Tuesday, 9 May 2017

lyon killin weekend

Glen Lyon Trail Race

Mary was in charge of much of this weekend. She noticed the Glen Lyon races and suggested we do the Sunday race, and booked the overnight at Killin. I hadn't even realised that there was a 31mile ultra on the Saturday and we, the 17 miler round the Glen were more of an afterthought. I knew where Killin was (relatives used to stay there, and I have cycled there many times, and the Glen Ogle 33 starts and finishes there sometimes,) but I'd never heard of Glen Lyon. It was a weekend of discoveries.

Mary was making that face because I was
suggesting Killin Cemetery was a tautology.

We drove up to Killin on Saturday evening, passing through Strathyre where all the hillrunners were sitting outside pubs after Stuc a Chroin hill race. Nice day for a British Champs hill race. When we got into Killin we couldn't find Ardlochay Lodge even after driving right through twice. Partly because I had been reading google maps upside down and thought it was on the other side of the road and before the falls, and it wasn't. Also it was less a lodge and more a bungalow with an extension upstairs, however it was fine enough and after dropping off our stuff we headed along to the nearest pub for food and drink. Things improved exponentially after the first sips of booze - and the food really helped as well. Plain stodge of the school dinner type. After a pint and a large glass of wine I was almost too giggly to ask whether the puddings came with ice cream - but they did, whoop-de-do! Much hilarity and a sobering walk around the place (admiring the birdsong and bats) before an early night - I couldn't even stay awake to read the book group latest. Which was just as well as Mary was up in the middle of the night (6.20am) to get ready for breakfast at 7. And she woke me up the night before to tell me to sleep more quietly! 

where is Glen Lyon?

The Lodge also doubled as the base for Calotta's Catering so we expected an impressive spread for breakfast. There was, and I had a full animal parts, beans and scrambled eggs and toast feast. We also bumped into Michelle Heatherington and Gordon Eadie who had done the Ultra on Sat and stayed in the room next door. Someone had stolen a beer they left in the communal fridge and we were the prime suspects! I am fairly sure it wasn't me unless sleepdrinking. They gave us some good intel on the upcoming race and the exciting single track road to get there which we had been warned about by the organisers. Not long in distance but as you have to creep along at 20mph to avoid going off the narrow windy sections, quite slow. And the views around Ben Lawyers were outstanding.

Should we have wanted prunes and grapefruits they were there.

So a few miles up the road from Killin there is a near vertical turn off, and you climb at a good rate up towards Ben Lawyers. Four large geese flew over and luckily I had the camera ready. I was wondering how we hadn't heard of this marvelous countryside then realised we were certainly seeing it at it's best and there couldn't be many days in the year it was as spectacular as this.

the drive in on single track
happily we didn't pass many coming the other way

there were 3 dams like this

looking back

more of a boast than a reality 
(we never saw any)

Along the way we drove past a cyclist who turned out to be Eóin. He had parked the van and decided to cycle the last 16 miles (as you do before a 17 mile race.) We offered him a lift but he was enjoying the cycle.


At the third dam: the race start and finish

Great to catch up with Richard and Christina and baby Ben

Gordon E took this photo on Saturday

Richard had done the 31 miler the day before, running most of it with Gordon. It was Christina's turn to run the following day for the shorter event. We should be seeing a bit more of them as they have moved back to Edinburgh. RD was hoping to tick the 31miler off as this month's TB but was having trouble associating a war memorial with the run. More on that later, I think I found something suitable.

fast boys (and one of them in flip flops)

The organiser gave us a talk at 9.45 which appeared to be largely misinformation but Cat (other organiser) corrected him as he went so we got all the important stuff. Water table at 9miles which was at the far end of the loch and route was marked and mostly just around the paths on the reservoir side. Richard helpfully told us not to be put off by the large hill at the start as there was nothing near that in scale afterwards. There was a smaller rise just after the water station but it was largely undulating trails. Road shoes would manage although you would get wet feet going through a couple of large streams. Sounded good.

Eoin leads off.
Start photo Mary Lotter

We started by heading in the opposite direction to the Loch but then turned left twice and jogged up a steep hill which climbed 300' in half a mile before dropping towards the water. By this point, a mile into the race, Eoin had already established a huge lead (he is so far ahead I have marked his position with an arrow) and I was lying in 5th.

Aberdeen Metro moving ahead in yellow vest.

Richard had said the Loch formed a kind of Y shape but otherwise just keep the water on your left and it'll be fine. And that we would get wet feet stepping through streams. At first I kept my feet dry stone hopping across the streams that crossed the trail regularly, but they grew broader and deeper and at some point I just sploshed through. I spent a bit of time chatting with David Downey. He had been in 4th after the start and he told me he had done the (53mile) Fling the week before. I didn't mention that when I had run E2NB the week after the Fling it was fine for about 10~14 miles then you die a long slow death. But I was fairly sure he would find this out. I slowly moved forward though he was still in visual contact at the top end of the Glen.

I hadn't seen the yellow vest ahead for a while. I had hoped to catch and overhaul him (for a podium place) but this relied on him slowing and me speeding up instead of which the reverse seemed to happen. Oh well, it was a pleasant enough place to be. And the running was fine. Michelle had doubted the course length at 17 miles and thought unless they added a dog-leg, it would more likely be nearer 15 miles. I recalled the Glen Ogle 33 (same organisation) had rarely if ever been 33, but at least it was never further.

As we got to the far end there was a bit of out and back giving an opportunity to see those just ahead or just behind. No sign of the three ahead. (If Eoin kept up the pace he set off at he'd be feet up at the finish line by now! And all that after an outstanding 15.12, 5k on Friday night.)

You got a view of the marshals at the water table hut then had to run a bit further and through a deep stream (lovely cool water for the toes) before passing them. They said some kind words but I didn't stop for a drink. It looked like the return leg was shorter than the out and so I just took a long pull on the caffeine drink I had in a soft flask in the front pocket of my Inov-8 race vest. I had a reservoir of a pint of tailwind in the back of this and there were plenty streams if I ran out. I had a sip every mile as the Suunto bleeped. I also carried 3 gels but only had one of them, the big breakfast fuel holding out.

I saw the Flinger just behind me (but felt confident about his imminent demise) and nobody else THAT close behind. Hopefully I was safe in fourth. There was a small rise after the water station then it was business as normal. There were few opportunities to see a long way ahead and no sign of the Yellow Vest. He had had the same thoughts as myself and managed to catch the guy in the Luna Sandals. Looking at my watch I could see the headwind we now ran in was slowing my pace from 7 min/mile+ to nearer 8. I would try to push on knowing there would be folk doing the same behind. Around 13 miles we got the first glimpse of the dam which flagged up the finish. Unless there was some massive detour the race would end long before 17 miles.


I kept checking over my shoulder for the competition - especially as the corners were sharp and the next runner could be close by without being seen. However I seemed to be in the clear and sure enough by the time I got to the dam there was nobody chasing me down. There was a woman, Mary Lotter, taking photos which always inspires a sprint finish and smile, then it was down the steep grassy path to the broader trail and finish line. 1.55 for 15.4 miles. 

these 4 photos thanks to Mary Lotter

A medal and splendid goody bag: no leaflets! just top quality sports nutrition - Caramel Wafer, Irn Brew, Race Labelled Cider. Magic! And various bakeries for a small donation, including double cream and jam scones the size of your fist. How nice to be sitting around on the grass in the sunshine chatting to fellow runners and taking photos. 

I changed into dry clothes and jogged back to the dam to take photos of Mary coming in but she nearly beat me to it appearing at the bottleneck corner just as I did. Only got a quick photo, but happily Mary Lotter had crossed the dam and was getting much more scenic shots which she was kind enough to share on facebook/flickr.

After a good old chinwag with folks we eventually set off, driving out the other way, past Fortingall to Aberfeldy. It was a delightful road. Along the way (before Fortingall) we passed this war memorial. Now RD might not have actually run to the foot of it but I think it's general proximity to the race (a handful of miles at most) would qualify it as the wm for his May's Tynecastle Bronze. After all it's the 30+ miles that really count, and the idea of a different wm every month is to inspire travel to new and exotic places, rather than just knock out the same 30 miler every time. So I put it to the TB committee (if they exist?) that RD can tick off May's TB.   

WW1 above, WW2 below

Along the way we passed Eoin again, who again refused a lift! Didn't see where he parked the Hoka-mobile but it caught up with us as we parked at Dunkeld where a queue of salty faced runners (Kate) were buying fluids and snacks in the first big shop on the way home. Eoin douted they had sufficient foodstuffs to match his hunger; right enough, all that running plus 32 miles cycling! I tried to rein it in, in the foodshop, as there seemed a good chance with the restaurant the night before (incl. puddings!) and the full breakfast, then cream scone, I might actually return home fatter. I shared a sandwich with Mary and filled the remaining gaps with Nairns Cheese Oatcakes, which are just Cheddars for adults.

What a fabulous weekend. Actually it was only about 24hrs from start to finish but felt like a whole weekend away having fun. Big thanks to BAM racing who organised it all with minimal fuss and maximum enjoyment. And for providing the weather which made the whole thing great. A superb alternative to the (third year in a row headwindy) E2NB.

race route
note steep hill at start, then rise at 9miles


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