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Toe socks for the win! Saturday's ultramarathon round up...

On Saturday, I faced my first (!) ultramarathon. The Laich o Moray 50, which is a 52 mile hike over almost every terrain you can imagine, doing a big loop of Moray, taking in the finest in forest and beach you'll find anywhere.
I woke at 5am to an amber weather warning and torrential rain.
Here's a run down of how it went...
For anyone not from this area, we had amber weather warnings for the torrential rain. The drive to Forres was interesting, and folk coming from the other direction reported a car on its roof. The kind of day you cancel most plans, and certainly cancel any outdoor pursuits 🙈
But I’ve had this on my horizon for months. I signed up for this early in the year, as I knew I’d have reached my target weight, and am aiming to always have some kind of physical/fitness challenge coming up, so I still have a target to work towards.
The walk kicked off at 8am. From 72 registered, 10 sensible souls decided not to start, and 62 of us set off in terrible conditions and a hopeful forecast that it might (!) dry up for a few hours, much later in the day. Before we were out of the park, I’d fallen in with a couple of folk I’ve walked with before, and their pal. We stayed together as we looped round Forres and headed for Findhorn. I nipped in to the garage at Kinloss, thinking Shelagh, Lisa and Mary would crack on, but to my amazement they waited for me. So that was set, we were in this together 💪
The road to Findhorn was punctuated with cars speeding through puddles, soaking us and other walkers. I thought one car had pulled out to avoid soaking and waved thanks. Turned out he was overtaking so I revoked my wave hahaha
We got to Findhorn wetter than wet, but feeling grand, and looking forward to a straightforward beach hike to the Broch. Ha. No. Those miles were the most miserable I’ve ever encountered. No point me trying to convey the conditions, you really would have had to endure them to fully appreciate how gruesome it was.
No idea why this doesn't look like the typhoon it was!
Finally reached the Burghead checkpoint with no feeling in my face or fingers and the only dry part of me was my hair. Which is still confusing me, as I didn’t even know that my hat was waterproof! Despite being head to toe in decent quality waterproofs, I couldn’t have been more wet if I’d jumped in the sea. Even everything inside my rucksack looked like it'd been through the washing machine. And we were only about 15 miles in - that's a normal kinda length of dog walk for me! Hands were purple and white and I had to get a marshal to light a fag for me as I couldn’t even feel the lighter in my hand! Yes, I realise the irony of an ultramarathoner having a smoke at each checkpoint!  By a stroke of luck, Stewart, Mr No Books, was doing teas and coffees there, so I went to the car and grabbed my very definitely not waterproof jumper and jacket. I'd chucked them in the car, to put on for warmth at the end (!) of the challenge. Without that change of top half, I’d have been out at that point. Another walker I’ve met before came in just after us, and her and her pal pulled out there. She’s since messaged me to say she thinks she had early stage hypothermia, was throwing up and speaking gibberish. Before we set off again, the other lady who pulled out VERY kindly gave me her gloves (mine were too wet to risk putting back on, but my hands were in pain).
Off we set to Lossie. Such a beautiful section. Lots of photo ops, nice trail to follow. I’m not totally convinced the rain stopped, but it very much lightened up for a while. The body thawed and we all managed to enjoy the high of doing what we were doing. Got to Lossie, where a hot meal of steaming stodge greeted us! This was almost the halfway point. We assessed how we were feeling. Lisa had a cracking blister, Mary decided Elgin was her stop, we all supported each other and enjoyed food and hot drinks, feeling refreshed and definitely fit for the next checkpoint, in Elgin, with the next one after that feeling like it may be the pull out mark for 2/3 of us. Personally, my body was doing just fine. I mean, a wee bit stiff, a wee bit cold, very wet, but nothing extreme. I felt the weather would make my decision. Forecast at that point was showing things drying up in the next hour or so, and I felt if the rain kept off, I had a good chance of making Miltonduff, and if I made it there, I’d surely force myself to finish.
Still smiling at the 26ish mile point!
Well the rain hadn’t seen that forecast, and came in heavy again as we left Lossie and began our walk in to the pitch darkness of the October night. We all went back and forth on who was continuing and who was pulling out. I think we all switched our decision about twenty times each in those miles. As we reached Lesmurdie, my switch flicked, and I’m like, nah, I’m out. Not cos I couldn’t go on, but because the rest of the walk was on forestry track and farmland, a couple of steep uphills - fine in daylight, but I was picturing the torrents of mud it would be in by then. And I realised I would rather finish at 32 miles, and look back on day fondly, than push on to truly miserable terrain, and finish or not finish in physical and mental distress.
So we all walked in to Bishopmill Hall, strangely comfortable with our individual declarations of “I’m out”. We all had different reasons, and all of them were the right call!
I would love to attempt the same challenge again, but wouldn’t bother setting off if the rain was like that. And to my walking amigos, I can’t thank them enough! I hadn’t intended walking with anyone (although was hoping to fall in with someone for the night sections), but I can’t imagine having done it without that camaraderie!
What a day. What a wet, wild and memorable day!
Calves have felt like they’re going to cramp since I stopped walking, and glutes and hips are a touch stiff, but other than that, the body isn’t complaining. Toe socks for the win! Feet don’t even know they’ve done anything!! Not bad, for 32 miles of walking in the wet, including through a couple of burns haha - and that's not blood or a blister, that's a painted toenail poking out of a hole that wasn't there when I put them on :P
I don't care how stupid these look anymore, they are AMAZING
72 registered
10 DNS
13 DNF
49 absolute hard asses finished, taking up to almost 22 hours to complete. 
Amazing to be part of such an experience. I look forward to taking on another 50 soon, and am now confident I can do one - but not in that weather, thank you very much haha I'm not even a fair weather walker, I quite like the rain, when you know you'll be home and dry in a couple of hours haha Saturday was extreme. And unfortunate. 
Next challenge?  Who knows!  But I'm itching to get something in the diary ♥
74500 steps in a day?  Can't see me topping that...until next time ;)


  • Thank you Merren! I’d have liked to do a pretty blog, with lots of photos – but I didn’t dare touch my phone, in that rain!

    Jo from
  • Thanks Kirsty! Was a great day, in a slightly masochistic way haha I was hoping for 100,000+ steps, but 74,500 is still pretty impressive hahaha

    Jo from
  • What an absolute warrior even attempting it yesterday. Well done you and I bet the steps were still insane. Xx

  • Well done! What an achievement! Thank you for blogging about it and I’m glad that you are safe.

    Merren Simpson

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