As I am currently training for my first ultra in April (Glasgow to Edinburgh) I figured I really should do a marathon first. So in December I decided to sign up for Glentress Trail marathon, having never really run on trails either. Due to take place 5 weeks before Ultra race day I figured I should be in a healthy enough state to manage such a tough event as long as I never got carried away and entered into a race or set any target times,which could ultimately jeopardise my #1 goal which is G2E.
Up at 6:30am to make the journey down to Peebles, it was a pleasant -3 degrees rising to -1 at the start(should have been 9:30am but delayed until 9:40am due to crowd disturbances also known as long queues at registration).
There were three separate races 10k, half and full marathon, and this being the inaugural event nobody was too clued up on how it would pan out.
Of we went and immediately into an ascent, and this carried on for around the first 6 miles with the odd mini descent for variation. Sticking to my plan of no racing and with no target in mind I casually took in the sights of the Tweed Valley national park from high up the mountain we had just climbed. Once at the highest point, snow became part of the obstacles that apparently come naturally with rail running ie.. razor sharp rocks, tree roots and with it being February ice, lots of slippy ice, that only seemed to be there on descents where stopping was not too much of an option. I was joined by a runner from Edinburgh who kept me company until the halfway point (back at the start). He stopped for refreshment but I decided to carry on as I was carrying my own nutrition as a test for the Ultra marathon. I didn’t see him again.
However, after a mile back into the climbing I realised having the guy with me was a boost, I was now running alone up the cruel ascents for a second time and it wasn’t easy. Its amazing how chatting rubbish with a complete stranger can distract you from the total elevation of just under 6000ft.
Coming down the final descent tired legs and A tired mind, I lost my footing 3 times on the aforementioned ice and razor sharp rocks. No cuts just bruise after bruise after bruise. If nobody broke a bone that day I will be surprised.
Finally after 4hrs23mins and 26th place the finish line came and and I had survived a very cruel unforgiving training run.
Although it was painful with the falls, the scenery once up high was amazing the people were very supporting toward each other and the organisation for the first ever Glentress Trail marathon, in my opinion was a success.
I would obviously recommend as a training run for and aspiring ultra runners and definitely as a race to any avid trail runners, because as i learnt that day, trail running takes a lot of skill and my appreciation for that has sky rocketed since seeing the speed of some guys tackling those descents.