Speyside Way Ultra

The main reason I entered the Speyside Way Ultra was to get a couple of nights camping with my mate Matt. Every year we go away together and do some travelling/camping and so far this year we hadnt managed to get anything sorted so this was a good chance to do our traditional adventure together.

We headed towards Buckie aiming to get there for around 8pm, upon arrival at the campsite we spoke to the owners and asked where we should pitch our tent up. We made our way to the spot and unzipped the tent bag….now….I can be pretty silly at times but this was probably my finest hour.

We emptied the bag to discover that there was indeed a tent inside but no poles or pegs to be found, oh shit!

After discovering there was a Tesco 4 miles away we jumped in the car to try and buy a tent, long story short we got it for £15 and settled down for the night.

Race Day

We drove to the High School in Buckie to register, I seen a few familiar faces there. After that we went to a bakery on the high street to get some food, I couldnt believe it was only 50p for a Latte! Its £2.50 in Edinburgh!

At the start line I had the pleasure of meeting Paul (@pyllon) and his sister Nicola (@lilacswizzle) I didnt have much time to chat as my stomach was already churning like crazy.

Race briefing was brief just like it should be, theres not much to it, just go and run as fast as you can. 9am and we were off.

The Start Line - Photo by Matt Corney

The first 10 miles were flat, pretty uneventful, I did start to feel a slight niggle in my right knee, the same problem that I had after the 24hr Treadmill run 4 week earlier. It worried me to be feeling any sort of pain after this short a distance but I put it to the back of my mind and got the head down. I only went to this race to spend time with my boy and see some nice scenery and I wasnt let down, the route was stunning in places, some of the bridges were a little unsteady but this just made it more interesting.

Got to the first checkpoint and filled up my water bottles, had a gel and kept moving. I wasnt bothered about positions but I knew I was near the front at this point, nowhere near the leaders but respectable.

The route pretty much followed contry roads and wooded trails, there was a hill which zapped a lot of energy out of my legs, I had been running with two other runners at this point, we chatted and then I left them to run to the top of the hill and I walked and took on some fluids, I would shout to them that I would “catch them up” but I never did.

By the time I had run a marathon (3hrs 41mins) I felt exhausted, the night before with all of the confusion I had only managed to eat two jam sandwiches for dinner and I was now feeling the effects of this in my energy levels. At this point I decided it was just about finishing and any ideas of times I had in mind were to be forgotten.

At checkpoint 2 I felt weak, with 11 or so miles to go it felt like a marathon still lay ahead of me, no point in complaining though, just get on with it.

A few people began to pass me, a sign that I hadnt really recovered from the treadmill event as I couldnt run for more than a mile without stopping for a rest.

With a couple of miles left I made it to the coast, I have never been happier than to have made it to a place than I was now, I knew it was 2 miles along here and I could rest and get some food down. I decided I wouldnt stop at all for the last stretch and increased my pace to 8 minutes miles, I just didnt have anything left in me at this point.

I got to within sight of the finish line and had one last climb up to the top of a hill, turned right and was greeted to applause and the cheers, a great finish to a nice but tough race. I have to say a special thanks to the organisers, cracking job and a brilliant route.


Biggest thanks goes to Matt Corney, Matt has been there at a lot of my events and I owe him a lot for this.

Only low point for me was at the start line – I decided to listen to music during the race, which is something that I never do. At start line another runner seen me with my earphones and said “If your listening to music why even do the race?” All I could think was, “What a complete prick”.

Need a bit of a rest from racing now, unless something pretty special comes up ill be focussing on getting myself in tip top condition for 2012. I have really enjoyed my first SUMS season, met some really nice people as well. Ill be back in 2012.

Photo by Colin Knox

About Mark Cooper

My name is Mark Cooper, I am an ultra runner, motivational speaker, expedition consultant and public relations rookie. I help people achieve greatness in their lives. For bookings or more information you can email mark@runwithmark.com
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4 Responses to Speyside Way Ultra

  1. Davie Bell says:

    Doesn’t matter where you go Mark there’s always a prick ! 🙂

  2. Jules_Perox says:

    Great report and loving the photos! How long is the actual race pal?
    Loved the tent fiasco-brilliant!
    Plenty inspiration for my first Ultra coming up 24/9 . Nowt compared to you but big step for me at 30 ish miles!!

  3. Mark Cooper says:

    Hey, it was 36.5 miles, what race you got coming up???

    Dave – Spot on mate, always a prick!

  4. Lee says:

    Well done Mark and I agree some people can be very rude, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, one of the things I always enjoyed about running was seeing other people do things differently. I use motivational music all the time both for training and racing.

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