A huge well done to all those who competed in the D33 Ultra Marathon, with a fair few popping their ultra cherry. The weather was at best ‘minging’ in Aberdeen but despite the elements, Rachel, Murdo, Jo V, Elly, Gill, Russell and Phil all managed to drag their butts to the finish line. Well done everyone! Also a big thanks to Nicola and David for their support and photos on the day and also to Nicola for the (thankfully not needed) emergency back-up!
Gillian said : It was bitterly cold as we gathered for the start in Duthie Park, double-glove weather. The route is an out-&-back along the Deeside Way, so I imagined it being like running along the Water of Leith, although you don’t see that much of the Dee. It starts out very much like our cycle paths and end up on country tracks, all pretty much flat. I ran with Elly for the first 10 miles which was great, good company and good pace. We had a brief spell of sleety rain, so both pairs of gloves were soaked through early on. After I separated from Elly it wasn’t long before I started to see the front runners come back the other way, which I loved. Most folk just called out well done as they passed, and then the ERN faces started to come past, which was great, a real boost! We had support en route too from Nicola (Murdo’s partner) and David (Rachel’s husband), particularly when you’re not on home territory it is nice to have someone to look out for.
Even although I hadn’t trained as planned over the last 5 weeks due to injuries, I did feel that my body certainly remembered what it was doing with the endurance running. My race-plan had always included walking breaks, timed with taking on food, but as I tired on the return leg, there was more walking. I was also soaked to the skin by this stage and getting colder, I’d had to take off my sodden gloves and found it difficult to do anything requiring any dexterity – it was too much of an effort to unzip my pockets in the latter stages. I was pleased to see a Deeside Way signpost saying 4m back to Duthie Park, then happy to see another one saying 3m to Duthie Park, then a wee while further on, confused to see another saying 3m to go and then annoyed to see yet another saying 3m to go…not what you need at that stage in the proceedings! Although I’d been elated to see to the 4m sign, I soon realised that I was done, I just wasn’t capable of running any more, so I marched the rest of the way, with blind determination to finish, eating tablet for energy. Those were the hardest miles I’ve ever done, I’ve checked out nutrition and hydration and I can only put it down to not having been able to complete the training as planned. Nevertheless, suddenly, after all the dodgy signs, I realised I was almost at the turning into the park and I saw Phil, starting to clap. I managed to run again, over the finish line, to a lovely cheer from all those still waiting at the finish. It’s a lovely touch that the race director greets everyone and gives them their medals & goody bag, I hope I said thank you, I think I just said I think I’m going to keel over!
All in all a success though, I finished, which is all that matters after all the injury doubt over the preceding weeks. Our medals were a little pottery foot with D33 imprinted on it, my goody bag had a bottle of BrewDog Punk IPA with special D33 label, a Caramac bar, packet of crisps and a water bottle.
I’d thoroughly recommend D33 as a first-time ultra. The website calls it ‘33 miles of No Frills Racing’ and it is just that, there’s no toilets en route, you need to be OK about going al fresco! The marshals were excellent, they must have been freezing but they were still chipper and encouraging. The training is obviously a bit more full-on, higher mileage than marathon training and back-to-back runs over the weekend and but I enjoyed it (crazy I know). Ultras are different and there’s a lot to be said for the change of attitude. There’s much less concern about your time, it’s more about finishing. It’s OK to walk, and especially OK to walk up hills. And it’s advisable to eat – in fact I started of my ultra as a running picnic!