This is described as a challenge rather than a race and with a 17% incline and 20% decline included in the route, that’s exactly what it is. I loved this last year so much I decided to enter again this year. I bagged an early start last year as I knew that I’d be slow, however this year decided that my times had improved enough not to warrant an early start, so I lined up with everyone else.
Scrounged a lift with Shona (Shondo) along with Kristi (deloreanchick) and Justine and off we went. Weather forecast was for warm weather, so I was extremely glad I’d taken my cap and sunblock!
We got ourselves registered and paid for our bus back and then had the obligatory several trips to the toilet before we assembled for the race briefing and soon we were off.
I’d elected to run with my hydration pack, so had enough fluids with me, which in the warm turned up to be a very sensible decision.
Almost immediately I found myself at the back of the runners, so I decided to just try to get some good times in for the first few miles which are flat as I knew what was coming after that.
Before we had gone half a mile, I came across Shona who had taken a tumble and banged her head. She told Kristi and I to go on and she walked back to the start. She ended up at the hospital getting paper stitches, but was thankfully okay.
As Kristi is faster, she led the way asking a few folks to make sure we were going in the right direction (I got a bit lost last year). Soon enough I was in familiar territory and just tried to settle into a comfortable pace as I knew it was going to be a lonely run.
The scenery on this route is absolutely stunning. I didn’t stop to take pictures this year as I had a deadline to meet. The bus back was due to leave at 4pm, so with us starting at midday, I had to complete the run in less than 4 hours or find my own way back to Fraserburgh!
I knew that the hard work really starts once you leave Rosehearty. This is where the lead runners overtook me last year and where the lead cyclists went past this year. It was actually quite a strange feeling, because I am quicker, the route seemed somehow less long in the earlier stages. At each water stop I took an orange segment. These are ever so refreshing, especially in the heat.
What also struck me was the fact that until around 25 minutes – as also observed by Naomi (Metro_Nome) had passed, none of the cyclists bothered to give any encouragement. I was quite clearly the last runner (by quite a way at this point) and when the runners had passed me the previous year, most of them were very encouraging, right from the 1st person to pass. I was glad to find that the other cyclists were happy to shout out and there was a fair amount of banter (although none would lend me their bikes!)
Mind you, here is a reminder of the elevation. A lot of the cyclists had to get off and push their bikes!
I could see a runner ahead and eventually I caught up with her. It turned out to be fellow Fetchie Mary (Mol). Was lovely to run with her again, so we just stuck together. Around the 10 mile mark I started to get the first pangs of cramp in my calf. I’d been taking electrolytes in my hydration pack and I also had liquid salts that helped a bit, but in the end the last 7 odd miles were a matter of run when you can and power walk when the cramp kicks in. We ended up passing some walkers, which was a fantastic feeling as they started 2 hours ahead of us. We pushed on, me with my funny run (sometimes an odd hobble) and walk and eventually got to mile 15 where we caught up with some other runners who were having a tough time.
There was a kind of runners convoy going on here as we shuffled towards Gamrie (Gardenstown), but we overtook some more walkers and soon we were heading downhill towards the harbour.
There was some swearing here I must admit as the cramp really started kicking in, which reminds me I must apologise to Mary for my bad language.
I finished in last position for the runners, but the 4 of us all finished within seconds of each other, so I was actually delighted, especially when I saw my official time of 3:48:08 which knocks off just over 1 hour from my time last year.
Here are my splits:
1) 1m – 12:02(12:02/m) 124/172bpm 43cal 4.99/6.88mph
2) 1m – 10:49(10:49/m) 163/191bpm 52cal 5.55/6.41mph
3) 1m – 10:47(10:47/m) 156/161bpm 82cal 5.57/6.05mph
4) 1m – 12:04(12:04/m) 147/161bpm 90cal 4.97/5.93mph
5) 1m – 11:21(11:21/m) 141/161bpm 68cal 5.29/5.7mph
6) 1m – 13:09(13:09/m) 121/159bpm 73cal 4.56/5.95mph
7) 1m – 13:25(13:25/m) 112/147bpm 53cal 4.47/5.28mph
8) 1m – 14:08(14:08/m) 119/157bpm 52cal 4.24/5.79mph
9) 1m – 11:41(11:41/m) 122/150bpm 55cal 5.14/5.98mph
10) 1m – 14:57(14:57/m) 97/141bpm 33cal 4.01/5.99mph
11) 1m – 14:34(14:34/m) 126/157bpm 75cal 4.12/5.92mph
12) 1m – 15:03(15:03/m) 96/156bpm 53cal 3.98/5.33mph
13) 1m – 13:27(13:27/m) 114/153bpm 82cal 4.46/6.42mph
14) 1m – 16:46(16:46/m) 113/156bpm 93cal 3.58/5.61mph
15) 1m – 15:10(15:10/m) 119/152bpm 80cal 3.95/6.14mph
16) 1m – 14:36(14:36/m) 135/164bpm 71cal 4.11/5.74mph
17) 1m – 12:16(12:16/m) 143/166bpm 56cal 4.89/6mph
18) 0.18m – 1:57(11:05/m) 125/142bpm 9cal 5.42/6.81mph
Here is a comparison to my performance last year:
There was no time for any messing about once I’d finished. Was reunited with Kristi and Shona (who was fine and even ended up running the hardest part of the course!) Got my medal and grabbed some crisps then we had to head for the bus, which this year was at the top of the hill! We decided to head up the steps rather than round the long way following the road. This was not easy and there were what seemed like an endless amount of steps, but we eventually got to the top and made it in time for the bus.
This is where things got interesting. Once the bus was ready to leave, there were a couple of false starts as we tried to pull away. Turns out the driver had left the handbrake on! Then we ended up going the coastal route that we had just run. Given the elevation this caused us a fair amount of apprehension, especially when the bus refused to go on and started to roll back down one hill, with black smoke coming from the overheating clutch! We all decided it would be better for us to get off the bus and walk for a bit up the hill as at least that way we would come to an untimely end.
Walking up the hill itself was pretty interesting given that stiffness was starting to set in, but all in all this probably helped more than it hindered. It certainly helped the bus driver, as he managed to get the bus up the hill and out of danger. He pulled over and we all got back on. We continued along the coastal path and thankfully when we came to a junction everyone was insistent that we turned onto the main road rather than following the remainder of the coastal route. This good choice was met with much relief amongst the passengers, as at times during the journey I have to admit I had my eyes closed.
Thankfully we made it back to Fraserburgh in one piece, so we disembarked and gathered ourselves together for our journey home.
This is such a fab event. It is very much a challenge and if you’d have asked me yesterday if I’d do it again, I would probably have said no, however the stunning scenery and great marshals mean that in fact I will more than likely be back next year to see if I can actually manage to get some of the fantastic food before the bus back. Thankfully the organisers already know about the bus incident!