Welcome to the Unintentional Ultra Runner’s new home. I have decided that the time has come to start a proper blog. I am still going to keep posting to my Facebook page but have decided that I need more flexibility to share my thoughts and experiences. Over the coming months my plan is to create some pages on specific themes such as the kit I use for events, details of classic trail runs and general trail tips that I have picked up. I also plan to revise and re-post some trail tales from my past adventures. The first of these will revisit the Spine Challenger. I will also be focusing on my preparation for my Dragon’s Back attempt in May 2019 – an event which is going to be beyond anything I have attempted so far.
For me, trail running and adventure racing has opened up a whole new world of enjoyment and challenge – a world in which I have met many new friends, explored new places and experienced new highs (and lows). It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to share these with you.
My daughter has started running! And she is faster and more agile than me! To say I am impressed and proud would be an understatement. Not only has she started to run, she is planning to run everyday for a month as a way to raise funds for her own dance adventure.
A tour that will take her to Melbourne, Australia in June/July with The National Youth Dance Company of Scotland (NYDCS).
We have just done the maths and it looks like she will be doing the equivalent of two Dragon’s Back days over that time.
No mean feat, especially when you are in full time study, performing with NYDCS and preparing for the, up and coming, international tour.
NYDCS is an awesome company supported by YDance Organisation – which helps young people to pursue their creative ambition and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit. The dancers have to raise a large part of the cost for this trip.
Like me – if you think that is a worthwhile cause – your support would be welcome. To show your support click on the link below.
The Dragon’s Back Race is not something I ever really planned to attempt it just sort of happened. For those of you who know your Tolkien, I feel a bit like Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit. He never intended to be a burglar, or attempt to steal from a dragon!
DBR will definitely be my toughest mountain race so far. If you are interested in knowing more about the background to the event check out the link below. In short, it’s a five day mountain race traversing the spine of Wales from north to south.
It doesn’t sound quite so bad if you say it quickly 😂
Whatever happens it’s going to be an awesome adventure.
You will be able to follow my journey (starting 7am Monday) and send motivational messages of support here:
If you are looking for a trail run to impress your friends then this is one for you. Once a year the grounds of the Queen’s estate in Balmoral, Aberdeenshire, become a Mecca for trail runners. Events cover distances from 5k to 15miles. There is also a duathlon and the infamous ‘Devil of Deeside’ which sees some individuals take on all the events!
The races take runners on a journey through some awesome landscapes. The trails are perfect for those new to trail running and the atmosphere friendly. The event usually runs on the same weekend as the London Marathon – so if you want to leave the tar and the crowds behind this might just be the event you are looking for.
I’ll be there again next year – but it’s just down the road from my home patch so it would be rude not to!
Three short runs over the May bank holiday, using Ullapool as a base. I was actually there for guitar class, at the Feis Rois https://www.feisrois.org traditional music weekend, but sneaked away in the afternoon. A trail running paradise, if you don’t mind wet feet.😊
I’m trying to decide if my ‘Muse’ has left me or I’ve just been too lazy to write? I’ve tried a couple of times but not really got beyond the first couple of lines. So I’m going to try a different approach. One picture one message, one adventure. My aim to see if I can wake up my ‘Muse’, who I’m guessing must be off running someplace else.
Not a view, not a trail – but an awesome spot to sleep. If you have not tried it there is something quite magical about fast packing with all you need on your back. Sharing the adventure with a friend makes it even more special. This shot was taken last weekend after summiting Cheviot in the dark.
Our mini adventure was part of our prep for the 2020 Spine Race. A winter journey along the Pennine Way. See https://thespinerace.com there are still places if you are interested😊.
The photo was taken at our second bivvy, on a training run between Haltwhistle and Kirk Yetholm.
We actually ran on to Kelso to catch the bus, as it was a Bank Holiday.
Ironically it turned out to be the hottest weekend of the year so far! And the main challenge was finding and carrying enough water. I’m sure it will be very different next January.
I know I said one picture – but waking up to the sunrise over Cheviot was awesome.
And finding this close to the end of the PW hilarious – especially when they are a ‘must have’ fuel for your runs 😊
And if you want to know how you find someone crazy enough to even consider joining you on such an adventure. Do this race http://www.capewrathultra.com
I have a great job which involves significant travel around the North of Scotland. This means that I can occasionally connect work activities with my desire for trail running adventures. This week I am heading to the Shetland Islands and despite having lived in Scotland for 20 years, I have never been here. As luck would have it one of my work meetings is also on Unst. Unst is the most northerly (inhabited) point in the British Isles. My plan is to run/explore some of the coastline this weekend.
I’ve managed to find an Airbnb in the centre of the Island. Plus a way to get there without the need to hire a car! Including a plane, two ferries, a bus and a lift from a colleague.
The weather is looking mixed, and I am clearly leaving the February heatwave behind. But fingers crossed winds look light.
I’ll keep everyone posted on what happens next. It’s definitely going to be an adventure.
Enjoy your own run this weekend, wherever it may take you. 👣
The great thing about trail running for me is that it is a catalyst for adventure. A few months back, for example, I was travelling back from Orkney by plane and was reading The Orkney Islander. NorthLink Ferries’ free magazine. I know it might seem a bit strange to be reading a ferry related publication on a plane, but there you go!
On page 104 there was a great article entitled ‘Take a Walk on the Wild Side’ by David McNeish, Chairman of Orkney Pilgrimage. The group are behind Scotland’s new 55-mile pilgrimage route. The route, a mix of trail (30 miles) and quite roads (25 miles), runs from Evie in the north east of the main island to Kirkwall in the south east.
The route is named after St Magnus who was killed by his cousin’s cook. Apparently to preserve peace on the Islands. The route is closely aligned with destinations and journeys he is believed to have made.
This great article has made me curious to find out more about Magnus and his travels. I have also decided to run the route. I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance but a plan for a new adventure is born.
New trail running adventures can be found anywhere and I especially enjoy seeking out historical routes. Therefore, you will understand my excitement when I found the following book in Waterstones in Edinburgh:
The Hidden Ways – Scotland’s Forgotten Roads, by Alistair Moffat.
When you run longer distances little things become BIG things very quickly. In ‘Shorts’ I plan to explore some of the little BIG things!
The rain starts. I stop, reach in my bag and pull out my jacket.
Some people can put their jacket on when they run. I can’t. I don’t seem to be able to coordinate my limbs. When my arms stop focussing on helping propel me forward, my legs get confused, and it’s game over. If I try to keep going I usually end up on the floor. I’m sure I could learn how to do this, but then again, I’m not convinced the time saving would make all that much difference. I’ve seen others do it. It is beautiful to watch. I bet they can also play the drums. I can’t.
I run on. Five minutes later the rain stops. Do I stop and take off the jacket? Or should I keep going? It’s bound to rain again. It doesn’t. I start to overheat. I stop, take off my jacket, put it in my bag, and run on.
OK – I’ll admit this is a test to see if I can work out how to use this technology on the road. That said, I did want to share this picture from my trail run at the weekend. They do say a picture paints a thousand words, and occasionally as trail runners we get to see nature at its best. I’ll leave it up to the picture to tell the rest of this tale.