Category Archives: A-Z marathon challenge.

Updates to my A-Z Marathon challenge.

A-Z M marathon RACE day

I may not have been up with the larks but I was certainly wakened by them the dawn chorus at 0413!

I lazed till ninish and then got showered and dressed had a chat with some fellow racers and headed to the village shop/cafe/emporium to have some food and charge phone and of course do this!

Registration opens at 1400 so plan is to stay hydrated, snooze and stretch for the rest of the day then register and have more food before a final doze then the race.  Registration was a quick and slick operation admittedly I did go early.

After registering I had a short walk around the village and on the canal and headed back to the campsite to await the race brief.

At the HQ I met Phil Adams a fellow 100Km club member whom I had not seen for years Phil is well on his way to 250 marathons!

After the briefing we all miles around and then we were off right on time.  A few yards walking then a few more nearly jogging as we went through the village and up onto the Taff TRail and out around the North of the Talybont reservoir, through the forest and. Reached CP1.  The trail was undulating and on forest paths a. Not unpleasant beginig to the race CP 1 time 1::28:12 7.5 miles 1:23:32.  As we were running along we could see the low cloud enveloping the peaks and feel the water vapour landing on our bodies..  As we left the forest we were following the Beacons Way which although it went to the summit of Pen y Fan we left to climb up Graig Fan Las which took us out along a ridge and back to the way for another short stint.  The field was well spread out as was the trail markers but with only one large obvious path to follow the route finding was easy enough, staying upright though was another thing altogether.  The terrain was a cross between the cobbles of the Royal Mile the boulder fields of the Lairg Ghru and the dirt of the Fife coastal path and as the surface got wetter it also got slipper!

CP 2 is at the summit of Pen y Fan 1:58:34. Tot time of 3:26 Dist app 14 summit height 886m.   So began the descent following the Way once more for a short distance before going down Tor Glas and into Taf Fechan Forest and onto the Taff Trail to CP 3 at 19 miles 1:13:45 tot time 4:40:31.  Food, drink, head torch and glow stick and we were back on our way.  Following the Taff Trail now all the way to the finish.  Strangely this was one of the hardest parts of the race a mix of tiredness and darkness I expect.  Finish time of 6:09..


A-Z Marathon M Road trip day 1

Up bright and early Friday morning fed, watered, washed, packed and off for 1000.  A long drive ahead approx 39o miles mainly in rain and spray from other vehicles.  There were some bright spots and I usually got out and stretched off when they presented themselves.

Through Scotland , England and into Wales.  As I got off the motorway and onto A then B roads the countryside got greener and the sky got bluer.  I had checked the forecast before I left which was for wall to wall rain luckily it did not materialise and I had my tent pitched and a brew on without a drop of rain falling.   I arrived at my campsite just after 7pm a drive of almost 9 hours.  Tallybont farm camp site is a lovely wee place plenty of room with all the normal facilities.  I had a walk around the village and found the closed shop not surprising considering the time.  I was in my bag and snoozing by 10pm.

A-Z Marathon M

Wednesday evening and with a busy Thursday ahead I decided to get everything packed ready to go on Friday to the Midnight Mountain Marathon.

I was camping so had quite a bit of stuff to look out.  I erected the tent in the garden just to check it was ok and give the cat someplace else to play! Obviously.  Hung my sleeping bag and liner up to air and checked that my stove was in working order.  With the camping gear sorted I turned to the Race Instructions.

A comprehensive booklet with all the information I needed including a compulsory kit list of 16 items that I packed in my OMM runsack and tried out on a small run.  Fairly confident that everything was sorted I decided to wait till Friday morning and give the forecast a final check before I zipped bags up and got the car packed.




A-Z of marathons L

L for Loch Katrine.  A localish race that allowed me to drive early in the morning and do the race and be home for 5pm.

Being Scottish L was always going to be Loch something it was just a matter of fitting the other races in as well.  

The Loch Katrine running festival comprises a 10K, half marathon and the full marathon.  The full marathon sets off from Trossach Pier at 0900 and follows the Loch to just past Stronlachar Pier where you turn around and head back the way you came.

The forecast was bad but on the day the weather was really quiet good with a dull damp start and the sun making an appearance later on about mile 18 or 19.  The course had a total climb of 2500 ft with some long hills.  It was a small field and there were a few occasions when no one else was in sight especially with the winding loch side road which was almost traffic free.  The majority of the race entry fee goes to charity and you won’t find gels, isotonic drinks or bananas at the feed stations.  Water only with flapjack and sweets at the turnaround point. 

4:57:0 with 2500 ft climb.

A-Z race review K for Kielder

Kielder a local race compared to China and Berlin and with a plea for car sharing by the organisers I decided that it could be done in a day.  I managed to get a lift thru FB and rose at 4am Sunday and headed for Rosyth and my ride south.

Numbers were sent out by mail along with a 4 page guide which included a route map but no route profile.  WE arrive at the village of Falstone and after some food and drink and the almost inevitable pit stop we headed for the buses. 

The buses took the full marathon runners to the start at Leaplish waterside park, there were marquees available for bags, massages and food and drink with a wandering MC doing a fine job.  The announcement came over the tannoy for runners to head to the start which was published as being at 10:15 but ended up starting at 10:30.

The course heads north out of the park and heads around the lake.  It was a dry warm day and the trails were in excellent condition.  The course undulated all the way round the lake with a couple of larger lumps and some sharp bends.  There were drinks stations approx every 5K with isotonic drinks being provided from 15K there was no food available.

At the end of the race you got a medal and a shirt then a goody bag with drinks and a muffin.  There was also bananas available.

After the race it was back on a bus to the village and the journey home.

Not a race I would like to do again. Time was 4:53:49 442nd overall.

Double decker trains, Swiss efficiency and the Lake Geneva Shoreline

Today truly is Trains, Planes and Automobiles.  Four trains changing at Interlaken, Speiz and Visp arriving at Geneva for my 14:10 flight to Edinburgh then drive home.

The Swiss rail system from its app to travel is an amazing organism.  Everything interacts.  The app gives you all the changes that you need to do to get to your destination the arrival platform and departure platform is listed and when you get on the trains especially the more modern ones a screen details the journey for you with arrival times of the stations and if that wasn’t enough on the way out it shows the connecting trains.  I didn’t have a bike with me this journey but cyclists are well catered for even on the Inter country trains. Train I had chosen this time was going around the other side of the lake and we were soon picking up customers at a rather famous train station well if you are of a certain musical bent! 

 I arrived at the Airport with enough time to get some food before my departure which was a few minutes late but made the time up.  An uneventful flight followed and I was in Edinburgh in no time.  THe drive to the Forth road bridge at 6 pm was another matter

Race day.

This race is organised to the nth degree I am staying in Lauterbrunnen and the start is in Interlaken there are trains arranged to take runners down to the start very half hour from about 0600!  I woke at various times during the night my excitement mounting as the time to get up came closer.  I had breakfast and went back for a lay down before finally rising for the train.  I plumped for the 0733 as I did not want to be standing around too much at the start.

The organisers provided some entertainment however in the shape of flag throwers and horn blowers.  

As the start time got closer I selected a spot near the 5:30 pacer and waited for the off from Nicola Sperig no less!

Popular misconception No1 it’s flat for 10K the uphill for 32k. Its in Interlaken for almost the first 10k plenty elbowing and crowds.  The street furniture makes it pretty hazardous as well with speed bumps, bollards and roundabouts to look out for. 

It starts to rise gently towards Lauterbrunnen. Which is where the half marathon is past pretty pedestrian 2:02. But happy with that as was wary of what was to come.  At 25K there  was what is known in business speak as a “sea”change.  The track headed very much uphill and the K. Markers were now given in 250m almost immediately people started to walk and were stopping to rub various body parts or simply to rest.  This continued for approx 2k with the trail becoming more and more like a casualty clearing station.  The weather had been good warm when in the sun but plenty of shade when in forests or running along the side of a mountain even for me heat wasn’t a problem! 

The course headed in and through Wengen, plenty of people out cheering the runners on this had been true all through the run and would continue even in the higher wooded sections with hikers lending thier support!   I had seen a few people take tumbles and this would increase as the course got higher with rocks and tree roots posing problems to weary runners who could hardly lift thier feet.   As the climbing continued so did the walking I tried to run between groups and then make my way through them at a walk this process worked well until the final push when the track is too rocky and narrow to pass anyone.  I saw a first aider powering up ahead of us on a grassy path to the side.  I jumped onto this and used it for a bot 200 m but then it joined the main track I saw my chance of sub 5:30 dissapeared and trudged up with the rest of them annoying as I wasn’t feelin too bad.  At last I could hear the strains of a piper floating down the hill as he came into view he changed tunes from. Scottish Soldier to Amazing Grace and I felt all emotional for about 2 paces!!

Popular misconception No 2 the last mile is all down hill the last 500m maybe!!  As you crest the top of the hill you can see the finish but the course undulates and even goes under a tunnel before the final dash for the line.
Once across the line you are presented with a full bottle of the sports drinks sponsors wares, a medal and if you so desire you can Q for a beer.  Next is removing the timing chip from your race number and collecting a t shirt and a huge bar of Swiss chocolate.  Bags next about a 400m round trip but good chance to ease out the legs then it’s into a shower that’s right, at the top of a mountain the Swiss install a shower tent complete with hair dryers!   That was it J done.  Not as bad as I was expecting..   But I still had a pizza and wine to celebrate.

Stats 26.2 miles

14219 ft