, we were off!

Race briefing. Phot - Chen Chee Kong
Race briefing. Photo – Chen Chee Kong
Heading to the start. Photo - Kat Savage
Heading to the start. Photo – Kat Savage
Claire and I, ready for the off!
Claire and I, ready for the off!
And we're off! Photo - Chen Chee Kong
And we’re off! Photo – Chen Chee Kong
They'll see us in half a day or so! Photo- Kat Savage
They’ll see us in half a day or so! Photo- Kat Savage

The race starts at and finishes in Glenshee and the check points were as follows;

Dalnagair Castle – approximately 6 miles
Kirkton of Glenisla – approximately 15 miles
Den of Alyth – approximately 25 miles
Blairgowrie – approximately 31 miles
Bridge of Cally – approximately 38 miles
Enochdu – approximately 49 miles.

I had drop bags at all the check points except the first one and decided to break the race down into bite sized chunks, concentrating on counting the miles between check points rather than my overall mileage.


The first few miles slipped by easily. I started the race with Claire but after the first few miles and a nice grassy downhill, I pushed ahead and ran on my own for a while. I’d started off wearing my long sleeved top, but within 10 minutes it was off and my sunglasses were on. Glad I had brought all options available with me! I had made a conscious decision to take the first section really easy and see how I felt when I got to the check point. Having never run this far before I knew I could start off feeling fantastic but quickly decline if I went out too fast. After many a muddy field, stile and ditch I reached the first check point in 1.01.20.

All route photos thanks to Chen Chee Kong/Running In Scotland
All route photos thanks to Chen Chee Kong/Running In Scotland


The next few miles were on tarmac and as I plodded on at a comfortable pace, quite a few runners whizzed by me. Usually this would activate my competitive mode but no, not today. I cheered them all on and carried on at my steady pace reminding myself to eat little and often. After a few miles on road we took a sharp left and after climbing the highest stile I have ever seen, we were on an uphill slog for a while. Before long we were running above a gorgeous loch and then it was time to free wheel downhill through a forest and enjoy letting our legs relax on the soft springy bed of pine needles. Going through the next few fields I found myself surrounded by cows and their young which made me a bit wary, but I think the calves were just having fun running around with us. I arrived at the second check point in 2 hours and 35 minutes.




Arriving at the check point I was greeted by Julie, Sandra and Helen who were dressed head to toe in neon and having a bit of an 80’s party! I refilled my pockets and quickly munched a babybell and a few pieces of flap jack before heading on my way and running the next few miles with Kirsty and Victoria Hunter, who were running the whole race together. We lost the trail just after the check point and ended up having to climb over a barb wire fence (my bad – sorry ladies!) but a few miles out after the check point I dropped back slightly and told them to push on as my lower back had started to ache. Climbing over another stile, I tripped slightly and landed heavily which made a pain shoot right up my leg and into my back and at that point the tears were close. I slowed my pace right down and took a couple of paracetamol and when I started to run again the pain was worse. For brief moment I thought my race could be over, but then as I crested the next hill mumbling to myself I caught up with 3 of the 110 mile runners who were still laughing and joking. That gave me the shake a I needed – I wasn’t even 20 miles in and was moaning already and here were these guys who had been out all night and were still going. I had a quick chat with them and then the pain killers must have kicked in as I pushed on and ran the next 5 miles all the way to Den of Alyth where I knew my friends were waiting on me. Elapsed time to Alyth – 4 hours and 41 minutes (25 miles).

I flew down the hill into Alyth and stopped for quick hug from Kat who was marshalling here. I stormed down the hill into the Den of Alyth feeling strong and quite hungry! Rhona and Graeme were here and it was good to be told I was looking so strong when not an hour previously I had been ready to pack it in. I refilled my water and inhaled and banana and some more flapjacks before heading onwards – only for someone to yell at me that I was going the wrong way! I couldn’t quite see who it was, but thank you!! After what felt like a very, very long slog up hill, we arrived at Drimmie Woods where I enjoyed another good run over the springy forest floors and some exciting leaps over the biggest, boggiest mud trenches caused by tree felling equipment. I found the make shift bridge the marshals had set but from looking at the race photos I can see there were plenty who didn’t find it!! The forest path spat us back out on to a road which lead us down to the Blairgowrie check point. Elapsed time 5 hours 51 minutes (31 miles).


The mud!!
The mud!!
Escaping the forest relatively mid free! Photo -John Mill
Escaping the forest relatively mud free! Photo -John Mill
The Minions of check point 4!
The Minions of check point 4!

I had another quick check point stop and on leaving I noticed Derek heading the wrong way out of the check point. I yelled after him to get him back on course and we ended up running the rest of the race together. It was good to have company as I knew I’d hit some low points in this section. We carried on walking the hills and running the flats and downhill sections and managed to catch up with another runner – the first we had seen in hours! I was feeling O.K at this stage. My back pain had eased off but I was beginning to feel a blister brewing on the sole of one of my feet. Nothing too bad at this stage, so I pushed on to the next check point.


We came into the Bridge of Cally check point which was manned by Ian Beattie and his team and after finding out I was sitting 40th overall at this stage I was desperate to get a move on and see if we could catch anyone else. Pockets filled and sunglasses back on, we pushed on out of the check point in an elapsed time of 7 hours and 22 minutes.


We had run this section a few weeks ago, so knew what to expect which I think really helped this far into the race. All hills were walked and all down hills were ran/shuffled. I tried to keep my spirits up as I was starting to tire but things were starting to hurt. I think is my favourite part of the route – beautiful trails and views, and so much wildlife! I saw 3 or 4 red squirrels, birds of prey, hares, deer, new born lambs, calves…. all the cute things to keep my mind off the pain!



There’s a pretty tricky/boggy section a few miles before you get to Kirkmichael where my shuffling became more of a stumble and I manage to rip my knees open in some thorns. At least the stinging took the pain away from my feet for a while!! Before long we were heading out of Kirkmichael towards Enochdu when the heavens opened and I was soaked within seconds. Luckily it lasted a matter of minutes before the sun broke through again. We trundled into Enochdu and I couldn’t have been happier to see the marshals at the last check point!!! I took the last of my flap jack and a kitkat and passed my gin in a tin on to Julie as I didn’t fancy it and again within minutes we were on our way for the last 6 mile section. Elapsed time – 9 hours and 52 minutes.



The last section begins with a climb…. and then carries on going up, and up… and up!

11024700_1665214393706825_8618751213412812666_nI remember being close to tears when I saw this gate as I just didn’t think  had it in me to tackle another stile!! We passed a group of walkers just before we got there and I don’t think they quite understood when we said we’d run the whole trail. Cue questioning looks amongst them…

11146493_1665214483706816_4025705355618995359_nFinally I could see the final hills in the distance. All I had to do now was get up and over there, but every single step was sending shooting pains up my legs. I was so desperate to pick up the pace, but I couldn’t quite lift my legs high enough to class it as a run! We reached the last steam (the one I fell in last time I was here) and I had a momentary dilemma – do I leap over it from my bad foot, or onto my bad foot?! I gave up caring and just went for it… and miraculously cleared it this time! Finally it was up, up, up… and we were at the top.




I paused briefly to catch my breath and glance down at what lay ahead – the white dots at the bottom of the hill was our final destination and nothing was going to stop me from getting there. I tried once again to pick up the pace but the descent was taking it’s toll on my knees to I slowed down and just took it one step at at time. Finally the terrain was more runnable, so I gave it everything  had left and bounded down to the last marshal at the gate. We were told we had 2 minutes to make it in 11 and a half hours, and that was all we needed to get the legs working over and run with everything we had left round to the finish line. As we came over the bridge and turned into the camp site, I could see and hear my friends cheering us in. Kat, Rhona and Graeme, along with Karen and George were standing there waiting to dish out the hugs and I couldn’t get there fast enough!



I was ushered into the tent to sit down and the reality of what I had just achieved finally hit home. I had just been on the go for 11 and a half hours and covered 55 miles and over 4000ft of elevation. That’s not somethng you do every day!!

After a shower and a good feed up at the lodge, we all gathered in the marquee for the prize giving. I received my quaich and was positively bursting with pride when Karen read out my name. The rest of the night was spent catching up with friends over a few drinks before I decided I was utterly exhausted (and a little sun burnt!) and decided to call it a day.

This race was just amazing. The organisation, location, friendliness, wonderful support and of course the weather!! I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I will definitely be back!


It’s almost D33 Day!


My first ultra of the season is fast approaching! My mind is buzzing with how I plan to run it, how I think my body will react, what/when to eat and drink and very importantly… what to wear!! I’ve been keeping a close eye on the 5 day weather forecast and so far so good – but then again, no weather report told me we were getting 3 inches of snow last week, so I definitely won’t hold my breath and will prepare to expect a medley of four seasons in one day.

My training is all done, my legs are feeling good and I completed my final pre-race run on Tuesday at training feeling positive and ever so slightly competitive. How will race day pan out for me? Will my little legs carry me the distance? So far I have planned the following;

FOOD – During my ultras and training runs up until now, I have always craved sweet stuff early on and then more savoury stuff later in the race, so with this in mind I will pack a bit of everything in my drops bags and also carry some stuff with me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to run with a race belt or not, so I think I’ll run with my one bottle belt instead of my Camelbak and then I can refill it at the checkpoints if need be. Better safe than sorry! I will definitely have my pockets crammed with sour haribo sweets – A saviour late in a race for me on more than one occasion!

CLOTHES – I’m hoping it’ll be dry, but as this is North East Scotland in early March, I can only cross my fingers and hope for the best. My shoes (brooks adrenaline gts), socks (long stripy mega bright club socks), calf sleeves, buff, gloves and running skirt are all definite, but the number of layers on my top half could vary from 1 to 4 or 5, so again I’ll judge it on the morning of the race. I’ll only take my jacket if it’s tipping it down, but that decision I may live to regret…

RACE STRATEGY – No idea yet! I’ll be treating it as a long training run for both the London marathon in April and the Cateran 55 in May. If I can run all 33 miles comfortably then I might be able to pick up the pace at London. If things start to hurt, I’ll know I went out too fast and will know to start the Cateran much, much slower. Either way it’ll be faster than Glen Ogle as there are no hills. I’ll keep my goal times to myself just now and I’ll let you know whether or not I made them when I write my race report in a few days time!

1) Don’t get injured!!! Too many big races in the next few months and I’d be devastated if I had to pull out of anything!
2) Finish with a smile. This won’t be hard – it’s hard to wipe the smile off my face recently. I’m lucky to be back running so quickly so I take nothing for granted now!
3) Run the majority of the route. It’s only 7 miles more than a marathon and if I can do that at a fair pace then I can hopefully do 33 if I dial it back ever so slightly… I hope!
4) Remain positive!!! Your mind plays a big part in running and finishing big races. I will NOT give in to negative thoughts this weekend. I’ve got this!

31 years old and I still hate packing.
31 years old and I still hate packing.

So that’s about it! As soon as I finish work tomorrow I’ll be on the road North to prepare for ultra number 3. Ultra runner extraordinaire Rhona is very kindly letting us stay with her for the weekend so I’ll no doubt be picking her brain from the moment I arrive tomorrow for hints and tips on how to approach this race as she’s running it for the 4th time this year!

See you on the flip side!

2014: Another year of running for miles

2013 was a successful running year for me which gave me high hopes for 2014. Ending the year on a bit of a low with a brutal cold which saw some of my end of year goals go out of the window, I was determined to have a strong 2014 and become the best version of myself to date. Well, I did that in many ways but the year definitely did not come without some speed bumps and hurdles along the way. Like many other runners, I like to have a little look back over the year that was and see where I can possibly make improvements for an exciting and strong 2015.


Summit of Dumyat. Windy and cold and a perfect way to start 2014!
Summit of Dumyat. Windy and cold and a perfect way to start 2014!

On January the 2nd I kick started my year by running up Dumyat with some club mates. I struggled and felt horrific the entire time I was out but put it down to still getting over the cold. It was freezing, slippy and very muddy but it was the perfect way to start a new year.

Picking things out of my sock after a rather muddy slide down the hill. All part of the experience!
Picking things out of my sock after a rather muddy slide down the hill. All part of the experience!

At the end of January I took part in the Devil’s Burden; an annual event held by Fife A.C where teams of 6 run up and over the Lomond Hills, stamping orienteering type cards along the way and having tons of muddy and cold fun. I still wasn’t feeling right at the end of January but had put it down to some medication I had been taking. I couldn’t let my team down so I plodded along and struggled through the steepest, coldest and toughest 6miles of my life but at the end of it I couldn’t wait to do it again! Definitely one of my favourite events of the year and even though I’ll just be supporting my club this year, I can’t wait to go back and soak up the atmosphere.

WCH ready!
WCH ready!
Waiting at check point 3. Just how many layers can we wear?!
Waiting at check point 3. Just how many layers can we wear?!


In February I was still feeling weak and tired and after one too many awful training sessions which saw me close to tears with frustration I eventually got a blood test and found out I was highly anaemic. Finally there was a solution to the problem and once I’d been on a course of iron tablets for a few weeks I was literally bouncing back. I’d never felt stronger and began to wonder how long it had been an under lying problem? However, the solution had come just a little too late and I’d already pulled out of a few upcoming events knowing that I was under trained and wouldn’t perform 100% on the day. One event that I did take part in was the Devilla 15k at the beginning of the month and even though I was tired and struggled quite a bit, it was a lot of muddy fun and a great day out with my club mates. I can’t wait to give it another go in February!

No matter how bad a race, I'll somehow always find  smile when necessary. This smile masks the pain!
No matter how bad a race, I’ll somehow always find smile when necessary. This smile masks the pain!
Soaked to the core and failing through fatigue, but I'll still smile for you Mr camera man!
Soaked to the core and failing through fatigue, but I’ll still smile for you Mr camera man!


March was a quiet month for me as I continued to support my club mates at events and train hard to get my strength back. I loved cycling around Alloa and supporting everyone during the Alloa half marathon – best Wee County cheer leader by far!


At the end of April, Jemma and I had agreed to help out at the Highland Fling and ended up sweeping the first 27 miles of the race. We had an amazing day out and got to catch up with loads of friends. Unfortunately I won’t get to take part next year as I managed to secure a place in the London marathon, but I’ll definitely be there in 2016!!





May saw the beginning of my comeback as I smashed my half marathon P.B and took nearly 3 minutes off my time at the Loch Leven Half Marathon. I felt amazingly strong and couldn’t believe the difference in how I felt compared to just a few months back when running up a tiny incline had me feeling drained.



At the end of May, Jemma and I travelled to Campbeltown to take part in the Mull of Kintyre half marathon – by far the most beautiful race I have ever ran. Definitely one for your bucket list but also one to make a weekend of as it takes forever to get there!



In June I had my second pop at the marathon distance and despite the ridiculously hot weather, had a fantastic race at the Strathearn Marathon. I had high hopes for a P.B and was unbelievably chuffed with a time of 4:05:05. I was sunburnt and my feet were agony, but I couldn’t have been more pleased with my run.




July saw me having a bit of a break from running and swanning off to sail around the Baltic with Craig and my parents for 3 weeks. I got to visit Estonia, Russia, Finland, the Aland Islands and Sweden and do a bit of swimming in the Baltic sea. Too hot to run, honestly!

Sailing 013



September saw my return to the racing season after a summer of swanning around and I really pushed the boat out with 4 races in 4 weeks. Not something I’d do again as by the end of the month I was shattered, but something worked as I got a P.B in both my 10k and marathon distance, bringing my 10k P.B to 45:55 and my marathon time to 3:54:55. I also gave the Loch Ness Marathon another go, but I was far too tired and hadn’t fuelled properly so didn’t enjoy it much. You live and learn!







In October I decided to try something different when Kat talked me into trying an Aquathlon. I’ve been wanting to give triathlon a go, so thought this was the perfect way to ease my way in. We had a fantastic day out and did really well for my first attempt. Definitely going to give it another go next year and maybe even try some open water swimming!


Done! Full tri next!!
Done! Full tri next!!


In November I got to give the G033 another bash with the added excitement of the course being reversed this year. We had another great day out and there was no rain this year which made such a huge difference! I didn’t have the best race but still managed a P.B and can’t wait to give it another try next year.





Well. December has been a complete flop. I managed 2 days of the Marcothon then ended up in hospital when my appendix not only decided to burst, but then leave my abdomen quite infected post operation. December has been a complete wipe out where I have spent the majority of it lying either in a hospital bed hooked up to antibiotics or lying on the couch full of antibiotics. However I am definitely on the mend and I’m ready to try my first easy jog this weekend.

Lots of sleeping and relaxing with my pup Skye.
Lots of sleeping and relaxing with my pup Skye.

However, even though my running year came to an abrupt end and had a bit of a faltered start I still managed to do enough during the year to win my running club Grand Prix and also come joint first in the most improved runners league. I am so pleased with this and makes me think that once I’m back to full fitness I can have an awesome year of racing in 2015.


I’m not 100% yet but I’m definitely getting there and I’m ready to get going again and start planning 2015. There are quite a few races I’m hoping to get a place in, but the ones I have already secured a place in are my priorities just now. I would also like to get under 45 mins for my 10k and slightly faster at both my half and marathon times, but I guess with distance training I can’t expect speed to come as well. Although who knows… things seem to have worked out not badly this year!

I hope everyone has a fabulous new year, whatever you’re doing and all the best for 2015.