Supporting on the Perth 24hr race

This was a very difference experience for me!

When Ian mentioned he was thinking of doing the 24hr race at Perth I immediately offered to support him if he needed help. The race started at 10am on Saturday 13 September and finished 24hrs later at 10am Sunday 14 September. The route is a 2.38km circuit on a tarmac path.

Initially I was going to help with the day shift but in the end was asked to help with the night shift. During the day Allybea and George looked after Ian. During the day Allybea sent regular texts with Ian’s progress and so by the time Katrina and I set off from Paisley at 6.30pm we knew he was going well and on his target of 7 laps per 2hrs.

We arrived just after 8pm and wandered over to meet up with Allybea and George. Neal and Caroline were also there watching the event. Caroline’s family have a house in Perth and so were staying there overnight. They offered Katrina a bed for the night which was enthusiastically accepted! There was no choice between trying to catch a few hours sleep on the car or a tent!

Phil Tipping was also there and it was good to catch up. I was pleased to see that Phil has entered the whw race 09 and said to him I was surprised to see his name on the list. He reply was that he was surprised to see it too! I know Phil has a really good time to come in the race and I hope it’s next year.

My first impression of the race was that it was very noisy! With music blaring away and a guy on the tannoy letting people know what is going on it was very different to the peace of running the whw.

There were three separate races going on as we arrived. The 24hr race with 22 runners, the 100k race which started at 12noon (not sure how many runners) and a club relay with 3 teams of 6 runners which went from 8pm to 8am. The leaders of the 100k runners had finished but there were still a number still going including Mike Thomson. So there were runners going past at various paces depending on which race they were running! You could easily spot the relay runners!

Ian was at the check point as we arrived and he was looking good and happy with his pace and how he was feeling. Once he set off Allybea showed us where everything was and handed over the baton. George was also staying for the night and seemed top have everything under control. Stan was also coming at 10pm for the night.

Neal and Caroline went off to find something to eat. Katrina and walked around the course facing the runners as they came round. It was fairly flat but there were a few inclines up and own. The thing that struck me was that it was on tarmac the whole way. I assumed it would be on a trail and softer ground but no it was tarmac all the way and I wondered how the runners would find that on their feet. I would find out later!

Neal and Caroline returned and then after watching a couple more laps Katrina left with them at 11.30pm to find her warm bed for the night.

I wasn’t sure who I would find 14hrs of support at one point. Would it get really boring or monotonous? Maybe because I’m a runner and enjoy the whole sense but I can honestly say the time just flew by and I really enjoyed it. Ian was running really well through the night. He was doing each lap between 19-21mins and was really focused. We settled into a pattern of waiting for him at the control tent, walk with him for 400yards or so, make sure he had what he wanted and sent him off for another lap.

Every 3-4 laps he would stop for a slightly longer time and try and eat a bit more. Most of the time he would keep it down but not always!

I also really enjoyed following the progress of all the other runners.

Dario Melarangi….

Dario was doing the race, supported by Mark Hamilton. I must admit they provided a lot of entertainment. Dario had started off wearing trail shoes and by midnight his feet were in a bad state. Watching Mark sort out his blisters with great glee as Dario winced in pain was worth a night without sleep alone!! Dario showed great courage in keeping going though at times his pace was down to 50mins for a lap. Dario finished strong and it was great to see him running well near the end.

William Sichel …

I have been in touch with William Sichel for the past 8 months or so via email and our blogs so it was great to meet him. He was having a tough race. He was going really well until about 11hrs but then was struggling to keep his fluids down and went through a really tough patch. I was really impressed with the way he kept going, grinding it out and finishing strong.

Rosie Bell …

I know Rosie from the whw race. In fact in the 06 race Rosie went past me with less than a mile to go but I’ve never spoken to her. So I took time to walk alongside Rosie at some point and introduce myself. Rosie was going really well and well up in the field. She was finding the hard surface really tough but kept going right to the end completed over 106 miles. A great performance.

Pauline Walker & Fiona Rennie …

Pauline and Fiona are twins and have run many whw races between them. I’ve not spoken to them and they probably didn’t know who I was encouraging them each time they came round but I enjoyed it! Pauline won the women’s race in a new Scottish record. I think she ran almost 130miles. The thing that impressed me about Pauline was her pace. Right through the night she kept the same steady pace and I reckon you could set your watch against her coming past. Her support provided some fun as well as she had a motivational ‘shout’ each time Pauline came through. Fiona also had a great run finishing 3rd women 9 laps behind her sister.

Bill Watson …

Bill was running the race without support but his tent with gear was next to us so we adopted him! Bill had a great race finishing 3rd man. He was relentless in his pace and commitment. He was working on running 12 laps with minimum stops and then having a 5min break when he took off is shoes and socks, put lots of talc on, ate some food and then was off again. It was good to have a quick chat and encourage him on his run. Another great performance. Bill would like to do the whw race but has not managed to get his entry in on time. I know he would do really well.
Other runners …
Lynne Kuz finished 2nd women and has run the whw race. I gather Lynne had a great start but by the time I saw her she was struggling and had to work hard through the night but credit to her she kept it going and finished well.

Alan Douglas is another whw runner. I’ve not met Alan but was really impressed with his final few hours. I’m not sure what he did or ate but with 4 hrs or so to go Alan seemed to be really struggling and near the end of his tether but then seemingly from nowhere set off and ran so strong. I would love to see his splits over the last couple of hours and I reckon he covered the most laps (maybe except the winner Stephen) over that time. A truly inspiring finish.

Stephen Mason was the winner completing just over 100 laps. So he covered over 238km – almost 150 miles. He was very impressive and was running right to the end. Congratulations on a great run.

Aileen Scott was also running. I saw her once when we first arrived but she must have dropped out and I never saw her.

Mike Thomson and Gail Murdock ran the 100k and it was good to chat to them about how it went.

All the runners had their own personal battles and I loved encouraging them all.

Obviously we were spending most of our time with Ian and making sure he had all he needed. It was good to have three of us as we could take a break and still have 2 on duty. I got to about 4am and was starting to flag so went to the car and got an hours sleep. George managed a while in the tent at one point and Stand retreated to his car later as well. Meanwhile Ian just kept going!

Ian was very focused on reaching 100miles which was 67 and a bit laps. This was his goal and motivation. As it got closer I was a bit concerned that he didn’t really have a goal after that. Ian reached the milestone just before 22hrs. By then his feet were in a bad way and he was doing well to keep going. The last 2hrs were spent mostly walking and trying to get as far as he could.

As the 24hrs came to an end each runner had someone with them with a small white flag to mark the exact point where they finished. George, Allybea and myself recorded the moment. As soon as Ian had finished he was really struggling and finding it hard to walk. It is as if the body says that’s it – you’ve finished – I’ve nothing left!

I walked slowly with Ian back to the start then to the sports centre where I helped get his shoes and socks off. That must be a sign of friendship! I took this picture of his feet. Oh they look sore!


So well done to all the runners and especially Ian and Dario!

There are some great pictures of the race at roadpics.com

I am working on my video diary of the race and will post asap.

I spent a fair bit of time wondering whether I would like to do this event? Neal commented that when he watched me run the whw 07 race he just knew he wanted to do it and has! But when he arrived for this event he didn’t feel the same way! I know what he meant.

I fully understand why people do these races and I would love the challenge. I don’t think the laps would bother me. I could get into that but the thing that puts me off is the tarmac. It is so unforgiving and is so hard on the feet. Most of the runners I spoke to said that was the hardest thing. So unless I could find a 24hr race on softer ground I will stick to off road ultras.

Finally news on my foot. I was on my feet right through the night and day and it was sore by the end. This morning though it is feeling a lot easier and the pain is less so I’m hoping to try and get out for a run by the end of the week. Until them I’ll keep on the bike!

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3 Responses to Supporting on the Perth 24hr race

  1. Brian Mc says:

    Great blog post – very enjoyable. I’ve been away at a conference for work and appear to have missed out on lots! A foot injury, the perth ultra fest …! Hope your foot is much better. The picture wasn’t very pretty! 🙂

  2. Great report! How’s the foot?

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