Watt’s ul­tra test

Strathearn Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Matthew Gal­lagher

Lang Toon run­ner’s Glen­more 24- hour race vic­tory

Steven Watt pushes away from the start line and re­alises that a range of dif­fer­ing emo­tions will be felt in the hours to come.

Feel­ings of adu­la­tion can soon be re­placed by mo­ments of suf­fer­ing as the legs — and of­ten the mind — be­gin to throw up ques­tions.

But that fails to thwart this de­ter­mined ul­tra-marathon run­ner from hang­ing up the trainers and call­ing it a day. It in­spires him to come back for more.

Steven (42), from Auchter­ader, is re­flect­ing on a spe­cial week­end where he clocked up 81-miles at the Glen­more 24-hour Trail Race.

As the name sug­gests, com­peti­tors are pro­vided with a day to cover as much dis­tance as pos­si­ble in the shadow of the Cairn­gorms.

The chal­lenge of an ul­tra­ma­rathon, which con­sists of any race longer than the clas­sic marathon dis­tance of 26.2 miles, is grip­ping for Watt.

He said: “The en­joy­ment is ret­ro­spec­tive. At the time you are think­ing: ‘What the hell am I do­ing here?’

“You do get mo­ments of en­light­en­ment along the way and feel this is re­ward for all the train­ing and early morn­ing starts.

“But a lot of the en­joy­ment comes af­ter in terms of the sense of achieve­ment.

“The run the other week­end was my long­est run to date in terms of dis­tance. I got to 60 miles at around 1am on Sun­day morn­ing.

“At that point, there was a feel­ing that I could stop be­cause it was my long­est dis­tance cov­ered ever.

“I went for a lie down to try and shut my eyes but it wasn’t hap­pen­ing. I got up and man­aged to get to 81 miles.

“It’s strange be­cause im­me­di­ately af­ter a race you think about never do­ing it again. It can takes hours or even days to think how much en­joy­ment there was.

“You be­come ad­dicted to the suf­fer­ing in a way. Prior to start­ing the run, you need to ac­cept that you are go­ing to suf­fer.”

The week­end achieve­ment was run over a four-mile cir­cuit, with Watt con­tin­u­ously loop­ing past base camp where friend John Cas­sidy was on hand to pro­vide sup­port.

That feel­ing of ca­ma­raderie, not solely from the side­lines but also from fel­low race com­peti­tors, is en­light­en­ing.

“What they say about ul­tra­ma­rathons is that it’s not about min­utes per mile,” Watt said. “It’s about get­ting from A to B or just fin­ish­ing. There is a per­sonal chal­lenge.

“And I think be­cause of that the com­mu­nity is very friendly. It’s not a com­pe­ti­tion — peo­ple run­ning

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