AdministratorJune 2, 2019 at 8:29 pm
Wow – what a weekend??
As always over and above everything else I have to thank my amazing family (and super-crew extraordinaire) Ian and Molly without whom this would absolutely not have been possible!! I look forward to seeing them at each meet point, and while I am a happy cheery runner for 99% of the time, when I do have a bad patch they really help turn me around and get me back to rights ❤️
The format for this event is great and part of what makes it such a challenge, you start in Haltwhistle (Centre of Great Britain) and the aim is to get as far from there as the Crow Flies as you can in 48 hours. There are 4 medal colours achievable, Bronze for getting up to 50 miles away, silver for 50 to 110 miles, gold for 110 miles and black for over 160 miles. There is no compulsory kit and you can be supported or unsupported, use shops cafe’s or even book into a hotel for the night if you fancy it. Once you’ve gone as far as you fancy you text the race director to say you’re done and switch off your tracker which has recorded your distance.
For me I wanted to get over the yellow line, to be competitive if I could, and hopefully run a new distance pb. I plotted a seriously optimistic 200 mile route, the last 60 miles of which followed the West Highland Way, so I wasn’t sure I would be in any fit shape to tackle that even if I did get there 😳
So onto the run, we set off on time and the weather was quite pleasant – for half an hour anyway, after which came an hour or so of heavy rain, I headed for Hadrian’s wall and across towards Longtown trending Northwest before turning North. I knew my first 6-7 miles would be junk miles and wouldn’t give me much as the crow flies once I headed North, but to get any distance from Haltwhistle you have to go north or south, and to go northeast you have to cross the Cheviots, and to the south are the Pennines, so for me Glasgow seemed the obvious choice, though you can’t go diagonally North West straight from Haltwhistle as there is a chunk of MOD land in the way.
It seemed bizarre to be using Hadrian’s wall and roads from my bread and butter long runs in an event. I had my first meet with Ian at Smithfield, around 18m in for me and only about 6 miles from home, the rain had eased by then, so I grabbed some more snacks, swapped out my drinks and finally started heading north proper while the crew headed back home for dinner 😂.
I wended my way up towards Moffatt via tiny back lanes, carefully sticking to the middle of the narrow roads to try and avoid the camber as I knew that wouldn’t be an option on many of the roads later in the event. At around 7pm Ian and Molly caught up with me again and we leap frogged as they crewed me every 6-7 miles until nearly 50 miles at Boreland. After 40 miles of running the rain returned and the wind got up, a set of conditions due to persist until around 3.30AM. Once I got to Boreland sometime before 10pm the crew headed of home to grab a littke sleep before catching back up with me early Saturday morning. I know Ian wasn’t keen on doing this but knowing there was a possibility they’d still be following me around all night Saturday as well I wanted him to get some sleep. Ian had made me some great egg rolls for the night shift and I had found penguin bars were the new wonder fuel – with the added bonus of a joke on every wrapper – something that would later come back to haunt me 😂
The night shift all went smoothly, it was wet and windy but not at all cold so to be fair it was just a case of getting my head down and steadily trucking on with the miles. I had no real pace goals for this event, but the strategy was to walk every uphill, jog the flats and run the downs. I had guessed that would get me to Boreland around midnight and Abington Services around 7AM – I was a couple of hours or so ahead of both of those estimates. The only real drama came as I dropped down a hill somewhere around 55 miles. I always wear a thin lightweight gilet or my waterproof jacket in events like this s my race vest doesn’t really have enough front storage to carry my bottles, my watch charging stuff, and my food so I keep my food in the pocket of my gilet or my waterproof (sweets and sandwiches usually) as I went down the hill the bottom seam of my pocket gave way and sweets and sandwiches scattered. Not in and of itself a disaster, just inconvenient collecting it all back up, but what it did mean was that all this stuff had to be put in the back of my pack so I had to stop every 40 min or so to get it back out as I wanted it, which seems trivial, but it really interrupts your rhythm and adds extra time faffing.
Other than that the night miles flew by. I spent the night and a lot of Sat morning on the cycle route 74 (the B7078) which runs along the M74 up towards Glasgow, and I think from the time I got onto that road around 11.30pm to the time I got to Abington services around 4.30-5AM not a single car passed me. It finally stopped raining as it started to get light around 3.30AM (the extra daylight being another bonus of heading north).
I texted Ian to let him know I’d got to Abington, where I picked up a latte and a double decker duo for breakfast 🙈😳😂. Once daylight arrived the slight monotony of the cycle track did begin to get to me – but it wasn’t long until Ian caught up with me and he was waiting for me at Cairn Lodge services, it was good to see him and Molly and get some fresh supplies, and he got me another coffee while I got some clean dry socks on. I was also surprised to learn I was in second place and only a couple of miles as the crow flies behind the race leader Guillaume (surprise because he is a bit of a an ultra legend). I’m not going to lie – that did put a spring and renewed vigour in my step 😂. At this point I’d covered around 80 run miles and was at around 67 as the crow flies miles. Ian also went above and beyond the call of duty after this by hunting down some cheese replacing the cheese I had put in all my cheese sandwiches – which I decided after the first one I didn’t like when I was running 😂
Then it was back to trucking onto the next crew meet point at Lesmahagow, at which point I’d covered around 93 miles and Ian had another cup of coffee waiting for me. I had closed a little further on Guillaume despite a short rough patch. I headed out of there with my eye on 100 miles and was back to feeling good and I deemed to fly through the next 6-7 miles and went through 100 miles inside 22 hours which surprised me. I had a mini panic thinking I’d missed Ian in Larkhall as I was out the other side and hadn’t seen him and had no drink left. I had a bit of internal debate trying to decide if I should go back and buy a drink or press on – it turned out the crew were just round the corner. They gave me the surprise news that I had just snuck into the overall race lead (think my response was “oh shut up” – I really didn’t actually believe them).
There were a few main road miles after Larkhall and it was a busy road so I needed to stay alert there and I ended up hopping on and off the verge a fair bit, this was the point at which the wet feet over night and the hard surfaces started to bite back, I was getting really worried about what was going on inside my trainers and knew that a stop was going to be needed to properly sort them out, after a short crew stop just before Hamilton it became apparent I was going to have to have a proper stop and sacrifice the race lead, I could feel Ian’s frustration but knew it wasn’t negotiable as not taking that time at T184 lead to slowly being ground down to a hobble. I was moving too slow and it was painful.
Ian stopped on an Aldi car park and there followed the best part of an hour of cleaning and patching up then a couple of false starts as I tried different trainer’s for comfort level, and a moleskin patch on one foot, a compeed between my toes and a ton of vaseline on the other before settling on my much worn Adidas Response. Respect to Ian for washing my feet and Molly for getting the compeed between my toes – my back had stiffened to the point of not being able to reach my feet by then 😳🙈😂. I could see by the look on Ian’s face he didn’t have much faith in me getting much further even though he didn’t say it. He asked if I wanted anything and I said ice-cream would be nice, when asked what my tired brain should have just said “any” which was what I meant, but I said strawberry Cornetto, strawberry split or white chocolate magnum because they were the only icecreams I could think of (I later learned there followed a frantic mission to obtain and coordinate delivery of non-melted strawberry Cornetto’s to me in busy traffic in Hamilton on the outskirts of Glasgow – which made me laugh a little – because after I requested it I passed a lot of shops more than likely containing strawberry cornetto’s 😂).
Once my cornetto’s were delivered (yes 2 of them 😊😂) I got some very odd looks trotting through the out skirts of Glasgow with a half eaten Cornetto in each hand. The foot stop had lost my lead by a couple of miles, but the renewed feet chased them back down v quickly and by the time I got to the point where Ian needed to head for the other side of Glasgow and I went through the middle I think it was back to level pegging. But I was back in good form and while the feet weren’t comfortable it had reached that stage in the game where nothing really is and it’s just about keeping the discomfort levels to a happy bearable.
I got through the city centre considerably easier than I had expected – I knew I needed to pick my way past some landmarks I would recognise and that I needed to head for the City of Glasgow college which is huge and very white – I’m sure it was more good luck than good judgement though as the GPS on the route finding watch was a waste of time between all of the tall buildings – I was glad I do have enough familiarity with the city centre to avoid the busiest areas. I found the start of the A81 that heads up to Maryhall and onto Loch Lomond.
Ian and Molly were waiting on a carpark by a fire station in Maryhall and I was still in good shape and good spirits here, and while we were checking the tracker Guillaume’s tracker went black and he came up as retired. I was shocked if I’m honest – that left me out in the lead to the tune of 17 miles?? From there I headed over the road to a garage to use the facilities and got a white chocolate magnum, I needed to crack on before my by now fried brain really did turn to mush, I’d done 118 miles but only around 96 as the crow flies, I still had work to do to get to the gold line.
The next 6 miles were a mixed bag, my legs were starting to really feel the pounding from so many road miles and I’d been awake for approaching 32 hours, the brain was beginning to produce hallucinations – ah, yes those penguin bars…. White rocks in someone’s front garden became a penguin in a blue waist coat out of the corner of my eye. Pinecone carvings on someone’s gatepost… Yep – another penguin, a row of little cones across a driveway – a row of marching penguins – you get the picture 😂🤣
So obsessed was I with penguins that I took my first wrong turn of the day and headed for Milngavie instead of Drymen – Google maps swiftly fixed it as I was off the line on my watch and couldn’t face back tracking, but it was a firm reminder to get a grip. Another couple of not great miles saw the next meeting with the crew – 100 as the crow flies done and around 125 on the ground. I was starting to wobble. It’s fair testament to the state of my brain that Ian got me a cup of coffee and a hot steak slice from the garage and I’d eaten half of it before it registered it was actually cheese not steak inside it 😂 I got my feet out of my trainers and had a sit down. At that point I could happily have called it done there, my brain didn’t really want to not win after so long in the lead, and I really really wanted that gold medal, but I also just wanted to go to sleep!!
These are the moments where having the supercrew really pay off – Ian comes up with corny motivational tongue in cheek claptrap and Molly makes me laugh so I can’t stay miserable, and then you just get your sh#t back together and get on with it. We hadn’t all spent the day slowly chugging up Scotland to go home just shy of the gold medal distance!! Molly came out and walked a short spell with me just chattering which kept my brain busy then it was time to crack on again. There wasn’t a lot of running going on (and less and less as the last 10 miles unrolled) but I was getting it done. The first 6 of the last 10 miles weren’t terrible but with only 3 left to go to that gold medal line my brain wasn’t really working and I just wanted to sleep. I told Ian I couldn’t do 3 mile stints without stopping and he then just leapfrogged from parking space to gateway to keep me going.
There were a few wardrobe changes as I was hot then I was cold then I was hot then I was freezing, and with about a mile and a half left to go Molly hopped out and joined me for the last push (this is where I learned about the Cornetto saga). The last mile was a bit of a comedy (with the beauty of hindsite) Ian drove straight past the lane my watch said I needed to go down and Molly and I had a discussion about which route finding method we trust more – the route on my watch or Ian and his notoriously “great” sense of direction – if I was less tired I’d probably have just gone with the watch, but Ian seemed certain of where we were going so Molly and I followed – and I swear we went a mile round to arrive at that gold line that was only 500 yards away following the watch…..
I did get a bit tetchy maybe but I think we all were by that stage, but then to add insult to injury the map of the tracker showed me as being beyond that gold line but the distance was registering as 109.5 miles so I still had to trudge an extra half a mile but then it really did feel good for the tracker to update that last time and to send that text to say I was declaring my distance and bowing out. My legs were done my brain was done and to get much further north I’d have had to commit to about 15 miles of rough terrain with no road access to come get me if it went wrong. I was happy that a sleep wasn’t going to help my legs which would only get stiffer. I knew the second place lady had only covered 2 miles for the last 20 of mine, and while it would have been nice for an outright win I knew there was also a chance I could sit there for hours, have a sleep and waited to see if the guy in second place was getting close to my distance then moved again, but it wouldn’t have felt sporting, I was done, and I wanted a bath.
So that was it my 48 hours was done in 33½ – but I’m happy with the result of second overall (by 5 miles) and first lady. I really enjoyed myself barring the last few miles which were painful and slow. But it’s the teamwork that made that happen – I couldn’t have done it without my supercrew ❤️
MemberJune 2, 2019 at 8:30 pm
That certainly was an adventure wasn’t it. At registration if I had said you’d be 1st to reach the yellow line, not only 1st female but also in the lead you’d of snapped my hand of or said dont be daft. So stats and result wise this was a fantastic achievement and must rank up there as one of your best.
To get those results though you had to put the work in and you certainly did that. Was very worrying leaving you overnight but I knew you were more than capable of getting through the night unscathed.
In good spirits when we saw you early on Saturday and then on each time after it, throughout the day you were plodding on very nicely. It was worrying seeing the foot problem pan out but again you dealt with it superbly. But it was also great sharing the good moments, telling you about the progress, being in the lead, losing it, taking it back etc. It all went very well indeed.
The last 10 miles were obviously far tougher and we both knew without saying anything that once the yellow line was reached it was game over. We obviously saw you much more in these last 10 as my motivational skills were needed more than ever, but they obviously worked of course.
It was a relief to see you cross the yellow, not a relief to tell you that you need 1 more mile. But overall you did a superb job and all the time, ok, most of the time, smiling and happy.
You did incredible and you are incredible, despite the ultra diva moments of, replace the cheese and get me strawberry cornetto. I didn’t mind though, it’s all part of the job.
Huge well done here Mrs S, you were fantastic and Molly and I are super proud of you. XXX
MemberJune 3, 2019 at 5:50 am
Such an impressive adventure and a well-deserved accomplishment, with the silver-lining of first lady!!! Epic effort! Your corporal endurance and your self-discipline are really unbelievable… What can I say, this was an exemplar (perhaps apart from the penguin hallucinations… why wouldn’t the mind go for a bit more colour?… 😉 ) race. A truly legendary run… Huge well done Sharnie! And a high-five to Ian and Molly for being the best support crew ever!
MemberJune 3, 2019 at 12:10 pm
Awesome write up Sharnie #teamspriggs unstopable as ever, a truly team effort and a special mention for Molly who must be the most accomodating teenager EVER 😄😄 Tremendous result Sharnie and it had to be more exciting than running 200miles up and down that tunnel 😆😆
MemberJune 3, 2019 at 12:25 pm
I know this isn’t the first by many of this type of event you’ve completed but every time I read about them I really can’t begin to comprehend what you must go through, being out on the road all that time on your own and the lack of sleep, you must have to be so mentally tough and resilient. Obviously your crew play a big part in keeping you going when things get tough and Ian and Molly deserve a big round of applause. Huge congratulations on the distance and placing though these things don’t just happen, it’s testament to the amount of training you put in which has thoroughly paid off – massive well done Sharnie 🙂
MemberJune 3, 2019 at 4:19 pm
What a write up Sharnie, got to be on of my favourite reads. Well done just doesn’t seem fitting? You mentioned about Guillaume’s being a legend and shocked yet you are a legend yourself 😊Everytime you do these crazy races you always look so happy, always put the efforts of Mr S and Molly as first priority in your achievements, they are your golden support crew and as you say make these events possible. A special team you all make.
Ive heard about these hallucinations, glad yours werent scary ones. You did make me laugh with the penguins lol.. not funny for you though, bless you. Doing a event like this not seeing any other runner to compete or chat with now and then must be odd? especially the distance you covered.
Thats a lot to extremely proud about Sharnie, 2nd overall, 1st lady new PB distance and covering it in the the time you did. Even down to your averg pace you were moving, you did amazingly. The badge you earned on Garmin says it all “INSANITY” LOL… 😂 but all in a good way, total respect to you and one massive congratulations x
Speedy recovery now, hope those feet of yours aren’t too bad? 😊🤝👏🥂
MemberJune 3, 2019 at 6:24 pm
What an amazing write up of an amazing run. You must be very proud. Hope you’ve enjoyed a good sleep and the feet and legs are recovering. Congratulations.
MemberJune 3, 2019 at 7:52 pm
Really excellent and entertaining write up. Massive applause to the crew for getting you through that, as it sounds like over half the battle was mental – but after 30+ hours on your feet, and being without sleep for even longer that’s hardly surprising.
The mental strength to keep going is incredible (either that or one of Ians size 11’s up your backside 😜) and I for one enjoyed watching your progress on the tracker. But it’s all so disconnected on there – we can see how far you’ve got, the fact that you’re nearly 20 miles in the lead. What we can’t see, is what it has taken to get there, and how hard it is to stay there!
Congratulations again, very impressive achievement – totally insane obviously, but impressive none the less. 👏👍😘🍦🐧🐧🥇🥇🥇
MemberJune 4, 2019 at 10:42 am
What an adventure. Great to read your write up and see your photos. Huge congratulations to you and your support team
MemberJune 5, 2019 at 1:47 pm
Wow Sharnie…. that was worth the wait to read it and enjoy at leisure. So well written that I felt I was with you, I could even see the penguins, but even better was the run. Not sure how you do it, but you do, and always so modestly and looking chirpy (though there must be grumpy bits!!)
Well done to the support crew too, Team Spriggs is pretty awesome!
Oddly enough, it makes me want to try something like that, nowhere near as far (I’d be happy with 50) but to test my capabilities with map reading and endurance.
An inspiration Sharnie – hope your legs and feet still love you 🙂 xx
MemberJune 5, 2019 at 6:26 pm
Hats off to you for another epic achievement, quite something to get to the yellow line double figures ahead of the next runner and a real ding done battle with Guillaume until he retired.
Great support as usual from your crew, quite an achievement from them too.
Really fabulous write up too, pesky penguins, but I suppose it could have been worse.
Hope everything settles down again soon, it’s probably better already knowing how resilient you are.
Well done xx
MemberJune 8, 2019 at 7:51 pm
Another great write up on another great event ticked off, there can’t be much left to conquer Sharnie, LOL to the penguins! Sounded tough at times to say the least but as per you got through it, massive congrats again you certainly are an inspiration
AdministratorJuly 8, 2019 at 2:48 pm
WOHOOOOOOOO – (a bit late catching up i know) but YAYAYAYAYAY!!!!
Another stonkingly superb performance Sharnie. How you do it i’ll never know. What a result, but not surprised if im honest, you always put your absolute all into your events, well done you xx
MemberAugust 16, 2019 at 11:05 am
While checking in on Race across Scotland realised I missed this excellent write up while on hols in early June. Reminder of the voluntary physical and mental torture that’s integral part of these massive ultra events!
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