The Scottish Ultra Marathon Series (SUMS) came into being in 2010, kicking off with The D33, a 33 mile race from Aberdeen to Banchory and back.
The D33 was my first ultramarathon and, despite finishing the event feeling like a had a hole where my stomach once was, I had the ultra bug! In some respects it was fortunate that my first ultra was not much over the traditional 26.2 miles of a marathon as I basically messed up my nutrition – or rather, my lack of nutrition.
At this point, I still could not stomach eating on the run and, as such, pretty much finished the event with the food that I started it with. At the end of the race, standing there swaying, I realised that I was really going to have to work on my nutrition.
I also experienced something else that has become quite familiar following runs – a total inability to sleep. Departing for Aviemore to join a family holiday straight after finishing the D33, I expected a good nights sleep but, instead, lay awake the entire night!
I experienced my first DNF (Did Not Finish) later in the year at the The Montane Highland Fling, something that really affected me. At the time, I knew it was the right thing to do, pulling out at approx 28 miles and returning to the Rowardennan checkpoint. However, I devoured every blog and report that I could find from that point on in an effort to find out where I went wrong.
Basically, a number of factors were to blame. In the unseasonal heat, I was sweating far too much and, with no knowledge at this point of electrolytes, I ended up with a stomach that felt like it was slooshing around in an effort to stay hydrated. Hardly conducive to running!
I had also underestimated the difference in terrain and, having relied on the very flat Formartine & Buchan Way as my main training ground, I found that the undulating West Highland Way terrain, and in particular Conic Hill, just took it out of me.
I bounced back later in the year to complete the 37.5 mile Speyside Way Race, a route close to where I grew up. After the disapointment of my D.N.F. earlier in the year, it was good to get a finish. However, I found the last 10 miles approx really difficult. Approximately 5 miles from the finish there were individual notes from friends & family pinned to a fence, a really nice touch that helped to see me through those last few miles.
So, 2 out of 3 in 2010. Plenty of room for improvement and my ultras left me with a desire to continue running ultramarathons in 2011.