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Scott’s fourth place joy in Glenmore 24 ultra race

Written by Fiona

September 06 2016

The fifth outing of the Glenmore 24 Trail Race took place at the weekend. It is Scotland’s original 24-hour off-road ultra marathon. I spoke to Scott Nicol, 47, of Bearsden, who took fourth place in only his second year of ultra running.

The G24 race challenges participants to run as many four-mile laps as they can of a forest route near Loch Morlich in the Highlands in 24 hours. (There’s also a 12-hour race and a relay class.)

In 2011, the first G24 had 27 runners across two classes and this year there were 89 in the 24-hour race, 37 in the 12-hour race and 10 relay teams.

G24 2016 first five runners were:

  • David Shaw with 32 laps and a total of 128 miles.
  • Ross Grieve: 31 laps, 124 miles
  • Mark Wheeler: 30 laps, 120 miles
  • Scott Nicol: 28 laps, 112 miles
  • Shona Young: 27 laps, 108 miles
Scott, second from right, with running friends and support crew.

Scott, second from right, with running friends and support crew.

Scott runs his first G24

Scott stated running ultra races last year with the D33, Highland Fling and Devil o’ the Highlands. This year he has completed the Glentress Trail Marathon, the Fling, the Devil and now the G24.

The G24 was Scott’s 2016 goal event and he worked towards it with coach and experienced ultra runner Neil MacNicol of RunRecover. Scott says: “I wanted to see how I’d cope with 24-hour races and I was keen to attempt the elusive 100-plus miles.”

Neil created monthly training plans to give focus and structure to Scott’s training while also allowing him to take part in a number of races in the build up to the G24.

Scott says: “The training format was three progressive weeks with week four to recover, or else I’d taper in that week of recovery so I could do a race.

“With Neil’s approach I have found I have run fewer miles each week but with a focus on quality runs. The general schedule has been back-to-back weekend runs with tempo and endurance work throughout the week.

“Neil also introduced weights and stretching as part of the plan.”

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Day of the G24

Race day nerves were not helped by a sore throat in the days leading up to the race. Scott was worried that all his training would be wasted but on the day before the race, his throat felt suddenly better. He says: “All I had to do after that was stay calm. This is far easier said than done because you realise that ultra distance events like these are as much a mental challenge as a physical one.”

There were other challenges, including unusually high temperatures and midges.

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Scott says: “I had to run for most of the night with a midge net over my face. I did wear leggings to protect my legs from bites but in the end the heat got the better of me. It was so warm this weekend.

“Although many people might think it would be boring running the same four mile lap over and over I found it quite comforting simply knowing where you were and what you had coming up. I walked the steep stuff and ran the easier flat stuff and just kept repeating that.”

The hardest part for Scott was making sure he ran slower on the first laps. He says: “I know it’s different for every runner but for me running four miles in 45 to 50 minutes was hard in the beginning. You have much more energy then and naturally you want to push on. But that’s the wrong tactic in these long-distance races.

“Still, my splits do reflect a faster first few laps of 41 to 43 minutes. After that I settled into the race and stuck to the plan of slower laps at a pace that I could continue for 24 hours.”

Scott was delighted to reach 60 miles in 12 hours. Other highlights of the event included the friendly atmosphere. He says: “During each lap I chatted fellow runners and every single runner was happy to talk with me or to give me words of encouragement.

“I was also very grateful for the help of my support crew.”

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The main supporter was ultra running friend Karen Wallace. Scott says: “I’d crewed for Karen during this year’s West Highland Way Race so she offered to help me in the G24. I also had the support of another runner, John Fox, as the race went on.”

Scott fuelled his raced with Tailwind nutrition products, home-made chicken paella, soup, coffee and chocolate. He also had Muller rice with banana to eat out on the course every fourth lap.

Scott says: “I didn’t stop I this race unless I needed to change my kit.”

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His trainers were inov-8 Trail Talons for the first 88 miles then inov-8 Race Ultra 290s for the rest of the event. He suffered only a small blister on his left toe.

Scott says: “I was quick to act with the blister. I burst it and then put RockTape over the top. This sorted it and it was never an issue after that.”

By mile 96, Scott was suffering but he was able to continue thanks to his mental determination and his support crew. He says: “I had a little voice telling me I was so tired and I needed to stop but another part of my brain was saying, ‘Just one more lap, just one more lap.’

“I’d discussed this with Karen before the race so when I uttered the phrase, ‘Is that me done?’, she just got me sorted again and back out to run.

“Her mantra was, ‘Look at the time, you’ve got three more laps, now two more laps now one more to go.

“Without having such a good crew I would not have done what I did.”

Scott is clearly delighted with his fourth place and 112 miles in 24 hours. He says: “I amextremely pleased with myself. Glenmore is special in so many ways: The route, the terrain, the length of time running and the mental challenge.

“I accomplished the goal and ran past 100 miles and I took fourth place. The support was huge and the event itself lived up to the hype I’d heard in the weeks and months prior to taking part. It’s a race I’d highly recommend.”

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Scott’s five tips for the Glenmore 24

  • Train well with a plan and focus
  • Pick your crew well
  • Make a pre-race plan and stick to it
  • Slow down
  • Enjoy your racing.

Scott’s love of ultra running

He says: “Ultra running suits my style of running. I was never the best 10k or half marathon runner and I prefer the trail.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to meet so many people who do this type of event and I can genuinely call then friends. At my level of training, chatting on training runs is important to me.

“I like a selfie and a little bit of comedy in the narrative but most of all I like being in the middle of nowhere in a massive big run with great friends.”

Now Scott is looking towards the 38-mile Jedburgh Three Peaks race in late October. In addition, he hopes he might be able to complete the so-called Triple Crown next year (Fling, Devil and the WHW race in one season).

See Glenmore 24 ultra running race.

Written by Fiona September 06 2016 Please support this website Buy me a glass of wine

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