- Backpacks & Waist Packs
I received a message from a running friend, Alan Stewart, last week to inform me that he had just “caught your little article in May’s Men’s Running mag”. I had no idea what he was on about initially but, admittedly, had fallen behind on my reading and still had both the May and June issues of Men’s Running to read. Flicking through the May edition of the magazine, I soon found the article in question (page 52, in the Trail section).
I have the 55 mile Cateran Trail Ultra this weekend and, reading over the article again, I felt that it was appropriate in describing how I feel as I approach the race.
“I have no great aversion to road running, but I would always choose a trail run over a road run regardless of the time of day, the season and/or the weather conditions.
The trail offers me greater freedom and lets me reconnect with nature. It offers me a greater variety of terrain which is both more challenging, more rewarding and yet kinder to my body. It offers me a chance to reach places that are not often visited other than by those who are willing to put in a similar effort.
It offers me the chance to explore and to see the best that our country has to offer. It tests me and pits me against the elements, in a way that the road could not. It offers me an escape from the mundane, the 9 to 5. It offers me freedom!
Since discovering the trail I have gone on to take it to extremes in the form of ultramarathon running.
In 2012 I am aiming to complete seven off-road ultramarathons, from the 33-mile D33 run to the 95-mile West Highland Way Race, with runs of 37, 40, 43, 53 and 55 miles in between.
In completing these races I will log many, many hours on the trail, some of which will leave me wondering why I even bother to put myself through this, but ultimately, they will all be rewarding.
That’s why the trail wins.”
The Cateran includes 7450 ft of climbs, including a final 5 miles approx. of climbing up and over Glenshee before a 1.5 mile descent to possibly the best race finish ever. Starting just along the road from the Race H.Q. at the Spittal of Glenshee hotel, runners follow a highly scenic trail that takes in muddy fields, forest trail, road and moorland.
There are 6 checkpoints in the race, meaning that you do not need to carry too much with you. These are as follows:
Last year marshals gave the order for compulsory waterproofs as the weather closed in and boy did it rain! By the time I reached the final 5 mile climb, the path resembled a stream, making for a long slog up and over Glenshee before an ascent that involved much slip sliding as I fought to stay upright.
Everyone at the rain soaked finish line was keen to usher us into the hotel and, at this point, it was obvious why. Each and every finisher is greeted with cheers and applause and, ironically, the later you finish, the more runners, support crew and families are there to greet you!
I have yet to experience a race finish to match this one!
The Cateran is a small race, with 75 runners. The evening after the race is more like a family get together than anything else as many of the runners, their support crews and families choose to stay over at the hotel after the race. The Spittal of Glenshee hotel kindly runs a special offer for those involved in the race, a discounted room rate plus the option to stay for free on the Saturday evening if you have stayed the previous night. This cracking offer encourages people to stick around for the prize giving where each finisher is called up to collect their memento.
I would definitely recommend the Cateran!
Come Saturday evening, I hope to have finished the race, ideally with a new PB and, at this point, the final countdown will begin to this years big race, the 95 mile West Highland Way Race. There will be only 35 days to go… gulp!
“There is no time to think about how much I hurt; there is only time to run.”
This was, I thought, a rather apt quote of the day from www.runnersworld.com