River Ayr Way Ultra

Report from Craig.

All week at work I had been looking forward to a long lie in my bed so on Saturday 15th September when my alarm went off at 5am I was less then happy. Maybe the people at work were right, maybe I was mad. After all how else could I explain getting up at that time on a Saturday morning to go for a 41 mile run?! I dragged myself out of bed and after a quick shower and forcing down some food I headed down to the Citadel in Ayr. I collected my race number and boarded the bus along with another 80 or so runners which would take us to the start of the race.

Eventually we arrived at Glenbuck and it felt like we had been dropped in the middle of nowhere. At 9 oclock the horn went and the race started. The first 5 miles or so were into a strong headwind along trail paths. I decided to set off at a steady pace and see how long I could hold it for. There were two runners just in front but I decided not to try and keep up with them and quickly I was on my own as the runners behind me were already a good bit back. I passed the first checkpoint with ease and felt great. I had been full of the cold a couple of weeks before and I felt like the extra time off was really going to benefit me. By 7 miles I had almost caught up with the two leaders, I could see them not too far in the distance but a wrong turn followed by a quarter of a mile scrambling through nettles, long grass and a burn that I could hear but not see due to the long grass (I know it was there as I fell in it a couple of times) meant that soon they were out of sight again! Miles 8 – 18 were almost like cross country underfoot. There was plenty of running through fields with mud up to my ankles and splashing through puddles. By mile 18 though I could see 2nd place again and passed him as we went through the checkpoint on a good road section at 19 miles. By mile 23 my legs were feeling heavy and I was beginning to struggle a bit. My times were still steady and I caught the race leader who was also struggling. I ran with him for a couple of miles but he was really struggling by this time and as as we ran/walked together we were overtaken by the eventual race winner. By mile 28 after negotiating my way through a section of bushes where the path had been washed away by a landslide, I decided that I had to run my own race and left the runner I had been with for the last few miles, his hip was in a bad way and to be honest I thought there is no point staying with him as he would probably need to drop out which he did at mile 32.

It was hard work getting going again after those miles spent walking/slow jogging but I managed to get back into a steady rhythm. Unfortunately by that time the leader was too far ahead and I knew I wouldnt catch him. I was relieved by mile 36 to know that the trail and cross country sections were coming to an end and the last 5 miles were on road. I was still in second place, was running well and felt quite strong. I knew that nobody was going to catch me now. The last two and a half miles were spent running back into the town centre which involved getting more than a few funny looks from people out doing ‘normal’ things on a saturday. To be fair by this point I was covered in mud, nettle stings and had a bit of a cut on my knee so I dont blame them for being a bit bemused. After waiting for what felt like an eternity to get across the main road I was on the home straight and put on a sprint finish to cross the line in second place, not bad for my second ultra in about 8 weeks.

It was another good experience and there were plenty of lessons learnt which will stand me in good stead for Glen Ogle in six weeks time when I am going all out for the win!!

Finally, in keeping with tradition….the poo count! A grand total of 0, sorry to disappoint!!