September has been a busy month, race wise, and I had been on a high since the Speyside Way Ultra and then setting a new 10K PB for the second time in consecutive months. So I had been feeling positive and confident about continuing this into the RAW, the last, sadly of this years Scottish Ultra Marathon Series (SUMS).
I arrived at Ayr College around 7am and wasn't sure if I was in the right place. I saw a group of guys standing in running gear in a nearly empty car park. I pulled in and asked if they were here for the ultra race. 'No mate , we only run 5K', was the answer. Now maybe I was still tired or was suffering from 'gulliblitis', so thinking I was in the wrong place drove off to look for the start. As I crossed the river, it dawned on me 'wait a minute, are these guys taking the pith?' Damn right they were!! Robert Soutar, your card has been marked!! (well done by the way on a great time and your SUMS award). I drove back muttering to myself, the shame of it. Cursing, I got out the car and sheepishly walked over to them. Oh haha, you had me there guys. Once the mickey taking had ceased, I registered and got my race number. I had a chat with my tormentor, the aforemention Mr. Soutar, about todays race and the SUMS events. I met and said hi to Victoria O'Reilly, Victoria Shanks, Dave Morrow and Donald Sanderman amongst others. Whilst I was sorting out my running pack I saw Ray McCurdy and Grant Jeans and spent around 15 minutes talking about last years race here. It was the first time I had met Grant and found him very articulate and he clearly loves his running and successfully defended his SUMS title this year, so a huge well done. Not before too long most of the runners were here and soon we were on the buses to take us to the start at Glenbuck. I spoke to Victoria O' and her friend Julie Taylor. I also think I said hello to Paul Giblin at some point here, if it was you Paul, sorry I didn't chat I wasn't sure if it was you!
The RAW Challenge has two events. One for us runners, who do the route in one go, and another for walkers, which is spread over two days. Both start at the same time.
If I had been able to put on dry shoes and socks I would have been ok over the last section, but as it was I sloshed on. I managed to pass another runner further up who had cramp and was stretching it off. I then took another wrong turn at the river side because I had been too busy watching my feet and hadn't seen the blue arrow pointing up a brutal climb. But after a minute something told me this wasn't right and i doubled back to find the arrow and the hill. I eventually came to a tarmac section which was murder on my feet and ended up walking more than running. For a while on this road I thought I had gone the wrong way again, but I knew at some point we had to go under the dual carraigeway and I could hear the traffic ahead so guessed I was at least heading the correct way. I turned onto the pavement alongside the carraigeway and met a female runner wearing number 1, who was standing trying to figure out where to go. I suggested to keep running alongside the road and look out for a turning to take us under the road. Soon enough an underpass appeared. Once under it we weren't sure where to go but asked a local jogger if he had passed some runners. He pointed us in the right direction. I ran on, 2 miles to go.