A RACE WIN- COASTAL TRAIL SERIES NORTHUMBERLAND ULTRA

The decision on whether to race or not when carrying injuries is always a tough one. For me it usually comes down to factors that include

1)    Is the race somewhere beautiful. That I want to run

2)    Is the race important

3)    Am I going to make the injury worse by running and

4)    How sore will it be

Approaching the finish

Approaching the finish at Banburgh Castle

Endurance Life put on an excellent series of races, deliberately stationed in areas of natural beauty. Living in Edinburgh, I do like a good castle, and the Northumberland coastal trail has castles in spades.  I have not spent much time exploring this coast before, and on foot, during a race seemed an ideal way to do so.  The knocks I was carrying were more annoyances rather than significant injuries. I’d been elbowed in the ribs and had my foot stood on playing football in midweek (that is what I get for having a clumsy touch!).  The ribs grumbled taking a deep breath and when running quickly, whilst my foot has some interesting looking bruises.

These annoyances were blown out of the water by the prospect of a decent outing on a baby blue weather day. The van was fully frosted over, and the stars out by the time I got to sleep. Having come directly from working at the Edinburgh vs Ospreys rugby game I wasn’t sure I’d packed a pair of trainers- leaving office shoes or rugby boots as alternatives. I’d ran a few hills before in a pair of office shoes and did not fancy a repeat.

Fortunately when I woke out the Merrell’s were there, and I jumped on the bus to the start line. The route itself was a linear and varied one. The birds sang and my mood splendid at the start. After only a couple miles my race was nearly over. Having already been outwitted by one gate, I tried to jump one, and succeeded only in giving myself a fence in the baby making department.

With one thing and another- running quickly was catching my ribs a bit I ran a pretty conservative race. The course was a superb mixture of coastal trail, sandy beach, dunes, along with some mud (where would we be without mud in March) and road.  It was great to see great fields for not only the ultra, but also for the marathon, half marathon and 10km- many people I spoke to said it was their first.  I was a little caught up in the scenery, getting a little lost a couple times although this was entirely my own fault- the routes were well marked.  I ran steadily, taking a gel every 30 minutes, and aiming for make sure I finished in 4 hrs 40 minutes as my good friends Mike and Jess McKenzie were getting married nearby- this would give me the time to scrub up.

Banburgh Castle imposes itself for many miles. Spectators can see the finishers approaching many miles off, and the encouragement was welcome. I finished in 4 hours 32 minutes, finishing first in the Ultra and well in time for the wedding.

Sun and a medal- I'm happy

Sun and a medal- I’m happy

Endurance Life put on a fantastic series of events, I can recommend trying one of them for yourself.  I used Merrell’s new kit for the season, the All Out Rush trainer (review can be found on runblogger) and Science in Sport nutrition.

Good luck to everyone running races soon- next one for me is the Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon at the start of April.

Andrew

 

RACE WIN IN A WET WALES. ENDURANCE LIFE ANGLESEY ULTRA

Anglesey Coastal Trail Ultra

Anglesey Coastal Trail Ultra

A few years ago I spent a short time in Wales and ran around in Snowdonia, and Anglesey. It was like being in Scotland, with snowy mountains, fantastic coastline, but with more consonants in the place names.

The Endurance Life Costal Series Anglesey Ultra Marathon is known as one of the most beautiful short ultras in Britain. The course features national park, towering cliffs, hill top scrambles and a jaunt around the beautiful Anglesey coastline. Having actually managed to get off my back side and do some training this winter it offered the perfect chance to stretch the legs and get a little competitive action.

Sleeping in the campervan the night before, I knew it was going to be a wet one. Rain thudded down relentlessly turning a trip to the toilet into a wading expedition. I have never done an Endurance Life Costal Series Event before but loved the briefing. James explained “some changes had been required to the course, it was going to be wet, but if a dry outing was expected then why had we come to Wales?”   The event itself offered a 10km, 1/2 marathon, a marathon (which is actually 27.5miles) and an ultra-marathon. The route is outstanding, trail markings excellent, and the marshals offered us everything short of lobster soup. I can safely say I’ve never experienced such wet conditions in a race, with the mountain trail resembling a stream at times, whilst we encountered calf deep standing water on the roads reasonably frequently, and waist deep water once. I was testing out my new Merrell All Out trail shoes, and must admit to enjoying steady progress whilst Donnie Campbell who I ran with skidded all over the place. His back was entirely brown by the end of the race.

Donnie and I run together quite a bit, and he had a strong year in 2013, winning the Scottish 100km National Champs, being second in the British 100km, and 4th in the British Trail Championships.  It made sense for us to run together initially at Anglesey, to avoid any chance of getting lost and so we could laugh at each other when we fell over. By 20 miles we’d opened up a 20 minute or so lead, and so continued to tank along together.  We were running the same course as the marathon runners, and would have won the marathon by 16 minutes had we stopped there, but having built a 30 minute lead in the ultra, took the foot off the pedal a little to finish the 34.1 miles a couple minutes inside the old course record. The GPS data is here, including 1,266 metres of ascent.

Medal !

Medal !

Endurance Life put on a series of events, and I enjoyed this so much I’d definitely consider doing another.

I must say I was extremely impressed with Merrell’s new kit for the season, especially the All Out Rush. A top bit of kit that I’d recommend when they come out shortly. A review can be found on runblogger.

It’s been a productive week, including meetings with our Chief Medical Officer here in Scotland concerning getting Scots more active. Having enjoyed a year working for the Scottish Government as their physical activity champion, now that I’m about to complete my Sports Medicine training this is an area I am looking to push forward again. I love this short video, which demonstrates the importance of getting our children active:

Andrew