Monday, November 09, 2015

Glen Ogle 33 Miles Ultramarathon 2015...

Event: Glen Ogle 33 Miles Ultramarathon 2015
Venue: Killin, Strathyre, Scotland
Date: 7 November 2015
Time: 8.00AM
Distance: 52.8KM
Shoe: Saucony Peregrine 5
By Frank

Another Scottish running event that is close to my heart, not only because it offers spectacular scenery, but instead the warm friendship I have with the organisers Mike and Catriona is the Glen Ogle 33 Miler at Killin. Organised by the BAM group which stands for Bill and Mike, where Bill is one of the partners too, they are also the organisers for the Great Glen Ultra and Glenmore 24 too. And not to mention the Scottish Saltire Buff which I have been wearing for it has come a long way since last year where it was a gift from Mike and Catriona.

To be flagged off from the quite town of Killin, I left Aberdeen with Chee Kong and family on a late Friday evening only to arrive at about 8.30PM. Dinner was pre-packed earlier from McDonalds. The journey wasn't entirely smooth as 7KM from the Killin Hotel, our car ran over and knock some animal which we thought was a water badger. None of us saw it crossing the road as it was pitch dark along the loch’s road until it turned his head around and that’s when we saw its eyes. But by then, it was too late as Chee Kong could not brake in time or risk avoiding it with the car plunging into the loch. We hope it just went under the car after knocking the bumper which cracked upon checking and not getting squashed like other road kills.

Back after a year!

Anyway, we arrived safely and checked into a huge room before proceeding to the hotel’s café to meet up with Alan, Andrew, Jeni and some others for a drink before calling it a night.

However, I did not sleep well as Xi-Ning was hyper active at night and I woke up not feeling good and with a headache. I think I only managed 4 hours of sleep. Nevertheless, the show must go on and I proceeded to the café for breakfast with Jeni and Andrew. Was a simple one with coffee, cereals and some fruits before I returned to the room to freshen and gear up. Race bib collection and drop bag deposit was just across the road at the town hall and was just as smooth like Jedburgh as I met up with Catriona there.

Managed to catch a very busy Mike.

Finally meeting Ruth in person after all our Facebook chat.

The usual photo with Chee Kong at the start.

Hung area the race site to catch up with friends while awaiting Bill and Mike for the race briefing which was short and straight to the point. The weather forecast of rain seems to be happening with rain clouds seen hovering over the gloomy sky awaiting for runners to start the race perhaps before it unleashes itself. The race got underway at 8AM as 330 runners started charging out of the field.

Runners getting ready to run with Ben Lawers looking from behind.

My plan for this race was a simple one. With the important race just next week, I am going to go easy to take care of myself especially the legs and to enjoy the scenery with my GoPro, this time armed with 2 batteries! I did not put on my Saucony Razer jacket though I had it in my backpack which was an OK choice but not putting on the glove at the start was perhaps a mistake. It was in my backpack too though.

The first Kilometer was a warm up towards the trail passed the beautiful Falls Of Dorchart. Upon arrival at the trail head, everyone was already separated apart hence no back log here like last year. Everyone was running freely as I tackle the gentle climb up the valley. As the climb got steeper, the mist also got thicker as it was like running into the clouds. Despite still climbing, I was constantly passed by runners, some familiar faces includes Alan Cormack, Wullie Bishop and Ruth Howie. All were flying!

5KM into the race at about half an hour gone, the first drop of rain was felt. I didn't bother to put any extra layers on and just continued and soon got to trail exit where I was welcomed by a group of people manning a food stall there. Oooh… The smell of coffee and bacon as I ran passed was just plain heavenly but make no mistake, I did not stop as the first checkpoint was just across the street at about 10KM into the race, the glen itself.

Food stall with lovely people here and the first check point just after it.

Received my drop bag from the volunteers which consisted of Lucozade and a banana. As I wasn't hungry, I stuffed the banana into my backpack and held on to the Lucozade to slowly sip on it later while I ran. I left the checkpoint with Jeni who was a really fast runner. She invited me to stick with her but knowing I can’t, I politely told her to push on herself. I knew the next section within the glen is going to be tough as it was on tarmac and having a trail shoe on will not help. I just have to shoulder on and hope I will re-enter the trail after the next 16KM.

Jeni before she sped off into the glen.

Try spotting the banana!

Scenery worth slowing down for. The beautiful Loch Earn.

The beautiful Loch Earn soon came into sight. Smack between 2 hills, the scenery with the clouds over it was just jaw dropping as I tackled a winding road down into village and soon the second check point appeared. It was located a bit earlier compared to last year but it was no problem at all as I was looking forward to my chocolate waffle deposited here. Helen and Amanda was manning the station here with their team. As the rain go heavier here, my fingers were feeling cold as I tried to open the waffle’s packaging with some issues. But I still didn't wear the gloves I had with me and carried on running.

CP crew of the day goes to Helen at CP2/CP4!

The next section along the countryside is still going to be tough for my legs as it was still on tarmac. The good thing was, it now includes some climb which will take some toll off certain muscle groups. I walked up the climb which I didn't remember it being so long. Felt tired and heavy here probably due to lack of sleep but was glad the headache is now gone. I only to resume running and walking upon arriving at the bridge after all the climbing and it was into the woods next which now includes some rolling hills.

After falling twice off my backpack, I decided to chomp it down while walking up the hill.

Halfway through, I had to change the batteries on my GoPro as it went flat. Took me a while to change it though as my fingers were trembling under the rain. Couldn't aim the battery into its compartment is one issue, and to put back the camera into its housing without the housing getting fog up is another. I was constantly wiping water off it before it all fall into place.

The face says it all. Struggling!

George, a volunteer from Jedburgh 2 weeks ago passed me as we chatted briefly. Later, another familiar face came which was Alan Stewart as we ran together chatting till we passed the shoogly bridge and safely arriving at the third check point within a park of some sort. There wasn't a check point here last year though. Another chocolate waffle awaits here as I chomped it down together with the bottle of Lucozade I deposited here. Despite feeling cold on the fingers, I really wonder what was I thinking that time for not wearing my gloves when I had the opportunity? Now that I am blogging about it, I know it was silly mistake.

Glad to be running with Alan Stewart.

Super simple and tasty chocolate waffle from Asda. I wish I could have this at all my ultras.

I looked around for Alan who was nowhere to be seen. He must have taken off earlier. Made my way and soon bump into John Munro all wrapped in high-viz yellow armed holding a traffic stopper sign with a skull hanging on it. No idea what the sign meant though with the alphabets “MTFU” on it. Hmmm… Nevertheless, all runners crossed the street safely with his assistance and was glad the skull did not become a runner stopper instead.

Cross the road safely wih Big John else "MTFU"!

Earlier at the first check point, I mentioned the next 16KM, and this is where it ends as I re-enter the trail climbing up a hill here. As I ran and climb higher, I felt even colder and decided to put on my gloves. It was really late into the race as my fingers were almost numb. I felt they were “fatter” too as I struggled to put on the gloves. I really wasted a lot of time here as many runners passed me even when walking. But once I had the gloves on, my “engines” restarted and I powered up the hill. It was really a nice climb with rocky and grassy trails which suited my Saucony Peregrine 5 as I slowly regain temperature on my fingers. The surroundings here was really cool and misty as the rain had already stop.

Up the hill and into the clouds.

What goes up, will go down and I took it easy while descending from the hill as I made my way around it and soon arrived back at the junction earlier leading towards the fourth check point which was the second earlier. Upon arrival, Amanda had my deposited banana ready for me as I burst into laughter receiving it, as she went "Here's Frank's banana!". What an efficient volunteer! Hehehe… Chomped it down and went on, returning the way I came from earlier within the glen.

Conquered the winding ascent and back into the view of Loch Earn. Soon later, a familiar voice called out to me from behind. It was Ian Minty! Really glad to meet him again after our adventure at Tyndrum and the West Highland Way a week ago. We ran together and with him around, it made me run further without walk breaks in between though a little painful as we both arrived the fifth and bonus check point which was the first earlier. It was a “scavenger’s” check point as all the left overs from the faster runners were moved here together with water. I had nothing here as I swiftly continued after thanking Bill who was there too.

The home stretch of about 9KM or so but it wasn't really from where we came from earlier. There was still some tarmac to run on, at least 3KM or so before hitting the trails. Eventually, one of us will be the stronger runner to go ahead as Ian isn't the type that stops and wait for you, or wanting you to do so. Despite re-entering the trail, Ian found another gear and went for it. I could not keep up as I thought just to happily cruise to the finish line.

Alan Stewart who was nowhere to be seen after the third checkpoint came into view again. His calf cramped up as he tried to shake it off. Although he asked me to continue on, he still managed to catch up as we exited back into the town at the Falls Of Dorchart and ran together.

“The final mile felt so long”, I told Alan as we both re-entered the field together. To my horror, instead of running straight towards the finish gantry like last year, we had to run around the field this time! Well, I guess that gives us a little of the Olympic field as I ran side by side with Alan and eventually crossing the finish line together with him in 6:23:41 hours in position 239, a satisfying 5 minutes improvement over last year. Gave Alan a hug as we congratulate each other and also the others who came back safely too.

AYE! The finish!

Mingled around, caught up with Catriona, took some funny photos and went into the town hall to meet up with Angela to collect my finisher entitlements. In the hall, had a hot cup of tea to warm myself up as I bid farewell to some of my friends like Ian, Jeni, Andrew, Ross, Amanda, Colleen and some others as this is probably where our meeting this year ends as I am scheduled to leave Scotland the coming Thursday.

Caught up with Cat just at the finish line.

Hilarious photo with John's traffic stopper where I was photo bombed by Lorna and the skull.

More than just volunteers, they are my Scottish family. Angela, John, Elaine and Amanda.

Friendships are made on the West Highland Way, Ian whom I befriended there on a strong finish today.

Gonna miss them at least for a year. Thanks everyone!

With our Jalur Gemilang.

Returned to the hotel, cleaned up and went walking around town as a form of recovery walk before returning to the town hall for the post race celebration, ceilidh they called it. It was really a fun and smashing celebration the Scottish way and myself was caught by surprised when team BAM presented me with a gift for returning for the second year flying all over from Malaysia. Thanks Bill, Mike and Cat!

Awesome and funtastic ceilidh!

Finally a proper photo with the Falls Of Dorchart.

Thank you Killin, Thank you Glen Ogle, Thank you BAM!

We left Killin the next morning heading towards the Highland Safari at the town of Dull to see some red deer. On our way there, we couldn't see any corpse of the suspected badger we ran over 2 nights ago as we concluded that it may have survived! From Dull, it was to Pitlochry for a quick stop as we witness the Remembrance Day parade before heading back to Aberdeen for a well deserve rest. 

I term this year's Glen Ogle 33 as run into the clouds and is yet another run away success. The event was marvellous with spectacular scenery, the volunteers was friendly, and not to mention the fun filled ceilidh! It's not only a race to remember, but a moment indeed to be treasured for. Thank you team BAM!


Helen said...

Great running as always Frank and a great write up. Was fab to see you again this year at Jedburgh and Glen Ogle, hopefully see you again in 2016, either June or October! Safe journey home and good luck in your next race

Nick Phillips said...

Wow, the scenery ... simply astounding!

Amanda Hamilton said...

Best checkpoint of the day! Woohoo! Lovely to see u and good luck this weekend! X

Colin Jeffrey said...

Nice race report Frank, it was spectacular wasn't it! You finished just a minute or two after me, wasn't expecting the final lap round the course!