On a very warm Saturday (temps over 20degC!) five brave Harriers met at Partick train station to tackle the picturesque 40 miles of the Clyde Stride Ultramarathon. Andy was the bravest as he lined-up for the complete Ultra, with the other four Harriers (Linda, Chris, Scott & Craig) entering the Relay under their alter ego ‘Maryhillbillies’.
A week earlier Andy had fallen and twisted his knee whilst on a recce run so it was a bit touch and go whether he’d be able to race but, true to form, he was there ready for a 9am start. Linda led the team for the first leg which took runners past the SEC, BBC Studios and on towards Glasgow Green. We met her en-route with some chilled water then it was on towards Cambuslang and CP1 in approx. 10th position. Andy looked strong and composed en-route with no signs of his dodgy knee hampering his running. A quick couple of gels and a drink at CP1 then he was off again. Chris took on leg 2 which sees the race transition from city to country. The temperature was noticeably rising – the frozen 6-pack of water Scott had brought was already proving its worth! We met both Chris and Andy at the David Livingston Memorial Bridge – both looked good and carried on towards Bothwell Bridge and then Strathclyde Park and CP2. Chris fought hard through the rising temperature during his leg and defended our position. It also started to look like a few of the other relay teams had front-loaded their fast runners. Chris handed over to Scott who set off in pursuit of the other relay runners.
Two days prior to the start the race organisers had to move CP3 three miles downstream from Mauldslie Bridge to Crossford, this meant that leg 3 became the longest at 13 miles and the hardest as the final 3 miles included much climbing and descending c/w steps/stairs (and that was before the temperature effects were dialled-in!). We drove to an intermediate position just off the A71 in time to see Scott catch Andy. Scott grabbed a bottle of water on-the-run and was off towards CP3. Andy was starting to feel the effects by this stage (approx. 28miles) with some cramping and was out of fluids and fuel. Food was sorted with one of Linda’s homemade flapjacks and we scrambled around to get enough water for Andy. We had some water and fellow Relay runners and crews donated some – great camaraderie and just shows how everyone was in it together. Andy set off again, looking forward to his drop-bag of sustenance at CP3.
Scott’s half marathon leg 3 was indeed a tough one and he dug deep to defend our Relay position. He then tagged me in to run the final leg to New Lanark. As my leg was now the shortest I set off fast to try and catch some relay runners – I finally spotted and passed the first one just before joining the A72 to Kirkfieldbank. Linda, Scott & Chris were in Kirkfieldbank to cheer me on and let me know that the next relay runner was a few minutes ahead. I kept the pedal down and eventually spotted him but it took until the final flight of steps (before joining the red road down to New Lanark) before I caught and passed him as well as another relay runner. It was then full gas down and round New Lanark to the finish, just in case there were any other relay runners ahead (which there weren’t) or anyone chasing behind.
Andy made it to CP3 after which his knee decided to give up – he fought on though with a mixture of running and walking to complete his first ultra and in 22nd place (out of 80 finishers)! Massive congrats to Andy – 40 miles is hard enough but dial-in the high temps and the late change to the leg 3 (and thus fuelling strategies) and it becomes even more impressive. The Maryhillbillies came home in 6th place out of 16 teams so a good team result as well.
The ultra was won by Marco Consani in a time of 5.09.00, first female was Rebecca Johnson in 5.41.26. The Relay was won by JGS in 4.21.40.
A massive thank-you goes out to all the Clyde Stride team and marshals for putting on a great race – that includes the huge effort to mark the entire route and provide vital encouragement and advice to runners throughout the route and especially at CP3.
Footnote: at the club run three days later Chris was overheard saying that he was contemplating coming out of Ultra retirement next year so watch this space…….
Full ultra: 22nd Andy Sutherland 7.00.31
Relay: 6th team Maryhillbillies 5.41.51
Photos and videos on club Flickr page