Tiree 35 mile ultramarathon

On the 1st of September 3 members of Dalbeattie running club set off on a journey that would hopefully see us all completing our first ultramarathon. Myself, Chris Close and Pauline Boardman were off to Tiree, accompanied by my husband Mark who would be support crew and official photographer.

Andrea Whelan
Andrea Whelan

We arrived on Tiree on Friday 2nd September, exhausted after our travels (4hr drive, slept overnight in car then an early morning, 4hr ferry crossing). The rest of Friday and Saturday were spent exploring this beautiful island.

Sunday morning saw us all up early, excited, nervous and eagerly anticipating the day ahead of us. Hoping we hadn’t bitten off more than we could chew, and just aiming to reach the finish line, whether it be running, walking or crawling.

The start, it has to be said, must be the most beautiful start line ever, On a gorgeous white sandy beach, around 250 of us were gathered awaiting starters orders. And before we knew it we were off, running along the beach, tough going right at the start of the run. Looking out to sea tho, there were around 8 seals all popping their heads out of the water, watching us. Where else would you get that kind of spectator? We covered a mix of sand, road, grass, gates, styles, pebble beaches and ‘The wall’ during the first 8 miles to the first checkpoint. Fields with cows and sheep, grazing away with the occasional lift of the head, to watch all the human nutters running past them dodging the cow pats along the way. Checkpoint 1 saw mark with the camera, and a table full of drinks, flapjack, oranges, sweeties and crisps, all very welcome treats for us all. Onwards now towards the halfway point, running along more gorgeous beaches, tho sapping the energy out of my old legs, and then inland a bit on trails and moorland to reach the half way point and our goody bags awaiting us. A few boiled potatoes and some Coke, along with a change of socks and shoes and I was off again. Boy was it hard to get going again!!!
The miles between checkpoints 2 and 3 were hard, covering a lot of moorland, extremely remote but beautiful, up to your ankles in boggy marshes (why did I put dry socks on????). More beautiful beaches and chatter with fellow runners and lots of wee stops along the way to take photos. Yay……. The harbour was in sight and I could see mark in the distance, snapping away!!!! Checkpoint 3…… Coke, melon, oranges, fudge, tablet and so much more on offer. Did I really want to finish this race or just stay here and EAT???

Okay, it’s only another 9 miles to go, I can do this. Every style and cattle grid was like a major hurdle by this point as it breaks your stride and your rhythm and it’s so hard to get going each time. Soon tho, Gott bay was in sight, the second last beach, and boy what a beach!!!! Around 2.5 miles long and absolutely stunning, it made all the aches and pains seem less real. Once off the beach it was another few miles of sheep trail, heather and mud. In the distance I could see the final beach at Hynish bay and knew the finish was just after that. The end was near, and I passed 11 other runners over the last 2.5 miles, revitalised by the sight of AnTalla in the distance.

Up the wee hill off the beach and a run of about 300 yards and I was crossing the finish line.
I still can’t believe that I completed it, as did my fellow DRC friends, Chris and Pauline.
So proud to be a DRC member.

Andrea Whelan