LAST weekend saw team "Ayrshire Tatties" consisting of Tommy Begley (Irvine Running Club) and Alasdair McCallum (North Ayrshire Athletic Club), Ayrshire's top Mountain Marathon duo, venture across the water to the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.

The two-day mountain navigation race has become a regular event in the pair's competing calendar. This year saw the two veterans return to the event and looking to improve on last year's third placed finish.

The race commenced on Saturday morning with the entrants collecting their route card for the B course to plot their points on the map. This showed that a tough day was in prospect with the route covering 21.3km in distance and 1650 metres of assent with some long gradual climbs and a few paths. The team covered the first day in an excellent time of 4hrs 56min 52sec to place third of the 25 teams at the halfway stage of the race.

The overnight camp was cold, wet and windy with all the competitors huddled in their tents in an effort to keep warm. Sunday morning was a fresh start however with a good, clear day forecast. As in the previous morning the entrants received their route card and began marking the map again to plot their course. The second day’s course was slightly shorter at 19.0km and had half the climbing of the previous day with 760 metres of assent.

Both runners covered the course strongly with efficient navigation and finished the day in 3hrs 37min 41sec which was the second fastest time of the day on this course. An aggregate time for the two days of 8hrs 34min 33sec placed the Tatties in second overall and the winning veterans and was a superb return for their endeavours.

Meanwhile last Saturday’s River Ayr Way proved to be a navigationally challenging race for Irvine Running Club’s Alan Douglas.

The race covers the 40 miles of the River Ayr Way from Glenbuck to Ayr via Sorn and Annbank and is a beautifully scenic run.

Heavy rain had left parts of the course quite muddy, making conditions difficult for all the competitors, which also included a number of teams that took part in the race as part of a three leg relay event. Alan, who is relatively new to ultramarathon running and making his debut in this event, started off strongly and was well placed in the field.

Misfortune struck however as his good start was undone by going off course on a couple of occasions.

The first time was only by a few hundred yards before the mistake was realised and he was able to double back but the second occasion led to a more substantial loss of time as he missed a route marker and went more than a mile on the wrong path, meaning that a total of more than three additional miles was covered.

However, the event was an enjoyable one being well supported along the route and although the time of 8:01:07 was slower than hoped plans are afoot to return next year.