Your shopping cart is empty!
Active Root Ambassador Ross took on BaM's Glen Ogle 33 last weekend, his 10th Ultra of 2019. Check out how he got on below.
A week after Jedburgh and it’s time for another BaM race! This time it’s less mileage than the ones I’ve done before but the BaM team always seem to make their events epic in some way so I approached with caution.
Leading up to the race, it became apparent that there was going to be bad weather. Rain and wind was forecast well in advance but this is Scotland after all so we were prepared. Gilly was also running this time so we travelled up to Killin together in the early hours and arrived just before 7am. The closer we got, the wetter it got and the field we were directed to park in was already looking soggy. Gathering our stuff, we picked our way through the puddles to the community hall and got ourselves registered.
I had been advised that there was a lot of tarmac on the route so road shoes would be preferable to trail shoes. It was warm and dry in the hall so most runners were trying to linger there for as long as possible before heading outside into the wind and rain. As 8 o’clock approached, Bill and Mike took to the stage and delivered the race briefing before herding us all out into the road for the start.
I set off at a good pace along the road. I was keeping an eye out for Gilly but also trying to see any other familiar faces who may might give me an idea of where I should be aiming to be. I spotted the familiar figure of Donald Sandeman in his trademark tartan shorts and tucked in behind him as he usually finishes just ahead of me in most races. The Falls of Dochart were fit to burst as we headed over the bridge and up onto the forest trails. An indication of just how much rainwater was flowing off the hills above!
As we got up into the forest there was a fair bit of climbing. So near the start there were lots of bodies around so it was a case of finding your pace while avoiding puddles and muddy sections of the track. Wearing road shoes for the first time in ages meant that I was slipping a bit due to the lack of grip but once we came to the more hard-packed concrete sections then it would be worth it. I briefly met up with Karen McIndewar who’s trademark stripey socks I’ve seen many times on the Ultra trails this year. She was also running Jedburgh this year and was suffering from a couple of sprained ankles but still marching up the hill like a pro.
Once we got up over the first long climb, the path started to undulate a bit more so it was possible to get a decent bit of running done. There were a couple of exposed points where the wind cut right across us and I realised how much shelter we were getting from the trees. There was still no protection from the rain though and at points there was a steady stream of water pouring off the brim of my hat! I was still a bit wary of my Brooks road shoes on the muddy bits as I am so used to my Saucony trail shoes these days but they seemed to be holding up well.
The marshals at the road crossing were in typically good spirits despite standing there in the cold and rain. At least we were moving! Once safely over the road we headed over the famous Glen Ogle viaduct which I have passed many times on the drive to other races. It was strange to be on it now looking towards the road and I’m sure the scenery would have been outstanding on any other day but the only view I had today was the rain sweeping in sideways across the vista. I got chatting to another runner (Shona? Sorry, I’m awful with names) and we passed the next few miles talking about the runs we had done this year and the ones we were planning to do next year. I attempted to stop and take a picture of the view across Loch Earn but the combination of soaking wet fingers and soaking wet phone meant that my touch screen was useless.
I had my usual bag of coffee, Active Root and crisps which I guzzled down quickly and marched out of the checkpoint. We were guided across the main road by a surly “lollipop man” wielding his lollipop reading “MTFU!” I had heard rumours that he is usually found to be wearing a morph suit but it maybe wasn’t the best weather for that today. There is a slow and steady climb up out of the checkpoint and I mar
ched it out, snacking on my crisps and necking some Active Root as I went. This was ideal for me as it gave me a chance to eat on the go and stopped my fuel sloshing around in my stomach. Daniel was running along beside me and we were rarely more than 100 yards apart for the next couple of miles.I started to have a bit of a lull around 18 miles but tried to stick with the little group of runners around me. We had all come marching out of the checkpoint at around the same time and ascended into the forest together. The rain seemed to be easing slightly at this point but it may just have been that we had been running in the rain for so long that we had stopped noticing it! Daniel was up ahead of me now but I was able to keep him in sight and I knew that once the lull passed that I would be able to reel him in again.
The out and back style of this race meant that we were soon back on the same road that we had travelled along earlier in the day and as landmarks started to become familiar, I started to get a bit of renewed vigour in my legs. As we headed back along the road to Balquidder Station, I started to catch runners up ahead again and move slowly up the pack. I had stashed a pack of jelly sweets in my vest pocket and I was chewing one down every time we got to an incline. This drip feeding sugar boost in addition to the caffeine hit and Active Root from the checkpoint was giving me a bit of energy back in my tiring legs although I was still feeling the effects of Jedburgh from the weekend before.
I got myself into a good headspace and just concentrated on picking off one runner at a time ahead of me. I wasn’t trying to run them down, just gradually reel them in and keep enough energy to pass them and build up a bit of distance before I let myself slow down again. Before long I was cruising back over the Glen Ogle viaduct and feeling strong. I knew that we would soon be approaching the road crossing and that after that it was a sheltered downhill through the forest and back into Killin. I managed to get past Daniel again on the approach to the road crossing and this time I wanted to stay ahead of him.
The road crossing marshals were full of cheer as we passed through and I felt good knowing that the next group of cheery supporters I would see would be at the finish line. I slowed the pace slightly on the uphill section just over the road crossing and conserved my energy so that I could have a good strong finish. Once I was up and over the incline it was pretty much downhill all the way through the sheltered forest. Up ahead, I saw the tartan breeks of Donald again and kept pace with him all the way down to the bottom of the hill. Despite being a couple of decades older than me, he’s a really strong runner and has vastly longer legs so it was not easy keeping up after nearly 30 miles. I managed to hold onto him until just before we came out of the forest but I had to let him go as he was showing no signs of letting up before the finish.
I slowed slightly as we reached the edge of the woods and settled my heart rate before the final stretch. As this was a BaM race, they always like to squeeze an extra little bit out of you so the course followed a lap of the playing fields behind the centre before bringing runners to the finish line. I had been pre-warned about this so I was ready to hold off any runner behind me that was thinking about taking me in a sprint finish. I crossed the line in 5:44 and realised that this was the first time I had even looked at my watch the whole race!
Tired and sore but happy with the run, it was time to get inside and find some hot Active Root and some soup as well as a dry set of clothes. Inside the community hall we collected our medals and goody bags and I was able to duck into the disabled toilet to have a towel down and a change into my dry clothes.
Race number 10 was done and another one of the BaM events had been ticked off the list. Just Glen Lyon to go now! After getting myself some hot food and drink and chatting with other runners, I did eventually manage to find Gilly and we sat for a while talking abut each other’s race and how we had found it.
Despite the poor weather, GO33 is a good race and I’m sure it is beautiful given the right weather conditions. The route is a bit too much tarmac for my liking but it’s a great event for someone stepping up to Ultra for the first or second time. Special shout out had to go to the team of marshals for their help, encouragement and cheery disposition throughout. The BaM team always put on a good event and I even managed to get this one done without any additional drama. Maybe I’m getting used to them now!
The next and final Ultra race of my year is back on home turf in East Lothian at the Foxlake Nocturnal in December so I have almost a month off to recover. Here’s hoping for a dry night!