I’d been looking forward to this 40 mile ultra for a while and had (roughly) followed a training schedule to increase the weekly and individual mileage before stepping down for some shorter faster runs to get some ‘zip’ back into the legs before tapering down. I must admit I really didn’t enjoy the taper phase but it was worthwhile – contrary to what my brain was telling me I didn’t in fact lose all my fitness during the taper :-).

I’d recce’d the whole route in training during the dry July spell and even then some sections were a little marshy and muddy – videos appeared on the RAW Facebook page a few weeks before the race showing people wading knee-deep through sections and the rain leading up to the race meant that it was going to be a muddy affair!

The first 10 miles up to CP1 are a nice flat intro to the run – pretty good underfoot albeit with a headwind. After CP1 things started to get a bit marshy/boggy and heavier underfoot plus some mud thrown in for good effect. After popping out on to the road at Sorn there’s some nice recovery through the village, past the relay hand-over point,  and over to Catrine then the welcome CP2 at Haugh Farm around the 21 mile mark. There were 4 drop-bag CPs in total and loads of extra water stations en-route, all well-stocked with water, treats, huge bowls of fresh fruit and encouragement from the marshals and supporters. The watermelon at CP2 was possibly the best I’ve ever had :-). Miles 18-30’ish involved a lot of steps up & down the riverbank and more mud but proper mud this time… Around mile 30 there was an alleyway between two barbed-wire-topped fences where the Way was a mix of water, mud and slurry halfway up your shin. No way round and no way of knowing how deep it was so I took the prudent approach and walked through it – didn’t really want to lose a trainer at this stage! Some more muddy climbs ensued until we reached Oswald’s Bridge around mile 35 where the Way joins the road at Auchincruive for a bit then onto mostly tarmac trails back into Ayr. A lap of the Dam Park athletics stadium (home of Ayr Seaforth Athletics Club) brought us to the finish line.

It was a great day out – another ultra learning experience (still going off too fast…..) and another step-up in distance. The event was well-managed and the CPs, additional aid-stations, marshals, signage and friendly vibe was spot-on. Unusually for an ultra this one is organised by the Council and is fantastic value even before all the extras are added-in (free coach transport to the start, aid stations, technical T-shirt at end).

The race was won by Toni McIntosh in 5.46.32 and the first male was Scott Williamson in 5.54.52. First relay team was Kilmarnock H & AC in 4.42.06.

MARYHILL RESULTS:

11th Craig Perrie 6.32.49 (9th male)

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