Monday, 16 May 2016

Ultra Brew

New races are popping up everywhere lately. Ultras are the new aerial yoga. Fast runners are running them. Slow runners are running them. Non runners are running them (therefore becoming runners or maybe just proving you can walk them). Even dogs are allowed to run some of them. Having just run a 'new' ultra; the John Muir 50km Ultra, I've been thinking about creating my own. I just need to decide my direction...
There are already some pretty cool race concepts out there. One of my favourite ultra running experiences was running my first ultra; the Caesar Camp 50 miler. Other than being a low-key, no nonsense event, its concept is similar to most in that you just run a certain distance. The reason it is such a good memory though (other than I ran it with my father) is that I got such a huge sense of accomplishment from just completing my first ultra. There was nothing to judge myself against and more importantly nowadays, nobody else to judge me. Once you have completed your first race of any distance, it is hard to get that feeling back again so I like the idea of not having a specific distance to run but rather running until you just cannot be bothered to run anymore. Here are a few races that have lit my inspiration spark:

Hot off the press is the Wings for Life World Run which fundraises for spinal cord injury research projects. You start running. Thirty minutes later a car starts driving. The car gradually gets faster. When the car catches you, you are out. Just a wee note; the car is fast. I like to picture the start line with everyone tearing down the streets shoving each other over in a desperate attempt to be ahead when the car catches up. 

For those without employment there is the Run Until You Drop multi-day concept. On February 1st you run one mile. On February 2nd you run two miles. You keep going in that pattern until everyone has dropped. A little mundane at the start and then time-consuming by the end. Do you restart after March and do it all again or continue counting up with numbers?

Another run with a similar concept is the Last One Standing run in Northern Ireland. You start running 4.2 mile trail loops and have an hour to get around the loop. You keep running loops until you cannot make it around within the one hour cut off anymore. If you finish the loop early you have time for a snack or kit change before you start on another lap on the hour. After 24 hours you can stop running loops regardless. I'd love it even more if there was no time limit but I guess that the race organisers need to go back to their day jobs eventually!  

There is also another type of running that I like; themed runs. Yes, there are the costume specific runs but they are not really appropriate for ultra distances. I am thinking of beverage or food focused events. Here are a few that I think would quench my thirst:

For those looking for an excuse to go to France for a weekend and drink wine in the sun there is the Marathon du Medoc. I'm thinking a trip away with the girls. Trainers optional, apron compulsory (for the wine spills).  

My worst running experience has to be during the Tromso Midnight Sun Marathon. Now, Tromso itself is great and I was staying with a very friendly Couchsurfing host. Unfortunately, Norwegian fish cakes do not really agree with me nor marathon running and I had to pop back into my accommodation mid-run before eventually being pulled out by the medics and spending the whole night being sick in an almost-stranger's house. However, that was years ago and I am ready to try some more adventurous eating whilst running. this leads me to the New York Hot Dog Challenge, a 2.5 mile dash with ten compulsory hot dog stops. Scotland could start something similar with a chunk of haggis in some pastry. Vegetarians could be accommodated also. 

It is surprising how easy it is to create and manage and sell tickets to an event. I imagine that the rest of the organisational process is slightly more difficult. Here's what I am thinking; an ultra distance race in Scotland passing through breweries with no end point. If you make it to the brewery before the cut-off, you can keep going to the next one. Some days can have multiple breweries followed by a night's sleep. Other days you'd have to run through the night to reach the next one. Tastings (or pints) are compulsory at each brewery. Running whilst dressed as a beer bottle is optional. We could get the locals involved by offering shorter between-brewery races. Nothing would dampen the mood of a drunk exhausted ultra runner more. Or a relay. They seem to be all the rage in ultras nowadays.

The hard part will be narrowing down the brewery preferences. We want them spread across Scotland but both rural and urban breweries should be included. What would be harder; a long multi-day slog to the next brewery or a short skip between some in a city resulting in more beer to consume? List your favourites in the comments section and we'll see if we can create a map, approximate distances and some cut-offs. Here are a few I found:

Ultra Brew


  1. Even a duathlon option with a swim to Stromness


Boston Marathon & London Marathon 2018

The Big Reveal W alking up Arthur's Seat in September 2017, I told Scott I had something to tell him. After initially freaking out an...