John Muir Way Ultra & Relay March 2023

James, Stephen & Craig head East to take on the John Muir Way Ultra once more.

7am and James and I set off for Port Seton. 8.15 and we are there, ready to join the some 3 hundred others who are taking on the 31 mile challenge – The John Muir Way Ultra. Checked in and a bathroom break later and we are ready. Craig is next to arrive on the scene. James and Craig are veterans of this particular examination, but for me it’s almost my first go (I recce’d the second half of the race with fellow Harrier Chris last year). Craig is doing the full 31 miles whilst James and I are a relay team, 15 and change each. Handing over at North Berwick. A couple of group photos later and the horn goes – race started. 

The leaders set off at quite a pace and Craig finds himself in a good position, with James tucked in behind. I set off in the car, making my way to the handover point. Noticing that the road was running parallel to the runners I decide to take a pit-stop 5K in and cheer the guys along. Craig passed not long after the leading pack and looked strong and focussed. A couple of minutes later James is also having a solid run so far. 

Time elapsed, 2 hours 6 minutes and Craig comes into view. Pacing across the beach, I give him a quick thumbs up, he forgoes the water station and continues with his mission. Half way! 2 hours 22 minutes and James is on the beach and approaching the hand-over. He’s giving it every last bit of energy. We swap the ankle strap, a quite congrats and it’s my turn and a baptism of fire as the first half mile is more rocky beach underfoot. Done and dusted it’s on to the road and trails. It’s a cool and dry day but the elements have been at work earlier in the week and the course is very muddy. A new experience for me. 

The John Muir Way Ultra really is a beautiful run. Fields, trails, trees, undulations, the lot. The organisation of the event is also first class and the 5 mile check-in water stations are just the ticket. Lots of friendly locals and ramblers keep you going with words of encouragement 

The hill! With approximately 6 miles to go there is a big hill on a field. I remember it from the last time. Lungs on fire and I’m at the top. 

12 miles in for me and 3 to go. I can see Craig in the distance. He is already in Ultra territory having passed the 26.2 some time ago. With less miles in the legs I am able to pass him and we say hello. As a relative newcomer to these distances I’m now thinking “just a parkrun to go”. A right awkward one mind. One and a half miles left and the terrain is challenging – rocky and unpredictable. Craig is gaining on me and I’m under pressure. Finally we get to solid ground and I am able to consolidate my position. I hear music and the Foxlake finish. I’m really depleted at this point. It really IS music to my ears. Across the line in 2 hours 13 minutes for me and a combined time for James and I of 4 hours 36 minutes. Craig comes in barely a minute behind. James and I make 8th place for relay teams from 35 teams. Not a PB for Craig this time but a still very impressive 21st out of 198 and 2nd in his age category. Well done Craig. Well done James! I’ll be back next year for the full thing. A cracking challenge! 

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