Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Ultra-Running: The Wedding Edition

Umbrellas? But it's a beautiful day in Edinburgh...

The Ultra Training 

In May I had the 24 hour race which meant that I had 24 hours of thinking time to come up with some vows. That didn’t quite work out as planned as I went to sleep after 23 hours. And 23 hours just wasn’t quite enough time for me to get any vows confirmed in my head. Although I could have written numerous vows to my cup-of-pasta. I am extremely excited about running in Glenmore just so I can eat the other packet that I have left in the pantry. So I came back from Holland begging the Humanist to write the vows which I now cannot remember anyway.

All international guests should be greeted at the airport with a sweaty hug. It wasn’t so much of a rule than it was a bad habit. So with international guest number one arriving (Mareta), I attempted to squeeze in a run before her arrival time. Too much flat cleaning meant that that run needed to be one to the airport. Mareta’s an athlete herself so I didn’t think she’d mind too much. Unfortunately, I got lost. It was quite a muggy day and I had to motor it to get to the airport and even then I was considerably late. Like half an hour late.  Then I tear around the coffee shops looking for a tall lost-looking blonde to no avail.  By then, I am glowing with sweat. I cannot swipe my phone to unlock it as I am too sweaty. Never fear though folks as Mareta was rewarded with her travel from Australia with a flight delay in Manchester. So by the time she arrived, she wasn’t smelling too pretty either. The plan was to bus home, shower and then catch the bus back to the airport (letting Mareta have a sleep) to pick up friends Sarah and Shaun. Unfortunately, due to Mareta and I’s late arrival we sat stinking in a coffee shop while we watched the glam arrivals. What a treat for them arriving after Monaco, Cannes and Nice! 

The Race Conditions

Girl Guide Leader
The weather until the end of May had been rather dismal in Scotland. This worked well for me as I was working on the logic that the longer it stayed rotten then the better my chance of having fair weather on my big day. Or the logic that if it was sunny in the weeks preceding the wedding then all that Scottish sun would run out before the wedding day. It was still pishing with rain for my hen weekend in Perth a few days before the wedding. I know that everyone girl wants to have their hen party in Perth. Mine happened to involve some (very nice) apartments on North Inch Park which I had happened to run past 42 times when I ran the Perth 100km in March. I really wanted to go for an overnight walk but time-wise that just wasn’t really an option. In response to this request though I was given a whistle, a Girl Guide outfit and an afternoon walk. I was a little bit competitive when winning events in order to collect Girl Guide badges. Of course I ran a celebratory lap around North Inch Park the next morning with my sisters.

By the Monday the weather was stunning and we were off to The Cruin,  Loch Lomond. We had BBQ’s and I even managed a taper walk to Helensburgh the day before the wedding. Balloch failed to provide me with a takeaway coffee but I did get some lobster shoulders whilst pounding the Forestry tracks. I got a run in on the morning of the wedding and frightened some poor dog-walkers in the process whilst I tore across the golf courses at The Carrick.  In the meantime the whole lodge full of girls (and my Dad, and some brother-in-laws) were awake popping the champagne whilst the hairdresser was lost.

Runaway Bride?
Girly preparations went well. It’s a bit like preparing for a race with schedules, lists and the essential feeding breaks. Then there’s the outfit malfunctions and the last minute ironing. You don’t press your running gear? Shame on you… Mini false nails were glued to my natural nail-bitten beauties. Those bad boys rendered me useless. We were ready on time for the 15 minute nature walk over fields full of bluebells (ok, just some blue flower and it was just the one field), ready to jump logs and take numerous photos in the process. We’d even invested in plastic cups with straws attached for the occasion. Unfortunately, I got a call just before the ceremony saying that we’d just hold it off for 20 minutes. It’s ok lady, I’ve got my running shoes on, I’ll not be late. You just have those seats ready by the loch so we can all put our heels on.

The Start Line

Freak storm on Loch Lomond. Just for the couple of hours when I was meant to be getting married outside. I was desperate to get married outside. The girls and I consumed another bottle of bubbles waiting for the storm to clear. Eventually, we got married inside. My Dad had to slow me down walking down the aisle. I was wearing my heels by this stage.

The ceremony was full of giggling. That was mostly the bridesmaids and I due to the champagne consumption. I’m a bit of a giggler when it comes to race briefings too. It’s an attention span thing. Or I’m in the line for a port-a-loo. They’re always a good source of banter. Then there’s the drinking of whisky from the Quaich. I don’t really appreciate whisky to be honest.

My main focus after the ceremony is getting my hands on some canapés. I greet both national and international fans, smile for the cameras, strike some poses… Then there are the family  photos which I coordinate by barking out orders. By the stage the weather is barely a drizzle and anyone who complains about standing in it for thirty seconds keeps a swift kicking up the backside from my pointy heels. We play on the pier. I think I have flip flops on at this stage. A never ending change of shoes is this wedding. 

The Food Plan

New Zealand V Scotland

Soon I am accompanied by a bag piper and we’re going in for the awards ceremony. I smile for the cameras. This blog is obviously half running, half food so I’ll take you through the meal. I had a starter of smoked salmon stuffed with hot salmon, irn bru sorbet intermediate, salmon main (repetitive food eating preferences comes handy in ultrarunning) and then a trio of desserts. I’d originally picked the praline crème brulee but then got jealous of the chocolate torte and cranachan so went all diva and got the three. I was seriously outnumbered by the haggis and steak pie choices around me though. I do laps of the tables as the courses progress but the room wasn’t measured to official standards so I’m not sure of my total distance.  

Getting a run in

Then we are out for a course turnaround and I’m on the beach in my wellies getting some more photos taken. I think that the guests are rehydrating and I remind myself to do this also. I don’t want to bonk out later on in the race due to dehydration.  Then it’s time to pass the baton. Or throw the bouquet since I wasn’t really fast enough for the Athletics team. I’m not known for my arm strength. In fact, I personally believe that I am the inspiration for the saying ‘you throw like a girl.’ At school, I usually made some sort of agreement with another kid that I would do the running for them if they did the batting for me. I’d told all the girls who wanted to catch the bouquet to line up in the front. I thought that I better give the toss my all so that it wouldn’t fall short of that first line of girls. And I did just that. And it flew over everybody, took out a native bird whilst in flight and landed next to Noeleen who was standing oblivious to my world record throw at the back. Now Noeleen had come over from New Zealand with her husband Monroe as I grew up across the road from them and their daughters. It’s quite an infamous street in St. Oke. I bet she didn’t expect to be heading home thinking about a potential new suitor… 


Next is the cake cutting and twirling and I am getting hurried through the checkpoint. There’s coffee and tablet at the checkpoint so I’m milling about trying to get them both down. It’s always a pain when you have to continue running out of the checkpoint whilst still holding your coffee cup. I step on my dress and the coffee goes a-flying. Not onto my dress thankfully. But still, I scheduled that caffeine in, this will throw the whole plan off course! Keith’s better half Sam has made our cake and due to a bit too much rehydrating on my part I don’t realise that the cake has four tiers and Scott and I do our best to saw through some cardboard holding the tiers in place. I did try to fight Scott with my cake cutting sword but the staff weren’t too keen on that idea. I guess they had just witnessed some almighty strength with that bouquet throw of mine. The dance is fine, a chance for Scott and I to have a chat. Something that is hard to do in these ultraraces. 

The Pacing Strategy

The pace of the song picks up. It’s the sprint finish of the race, that time of night when your support runners are allowed on the course. My support runners are decked out in blue dresses and are experts in keeping themselves hydrated. Known as the Smurfettes, they fling themselves across the dance floor in the most pinball-like fashion. There’s even a YouTube clip. I haven’t been on a You Tube clip since my pained face crossed the line of the Gran Canaria marathon.

Who's party is this?

After dancing for a few obligatory songs, I’m out of there. Can’t handle too long in the heels you see. My support crew Smurfettes have a bit of difficulty dealing with my bustle. Generally in ultrarunning it’s not so much about the appearance of the runner it’s the speed that you can get the tights over the running shoes that’s the important part. Never fear though because Scott’s friend Ash is a short-distance runner, therefore still cares about her appearance and saves the bustle. After which it is decided that I am possibly a little under hydrated. I feel that I am beyond the coffee stage in my race and it’s time to crack out the big guns; RED BULL.

Sam has travelled over with his girlfriend from New Zealand and we reminisce over the Red Bull about how I’ve changed; no good at high heels, dirt on my dress, I even sometimes go CAMPING. And it’s true. Someone shouts ‘jaeger bomb’ from further down the bar and I think that it’s perhaps time to make sure I am keeping up with the speedsters at the front of this party, welcome back my younger self and all that jazz. I participate in some unsuccessful ceilidh dancing. In my personal opinion this would have been far more successful if there had been prizes for the best, worst or most enthusiastic dancers. Perhaps even a prize for best-dressed. Ultraraces should probably hold prizes for this too. Braiding hair takes time people and it would be nice to be rewarded for the effort. From this point onwards the memory lags and every drink must contain Red Bull. I am beyond any other liquid consumption. 

Making a getaway

The Comeback

In my limited experience of 24 hour running I would say that my best time is during the dark stages of the race.  Just as other people are getting tired and start to depart the dance floor or wedding premises, out I pop with fresh legs and a steely determination for whatever takes my fancy. During the wedding day thus far I have managed to remain calm but overly conservative for the day period and talk the ears off everyone for the evening period. Much like my running. And now that we’ve hit the night I am ready to rumble. I’m still up for a party at 4am in the morning when the sun is rising and the birds are chirping. I get dragged to the bridal lodge. The race is over folks. Now how can I get that energy to convert to the end of a 24-hour race… 

The Thank Yous

Thanks to everyone that came. It was an epic party. Maybe we should do it sometime again soon. Beautiful photos thanks to Karol Makula. 

And a wee warning to Scott...

This beauty...

Turns into this beauty...


  1. Well Done! I enjoyed. It vey much, but I don't understand English very well ( your usage of it) but nice how your racing and wedding can blend into a race report.

  2. Thanks for another great read.
    It was almost like being there

  3. Great Read and congratulations to you both xx

  4. Well done on an excellent race result - joint first place was well deserved after all the planning on race strategy and great execution. Especially on the footwear and hydration.


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