Men’s Running Trail Zone

Men’s Running recently produced “Trail Zone, The Complete Guide To Trail Running”, which includes a contribution from myself. The contribution was actually something that first appeared back in the May 2012 edition of Men’s Running, but, for Trail Zone, it was updated to reflect my successful completion of 7 ultras, including the 95 mile West Highland Way Race, in 2012.

“I have no great aversion to road running, but I would always choose a trail run over a road run regardless of the time of day, the season and/or the weather conditions.

The trail offers me greater freedom and lets me reconnect with nature. It offers me a greater variety of terrain which is both more challenging, more rewarding and yet kinder to my body. It offers me a chance to reach places that are not often visited other than by those who are willing to put in a similar effort.

It offers me the chance to explore and to see the best that our country has to offer. It tests me and pits me against the elements, in a way that the road could not. It offers me an escape from the mundane, the 9 to 5. It offers me freedom!

Since discovering the trail I have gone on to take it to extremes in the form of ultramarathon running.

In 2012 I am aiming to complete seven off-road ultramarathons, from the 33-mile D33 run to the 95-mile West Highland Way Race, with runs of 37, 40, 43, 53 and 55 miles in between.

In completing these races I will log many, many hours on the trail, some of which will leave me wondering why I even bother to put myself through this, but ultimately, they will all be rewarding.

That’s why the trail wins.”

Trail Zone, The Complete Guide To Trail Running is available from newsagents and directly from the link below:

Mens Running Devil O’ The Highlands Race Report

Mens Running have included a brief race report from me for the recent Devil O’ The Highlands ultra on their website.

Name: Jonathan J Mackintosh
Age: 40
Occupation: Web Applications Developer
Event: Devil O’ The Highlands Ultramarathon
Distance: 43 miles

What was your race time?
9 hours 50 minutes

How long have you been running?
Ultras for 3 years, marathons 1 year before that, 1/2 and 10ks occasionally but only started running seriously 4 years ago.

What made you decide to sign up for this race?
By completing this race I completed the ‘Triple Crown’, finishing the 53 mile Highland Fling, the 95 mile West Highland Way Race, and the 43 mile Devil O’ The Highlands, all in one year.

What were your expectations for the race?
I always want a PB but at my last race, 2 weeks previously, I had a terrible race and realised that I had not yet recovered from the 95 mile West Highland Way Race. As such, I hoped for a PB but would have been happy just to finish.

What were your high and low points during the race, if any?
The low points were the evil midges and the unexpected heat (approx 22 degrees) which made the climbs in particular difficult. The high points were many: meeting friends both old and new en route; meeting my wife and her brother, my support crew, at each of the checkpoints, which always picks me up; enjoying the spectacular scenery, seen at its best in the glorious weather; running a strong last 7 miles to pull a PB (12 minutes) out of the bag despite thinking that the opportunity had passed; finishing – after the time spent running in that heat I was glad to chill!

If so where and when did they occur and why?
Low points: On the 2 monster climbs, up the Devil’s Staircase and the climb out of Kinlochleven. High points: Everywhere!

What was the best part of the course for you?
The whole course – might sound like a cliché but it is a glorious, challenging course, with a mix of terrain, a high point of 1798ft, the scenic Rannoch Moor, and views of Buachaille Etive Mor and Ben Nevis (to name but a few highlights!).

What was the most challenging part of the course for you?
The two main climbs, up the Devil’s Staircase and the climb out of Kinlochleven up to the Lairig Mor. The descent down into Kinlochleven and some of the latter stages of the route were also difficult as a result of the rocky terrain underfoot.

How would you describe the crowd support?
Brilliant. Because of the remote nature of a lot of the course, there are long spells with no support at all but, as with all of the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series races, the spectators, marshals and support do their best to cheer on not just their own runners but every runner at the start, finish and every checkpoint.

What’s your overall verdict of the race?
A course that cannot be beaten in terms of scenery, excellent marshals and organisation, and a friendly family atmosphere running amongst a lot of known faces from other Scottish Ultra Marathon Series events and a good number of new faces. Organisation: Excellent Scenery: Unbeatable Atmosphere: Excellent

Would you do it again next year?
Definitely

Why Trail Wins & The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon

New post at The Running Bug, ‘Why Trail Wins & The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon’.

I received a message from a running friend, Alan Stewart, last week to inform me that he had just “caught your little article in May’s Men’s Running mag”. I had no idea what he was on about initially but, admittedly, had fallen behind on my reading and still had both the May and June issues of Men’s Running to read. Flicking through the May edition of the magazine, I soon found the article in question (page 52, in the Trail section).

I have the 55 mile Cateran Trail Ultra this weekend and, reading over the article again, I felt that it was appropriate in describing how I feel as I approach the race.

“I have no great aversion to road running, but I would always choose a trail run over a road run regardless of the time of day, the season and/or the weather conditions.

The trail offers me greater freedom and lets me reconnect with nature. It offers me a greater variety of terrain which is both more challenging, more rewarding and yet kinder to my body. It offers me a chance to reach places that are not often visited other than by those who are willing to put in a similar effort.

It offers me the chance to explore and to see the best that our country has to offer. It tests me and pits me against the elements, in a way that the road could not. It offers me an escape from the mundane, the 9 to 5. It offers me freedom!

Since discovering the trail I have gone on to take it to extremes in the form of ultramarathon running.

In 2012 I am aiming to complete seven off-road ultramarathons, from the 33-mile D33 run to the 95-mile West Highland Way Race, with runs of 37, 40, 43, 53 and 55 miles in between.

In completing these races I will log many, many hours on the trail, some of which will leave me wondering why I even bother to put myself through this, but ultimately, they will all be rewarding.

That’s why the trail wins.”

The Cateran Trail Ultramarathon

The Cateran includes 7450 ft of climbs, including a final 5 miles approx. of climbing up and over Glenshee before a 1.5 mile descent to possibly the best race finish ever. Starting just along the road from the Race H.Q. at the Spittal of Glenshee hotel, runners follow a highly scenic trail that takes in muddy fields, forest trail, road and moorland.

There are 6 checkpoints in the race, meaning that you do not need to carry too much with you. These are as follows:

  • Dalnagair Castle (6ish miles)
  • Kirkton of Glenisa (15ish miles)
  • Den of Alyth (26ish miles)
  • Blairgowrie (31ish miles)
  • Bridge of Cally (38ish miles)
  • Enochdhu (49ish miles)

Last year marshals gave the order for compulsory waterproofs as the weather closed in and boy did it rain! By the time I reached the final 5 mile climb, the path resembled a stream, making for a long slog up and over Glenshee before an ascent that involved much slip sliding as I fought to stay upright.

Everyone at the rain soaked finish line was keen to usher us into the hotel and, at this point, it was obvious why. Each and every finisher is greeted with cheers and applause and, ironically, the later you finish, the more runners, support crew and families are there to greet you!

I have yet to experience a race finish to match this one!

The Cateran is a small race, with 75 runners. The evening after the race is more like a family get together than anything else as many of the runners, their support crews and families choose to stay over at the hotel after the race. The Spittal of Glenshee hotel kindly runs a special offer for those involved in the race, a discounted room rate plus the option to stay for free on the Saturday evening if you have stayed the previous night. This cracking offer encourages people to stick around for the prize giving where each finisher is called up to collect their memento.

I would definitely recommend the Cateran!

Come Saturday evening, I hope to have finished the race, ideally with a new PB and, at this point, the final countdown will begin to this years big race, the 95 mile West Highland Way Race. There will be only 35 days to go… gulp!

Quote For The Day

“There is no time to think about how much I hurt; there is only time to run.”
Ben Logsdon

This was, I thought, a rather apt quote of the day from www.runnersworld.com

Why Trail Wins

I received a message via Facebook last night from a running friend, Alan Stewart, telling me that he had “caught your little article in May’s Men’s Running’ mag”. I had no idea what he was on about but, admittedly, had fallen behind on my reading and still had both May and June issues of Men’s Running to read. Flicking through the May edition of the magazine I soon found the article in question (page 52, in the Trail section).

My contribution:

“I have no great aversion to road running, but I would always choose a trail run over a road run regardless of the time of day, the season and/or the weather conditions.

The trail offers me greater freedom and lets me reconnect with nature. It offers me a greater variety of terrain which is both more challenging, more rewarding and yet kinder to my body. It offers me a chance to reach places that are not often visited other than by those who are willing to put in a similar effort.

It offers me the chance to explore and to see the best that our country has to offer. It tests me and pits me against the elements, in a way that the road could not. It offers me an escape from the mundane, the 9 to 5. It offers me freedom!

Since discovering the trail I have gone on to take it to extremes in the form of ultramarathon running.

In 2012 I am aiming to complete seven off-road ultramarathons, from the 33-mile D33 run to the 95-mile West Highland Way Race, with runs of 37, 40, 43, 53 and 55 miles in between.

In completing these races I will log many, many hours on the trail, some of which will leave me wondering why I even bother to put myself through this, but ultimately, they will all be rewarding.

That’s why the trail wins.”

Thanks Men’s Running.

Brooks Green Silence

With the 55 mile Cateran Trail Ultra looming on 19th May and with the legs still recovering from the 53 mile Highland Fling, I have tried to make a point of cutting back (slightly) on mid-week running. Last night was a planned rest day but I returned from work to find that my patriotic Union Jack Brooks Green Silence trainers had arrived already. I won these in a Twitter competition run by @skeletonamy@sweatshoponline & @BrooksrunningUK last Friday.

I just had to try them out and ‘compromised’ with a 3 mile speed session on the treadmill.

I found myself in a bit of a quandry at first – should I wear them or keep them as a memento of this, Great Britain’s Olympic year??? As much as I wanted to keep them all new and spick and span, I opted for the former.

Slipping them on for the first time, I found them to be well sized, especially in the toe box area, something that I personally like as someone with a wide foot.

The lacing and shoe tongue system is quite ingenious and very different to anything I have found on a trainer before. The result is an instantly comfortably fitting shoe.

Anyone who reads my posts knows that I tend to run in Hokas for my ultra distances and then in minimalist shoes for the rest of my running.

The Brooks Green Silence fitted in somewhere in the middle of that lot!

I was surprised just how bouncy, springy and responsive the soles felt and it made for a good run on otherwise tired legs. I will definitely be making good use of these for road sessions and fully expect to turn some heads with the patriotic colouring :o)

Thanks to @skeletonamy@sweatshoponline & @BrooksrunningUK for my Brooks Green Silence – much appreciated.

That’s the second pair of Brooks to have impressed me. I won a pair of Brooks Pure Grit back before Christmas in the Men’s Running Brooks Pure Project Photography Competition and I have to say that I am loving running in these as well. With the comfort levels of these shoes, I seriously need to see what Brooks offers for the mid to long distance trail running that I do.

Men’s Running Brooks Pure Project Competition Winner

I knew Men’s Running was scheduled to hit the shops on the 29th of December and I was looking forward to picking up some reading material for over New Year. Standing there in Tesco, flicking through the pages, I was shocked to find that my photo taken at the top of The Devil’s Staircase in Glencoe had won the competition!

The photo, taken while out on a training run, shows the view looking towards the Blackwater Reservoir. Can’t wait to try out my prize of Brooks Pure Project running shoes, gilet and running tights. Thanks Men’s Running :o)

The approximate location of the photograph on Google Maps:


View Larger Map

Marcothon 2011

New post at The Running Bug, ‘Marcothon 2011‘.

So here we are in the final few hours of 2011 and, looking back on the year, I am happy to say that it has been a good one for me. Hopefully you can say the same about your year and, in a matter of hours, we will have a whole new year in which to start all over again.

If you have read any of my previous posts then you will likely already know that in 2010 I let things slip following my last race of the year, the Loch Ness Marathon. As a result, all of the running fitness accrued over the year was long gone by the time the first of the ultras came along in March. This year, in an effort to avoid a repetition of this, I set myself the challenge of running every day in November to aid in my Movember fundraising efforts and every day in December, as part of Marcothon. I completed my 61st consecutive day of running this morning, taking my total mileage up to 300 miles for the 2 months and taking my annual mileage total for 2011 up to 1386 miles, some 136 miles more than in 2010.

If the Marcothon Facebook page is anything to go by, over 700 people from around the globe joined in the shared objective:

“The rules are simply, you must run every day in DECEMBER (any other month doesn’t count). Minimum of three miles or 25 minutes – which ever comes first. The challenge starts on December 1 and finishes on December 31. And yes, that includes Christmas Day.”

The Marcothon started in 2009, when Marco Consani challenged himself to run every day in November. His wife, Debbie Martin Consani, decided to follow suit and run every day in December and posted the challenge, dubbing it ‘the Marcothon’ on her blog. The challenge has grown in popularity each year and, from reading the comments on Facebook and/or the Marcothon twitter account, it is clear to see that it has ignited a passion amongst runners in a month when running is so often put on the back burner.

If your running has ever floundered without the targets of a specific run to keep it on track then you will likely appreciate just what the commitment of signing up to Marcothon provides.

It has been great to share in the trials and tribulations of all those who have participated in the Marcothon and to receive encouragement for my own efforts. December 2011 has not seen the huge snowfalls of previous years but the weather has attempted to throw a spanner in the works at each and every opportunity, or so it would appear! From paths and trails caked in black ice to ferocious winds and even ‘Hurricane Bawbag’, Marcothon participants have had to overcome hurdles throughout December.

Well done to all those who completed the Marcothon and, indeed, to anyone and everyone who has managed to keep running throughout this hectic month. The Marcothon will likely be back in December 2012 and it really is a great way to ensure that your running does not get neglected.

So that’s all for 2011 and here’s to 2012. Hopefully you will join me as I look to improve on this years 6 ultramarathon finishes. My goal for 2012 is to finish the same 6 ultras with a new PB in each race and also to complete the 95 mile West Highland Way Race. It’s going to be a tough year for sure but I hope to meet the challenges head on.

If you happen to pick up a copy of Men’s Running then check out my photo taken at the top of The Devil’s Staircase. I was delighted to find out this week that the photo had won me some Brooks running goodies, including Brooks Pure Project running shoes which I can’t wait to try out! I am sure this view will be familiar to a lot of you and especially to those who have completed the West Highland Way and/or the Devil O’ The Highlands ultramarathon.

I hope that you all have a Happy New Year.

See you in 2012.