Copyright 2021 - Dundee Roadrunners

Dougie Kempton

Speyside Way 14th April 2002 



         There was no turning back, the 14th April had arrived and all the arrangements had been made. Stuart had agreed to drive Bryan and myself to the race and provide back-up. We had to meet at Bryan & Cathís house before 7 oíclock to get an early start. We got away in time and journeyed up the A9 and then branched off at Carrbridge to head for Ballindalloch Railway Station which we arrived at more than an hour before start time (good ane Bryan).


           As Bryan had done a few ultra runs before he was looking ok, whereas I had never did any before (and had been a lazy git and not done the required training), obviously I was getting a bit nervous. As the start time drew near, the rain, which had been on for more or less the whole journey, continued to fall, although it wasnít too cold. Stuart meanwhile was making new ìfriendsî and finding out what the running surface was like.


            When the race got started, it felt good to be on our way. The first 12 miles or so are run on an old disused railway track that runs alongside the Spey River. It was good to be running along with Bryan, as he curbed my usual early exuberance that I normally have (cheers Bry). One of the nice things that you notice is the friendliness amongst the runners. Although you usually get a chat with runners at other races, it seemed even friendlier in amongst these ëultra runnersí. It must have been a nice train journey when the trains were running, as itís a really nice part of the country. Another thing that surprised me was that you are still in touch with quite a lot of the other runners. Obviously the good runners are out of sight early on, but you are not isolated as I thought you would be. As we were nearing Craigellachie, where we had arranged to meet Stuart, Bryan had to make a pitstop. Because I knew we would meet Stuart in a couple of minutes, I just kept going and arrived just before Bryan. As we were waiting for Bryan there was a runner from Perth Roadrunners arriving just before him, so when we started shouting things at Bryan like ëimagine letting the worst runner at the club get here before youí and ëyouíre a disgrace to the clubí, the guy from Perth later told us he thought the abuse was being directed at him. We all had a good laugh about it later on when we explained thatís the way we encourage each other.


             We reached Craigellachie in 1hr 50mins, but I knew that was probably the easiest part as I ran the last 18 miles over Ben Aigan a couple of weeks previously. We set off up the hill and it was a nice surprise to see the diversions that had been in operation had been lifted. We ran up the hill on the road sections but when it came to the forest track sections Iím afraid to say I was reduced to walking. I felt bad that I was holding Bryan back, but he was great and just stayed with me and fed me with chocolate bars while we were walking (cheers Cath). It was a relief to be jogging down the other side of Ben Aigan, but now the legs were starting to get a bit tired. From the track we were diverted away from the Speyside Way at ëBoat o Brigí to make up the full distance of 50k. As we were approaching the road where we turned to rejoin the Speyside Way, there was a guy handing out lemon tea (what a life saver). Bryan also scoffed some of his jaffa cakes then we were on our way again up more hills. We also passed a sign that said ëless than 10 miles to goí, Iím not really too sure if I was glad to see it or not. Because I had begun to slow down, my legs were beginning to tighten up probably due to the cold and rain. Once again it was Bryan to the rescue as he had brought trousers with him and had to help me into them (not cause Iím too fat, I just couldnít bend down). I did manage to do a bit of running, as I knew we were almost at Fochabers where Stuart was waiting to meet us.


           I never knew a cup of tea and a chocolate crispy bar could taste so good. Five miles to go and it felt like time was against us. Iím not too sure how much time we had left but we set off at 5 minute walk/jog intervals. Once again itís a nice finish running alongside the River Spey through the trees. I knew to look out for the hotel at the finish as it has the name written on its roof. Once again maybe not a good thing as you can see it from about 2 miles away, and it doesnít seem to get any nearer. 


              Eventually we are running along the road towards the finish at the Spey Bay Hotel. We cross the line in 5hrs 51 minutes, 9 minutes inside the allotted time and it feels great, Iím now an ëUltra Runnerí. I am a wee bit disappointed that you donít get a t-shirt or medal to prove you did it (especially as Iím like Muttley and just love getting medals), and I donít feel any different, but it was a good run and Iíve already made up my mind to do it again next year. 


               The only thing left to do is to thank everyone for their help, especially Bryan who has the patience of a saint for helping me through my first ultra, Stuart for taking the piss, Cath for supplying Bryan with plenty chocolate, and all the helpers and organisers for putting on a great race.

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