Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Speyside Way Race

Thirty-something minutes, thirty-something miles. That was my motto throughout the run. It’s ok that I had only just worked the legs up to 30 minutes of running the week before. All I had to do was laugh, grit my teeth and enjoy the view to get myself through the 36.5 miles (I’ve rounded that up and been telling everyone that it was 37).

We took the scenic route to Ballindalloch on the Friday evening; over the Cairngorms and past Glenshee ski field. It wasn’t the route we thought we were taking and we arrived at our B&B in Ballindalloch slightly frazzled from the journey! I would really recommend Woodville B&B to anyone running the race next year. I spent the night before the race having a lovely lavender bubble bath and then sat watching red squirrels play at breakfast the next morning! Not only were they my first red squirrel sightings but Robin also made me my first ‘soldiers’ for breakfast. These paired with my winning porridge and berry combo had me set until my banana face-cram at the first checkpoint.

As we are just down the road from the start line we rock up about five minutes before the race. I was expecting to find runners everywhere but instead everyone is hiding under shelters out of the rain. It’s all rather eerie with the mist about.
Water on the track!

Feed stop number one
Ballindalloch - Craigellachie

I’m chatting to Carolyn as we are walking along a track to the start line. There’s a wee bit of rain action going on and the track has a few puddles. Some people in front of us begin to run. Turns out the race started a wee bit further back. This probably cost us both our sub-Donnie-Campbell times.  At the first checkpoint I promise Scott that I’ll continue on the course but might walk a large bit later on. I’ve run the full twelve (flat) miles so far which is much longer than anything I’ve run since the WHW. There’s a pond covering the track and I’m advised to be careful. So I increase my speed and jump in! Whoop! Walking up the hill afterwards I realise that showing off probably wasn’t a good idea as my shoes are now full of grit.

Craigellachie - Fochabers

There are some nice long inclines where I can practice my race walking. Everyone’s doing their own thing to get themselves up the hills. My downhill running appears to have improved over my last few months of crisp-eating and wine tastings. There’s a number of men having mid-life crisis’s and completing their first ultra today. I network my way through the first 25 miles, chatting to them all. The West Highland Way comes up in conversation and one runner comments that my diet must be good to sustain that kind of distance running. I run off the list of classy foods I like to eat; crisps, chocolate, fish finger sandwiches with multiple fried eggs…

At the second checkpoint I arrive with a man who has also packed creamed rice for his lunch. I show him how ladies eat creamed rice and have my pottle finished before he’s even opened his. Talent like that cannot be bought. Scott is bare-knuckle fighting with the travellers in Fochabers when I pass through faking a run.

Fochabers - Buckie

I catch up to John Duncan who could smell me coming. We skip along admiring the scenery and ignoring body pains. Lorna is having a gossip with a gentleman ahead and goes the wrong way. We make a funny looking group; hobbling, laughing, grimacing. My friend's band, Toy Machene, have a song called Momentum. I'm currently lacking this. I went to see their gig on Thursday night before the race and their line 'it's so clear I've been running on empty... and I've lost momentum,' is providing a rather accurate description of my current energy levels.   

There’s still seven miles to go. I decide to catch the old fella ahead but with seven miles to go I’m not making my move just yet. I eat some more rocky road to increase my energy levels whilst plotting my move. Later, Ian refuses to share his trophy with me. Apparently, you’ve got to be a super vet to deserve that one.

I let loose just before Spey Bay and catch Ian. I give Scott a wave and confess that I’m only running as I’ve just walked a large chunk with John and Lorna. I catch young John who is running his first ultra. We’ve been passing one another all day and he’s just starting to struggle now. I see him at the ceilidh later on and he’s walking about much better than me.  I ditched the water at the second checkpoint and am running on coke. I’ve not de-fizzed it and it’s spraying about the place. Can I have a hill to walk up please? It’s actually a nice wee track. 

Spey Bay

Running for the fans

My left arm is lashing about in a circular motion, trying to propel me forward.  I look at it with disgust. Just keep yourself in line buddy. There’s a long straight ahead and I can see two runners. It’s flat and I’m catching them but I also desperately need a walk. That’s a massive cow. I’m not walking anywhere near that. Must. Run. Past. Cow. And walk. 

The marshal calls two miles to go. My inner goddess (yes, I have recently read all three Fifty Shades masterpieces) screams that I can run two miles! Absolute lie. Not a chance. A few hundred metres later I’m working on my race walking again. But just until that purple suitcase lying on the grass. What’s that purple suitcase doing there? Let’s not create a national security alert out of it. Let’s just get to the finish line.

Standing on a mound I see that red and yellow man has left the shoreline path and is now running up a road. Ahhhhhh brain and legs cannot function to make a decision as to what to do. I wait for red shirt behind me to catch up and I tell him my predicament. I’d confused him by missing the probably-rather-obvious turn-off path further up! So down the mound we go to chase after red and yellow man towards the finish. By chase I mean grimace and hobble. But moving forward is moving forward…

Another marshal. Half a mile to go! Still?! Red shirt is no longer pulling away from me and I can see red and yellow man again. I’m catching them… there’s a hill and I’m powering up it! Yes, yes, yes! And the finish line comes just a wee bit too early. Red shirt waves to let me go past in the finishing straight but I decline as I haven’t quite caught him in time anyway.

Red shirt leading me in
Am I a vegetarian or a meat-eater? Huh? I can’t answer but I do remember that I have some rocky road in my bag and I am hank marvin’. The time-keeper congratulates me on coming in just under the six-hour mark. Time: 5 hours 59 minutes. Not bad for a girl who runs without a watch. No wonder it bloody hurt. I’d told Scott to expect well over seven hours! The young lad giving out the medals informs me that I was flying when he saw me around the 10 mile mark. He should keep up those kind of comments and he’ll do well with the ladies in the future!

Dr Andrew Murray gets me doing a bit of gymnastics post-race. My knee whinge is only a grade one something-something-something. My foot whinge is ultra-runners’ ankle. He compliments me on the variety of my whingeries and encourages me to continue trying out new ones. I’m not to train conventionally for the 24-hour race in four weeks’ time. That’s fine by me; I think it’s probably a bit late for conventional training anyway…  

5hrs 59mins !


  1. Great Speyside Way Race 2012 Race Report!

  2. Antonia.............your writing is as amazing as these "petitefeet" of yours! Well done girl. Oh and an "Inner goddess" too! Brilliant!

  3. Well done from red and yellow man :-) You bearing down on me in the last couple of miles really spoiled my walk breaks! Wasn't surprised to see it was you at the finish after seeing the speed at which you shot past me in the last couple of miles of the D33!

    1. Hi David! It's nice to meet you :) Just jumped over to your blog and enjoyed your race reports! Hope that you are recovering well.

    2. Thanks Antonia. Good luck for the 24 hour race. Hopefully catch up at a race or training run sometime :-)

  4. What's this mid-life crisis nonsense?
    You know those blokes would have all been tricked into it by their daughters.

  5. What a great day out in spite of the few light showers at the start. Nice one Antonia!


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