It’s all about the cake and walking the hard bits…..
Neil Vicars-Harris set off at 6am on Saturday the 1st of May. He was to navigate his way on some of the greatest trails in Scotland along the “Southern Upland Way”. Starting at St John’s Town of Dalry and hoping to complete the “GB Ultra Scotland 50” in the town of Moffat, some 50 miles and over 9’000ft away and before the 18-hour cut off.
We caught up with Neil after to hear his thoughts. After 57 miles, he finished 20th overall in 13:22:25 and he was very happy. He’s a “newbie” at the 50mile distance, but not a newbie for pushing himself to the limits! Although he admits he usually likes his long miles sitting down on a bike ?
It was his first 50+ run. In the past his long run miles have been the 38mile Pen Llyn Ultra in 2019 and he ran 40miles solo last year during lockdown.
Neil said this race was very long, but very enjoyable. He managed to keep up with a few people and then catch and overtake a few others, which is always good for the feel-good factor and keeping mentally strong! There always seemed to be someone in vision, in front or behind so he only took a couple minor wrong turns. The scenery was stunning, the route and trail is mostly well defined. Due to covid regs no support crew was aloud, but the team at GB Ultras had 4 checkpoints along the way filled with all the goodies, smiles, encouragement, and all the nourishment you could possibly need.
The weather was cold and wet to start, snow and ice then appeared, before afternoon sunshine and a gentle breeze. So, he was very lucky with the weather.
Training wise was not the best for Neil. Winter 2020 came with minor injuries, one after the other. Ankle, hamstrings and oddly, elbow pains! He doesn’t feel too bad post-race and is recovering nicely. Legs are in less shock after a few days rest and he is now back running, and hopes any niggles will stay away. He does have a couple of black toenails to contend with!
Advice and things Neil learned and would like to pass on.
- Don’t switch to new shoes so late in the day, bed them in!
- Poles are invaluable on long steep inclines.
- Have a partner or friend surprise you at checkpoints with a milkshake and a smile. It saved the energy levels a few times.
- Nutrition wise he had one bottle of water and one bottle of electrolytes which he refilled at each checkpoint.
- He consumed One High 5 Aqua gel every 10miles, a packet of jelly babies kept him going throughout the race along with a Kendal mint cake to top up the sugar levels.
- He used a couple of salt tablets during the race to fend off Mr & Mrs cramps.
- Each checkpoint had the fruit which he consumed “just to be healthy”
- He did carry porridge and flapjacks as back up on the run but found them far too dry to digest.
- Choose nutrition wisely and test what works for you whilst on your training runs
- Kit wise – he wants a new lighter waterproof coat!
- Do not carry more than the bare minimum of what is necessary.
- Oh! and make sure to cream up certain parts because that was an oversight that came back up to bite in certain places!!
- Research your kit with care and test it even more on your training runs.
- Get a GPS long life battery watch, this is not a sprint triathlon
- Pack Bath salts, radox, massage gun, cake, and wine for the after race “what have you done to me” leg party.
Neil is now looking forward to finding a 100 miler for the next challenge, and says there is no truer word than the saying and GB ultra-moto……
“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”
Neil, Thank you for sharing your story and a huge Congratulations to you.