August 20, 2023

Craig Allen – Race Across Scotland

Craig Allen reports:

Photos courtesy of GB Ultras

The 215-mile Race Across Scotland is by far the biggest challenge I have ever attempted. Training had gone pretty well – I hadn’t got injured, I’d logged some decent training volume, I’d faffed around with my kit – I was as ready as could be.

I would be undertaking this adventure to raise funds for Dementia UK.

 photo courtesy of RPI Scotland

The weather gods weren’t on our side, however, and the forecast was pretty miserable as we started the race at Portpatrick at 6:00am on 12 August. The excitement was palpable off the start-line and the pace fast. In hindsight it was probably too quick, but never having run 215 miles before I didn’t know what the correct speed was, plus I wanted to stay warm. I felt good and the first 20 miles flew by.

photo courtesy of RPI Scotland

I met Pete (Wilmot) in his camper-van at the first checkpoint, grabbed a quick snack, changed bottles and was back on the Southern Upland Way. The rain continued to fall and the ground conditions deteriorated as we headed onto the first proper moorland sections of the course.

photo courtesy of RPI Scotland

My mum and stepdad met me in-between checkpoints at access points in their car to help me top up on hydration and fuelling, since some of the first few official race checkpoints are inaccessible to crew vehicles.

Checkpoint 3 at Glentrool at 45 miles, I reached my friend, Steve, in a hire van. Dry clothes on, fed and watered, he sent me on my way towards Pete at St Johns Town of Dalry at 67 miles. There’s quite a lot of road on this section and I was running all I could. Reaching Pete, I managed to grab a quick nap in the camper van, ate and drank, and headed back out into what was now darkness.

 photo courtesy of the support crew

The rain came down more heavily bringing the clag with it, which made navigation even more challenging. It was virtually impossible to see anything and in the fog. I managed to put my right foot into a hole and nag some tendons. It all felt manageable and I was making steady headway, despite a couple more tumbles in the wet heather.

The miles across the moor from an emergency race shelter at a bothy at 85 miles felt like they took forever. Progress was very slow to meet Steve at Checkpoint 5 at Sanquhar. I was starting to get a couple of blisters and Steve bathed my feet, while I ate and drank. I took a 40-minute nap, before heading back onto the course.

 photo courtesy of the support crew

By 102 miles, Wanlockhead, and meeting Pete again, I was starting to feel very stiff in my right hip. I think the abnormal gait from the pain in my foot was triggering a flare-up of an old hip injury. I was still moving forwards, but getting much slower. It was hard to drag myself out of the camper van and get going as I knew the second night was imminent but I wanted to get well into the 20 miles between Checkpoint 6 and 7 before darkness caught me.

As the second night approached, the weather worsened again. I reached Steve at 12:30am at Beattock and was able to get a couple of hours sleep in the back of the van. He tended my blisters, and despite the increasing pain in my hip I headed back out.

 photo courtesy of the support crew

My pace was slowing but I was still moving (just), over some of the most exposed moorland of the route. The event safety teams were checking in on us regularly since the race trackers don’t work effectively in this section of the course.

 photo courtesy of the support crew

Sadly, it got the stage where I could barely move due to my hip and foot. Steve picked me up at the next access point. My race was over! Handing my tracker over to the race team at the Boston Memorial Hall, Ettrick, at 139 miles was emotional.

Of the 121 starters only 40% completed the race. I’m yet to completely decide if my adventure with the Race Across Scotland is over, but I am eternally grateful for all the support I have received –  from my family, friends, crew and from all the people who have sponsored me.

My JustGiving link remains active, so if you’d like to help support the great work of Dementia UK, please sponsor me at