Glen Lyon Ultra
Updated: Aug 30, 2019
I love the BAM races. I've had two runs at Glenmore, and two at Great Glen and this year the opportunity came up to run Glen Lyon. The races are always super well organised and they never fail to run through amazing scenery. Glen Lyon didn't disappoint. It came at a good time of year for me. It's three weeks before my first big one of the year which is Hardmoors 110.
The set up is impressive. From turning in at Ben Lawers, the road follows a single track through the hills to the middle of nowhere. The weather was, as usual for BAM racing, near perfect albeit a bit on the cold side. My boast of shorts n vest lasted until I got out the car. where I opted for a base layer, arm warmers and gloves. Arriving at the start we parked in front of the damn and soon got organised. There was loads of friendly and familiar faces and there was a light breeze which was ideal. Registration was quick and I got into my gear and headed off for a warm up.
The route is one loop of the loch which is fairly flat, then pass through the start, up a hill then do a different loop, before returning to the finish 32 miles later. The route was all runnable which suited me, and it would be ideal to see how I was feeling 3 weeks before race day.
Shortly before 0930, we were briefed by Mike who informed us the river crossings were only ankle deep, and then we were off. I set off at a comfy pace with Davie Gow, and Rodger Sangster close behind, both of whom I've been training with this year. Almost immediately there is a climb and I set an easy pace and trundled along with Davie, and a chap whose name escapes me. There was a terrible headwind on the way out, but the nature of the loop meant that it should be behind us after about 10 miles or so. The miles passed uneventfully to begin with and a few runners joined Davie and I up the front. I wasn't sure where Rodger was but I knew he wouldn't be far behind. He is solid and has been training like a madman all year.
The first river crossing came and I managed to keep dry feet thanks to skipping over some stones, but it didn't last long and it was ankle deep in the next one. As usual I had on injinji toe socks, which I think are second to none when you get wet feet. I had my Speedgoats on for their last outing before they went to the big treadmill in the sky, and these were super comfy and dried out fast. As we turned to go back on ourselves, as usual the wind had changed and we had to fight the headwind on the way back to the start. Has anyone ever had a tailwind in both directions? I don't think this exists. I did however have tailwind in my bottle which I was sipping away at which is just as good as the real thing I guess. 16 miles soon passed and about 1500ft of climbing in this. No real climbs, just wee up and downs and I enjoyed every mile.
Three runners put a burst in and opened a wee gap on Davie and I as we approached the damn. It was pretty cool to run over this, the water at one side and the drop to the other. Down the hill and through the start, Davie stopped to pick up a coke and I trundled on towards the first actual climb of the day. It was all tarmac here, which I don't enjoy much these days but it does suit me. I wasn't sure how many people were in front of me at this point as I hadn't been paying attention to see who stopped for a drop bag. There was one chap in front who I caught shortly and had a chat with up the climb, but I felt good so I pushed on a bit and was rewarded by a massive downhill which I felt even better on. At this time I was unaware that I needed to climb back up this, so I didn't pay much attention. The road swings off tarmac onto land rover/fire road track which signals the start of the 8 mile loop. I had managed into first place by now, a glace behind showed Davie in close pursuit but no sign of Rodger. I knew he would have a solid second half so I kept an eye out on the bends for him. I really enjoyed this section, we were still at a decent height with a good view to the valley below. There was numerous gates to pass through which for some reason I had some difficulty in finding the easy to find latches, so I had to jump over them. This section remained for about 4 miles before it turned to the left and swept down to the valley below, to return back through the glen.
I enjoyed this next section hugely. The next 4 miles or so were flat, and I felt great on it. I hadn't eaten or drank much, about 500ml tailwind , and about 3 high 5 gels, but energy levels were great and I ran some 7ish minute miles. The highlight of this section was the MASSIVE bull that was standing as the edge of the path and kept my pace up. I didn't fancy getting tackled by him at this stage. Once the flat section was over it was time to turn left through a gate and return to the top of the hill where I had enjoyed coming down. I didn't really feel like putting a burst in right away so I powerhiked for about a minute, before I seen sense and started to run, even though it wasn't fast. At this point I didn't know how far behind Davie was, but I knew it wouldn't be far and he is way quicker than me on the hills so I couldn't afford to hang about. We were treated to yet another monster headwind for the duration of the climb, which wasn't much fun. It didn't even make sense how we were so sheltered but still getting battered by a headwind. I bet a tailwind is no fun anyway! About half way up the climb I started to see some runners starting the 8 mile loop. It was awesome to get some high 5s in and these helped me keep running up the hill. Due to my below average race prep, I had forgotten how long exactly the race was, so suunto watching didn't help, but I soon found myself at the top of the hill and managed to pick the pace up to come through the finish to the excellent cheers of team BAM.
David and Rodger were close behind, so thankfully I managed to actually run up the climb. Had I walked at all, they absolutely would have caught me. So all in all, a good days running. Happy with how I felt on the day, and being a build up race for Hardmoors, it is good to know where I'm at. Even better though, it was awesome to share the podium with the guys I shared the car journey with!
So another BAM win ticked off the list. One more to do to complete them all!