John had one of his most notable performances ever in his first race out of lockdown. Here is his report on the grueling 70 mile Great Glen Ultra

I toed the line on the Caledonian Canal near Corpach/Fort William to race the Great Glen Ultra 72 mile race at 1am on Saturday 3rd July with almost 100 other like minded souls (we all have screws loose it seems). After briefings by the Race Organiser & Medical Supervisor we set off at 01:05 head torches bobbing. Two Lads shot off – “We will not be seeing them again” said someone in the next group of runners. Eight of us were in the group including two young women who would do really well. After 3 miles I found the group slowing and I moved into 3rd clear on my own.

John Duffy on his way to an impressive 2nd place in the 2021 Great Glen Way Ultra

At 10 miles I had caught the leaders at the checkpoint & waterstation. By 12 miles I had overtaken them & moved into the unknown feeling good, the miles passed easily as did the 2nd checkpoint & by 31 miles at 3rd checkpoint I was 6 min clear. However the steep climbs above the morning mist over Loch Ness were just about to start. At 35 miles Matt Bird came passed me at the top of the hill, we exchanged pleasantries & he pushed on, I girded my loins & tried to see how far I could get before the next youngster overtook me.

The views were spectacular looking down on the cotton wool mist covering Loch Ness – some great pics on the FB page “Great Glen Ultra – Race chat” check points 4 – Invermoriston (40 miles) where we had stayed in self catering to run parts of the route & checkpoint 5 – Drumnadrochit (55 miles) came & went with no sign of anyone coming into the checkpoints as I left – just one more brutal climb to go I counselled myself & tried not to get carried away. Unfortunately prior to checkpoint 6 the final one, I stumbled & fell grazing my knee which bled profusely attracting flies & midges alike – a 10 min stop to smother it in sudo-creme from my mini medical kit helped & I still remained in 2nd place, patched up I reached the final checkpoint at 62 miles.

Loch Ness is somewhere down there

I was put in the Princess chair & had a tiara placed on my head cause I was moaning & feeling sorry for myself, then with a terse “right get going we need to disinfect the tiara & seat for the next precious runner” I was off shuffling as fast as I could knowing I had a tar road then beautiful Caledonian Pine woods to go through before a 2 mile plummet to the finish at Inverness Sports Centre & a lap of the running track. I daren’t look back as I was beginning to dream of an “auld yin” getting on the podium & worried that two people would be pushing each other to snatch the dream away as they overtook me in sight of the finish. Gritting my teeth I kept going and lapped the track on my own to secure 2nd in 11 hours 55 mins. I still had a few minutes over 3rd place & then a big gap to 4th that was the 1st Lady. The images of me finishing show a very tired guy. So much so I couldn’t face a beer with dinner just Fanta & Prosecco with my wife. But I did manage a few beers around 18:00. That Prosecco does wonders.

John J Duffy Auld Git, Runner & Tent guy that just keeps going on & on & on…


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