Tuesday, 8 November 2011

GO31.6 (AKA Glen Ogle 33 mile Ultra) 2011

This was a great race to end my year on, organised by Bill and Mike, who also hosted this years Glenmore 24 event. So with this being the last event of 2011 the plan was simple, go out quick and try my best to maintain it for as long as I could. I knew the outward leg was all uphill so if I could get to the top of Glen Ogle fairly quick and then through the forest without tiring I would be ok as its all downhill on the return section. So by pushing hard I was aiming for under 5 hours today, maybe even get close to 4.5 hours. My fitness felt like it was once again peaking at this time of year so I wanted to take advantage of this and finish on a high. I had been up in this area for a couple of recce training runs on the sections from Strathyre to Lochearnhead and again for Kingshouse to Balquhidder to Strathyre.
I had worked out where I could push a bit and hoped being familiar with these bits of the route would help. The drive up to Strathyre at 6am was entertaining and was a bit like being in a video game, every corner having posibilities with it being so foggy. After successfully missing a deer that jumped out in front of me at Breval and then avoiding the headless corpse of another on the road through Callendar I arrived at the campsite we were being allowed to park at. I saw lots of familiar faces shivering in the pale light the fog had created. I managed to get into Strathyre and race HQ without being mown down on the main road. I said my hello's to those I knew and an acknowledging grunt to those I didn't. Got my race number from an alarmingly enthusiastic Julie (too early for me to be this happy!) and a copy of the route map (not that I would need a map). Since the race I have read a few blogs and facebook comments about folk mumping about taking the wrong path or getting confused by arrows. Well I canny understand how some folk either went astray or got confused. I found the signage easy to follow and if in doubt use your map, thats why we were given one, just in case. Each time I got to a junction I found a clear sign pointing in the right direction or had a marshall to say which way to go. So here's an idea - open your eyes and watch where you're bloody going!!! I know i'm one to talk as I am prone to being directionally challenged at the best of times. Anyway, after getting my waist pack  sorted back at my car I walked back to the Picnic area and saw that my parents had arrived. They were once again going to be around the route in case I needed anything and provide the much appreciated encouragement and if required a kick up the arse. I felt a bit bad for them today as the only time they saw me during the race was as I ran past them at various stages in the day and didn't stop after posing for a photo. 7.45ish and we all made our way up the hill to the start area. This was a steep wee climb but was good to warm up the legs and get the lungs working. All the usual 'elite' runners were here today including Paul Giblin, Paul Raistick and Lucy Colquhoun, so it looked like it would be a tight race at the front. I said some more hello's at the start area including Ali, Ian, Sandra, Pauline and Fiona. It was great for Bill and Mike to see so many having turned up this morning for today's event. I was their icing on the cake. Bill did a quick briefing and then we were off.
The first section to the Kingshouse Hotel takes off straight up a steady, steep in bits, climb. I kept to my strategy of go out and push hard in the earlier stages (for me it was hard!!). I soon began to pass people, including Ali, Donald and Sandra (more of Sandra later). I felt good this morning, both mentally and physically.
Towards the top of this first climb I passed Graame Reid. I only know Graeme from facebook and wished I'd introduced myself at the time, but i guessed that he was, like me, busy on concentrating on the running. A couple of times during the day we passed one another, with him finishing 18 minutes in front of me. Just as we reached the top of the climb at pile of logs I passed a group including Ian and then ran on down to Kingshouse with another runner, with Jo Kilkenny close behind. As I passed the hotel I said a quick hello to my parents and turned under the road to the CP. I'm sure I also saw Jim Robertson here clapping the runners.
I was at the CP here in around 50 minutes. I had enough fluids so didn't stop. The next section was on a great 'tartan' track and fairly flat along to Lochearnhead. At the path junction here it then climbs very steeply for around 500 metres and has some great views down over Loch Earn.
I only wish in hindsight I had stopped to take more photos today, but as it is most of the route photos are from my recce runs, hence the lack of runners in them!! And i've blagged some from the GO33 photo albums and some from my Mum. The section from the top of the climb up Glen Ogle was very deceiving in that you don't see that you are really climbing until you glance over to the road and then notice the gradient. I was still maintaining a comfortable pace and felt geat and remember muttering to myself 'Yeah, this is going well'.
We had perfect running conditions today. At the top of Glen Ogle was the next CP, which I reached in a time of 1 hour 29ish minutes. Frank Skachill was here helping out and assisted in filling my water bottle and gave me a cup of water.
He handed out lots of encouragement to runners as they arrived and left from here. Frank achieved the SUMS grand slam this year and did a great job of making the CP stress free for us running. I crossed the road and ran on to the memorial car park where again my folks were. I ran straight past after a wave. The forest section was the one bit of the route i hadn't checked out before today, but it had looked straight forward on the map. It was a loop of the forest anmd the return section was pretty tough going. From the memorial it's a long steep fast down hill run towards Killin, decending into the fog again. Once at the bottom it was cold and a bit wet underfoot in parts and I could have done with using my trail shoes during the forest section as I did slip a few times.
On the flat section here Jo Kilkenny ran past, but despite the fog managed to keep her in my sights. It was somewhere on this flat foggy section I felt a crunch in one of my toes and it was very painful when it happened. Then after a barrier at a bridge the path turns and the climb back up begins. What goes down has to go back up at some point i suppose. As the path turned here I came aware of someone behind me as I stopped for a quick drink. It was Ian, we said a quick hello as he passed. I kept him in sight for a few minutes, then he was gone in the fog. I caught up with Jo who was having a problem with one of her shoes and was causing her to limp a wee bit. We walked and talked for a few minutes. She stopped to fiddle with her shoe while I marched on up a particularly steep hill. My foot was causng me a fair bit of pain as I was pushing off on my toes as you do going uphill. Ouch! (the polite edit). That was my 'pushing hard' strategy at an end. However, I was happy at how I had run up until now and still felt positive and had plenty left in the tank. Donald Sandeman said hello as he marched past me. I need longer legs for these uphill bits (i need to get a pair of shorts like his). Every photo i've seen of him he has a huge grin on his face and there i was again. On a short level bit I managed to get back into a wee run and heard from behind me ' Got my shoes fixed', it was Jo back running and was with Ali. Ali must have legged it on the return section and finished an hour before me.  Jo finished one minute under 5 hours, well done guys.  The climb went on and I plodded on.
My GPS tracker had mysteriously stopped so I had no clue of what distance I had covered or what my pace was for most of the day, but was keeping a consistent pace. Not as quick now, but consistent! I arrived back at the memorial, again running past my folks after getting more encouragement. If i could bottle the encouragement i've had, i'd be a very rich man indeed!!
At the check point Frank helped fill my bottle again and I got a chocolate brownie. I took a couple of minutes to massage my foot and ran on best I could. I was still hoping for around 5 hours but couldn't be sure of my pacing. Running downhill now you get the full view of how high we climbed earlier in the day. A couple of runners passed, not going much faster than me. Then approaching the Viaduct I heard 'you went out too fast again Colin!!'. It was Sandra telling me off. I felt like a naughty school boy for a moment! I managed to keep sight of Sandra and another runner for a while as we decended towards Lochearnhead. I met alot of people for the first time today and the next was Elaine Sandeman. Elaine passed me on her bike looking for Donald. We said hi as we introduced ourselves and i wished I had asked for a backie. The steep decent on the tarmaced bike path was bleedin agony on my sore foot so I decided to take 2 ibrophen, which didn't kick in until the CP at Kingshouse. I filled my bottle for the last time here and had a cup of coke. Just as I was about to leave a group arrived including Terry and Susan Addison. I headed off before them and it wasn't until the old stone bridge in Balquhidder that they caught and passed me with two others. 
I managed to keep them in sight all the way to the finish, well Susan anyway. I lost sight of Terry and thought he had stopped for a pee. At the end I saw him and he told me he decided to leg it down the last hill. My foot was killing me but on the last decent I passed one runner who looked done in. Susan was just in front but I couldn't catch her before the line, finishing seconds in front.
I finished in 5 hours 18 minutes and 11 seconds. 
Not what I had hoped for but happy considering my foot was throbbing. I still felt positive and my legs still had miles in them. Met a few people at the finish and we all said our well dones. Back on the Tartan track earlier a guy had passed me and saw me limping and when he turned to see if I was ok nearly came a cropper by slipping on the edge of the path. It's good to know runners look after their own. I met him at the finish. He was Andy McHendry (2 minutes in front of me). I recognised the name as he had finished a few points in front of me in the SUMS this year. So if your reading this long and winding tale, it was good to meet you today. I headed back to my car, got changed and headed back into Strathyre for my free soup and tea. On the way I nipped back to the finish to see who was still to finish and just as I got there heard someone up on the bridge shout 'here comes Ray'. Ray finished in just over 6 hours. Top man. Well done to Karen Robertson today for not running 'her race' today, but instead ran with a clubmate new to Ultra running, a fantastic gesture. They finished in just under 6.5 hours. I hope he enjoyed his first of many too come ultras. Glad to hear Karen D finished safely after hurting her foot and ankle. So well done to us runners today. If I forgot to mention you, sorry. Leave me a comment, and I will. At the top end of the field Paul Raistick blew everyone away with an awesome run. There were also fantastic runs by Paul Giblin, Lucy Colquhoun, Robert Soutar, Gavin Harvie (who ran another event the next day!) and Bob Steel amongst others. Well done and thanks to Bill and Mike and their team of marshalls and helpers today, it was a fantastic event.
Thanks to my folks again for the encouragement during the day and not questioning my sanity. Had my soup and Tea. Said a quick hi to Fiona and Pauline as they headed into get their liquid refreshment and then that was it.
All over for another year.  I'm sad, but mostly relieved. Time for a wee rest this week and then the next challenge.....'The Marcothon' in December.

My application for the WHW race is in, so fingers crossed. I've entered the Cateran and my Fling and Devil entries will follow before the end of the year. I'm hoping to get a place in next years Glenmore 24 or 12 as well, so next year shaping up. Bring it on!!


  1. pics are great Colin, thats my wee break, when i stop to take pics. Works for me. Hope foot is ok. Time for wee rest now...

  2. Hi Colin, great report on race,makes me want to go back and do it again,with my dog this time. ( i know you are not a great fan of mans best friend after your recent encounter in Pollok park, or was it Bella ?).It was good to have a quick chat after race and maybe we will bump into each other on one of the upcoming training runs. Good luck on your application for WHWR 2012, i done it for the first time last year and hopefully will also get another crack at it next year.Sub 24 ??? Hope the foot aint too bad.

  3. Great report- as entertaining and as modest as ever. Graeme Obree used to get chastised for starting off to fast in his early days, so it can't be all bad.