Saturday, November 08, 2014

Glen Ogle 33 Ultra 2014...

Event: Glen Ogle 33 Ultra 2014
Venue: Killin, Strathyre, Scotland
Date: 1 November 2014
Time: 8.00AM
Distance: 52.8KM
Shoe: Saucony Peregrine 4
By Frank

The Glen Ogle 33 (GO33) was an event that I first couldn't get in due to full registration and I thought I could have escape it and get some rest while supporting Chee Kong. However, something, someone or maybe fate that I was going to run it after all, after meeting Mike, the race director of this event during the Jedburgh's Three Peak Ultra. And yes, registration was confirmed in the mountains while running, a very unique way of registration.

The race was suppose to start off at Strathyre taking runners to Killin and back. However due to bad weather causing flooding at Strathyre and landslides along the race route, a Plan B was quickly executed by Mike. A slightly modified reverse route from Killin to Strathye was implemented at the 11th hour and everyone went AYE! Myself and Chee Kong were lucky too as our hotels weren't book just yet and that Killin Hotel was still available which was just opposite the Sport Pavilion, the start and finish point of the race.

Bags were already all packed on Thursday night leaving a good free and easy Friday morning to myself. I also felt good, if not great today as I felt free, somehow open up and cheerful. Anyway, Chee Kong came home to pick me up for lunch at about 11.45AM and our plan to have fish and chips at Hash were dashed when we found out that they are only open for business at 4PM. Nevertheless, The Ashvale was nearby and although service was slow, I had a good haddock and haggis meal. And from there, while Chee Kong headed back to work and to wait for Mei-Ee, I roam around the city centre for a while before settling at Pret A Manger (gonna miss this place - superb food) for a salmon sandwich and hot soup. And at about 3PM, they were off work and we are ready to leave Aberdeen after picking up Xi Ning from the nursery.

Pepper lentil soup with smoke salmon sandwich. I miss Pret A Manger!

Traffic was a little heavy and we needed to use the trunk road including some diversions due to road works. After 4 hours on the road, we finally arrived at Killin in the dark and I was a little car sick due to the twisting and bending journey. Surprisingly, the weather seems fine, not too cold actually though I still needed my layers. Hope it will hold up on race day too as it was forecasted to be 0C. The room at Killin Hotel which was overlooking Loch Tay was good though not as good as Meadhon at Jedburgh but most importantly, it was warm. Dinner was at he restaurant downstairs where I had salmon fillet before returning to the room for some final packing before calling it a night to rest.

Killin Hotel.

I didn't have a good rest as my room was just next to the mechanical lift, which by right, not allowed to be used after 10PM due to the noise it produces. I woke up a few times, once at 4AM and felt hungry I ate what was supposed to be my breakfast of bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich that was prepared by the hotel yesterday. And when I finally woke up at 6AM, I am only left with coffee and a Belgian dark chocolate waffle from ASDA. Pre-race rituals went smoothly and I was down at the lobby at 7.15AM to put my luggage into the car as check out time was 10AM like Meadhon.

Proceeded to the Sports Pavilion and quickly enough, was reunited with Mike as I collected my race number and paid him on the spot. Thanks Mike! Then it was to check my drop bag in and I was surprised I was called out and greeted by many Scottish people! OH GOSH, now everyone knows me here. And also, am glad that the weather held up as the morning started at about 5C and with no wind, it is still manageable by me as long I had my layers on. And as proven during Three Peaks Ultra, I had my CompresSport On/Off base-layer on together with Saucony's Run Warm and Run Dry technical top.

Drop bag deposit.

Selfie again before the start.

With Wilson.

Out of sudden, I felt the urge to visit the loo. Not the small but the big one. But I held on as the race was going to start which after a speech by Mike, some 237 runners were flagged off at 8.10AM just slightly out of the main town area.

The start!

Start was a little narrow with loose soil, mud and water puddle and this created a bottleneck as everyone was trying to keep their shoes dry. Luckily, it was just a short stretch as runners were then welcomed by the beautiful sights of the Falls of Dorchart. Extremely beautiful with the sound of the river gushing through the rocks. A short run on the road here and into a double track trails along the open woods.

The Falls of Dorchart.

Horror to me, it was climbs, climbs and more climbs. Not exactly steep, but it kept coming. And with my right metatarsal hurting and irritating me for the past few days, this certainly did not help. But I know I had to keep moving, and move I did at least on the left track allowing faster runners to pass me on the right. The route kept climbing and I had to keep my mind away from thinking about that. I look at the trees, admiring how beautiful it was during autumn and soon, it help me got to the top before a descend at about 7KM onwards. And from there, it's all the way pass some mild ascend and descendss before we exited the area to cross the main street where Noanie was marshaling the traffic. Then there it was, the firs check point.

Up, up and up along the double tracks.

Took my bottle of Lucozade and pack of dried cranberries here and started munching on them as I began my journey to the next check point. It's all mountain road from here onward. Tarmac covered with maple leaves did help a little with the pounding as I wore trail shoes but it still kind of hurt especially during descents. However, the long stretch here along the glen which oversees the mountains at the opposite was just so beautiful where tiny white dots of sheep can be seen.

Mountain roads overlooking the glen.

5KM later, the magnificent sight of Loch Earn came into view with the blue skies in between the 2 mountain, it was just a sight to behold. A concrete bridge of some sort which was rather high up was next before we started our descent to the next area. It was pretty a huge descent which I was clumsy at and Wilson caught up but it was great to have company.

Beautiful Loch Earn.

We chatted along the country road before arriving at the second check point which I had my Belgian dark chocolate waffle here. AYE! I didn't eat it on the spot though as I carried along in hand and quickly resume my run after hydrating myself. A mild climb along the country road in a village, handsome steed of horses can be seen with the flock of sheep. One particular one staring at me too.

Nice wooden bridge.

Over the bridge overlooking at another gushing river, I ate my waffle and carried on. Wilson caught up again and we ran, walk and chat along the woods and villages before exiting to a park of some sort before crossing a main street. An unofficial support station was there and we had a group selfie with another bunch of runners before starting our climb up the hills.

It was about 28KM here and the steep climb started after going through some woods. I was glad that the surface was a rocky one but as the climb was just too much to handle, I walk it. About 3KM worth of climb before a 2KM down hill run and Wilson began to fly. And at the bottom, a bunch of loud happening marshals was there to greet the runners before the return to the second check point, which now is the third.

Here I come after exiting the hills!

Took a breather here while munching my pack of dried pineapple before continuing. As most runners were down to their 1st layer, I was still on 3. It was still cold for me as I carried on my journey. The journey to the fourth check point is actually the same route where runners came from the first check point, and right now, it's an uphill effort.

Though I wasn't really tired, both my feet's metatarsal is hurting. I guess the left is from the old injury and also to compensate the right's pain, I began limping. I also began drinking more. And just before the bridge that overlooks Loch Earn which I mentioned earlier, I started running and caught up with Wilson eventually. Yes it was a up hill run and a steep one. And a joke came here. While everyone was walking up, I was running. One of local who was on his morning walk there cheered me and told my friends around "Look, he is showing off!". We all burst into laughter and honestly I do not know where did that come from too? Perhaps the dried pineapples help. 

I continued running along the straight mountain road that overlook the glen and eventually arrived at the fourth check point. Noanie was there and we chatted a little before I left for the final 10KM stretch. And thanks Noanie for helping me with my rubbish!

"Downhill all the way" as one of the supporters cheered for me. It was misleading though as there were a few climbs ahead. Nevertheless, I was glad that I was back on the double track trails again. Wilson passed me again as it seems that he has hit his second wind. He was "uncatchable"!

I pushed on myself as I had about 70 minutes to complete the race in below 6:30 hours. That was my target as I didn't want to get to Stirling too late later. I was glad to exit the trails and soon, the sound from The Falls of Dorchart greeted me again. The final 2KM or so on the roads of Killin and eventually I saw the Sports Pavillion. And just before entering it, Mike was there to welcome me home. Thanks a lot Mike but we should have ran together! Hehehe...

High five Angela!

Into the grassy field, Chee Kong was at the side to snap my photo and asked if I wanted the Jalur Gemilang. It was fine as we can always take a photo of us with it later and thus, I continued to the finish gantry and high fived Angela along the way just before finishing the Glen Ogle 33 in a time of 6:28:32 hours, indeed below my targeted time!

Team Malaysia!

Collected the beautiful medal and proceeded to collect my goodie bag before a very cold shower there. There was no hot water in the shower facilities so imagine the agony of having to shower in icy cold water. Bbrrrr.... And in a very funny place to meet new friends, I befriend David Meldrum in there. Hahaha...

The real purpose of running isn't to win a race, but to test the limits if the human spirit.

My hats off to the BAM (Bill and Mike) team for a well executed race. It was not easy to modify the route and at the same time deploy their resources. In terms of logistics, it certainly was a nightmare but the team pulled it through despite at the 11th hour! Well done BAM team!

The Glen Ogle 33 cake!

I thank you Mike for allowing me to run in the GO33, my third and last run at Scotland before returning home. I have made more friends in the process and although it was really cold in Scotland, it was the warmth I received from my newly found Scottish friends that made this trip enjoyably and unforgettable. Indeed WEE as you all may call it. And thank you and Catriona for the Scottish Buff, for to me, it's more than a headwear itself. Together with the Scottish apple beer, they will be a memento that I will keep dearly. Thank you my Scottish running family! AYE!

Thanks Catriona for the Buff.

We left Killin for Stirling at about 4PM after my lunch of mussels at the hotel. Only an hour's drive separated the 2 towns. And upon arrival, the sky decided to open up. We spent a night at the Youth Hostel which was near the Stirling Castle. Had a miserable Indian dinner before calling it a night as I was really tired.

The next morning was a good one. Weather was good as the sky was blue. Awesome breakfast at the Ground House Cafe nearby where I thought I ordered too huge of a portion. Once the tummy is satisfied, we proceeded to the Stirling Castle for some photo taking at the castle's outer area before heading to the Wallace Monument.

Awesome breakfast at the Ground House Cafe.

Stirling Castle.

The National Wallace Monument.

The Wallace Monument was built to remember Scotland's first hero, Sir William Wallace which was played by Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart. This place tells the story of this hero and indeed is a place to visit if you are in Scotland.

The Wallace Sword
The battleground of Battle of Stirling Bridge.

We left Stirling at about 1PM heading home. But before that, we made a stop at Stonehaven, which to me, pretty similar to South Africa's Cape Town, some 15KM away from Aberdeen. We made a stop here for Scotland's best fish and chips at The Bay. Indeed it lived up to its name as it was simply the best I ever had. Stonehaven is also the home to Dunnotar Castle, a stunning looking castle ruins by the seaside. And luck was on our side as the setting sun brighten up the view. And before we left Stonehaven, it's ice cream at Aunt's Betty just beside The Bay. Absolutely delicious ice cream! Stonehaven is indeed a heaven for food lovers!

Fish and chips from The Bay!

Oops... But Dunnotar Castle at the background.

Yummy ice cream! I only had one. Scottish Tablet the flavour.

And with all done including a very filled tummy, we went back home before dinner with Jack at Manchurian. A farewell dinner as the next morning will be my flight back. And after 17 days of getaway to sort out my life, I am finally flying off from Aberdeen to Amsterdam before Kuala Lumpur on board Malaysia Airlines MH19. Scotland has been truly amazing. I came to sort things out and to complete my book, and although it was a tough decision to make this trip, I am returning home with more than I could ask for, for the friends I befriended here were truly amazingly warm to the heart. Thank you Scotland! I had a WEE of a time!

MH19, my flight home from Amsterdam.

* All photos here credited to Chee Kong and the respective photographers. Thank you.


Helen said...

it was great to meet you Frank, you seemed to smile the whole time! I'm glad you enjoyed your trip and hope we meet up again soon on the trails xx

Amanda Hamilton said...

Great report and sounds like you had a lovely time visiting Scotland! I look forward to keeping following your blog!

Amanda Hamilton said...

Great write up and a lovely holiday in Scotland. I look forward to continuing to follow your blog!

Anonymous said...

Great report Frank! It was great meeting you and seeing your epic running achievements at all three of your races. I hope to see you back in Scotland! Angela x

Sue's Ramblings said...

Wokie...where do I buy those dried pineapples? :P