Yesterday I took part in the Cateran Trail race, a 55 mile run starting and finishing at Spittal of Glenshee. I finished in 11 hours 34 minutes, right in the middle of the field in 10th position. The weather was awful for most of the day, but despite that it was a first class event, in some lovely countryside (when we were able to see it), and very well organised by Dario and his team.
I set out at a very cautious pace, aware that I had gone off too fast in the recent Highland Fling and that it was only 5 weeks until the WHW race. This proved to be a sensible strategy, as I felt really good for most of the run and seemed to get stronger as the race went on. The last couple of sections were without doubt the hardest of the whole course. It was quite tricky coming across the hill into Kirkmichael, partly because it was so muddy and slippy, and then the last section from Enockdhu to Spittal of Glenshee was a killer, incorporating a climb of around 1,400 feet to the highest point before dropping steeply down to the finish at the Spittal of Glenshee hotel. The weather on that section was terrible: a strong wind and really heavy rain, turning into sleet near the high point of the route. I was glad I had made the decision early on to put on my tracksters - my legs would have been absolutely frozen if I had been running in shorts.
Another difficulty was the number of stiles which needed to be climbed throughout the route. Some of these were huge, and although they did not present much of a problem in the early stages (apart from the fact they were very slippy), they were much more difficult to negotiate later on with my legs starting to tire and my muscles showing some signs of cramp. There was even a stile about half a mile from the finish. I was cursing race organiser Dario at that point, I have to admit.
So, another ultra completed - my 3rd of the year so far - and a very enjoyable one at that. Many thanks to Esther, who not only did my backup throughout the race but also provided me with accommodation in Alyth on Friday night. It was greatly appreciated.