D33 Ultra Marathon – March 2012

17 March 2012

Woke up to a frosty sub-zero morning in Torphins, Aberdeenshire. Again, just like before the Bamburgh Ultra, I actually slept through the night, the night before a race. Had split a bottle of red the night before with friends (as is customary!). Still a bit nervous about today’s race – certainly had not put in the miles an Ultra deserves due variously to two weeks off due to busted ankle, ten days of chest infection etc and all in the seven weeks leading to the race (and not concurrently). But the last two weeks were solid 50 mile weeks.

The drive into the Duthie Park race start was lovely. Clear crisp day and no sign of any clouds or wind. Got to the registration about 8.15 and quickly bumped into Jim Groark and Colin Calder. For Jim this was just a season opening leg stretch before the West Highland Way; for Colin it was his first time running more than about 12 miles but he is something of a fit bunny through his triathlon/kayaking so well up for it. It was also his challenge at Christmas that got me to sign up for it in the first place.

Right at the start I opted to dump out my wet weather gear and long strides. Usual flutters at the start and then headed off. The Garmin had a bit of a moment and did not kick in straight away pleading “lost satellite contact” – irritating – but kicked in after a couple of minutes. Took off faster than I would have liked. I was aiming at 9 mins per mile but we seemed to get caught up with the 8 min p/m group. I suggested to Jim this was a bit sharp, and we ended up pulling back slightly. Still too fast but not mental speeds. From the Duthie Park we headed directly onto the old railway line of the Deeside Way. I remember it before they tarmacked it and didn’t realise the knees were going to take quite such a pounding (very different to the Bamburgh coastal trail Ultra). The route from there on out is simple – more or less directly out west as far as Banchory, turn round and come back again. You have to love the advertising blurb for this race:

“Total distance out and back is 33 miles.

If you get half way and find you can’t, phone registration with your race number, tell them you are a loser and take the bus home.

Support, there is none required but if you want your mum to meet you half way with a jam sandwich then that’s ok with us.

You get water at checkpoint, anything else you need to carry yourself or get from your Mum.

Cut offs – This is a race for runners it’s not for walkers so let’s be sensible, I want to be in the pub at a reasonable hour so run as fast as you can.”

Alexia met us at about the 7 mile mark (Peterculter) and I topped up the carbo gels and took on some shortbread. The diabetes has been a pain in the arse of late on the long runs as I have been failing to fuel up properly. So it was a sweet every 15 mins, a carbo gel every half hour and some form of carbs ever hour (biscuit etc). Had also scheduled three stops (ended up taking four). Reached the 16.5 mile halfway point (main food stop) quite quickly, about 2hr 20. Alexia, Bruce and Lou were all there. Took on some of the lovely food laid on by the organisers (inc the famous Jam sandwich); half a banana; a bit shortbread and some beetroot (yep!). Topped up the camelback too, had a chat and sent a tweet. Then back at it.

On the way back it was warmer and the slight breeze was now behind us. It is always nice to have the halfway mark behind you, but on an out and back route it also means you know what is ahead – in this case a bloody long hill which had been a friend on the way out but would be a taxing bastard on the way back. The problem with the Tentsmuir = no hills!

We were about an hour into the return route when the problems started for me. Got that usual reaction of being repulsed by food, but having to take it on to prevent ketone acidosis. So while Jim was great at reminding me of the time to take on fuel, I felt nauseous immediately after I did so. This forced a bout of walking at around 23 miles (for about 3 mins) And this feeling stayed with me for a good eight-nine miles in total but it was essential to make sure I kept the KA at bay. We met Lex at Peterculter again some three miles later and I took on some solid carbs (Banana/shortbread) and within about half an hour I started to feel better so the last three miles were actually enjoyable again.

Even with all the long stops we managed a very good average pace (9min 41 – with a moving pace of around 8min 50). Arrived back in Duthie Park with broad smiles and, as always, Alexia holding out the beer! Made it home in 5hr 19min and loose change (Jim’s Garmin), with a recorded time of 5hr 20 dead. I’d recommend this course as something within the reach of any marathon runner willing to put in a little extra training. Or, as Colin proved, anyone who takes their training seriously across a number of disciplines. A respectable finish for him in his first distance race.

As promised, the medal was made from a bit of wood from ‘Hurricane Bawbag’, and it is rather charming. There were free bottles of beer and more sweets, cakes, sandwiches and treats than you could ask for. We also got a goodie bag with the biggest treat of all: a special edition bottle of Brew Dog beer ‘D33 NICE ONE – Happy Days – IPA’. It also has on the side the slogan of the century – a commanding mantra which seeks to, and does inspire. There is no better way to finish than to repeat it here:



About Tentsmuir

Tentsmuir is a 50 something ex-marathon/ slow-ultrarunner/ sort of mountainbiker with Asthma and Diabetes. He is often to be found going round in circles in the Tentsmuir Forest trying to make sense of the contradictions in history, Buddhist philosophy and Scottish malt whisky. Also to be found stravaiging in the Scottish mountains, in deep jungles or lurking on Twitter @Tentsmuir
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