2020 has been the year of the FKT. Nicola Duncan uses her experience on the Fife Coastal Path to help others, just in case Ally Beaven’s Broken has you planning for 2021. 

For once, I have actually been “on trend” doing my own FKT having completed the Fife Coastal Path in September in a new record time.

I have been watching a few films from the FKTs over the year and one thing that struck me was how I seemed to have a much more enjoyable experience than others did. So I thought I would write a bit on how to have fun on an FKT.

Only run if the weather is perfect

I started running at 11pm on Friday 4th September and I had perfect conditions throughtout. It was a lovely temperature and I was comfortable in my t shirt and skort throughout, only briefly wearing arm sleeves at the very start until I warmed up.

It also wasn’t too warm which was a worry after doing a recce weekend on the hottest weekend of the Scottish Summer. I just found I needed so much more fluids and also chaffing became an issue as I sweated so much. The sun shone throughout and I had a fabulous sunrise and sunset!

So make sure you pick a lovely sunny calm day with pleasant temperatures. 😊

Photo: Provided by athlete

Know your route well

Although the Fife Coastal Path is a marked route there are quite a few points where it is badly signposted (particularly for navigationally challenged people like myself) and errors can be made. I did a lot of recce weekends where I made a lot of mistakes (I actually ran in the opposite direction one day along a motorway…) but meant that on the day I was very confident with the route and could actually enjoy it.

It also meant that I knew what was coming up throughout and had no nasty surprises. The section before St Andrews is beautiful but very tough underfoot with rocky beaches and boulder paths. On the day I was ready for them. Equally I could plan the timing of the day better as some sections were much quicker than others.

Have a good support crew

This is absolutely key – I had my boyfriend driving from point to point with refreshments and fuel stocks (He has zero interest in running unless it is after a rugby ball so I was really worried he would hate it and I would feel bad that he was having a dreadful time but he actually seemed to really enjoy the day out!).

I deliberately planned it so that he could get a good sleep on Friday night and only needed to be at the first stop at 7am – I didn’t want a cranky boyfriend making mistakes later on either! He had detailed instructions that he was to treat each stop like a Formula one pit stop in terms of efficiency. I had a tracker so he had no excuses not to have my requirements/requests ready. In fact he actually surpassed himself and even offered a few (quick and efficient) hugs along the way. He also popped up with ten miles to go with some extra coke for me – and extra fuel for my support runners.

Photo: Provided by athlete

Run with your friends

This is the most important bit. I had my friends running with me for the whole route – different people for different sections. Each and every one of them were brilliant and I actually had so much fun laughing and chatting with them along the way.

It also broke the 117 miles down nicely having people for different sections. After a year where lockdown meant a lot of social restrictions it was great to catch up with some friends I hadn’t really seen all year. They all looked after me so well and did and said all the right things at the right time. Having people that know you well is important – when I was having a low moment I needed my friend Peter to be stern with me and let me know that I needed to eat and I had to keep running, not someone to sympathise with and tell me ok to walk.

I have a lot of fun memories from the day – seeing a tawny owl with Warren in the dark, having Peter M put a seaweed wig on to make me laugh, my friend Corrie bringing a new lip balm as an essential item for me (she knows me well!), my friend Donnie suprising me at Leuchars to run with me and detailed discussions over how Alex’s amazing photo should really have a watermark on it. There was lots of good silly fun along the way!

Remember why you are doing it.

I was doing it as a Fundraiser for my friend Kat who is now paralysed from waist down following a mountain bike accident last year.

So there was never a point where I felt I wouldn’t finish it. I remember she came to cheer me on at 80 miles which was magical – 7 miles later I hit a low spot and wished could have stopped then with her. But then remembered that a proper challenge is meant to be hard and should have a chance of failure.

Overall I had one of the best days of my life!

Ultimately I was getting to spend the day running on a lovely route in perfect weather with my friends. We managed to raise enough money to get Kat her bike which was really what it was all about.

I do think that FKTs will continue to be popular in future years. I have just finished Ally Beaven’s new book “Broken” which details a lot of impressive FKTs over 2020 and it really highlights how they offer a very different challenge to a race. Ultimately you are creating your own adventure and challenge – and you might as well have fun in the process!