From Namibia (see previous blog post) back to Frankfurt, then on to Beijing (the coldest and most unfriendly airport I have ever set foot in) and a final short hop to Ulaanbataar: departing Namibia on Sunday night and arriving in Ulaanbataar on Tuesday, yes, Tuesday afternoon, losing 7 hours on the way.
Our adventure started on a wet January morning as we flew from Glasgow to Frankfurt where we hooked up with David Scott (Sandbaggers) the organiser and the rest of the group before the overnight flight to Windhoek the capital of Namibia.
It has been a strange old year in so many ways: Brexit, Trump – who’d have thought – if I’d put money on those results my Global Odyssey would be paid for. Yes, it’s been a funny old year.
My father has been in my thoughts recently, more so than normal. He died a good many years ago now at the age of 59. A life too short for a larger than life man who had such gusto for life. I am not sure why he is so much in my thoughts. Several things may have prompted it.
At the recent Glen Ogle 33 I had my first experience of sweeping. For the uninitiated a sweeper is positioned at the rear of the race behind the last competitor: and as the name suggest sweeps along the route ensuring that the runner stays on course and letting the check points know that there is no left on the course: simple, but there are a number of rules. I was sweeping with Ada, a seasoned sweeper and great person to learn the tricks of the trade from.
Should I be worried that my trail shoes have increasingly extreme names? Grit, Fellrasier, Roclite, Terra Claw, Arctic Talon.
It’s a case of horses for courses, or rather shoes for courses. Unlike road shoes, where I have a single brand and model that I run in; I have learned that one shoe fits all does not necessarily apply to trails where the underfoot conditions can vary greatly. I learned to my cost in April when my chosen and only shoe did not cope with a technical downhill involving damp and wet conditions over leaves, rocks and tree roots. A number of slips and falls, and a wrenched ankle later I withdrew from the race.
And therein lies a story. When I caught sight of a new ultra-marathon signing up was a 'no brainer', and so I entered the inaugural Dunoon 50k a good few months ago. Note the zero after the five there and the ‘good few months ago’.
There was weather. There is always weather in Scotland, but this weather was biblical. I was wetter than a wet thing that is very wet for nine hours.
“You don’t need cream, you don’t need this and that. The only way to be beautiful is to accept yourself,”
I knew from the offset that the great Glen Ultra was not going to be a peak performance for me and had, or so I thought, set my expectation accordingly.
Let’s go for a long run, and let’s go for a long run on what is probably the hottest day of the year so far, and let’s just be a smarty pants and tack on an extra 9 miles before meeting friends for the main event. What a marvellous plan!
The 100 Miles of Istria race gave a good opportunity to put the LED Lenser SEO7R head torch through its paces over a lengthy night and over some serious mountain climbs and technical terrain.
You have trained, you have tapered, you have a race plan, your lost luggage arrives in time, you eat enough food to sink the Titanic, get to the start line, and everything is on track until …..
The chimp is running around, throwing stuff and screaming.
Me: Chimp, you need to calm it down a bit, how about a foam banana?
The foam banana is flung straight back at me.
The chimp: REALLY? Do you really think you can fob me off with that?
Me: OK let’s talk. What’s the problem?
Around and around and around we go …….
Running 21 laps (or double for the 100k participants) round the North Inch in Perth is perhaps not what most people would want to be doing on Easter Sunday. In my case it also meant ‘taking the pledge’ and leaving a wedding just as the dancing was getting going the day before. But, turns out it was worth it.
Product review of the LED Lenser SEO 7R head torch.