Tag Archives: Running

Scotland to the Sahara Ultra – 14th Nov 2010

For those of you that don’t know Andrew Murray is a rather optimistic chap who has set himself the goal of running from Scotland to the Sahara desert. This is a total of over 2600 miles which he is planning to do running on 85 consecutive days. In doing this he hopes to raise £100000 for the Yamaa trust, a charity aiming to eliminate poverty in the Gobi region of Mongolia.
As part of his run he invited people to take part in an ultra-marathon race from Kinlochleven to Tyndrum. In a moment of madness myself and Elsie decided this might be a fun thing to do.
We arrived in Kinlochleven in the dark the night before the race to find Andrew Murray drinking beer, showing off his swollen Achilles and dishing out kilts for the race in an attempt to break the world record for the number of people racing in kilts (rather unlikely that there is one to be broken, but anyway…) Andrew shared some of his running tips, like eating 480grams of scotch eggs for breakfast in preparation for his fifth day of ultra marathon running. After a hearty lasagne and a pint, we retired to our luxurious (not) accommodation at the Blackwater hostel. Due to a minor administrative error on my part, we had failed to get our entry in on time, but Elsie charmed Andrew into giving us entry into the race.
On the start line there was much discussion about the unconventional kit list for the race, which included safety pins and a mirror, but had no mention of items such as gloves or maps. There were also an impressive number of runners sporting kilts and other fancy dress items. We set off at 8:30 on a clear and cold morning, surrounded by snow covered mountains and headed south along the west highland way route. After a fair deal of climbing, most reached the devils staircase where there was plenty of ice and snow underfoot to make running interesting and a little bit scary. Others in the race (Grant included, Elsie excluded) failed to follow the well-marked path and ended up adding 3 miles of off-track, in-bog, over-mountain lost-shoe running…hmmmm, not what you need when doing an ultra, but what you get for assuming Andrew Murray knows the way and following him! Eventually us lost ones got back on course slightly muddier and tired than those competitors with the unfair advantage of being able to follow a path.
Other race highlights included a spectacularly leaking platypus, meeting deer at the Kings House pub, multiple toilet stops, incredible views, running alongside men and women in skirts, and very wet feet. After a very long 28 miles (more like 31 in my case due to the scenic detour) we reached the finish line tired but happy, Elsie and her sister even managed to raise a cheer with a sprint down the hill to cross the finish line. We retired to the pub in Tyndrum to stuff our faces and to delay the inevitable drive back to Glasgow. However hard the drive seemed after that run we were happy in the knowledge that unlike Andrew we didn’t have another 2000+ miles of running still to do.
You can follow Andrew’s progress at http://www.scotland2sahara.com/
he is hoping to raise £100000 for the Yamaa trust http://www.yamaatrust.com/
so if you are feeling generous please donate him a few of your hard earned pennies (or pounds).G

Grant MacDonald sent through this superb report after accompanying Andrew Murray on Sunday.

For those of you that don’t know Andrew Murray is a rather optimistic chap who has set himself the goal of running from Scotland to the Sahara desert. This is a total of over 2600 miles which he is planning to do running on 85 consecutive days. In doing this he hopes to raise £100000 for the Yamaa trust, a charity aiming to eliminate poverty in the Gobi region of Mongolia.

As part of his run he invited people to take part in an ultra-marathon race from Kinlochleven to Tyndrum. In a moment of madness myself and Elsie decided this might be a fun thing to do.

We arrived in Kinlochleven in the dark the night before the race to find Andrew Murray drinking beer, showing off his swollen Achilles and dishing out kilts for the race in an attempt to break the world record for the number of people racing in kilts (rather unlikely that there is one to be broken, but anyway…) Andrew shared some of his running tips, like eating 480grams of scotch eggs for breakfast in preparation for his fifth day of ultra marathon running. After a hearty lasagne and a pint, we retired to our luxurious (not) accommodation at the Blackwater hostel. Due to a minor administrative error on my part, we had failed to get our entry in on time, but Elsie charmed Andrew into giving us entry into the race.

On the start line there was much discussion about the unconventional kit list for the race, which included safety pins and a mirror, but had no mention of items such as gloves or maps. There were also an impressive number of runners sporting kilts and other fancy dress items. We set off at 8:30 on a clear and cold morning, surrounded by snow covered mountains and headed south along the west highland way route. After a fair deal of climbing, most reached the devils staircase where there was plenty of ice and snow underfoot to make running interesting and a little bit scary. Others in the race (Grant included, Elsie excluded) failed to follow the well-marked path and ended up adding 3 miles of off-track, in-bog, over-mountain lost-shoe running…hmmmm, not what you need when doing an ultra, but what you get for assuming Andrew Murray knows the way and following him! Eventually us lost ones got back on course slightly muddier and tired than those competitors with the unfair advantage of being able to follow a path.

Other race highlights included a spectacularly leaking platypus, meeting deer at the Kings House pub, multiple toilet stops, incredible views, running alongside men and women in skirts, and very wet feet. After a very long 28 miles (more like 31 in my case due to the scenic detour) we reached the finish line tired but happy, Elsie and her sister even managed to raise a cheer with a sprint down the hill to cross the finish line. We retired to the pub in Tyndrum to stuff our faces and to delay the inevitable drive back to Glasgow. However hard the drive seemed after that run we were happy in the knowledge that unlike Andrew we didn’t have another 2000+ miles of running still to do.

You can follow Andrew’s progress at http://www.scotland2sahara.com/ – He is hoping to raise £100000 for the Yamaa trust http://www.yamaatrust.com – So if you are feeling generous please donate him a few of your hard earned pennies (or pounds).

Winter running safety

The winter training is now in full swing and already some reports of a few accidents involving some of the club’s runners have come in. Last Monday I suffered a torn ear from a bramble bush hanging out over the pavement and then caught my side on a cable tie holding a banner on a railing at the edge of Pollok park. Nothing too serious but sore enough at the time. Before anyone gets it in it wasn’t anything to do with my advancing years. Over previous winters a number of sprained ankles and running into bins or bollards while out were reported. 

Running is an enjoyable activity but athletes of all levels and at all times must remember that so many of our roads and pavements are full of potholes, raised slabs, loose stones and other obstacles. This can be made worse when the leaves on the pavement can hide things which could cause harm. 

We must always be vigilant. As well as pavements in poor condition, there are invariably bits of wood, broken fences, strands of barbed wire, low branches – some with thorns which can cause severe eye injuries – protruding from walls, fences and hedgerows. 

Add to these the propensity of people to step out of closes, shops. parked cars, round corners etc and the potential for accidents is quite high. So keep in the middle of the pavement as far as possible to avoid collisions. Avoid running too close to walls, sides of buildings and kerbs where a trips or stumbles could see you end up in the middle of the road. 

You should at all times, look straight ahead and keep your eyes firmly fixed on the pavement or road ahead of you. If running in a large group and you move out for a post, bollard or bin an audible alarm for those running behind you would be welcomed. Best not to turn your head or face sideways to sustain a conversation with your training partners as this can leave you venerable. 

Please report all dangerous surfaces and situations which you feel strongly about to a coach or committee member so we can warn athletes in advance of the dangers or try to do something about the problem.. 

Final point for the winter running is that when you are running as part of a group where possible major road crossings should be made at traffic lights or controlled crossing points. Where this doesn’t happen you need to be aware that you a responsible for getting yourself across the road safely. You shouldn’t follow blindly but ensure that the road is safe before you cross. 

Running is an enjoyable sport – but each and everyone of us must play our part to ensure it is a safe activity for all members of the club. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, try to ensure you’re easily visible at all times: Hi-viz tops, light coloured outfits, reflective gear all help ensure motorists and other road users can see you a good distance away.

Adapted from Oscar, Jonathan and Ian’s recent forum posts, here and here.