Red Rose Road Runners

Searching for Nessie – Paula Plowman

Searching for Nessie – Paula Plowman

Sorry to all those who’ve heard this before.
Well what a year, ups and downs a plenty,
Having done two marathons already, Manchester in 4.02.56 and Edinburgh in 4.00.54(oh soooo close), I wasn’t doing another one this year. Ann O’Donoghue says “ let’s do Loch Ness”, “errrr no” says me, “go on I want to do a marathon in Scotland”.Errrr no, no more marathons this year” . All I seem to have done is spend the year training for marathons.
“Hotels are booked”
“What?????? Looks like we’re doing another marathon”

So off we go again more long runs. The training however didn’t go to plan, I was always finding it hard work, but with plenty of support and company during training from Lee Burton, Martin Foley, hubby John, Ann & Ben Donoghue, the marathon was fast approaching. I already knew this wasn’t going to be a quick marathon, it is not flat in the Scottish Highlands and I wasn’t going to push myself.
Then some bad news, my Dad who’d been ill for some time with Parkinsons, took a turn for the worse, this meant a lot of trips to Birkenhead, to help Mum as much as possible and just be there with the family. Marathon training had to take a back seat. Dad passed away 4 weeks before Loch Ness. This was a very emotional time, but I decided to run this marathon in my Dads memory.


The local hospice had supported Mum during the last few weeks of Dads life, so we decided to raise some money for this charity, they sent me a vest, which Kate & Andy Clipston very kindly printed for me. This made me want to carry on and run this marathon.
It would be Lees first marathon, so I said I would run with him, looking for a sub 4.30, I thought this would be doable.
It was long trip up to Inverness on the Saturday, to collect our numbers and have a look around the expo. Then back to the hotel in Drumnadrochit to check in and see where the bus would pick us up in the morning, As this is a point to point marathon, we would be taken to the start by buses.


The day had arrived, after an early breakfast we made the short walk to the pick up point, boarded a double decker bus to be driven to the start at Fort Augustus. The scenery was stunning, the weather was perfect, a little bit breezy, but the good news is that wind was behind us.

We were deposited in the middle of nowhere along with 2500 other runners, with not enough porta loos, a lot of people were visiting the surrounding trees and bushes, but there was tea and coffee available.

It was a bit chilly, but the sky was blue and the sun was warming us up nicely. Then amongst all the people I spotted a friend, David who is Scottish and was running his first marathon. With bagpipes playing we were off, with a long decent and beautiful scenery, Lee, martin and I ran along together the idea being that we would help Lee pace his first marathon, things didn’t go to plan and I never really got into a rythm. There was some slopes, it was by no means all downhill, with views overlooking the Loch to keep us distracted, we managed to stay together untill about 12-13 miles, keeping a decent pace averaging around 10 min mile , on track . Martin was struggling, so he had dropped back, then shortly after I realised this was going to be far harder than I had anticipated and told Lee to keep going, so there it was my job as pacer was finished (I graduated from the Ian Wharton school of pacing).

The second half was about getting to the finish, and checking out that Loch for Nessie, lots of waves crashing on the shore thanks to the wind but no Nessie. The crowds cheering were very sparse, so it was really uplifting to hear music at one point then into view came a house with a few people sat out on chairs supporting the runners. The support bikes which were travelling up and down the road also played music. Then around 18 miles a long slope, now walking more than running, it was an opportunity to chat to a few people a lot running for various charities.

The finish was getting closer, I managed to pick up the pace a little and run the last 3-4 miles. Around 25 miles you can hear the noise from the finish across the River Ness, this last mile seems to last forever, crossing the bridge and turning for home the wind was really strong and it started to rain. With the finish line in sight I became quite emotional, the reality that I’d actually made it after the last few difficult weeks. Now very tearful I picked up my medal, t-shirt and goody bag. The first person I saw was friend David, I had to apologise for the blubbering mess I was.

Lee had a great run coming in 4hrs 26, me in 4hrs 48, then Ann, Ben and John in 5hrs 32.
Klara Burton and Tracey Westwood had a great run in the 10k also, well done ladies.


We had a great weekend up in Scotland, would recommend this marathon, beauitiful scenery and very friendly people.
My just giving page is still open if anybody would like to make a donation to the hospice , big thank you to all who have already donated.

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