Even though the week in the lead up to the Clyde Stride Ultra had been searingly hot, the forecast for Saturday morning was for cooler conditions throughout the day. Not long after departing the underpass near Partick train station, however, it was clear that there would be little let up to the mini heat-wave engulfing the country.
The route from the start to check-point 1 follows the official path to Cambuslang and clocked in at slightly under 10 miles. This part of the course is seriously flat, allowing runners to get a feel for the day and settle any pre-race nerves. Arrivng at CP1, the marshals were quick to hand with drop-bags, while relay runners were eagerly anticipating the passing of (the proverbial) baton to embark on their leg.
After leaving Cambuslang Bridge, the terrain changes markedly, moving from road to trail running and through country paths (and some overgrown vegetation) before CP2 at Strathclyde Park. While the park was a great point to pick up some pace across the flat, it seemed to be the hottest point of the day - around 12:30pm - with very little breeze.
Coming out of Mauldslie Bridge, my running buddy and I took a slight detour, missing the turn-off immediately after at CP3. Realising our error-and with the assistance of a helpful relay runner who informed us that others had made the same mistake-we made the disheartening move of retracing our steps for the correct, if slightly longer than expected, path to New Lanark.
From Clydeholm bridge the course loops around the village, culminating in a gradual descent down to river level at the visitor centre where a lively crowd of spectators cheered runners home. As a nice touch, race organiser Lee MacLean stood on the finish line to give each runner a congratulatory hug (even the sweaty ones).
For this runner, the Clyde Stride was my introduction to the ultra world, and even though we had to seriously scale back our estimated finishing time due to the heat and extra miles, we were just delighted to arrive at New Lanark in one piece.
Perhaps because of the size of the field - just over 100 started - there's certainly a distinctive, community-led feel to the scene; vets were keen to give advice in the lead-up through Facebook posts, and there were many encouraging words shared on route. With three checkpoints along the way, a sweeper covering the course, and a committed organiser, the Clyde Stride Ultra is a fantastic introduction to the path beyond 26.2 miles.
Both images were kindly supplied by Graeme Hewitson - www.monumentweddings.co.uk