At the end of May, Southern news and sports reporter Kenny Paterson took up the challenge of the Borders’ first Ultra Marathon – a total of 38 miles around the region’s countryside, starting off in Jedburgh as part of the town’s running festival.
In his first monthly blog before the October run, Kenny discusses his training so far and what lies ahead
PACE, style and endurance – all aspects I admired from Andres Iniesta as I watched Spain dismantle Italy in Sunday’s Euro 2012 final while sat on my dad’s sofa.
At least I showed perfect balance in my Sunday night outing – I held a bottle of beer in one hand and an award-winning Kilmarnock pie in the other.
Six weeks into my training regime I have hit my first stumbling block. A niggling knee injury, suffered last Friday, means I have decided to sit out a couple of days from the running.
Amazingly, I have missed my thrice-weekly runs – adding up to around 30 miles per week – something I could never have envisaged when I used to drag myself to the gym to plod along on a treadmill for 20 minutes before boredom set in.
It was an email in April from fellow journalist and ultra runner David Knox which invited me to take part in the ultimate physical and mental test. While I initially scoffed at the idea, while also scoffing a pie, David used his powers of persuasion with the reassuring line: “Aye, you’ll be fine”.
David told me that while the race is to be completed within 10 hours, you have time to walk up steep hills and take plenty of food and liquids along the way to make the 38-mile task a bit more bearable.
Training has been made up of one long run of around 15 miles every Friday, coupled with two or three shorter bursts on other days of the week.
We started off with a 10-mile trek around the Eildons in the searing heat of May (I don’t expect any reader to remember such weather).
But conditions for the following two long runs could not have been more different.
Rain, rain and a bit of wind accompanied us around Lindean, Sunderland Hall, Yair and up the Three Brethern, while the next week saw us take in the Selkirk Common Riding route just hours after one of the town’s wettest ever rideouts.
A masochist who enjoys sitting alongside a starving tiger that has been poked with a stick while listening to Jedward on repeat would have even baulked at the idea of trying either. But then I have already discovered that ultra runners are seriously tough specimens.
Our latest jaunt, however, restored my belief in David’s “You’ll enjoy it” statement as we ventured past Bowhill and into the Yarrow Valley. It is easy to forget the beautiful surroundings we have in the Borders, and it is worth taking an hour sometime to walk (no need to run) through our countryside to see it close hand.
For me, hopefully, I am back in my running shoes this weekend – I might just need a Spanish siesta first.
For further information on the Borders Three Peaks Ultra, visit www.jedburghhalfmarathon.org.uk