I'm sitting here not really knowing how to write this report on Saturday's race. I don't want to go down the route of "and the first lap took me 14 minutes, then the second lap took me 14 and a half minutes, and then I started the third lap..." as that would be really dull, even for me. So I think I'll just try and jot down the main things I remember.
First the stats. I covered a total of 106.74 miles in the 24 hours, finishing in 10th position out of 22. I went though the 100 mile mark in 21 hours 52 minutes. Stephen Mason won the race, covering an incredible 148 miles or so, and Pauline Walker set a new Scottish record of (I think) 130 miles. Absolutely incredible performances from them both.
We didn't arrive at the venue in Perth until about 9.20am, and I was the last to register. Although I hadn't wanted to hang about too long, and there wasn't any real need to do a warm up, I felt I had cut it a bit tight for the 10am start. I was quite unsettled and a bit grumpy with Alison, who was supporting me. I didn't even have time to go to the toilet just before the race started. We started bang on 10am and thankfully I felt a lot more relaxed once I had got going.
Each lap was 2.381 km (1.48 miles), all on tarmac and almost completely flat. We ran in a clockwise direction around the North Inch. I started very easily and was right at the back of the field, which suited me well - there were a lot of people running who had much more experience of these events than I had, and I didn't want to get dragged round too quickly. My times for the first few laps were fine - although I was near the back I felt I was going about the right speed, and this was confirmed by my early lap times. After a few laps George arrived to help out with the back-up. Derek Easton, Central's chief endurance coach, also turned up to watch for a while and I chatted to him at various points.
At 12 noon the 100k race started. This comprised 42 laps of the same route, and it was really interesting to see things unfold in that race. I stuck on my headphones and listened to the football as I was running, which helped the time pass. I was pleased with how the run was going - slow and steady, slow and steady - I was feeling good and very focused on the task in front of me. Just before 4.45pm my spirits were lifted even higher by Falkirk's last minute goal against Hearts - 3 points at last for the Bairns!
Phil T turned up round about 7pm, just as I was about to change out of my shorts and into my tracksters. That was probably my lowest point of the day. I couldn't get my tracksters on without cramping, but knew I needed to put on some warmer clothes as we headed into the night so had to get on with it. The pain was intense as cramp shot through all parts of my body, and a few choice words were uttered in everyone's direction. Thankfully I didn't have any problems at all with cramp after that, which I think was a reflection of the fact I ate well throughout the race.
John and Katrina turned up about 8pm to help with the backup, and Alison went home a short while later. Then Stan arrived about 10pm. Katrina went away to have a sleep at Neal and Caroline's, who had turned up to watch, leaving George, John and Stan to cover the night shift.
I ran really well through the night. I had managed to get into a nice steady pace, and was covering most laps in under 20 minutes, then having a quick stop and something light to eat as I came round to the checkpoint. Every 3rd or 4th lap I would eat something a bit more substantial, depending on how I felt. I went through the 100k point (42 laps) in 12 hours 15 minutes, and knew I was in a good position to achieve my target of 100 miles or more. The radio continued to inspire me, firstly Proms in the Park from Glasgow Green, then the 'Through the Night' programmes from Radio Tay. All of the helpers were hugely supportive as well, giving me and all of the runners a great reception as I finished each lap, and always being very positive and encouraging.
As I got to about 60 laps, the soles of my feet were beginning to get really sore. I was still able to run and walk, but it was getting more difficult because of the pain. I thought about trying to put some blister pads on them, but decided it would be more bother than it was worth and just kept going. By 6 am it was starting to get light, and I was edging closer to my 100 miles. At 7.52am I passed the 100 mile point. By this stage I could not run at all, but just kept walking at as good a pace as I could manage, which had slowed to around 3 to 3.5 mph (or just over 2 laps an hour). I picked up the pace a bit as we moved into the last hour, and just after I finished my 72nd lap the hooter blew to signal the end of the race. I had done it. 106.74 miles.
Today my feet are really sore and I am struggling to walk, but am completely delighted by my performance. My support crew were incredible. Alison, George, John and Stan - thank you for giving up a whole weekend to help me out - I could not have achieved it without you. Thank you to everyone else who turned up to support and offer encouragement - Katrina, Neal, Caroline, Derek, Phil, and Murdo. And to all the organisers who put in so much effort and were so positive and encouraging every time - it is greatly appreciated.
I now plan to take a bit of time off running and let my feet recover.