Report by: Fiona Tweedie
Race Date: 11 November, 2023
The John Muir Nocturnal Ultra is a 6-hour event on a 5.3km lap from 4pm-10pm in East Lothian. This was the first run since 2019 and now in a new location.
This was a fun end-of-season event on a farm just south of North Berwick in East Lothian. I’d taken part in the 2018 event at Foxlake at Dunbar and wasn’t attempting the Wooler Trail marathon which was just the week before this, so it sounded good.
Starting at 4pm meant that we got the first lap in before it goes too dark – a chance to see where the REALLY shoe-grabbing-muddy puddles were – and an idea of where the hills would come. By lap 2 they’d switched on lots of fairy lights around the place – some around trees to create colourful groves, some as safety lights on bridges over small streams, and a few floodlit trees too. There was also a music truck blasting out party favourites.
The lap started in the farm (muddy but not deep mud, but with extra annoyed cows sound effects) then along a farm track – bit muddy but flat, nice and straight, to first marshal and a right turn onto the John Muir Way and a trailier section. Down over a stream, then the first of the steep hills. On through the woods before another turn then a fab rhododendron grove with lots more fairy lights. It was pitch dark even on lap 1. Emerging from there we found a lovely nice brain-easing straight bit of tarmac which was even slightly downhill! Wee hill up at the end then through past a big estate house and down a trail path to beside the lake – undulating path to other end of lake and fairy lights on another bridge before following the other bank back. This was the really muddy path which had knee-twisting potential as well as being foot-soaking, but finished with meeting the music truck, then a wee bit along and up a REALLY steep hill back to the start. You could start another lap if you did so before the 6 hour mark.
It being pitch dark for hours, I’d decided to pimp my ultra vest with some fairy lights – one nice set of white lights with battery pack suitable for outdoor use – so quite tasteful really. I wound them on carefully to make sure I could still open the pockets etc, then stuffed the rest down the laced bit at the back. I was surprised to find that I was the only person who had done that, but it was worth it for all the encouragement I got as folk went past me. A number of folk said it really made their night, and knew they were getting round OK when they saw me. That’s why my photo does look a bit like a Christmas tree.
I’d hoped to get to marathon distance (8 laps) but it wasn’t going to happen. Happy with what I did – it had been a manic week, and it’s nice to have a wee break before winter training.
Male Winner: (13 laps in 5:46) Robert Turner (Musselburgh & District AC)
Female Winner: (12 laps 6:05:44 and second overall) Sarah Eydmann (no club)
Striders result: 101st Fiona Tweedie: 7 laps (37.1 km), 6:15:44
118 solo runners completed at least one lap.