Metro Aberdeen athlete Kyle Greig plans to focus on shorter races in 2020 by concentrating on the marathon and 100K.
That’s not a misprint. The experienced north-east distance runner has recent experience of an event which makes those distances appear little more challenging than a short jog in the park.
Greig, a Great Britain trail running international, took part in the 171K Ultra Trail Mont Blanc race which started and finished in Chamonix.
It’s one of Europe’s most arduous mega mountain runs featuring a staggering 10,000m of ascent and descent as the route winds its way on a cross-border course through the French, Italian and Swiss Alps.
Greig was delighted to complete the race but it left him with little desire for more of the same.
It took him slightly over 30 hours and he finished 116th from a field of 2,500 starters, 900 of whom failed to complete the course. Spain’s Pau Capell won in 20hr 19min 07secs.
Greig said: “It was an incredible experience. The atmosphere was amazing with kids coming out during the night to watch, ringing cowbells and supporting the runners as we passed through different villages.
“It started at 6pm from Chamonix. I thought I’d see one sunset but I ended up seeing two. It was so tough. There are hardly any flat parts on the whole route. It’s all up and down. I got to about 90K and my legs were wrecked because of the downhills.
“Initially I had a grand delusion of finishing in the top 20. I think the highest position I got into was 40th and with 20K to go I was 60th but by that stage there was nothing in the tank and I just couldn’t run down the hills.
“I ended up 116th and I’m not unhappy about that. I was just so relieved to finish. I’m glad I’ve done it. It was on the bucket list.
“It’s impossible to train here in Scotland for something like that. My longest training run was six hours but in the race I was out for 30 hours.”
Greig returned to action two weeks after his Mont Blanc experience by competing in, and winning, last Saturday’s PIM 5K at Crathes Castle.
After completing the course in 18min 14secs, he said: “I won’t lie, it was hard work. I have only done a single two-mile run since Mont Blanc. I haven’t even done any cross training, so I really felt it.”
So, what does the future hold for the long-distance specialist?
Greig said: “I’ve lost a lot of speed over the past year or two since I started doing ultra-distance events.
“So I’m going to strip it right back and build up my 5K sped then aim to get into shape to run a fast 10K.
“Early next year I’d like to aim for a good marathon time then look at trying to get selected for the Great Britain team for the world road 100K championships.
“But I think I’ll give these extreme 171K mountain runs a miss for a while now.”