Sunday, 26 December 2010

Goals for 2011

Now that all the races and big runs are finished for 2010, it's time to think up a few goals for next year.

My main goal for 2011 is to achieve some consistency by running regularly, and to try out a few new events.

In terms of road speed over the standard distances, my goals would be to run sub 17 minutes at Glasgow or Strathclyde Parkrun, sub 28 minutes at 5 miles, and another sub 35min at 10k.

At the longer road distances, I'd like to clock another half decent Half Marathon time, like sub 1:17, but ideally something more like 75 minutes to enter new territory. For the London Marathon I'm hoping to break 2:50 at last, having run 2:53, 2:54 and 2:54 my previous 3 times.

On the Scottish hill running scene I don't have any goals other than to plod around a few races, and possibly to photograph as many as I race.

On the longer distance side of things, I have a half-baked plan to head back to the Pyrenees in late June or early July to have a bash at the Pyrenean Haute Route. This 800km trek is described in 45 stages from west to east, but I would attempt it in the opposite direction, aiming for the Atlantic, to avoid it feeling like a re-run of my GR11 in 23 days. I would also try to complete it in 21 days to make it a bit of a challenge.

In the nearer term, I've got a 35 mile hill run planned in the Lake District that has been at the back of my mind for about 40 years, and I hope to attempt this in late Feb or early March.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Glasgow Parkrun #101

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect

Arctic conditions for the 101st Glasgow Parkrun with another off-road course.

There was a reasonable turnout of 104 runners, given the Baltic temperatures and onset of snow just as we were about to start.

The route this time consisted of 5 laps each of 1 kilometre giving 10 climbs up to the wooden gazebo in the corner of the field diagonally across from the Burrell.

I set out hard trying to shake off Niall McAlinden from the start, but he caught me on the first climb and ran away on the first descent. I caught and passed again on the 2nd climb, but on each descent from then on Niall seemed to gain a few more yards, especially through the trees as we were lapping slower runners. After Lap 2, I could see I wasn't going to catch Niall again but kept on working to minimise the gap.

Niall finished first in 18:31 and I was 2nd in 18:47, after which there was a 3½ minute gap to Al MacLachlan with Ellie just 3 seconds adrift from 3rd spot finishing 4th overall in 22:12, so very nearly a Westies 1-2-3. Other Westies running were John Quinn and Peter Grassl (both for the first time), and Pauline. Cat arrived late enough to miss the race, so ran the course on her own whilst the rest of us had cappuccinos and scones in the Burrell cafĂ©.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Strathclyde Parkrun #35

Results | Photos | Activity on Garmin Connect

Glasgow Parkrun was cancelled due to the snow and ice, so we headed down to Strathclyde Loch.

There were only 37 runners, and we were warned at the start that the course was covered with snow and ice, but I didn't anticipate quite how tricky it was going to be, and I'm not sure the Adidas Adizeros were the best footwear.

I set out as fast as possible, and went through the first kilometre in 3:17, forcing the pace until I could hear no more breathing behind. At 1.5km I reached a slight bend when suddenly my foot shot sideways on ice, and I crashed to the ground hard onto my knee and elbow. I got up quickly and tried to re-gain momentum, but had now lost confidence in my footing. The middle third of race was on a complete mixture of snow, ice, slush, wet grass and gravel, and required extreme concentration to stay on your feet.

I reached kilometre 4 without falling again, and then forced the pace back to the finish, running the final kilometre at 3:18 pace. My official time was 18:07, and I was pleased to win my first Parkrun, albeit with a depleted field. Ellie did well to finish 6th overall and first woman in 20:34.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Snowy Helvellyn


A stunning run up Helvellyn with Ellie. We made an earlier start and set off from Glenridding just after 8am. We took the precaution of not taking a map, compass, whistle, rucksack, food, drink or any spare clothes. All I carried was a camera, mobile phone and car key.

I couldn't remember exactly how to get to Greenside Lead Mine, but we found the way in the end, then made our way up to Keppel Cove for a more gradual climb over Whiteside and Helvellyn Lower Man. We saw nobody on the hill until we were descending towards Grisedale Tarn. The descent down Grisedale was not as runnable as I'd hoped due to tricky underfoot conditions, but we made it back to the car in just under 3½ hours.

Slide show:

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Glasgow Parkrun #100

Results | Photos | Activity on Garmin Connect

The 100th Glasgow Parkrun at Pollok Park, and the 2nd anniversary of the event. So I thought I should make a special effort to attend. Heavy snowfall and ice meant there was no way we could run the usual course, so instead the route was more like a cross country course following three twisting laps around the games fields in ankle deep powder snow.

Photos courtesy of Paul Roberts

I wasn't quite sure where we were going, or which shoes to wear, but selected the Inov8 Oroc 280s, since it was easier to run to the start in these. But as soon as I started running, I wished I'd worn cross country spikes, since it was pretty tough trying to generate any pace ploughing through the soft snow.

Eyeing up the competition on the start line, it wasn't that obvious who was running, and who was jogging around watching since most runners appeared strangely fully clad in leggings and some jackets on display. I would have worn a vest if I'd remembered one, but instead had to make do with a T-shirt. It was a bit cool, but there was bright sunshine and no wind, so it didn't feel at all cold once you were running.

I hammered off as fast as possible as usual, and held 2nd spot behind Luke Traynor for about 100 metres before to my surprise Niall McAlinden was the first to pass, quickly followed by Eritrean duo Amanuel Zerezighi and Tewoldeberhan Mengisteab. Tewolde powered on to win the race comfortably, despite not having a bar code.

Meanwhile I was sitting in 5th place hoping that Niall would fade after his rash move to overtake so early. I thought that I could just sit and wait for my moment, expecting him to come back on the 3rd lap. However, each time I ramped it up to close the gap, Niall was doing exactly the same, so despite working harder and harder on each lap, I never actually closed the gap at all and Niall came in a full 9 seconds ahead of me in 19:46 to my 19:55 on a course measuring 5.10km on my Garmin. Ellie finished soon after in 23:39 for 29th place overall and 1st lady by well over a minute.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

King's Seat Grudge Match

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect

I forgot my camera, so I'm afraid there are no photos, however for the 3rd running of the King's Seat Grudge Match we had 19 runners, with 7 from Westies, which is probably the nearest we've ever got to matching HBT numbers-wise.

We had good running conditions - cold and fresh, and clear on the tops. Not surprisingly Murray Strain powered off into the distance with myself and Mark Shankey chasing. Mark eventually pulled away from me and Dave Eiser joined me to shelter from the wind. I ran with Dave as far as the summit plateau before I pushed the pace and managed open a small gap which I held to the finish by experimenting with my new secret descending technique.

Ellie was first lady by some margin after a storming ascent, but narrowly missed setting a new record by electing to thrash through bracken to the finish rather than following the obvious path.

A social afternoon was spent in the Woolpack ploughing through mountains of sandwiches, and discussing various options for an all-new Grudge Match for Spring 2011.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Glasgow Parkrun #98

Results | Photos | Activity on Garmin Connect

After Dublin and the recent cross country relays, I decided I might be in shape to challenge my PB at the Glasgow Parkrun.

It was cold and dry with no wind, and a fairly sparse field, so I hammered off as fast as possible at the start purely trying to time trial myself with no interest in what the other runners were doing. I hit the first avenue of trees after 400 metres well clear in the lead, with no footsteps behind, but also with my heart rate hitting 188 bpm. I knew this wasn't sustainable and backed off slightly, but then accelerated up the hill and the first long uphill drag. I was still well clear and couldn't work out why Bella Harrier Amanuel Zerezighi wasn't closing me down.

At this point I had no idea whether to keep pressing on, or whether to wait for Amanuel and hope he could pull me along. I had half a notion that I could win the race, but then lost confidence and waited for the inevitable. Amanuel caught me on the first uphill zig-zags and I tried to respond and latch onto him, but my feet wouldn't move quickly enough. I rallied a bit on the second lap, and tried to force myself to keep working to ensure the PB, but also half-thinking I might go sub 17 minutes.

Just before the final uphill climb I couldn't generate enough pace to catch Amanuel but kept working all the way to the line and recorded 17:13 for 2nd place, and a new PB, so I was pleased enough with that.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Reflections on Dublin Masters

This was my first outing for Scottish Vets and a great experience, although my selection for the M45 team was far from straightforward since I spent most of last winter side-lined with a persistent adductor problem.

To re-gain some fitness I hiked 500 miles across the Pyrenees in July, and then only started running again in August with some ridiculously slow times.

Not surprisingly, I wasn’t initially selected. But in October at the West District Relays I found some form, and asked Alastair Macfarlane if there was any chance of getting a run at Dublin. I wasn’t hopeful, but in the end I was squeezed into the M45 team.

Race day at Santry Park dawned bright and sunny, but just as the M35 race was about to start the rain came on to nicely soften up the already muddy course. I started slowly and smoothly, sploshing though the wet muddy ground with mud and elbows flying.

After 600 metres the race was settling down. John Bell, Alan Derrick and Matt Ward all drifted by before I closed the back door and started moving up the field clawing back three Scottish places as I jumped Scott Martin, Tony Devlin and Louis O’Hare, with Denis Williams on my shoulder. I pressed on, and was caught by nobody else apart from Ian Johnston of Shettleston near the end Lap 2.

I stepped up the pace to go with Ian, and got dragged along in a bit of daze, concentrating on the 5-lap course to gather all my resolve for the final lap. As we hit the bell, things were really hotting up. The commentator was screaming with excitement as first 5 runners were all exchanging the lead, battling it into the finish.

In my own private hell I had 3 runners champing at my heels, all M45 category, two Northern Irish and one Welshman. Each time they pulled alongside I would jump back in front, feeling increasingly unsure I could fend them off for much longer.

With 600 metres to go I suddenly made a move, dropping these 3 runners as I charged up the hill towards Ian Johnston. I was closing him down fast, but then panicked and decided life would be simpler if I just held this gap.

I was now in the last couple of bends assuming any threat from behind had been dropped, when suddenly Northern Ireland’s Declan McCarthy came barrelling past at unbelievable speed. I was completely taken by surprise and had no response. But as we turned into the final 70-metre finishing straight, I decided there was still half a chance.

I sent my heart rate off the scale in a death or glory attempt to close that gap, but the finish line arrived just too soon and as we hurtled into the finishing funnel, and I was pipped by 1 second.

I don’t know why, but I find it incredibly frustrating to lose a place right at the end after working so hard to hold position, but of course all’s fair and all that, and this might be just the lesson I needed to learn to sharpen up my act for next time.

Overall, I was enormously pleased my run and delighted to make the team, and really enjoyed the whole weekend. I found it inspirational seeing all these older athletes still running at such a high standard. I certainly hope to get some more mileage out of my Scottish Vets vest in future!

Monday, 15 November 2010

British & Irish Masters Cross Country

Results on Power of 10 | Activity on Garmin Connect

Tidied up Results highlighting Scottish runners

I ran my first ever British & Irish Masters Cross Country at Santry Park in Dublin on Saturday.

I was pleased to finish 2nd M45 counter for the Scotland team. I completed the muddy 8.15km 5-lap course in 30:45, and finished 3 seconds behind Ian Johnston of Shettleston. The only fly in the ointment was getting pipped by Northern Ireland's Declan McCarthy by 1 second right at the end. This was the only place I lost in the last 4 laps after Ian Johnston passed near the end of Lap 1.

British & Irish Masters Cross Country

Friday, 5 November 2010


I'm just back from a brief trip to Tenerife.

I was hoping that the island would provide scope for some interesting trail running on a par with last year's trip to La Palma. However the contrast couldn't have been much greater. La Palma was tranquil and scenic, whereas Tenerife is grim and heavily built up around the coast. Inland, there is pretty much just the one big hill in the centre of the island, Mount Teide. At 3718 metres, Teide is the highest mountain in Spain, despite not being in Spain.

I arrived late on Saturday 30th October, had 4 days of hiking/running, and returned back to Edinburgh on Thursday 4th Nov, four days early having run out of things to do.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Tenerife Day 2 - Mount Teide

Tenerife - Day 2

Activity on Garmin Connect

Day 2 began with a long and tedious drive to Santa Cruz in search of the elusive Mount Teide permit. I duly followed the elaborate instructions posted here, however when I'd finally found the underground car park and the Office Parc Nacional de Teide tucked away on the 4th floor in a deserted block of offices the whole scam had been a hoax and there is no such office, or at least it is permanently closed and the only way to get the permit is via the internet, but there were no internet cafes in Santa Cruz.

The only other way to get to the summit without a permit, apart from the method I eventually chose, is ostensibly to stay at the Altavista Refugio at 3260 metres, however of course when I phoned the refugio there was no response.

The only solution I was left with was to stuff the lot of them and just run up the hill anyway.

It was just after mid-day when I finally reached the foot of the hill and set off. There was no space to park at the trailhead, so I abandoned the car about 600 metres up the road in a viewing point. I then ran back and all the way the Montana Blanca trail past the Huevos del Teide, giant egg-shaped lumps of lava.

At 2700 metres the angle suddenly becomes much steeper to the Refugio at 3260m. I could see why nobody had answered my phonecalls since the whole place was shuttered up.

It was now easier angled and more runnable again, but at over 3,000 metres I was slightly nervous about conking out with lack of oxygen.

Things became more interesting just before the top cablecar station. For one thing the trail was suddenly crowded with tourists shuffling along the path and getting in the way, and for another I spotted the dreaded rangers post, where a tiny metal gate was barring the route to the summit. I quickly turned around, hoping not to have been seen, and to plot my next move. I back-tracked around 50 metres until just out of sight of the rangers, and then with a deep breath I battered across some rough scree to jump back on the main path above the rangers. My shortcut was only around 100 metres, but meant for a minute or so I was at risk of being spotted and cautioned.

At first I was out of sight of the rangers hut, but the ensuing barrage of shouts and whistles made me suspect they must have spotted me. I jumped back onto the path, ignoring their attempts at attracting my attention and walked as quickly as possible up the path to the summit. For the final few metres there was an overwhelming stench of sulphur making me feel slightly ill, not helped by the altitude and stress of how I was going to get down again.

I slowly walked back down the path, but the rangers were too lazy to come up and give me any grief. I wasn't that keen to have to repeat my shortcut, but after sitting and contemplating my move for around 5 minutes I decided I had no option, so as soon as the rangers looked distracted I snuck across the scree, keeping a low profile, and once on the main path casually merged back in with the tourists.

The adrenaline rush gave me a fast descent back to the car with a good 1200 metres drop.

It was a relief to get the big Mount T in the bag, and once relaxing at the Parador Visitor Centre cafe I realised that nothing else on the island would live up to this outing, so I started to plan an early return home.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Tenerife Day 1 - North East Corner

Tenerife - Day 1

Chamorga Circuit on Garmin Connect | Hill above San Ingueste on Garmin Connect

On Day 1, I went right up into the far north east corner thinking it might be interesting. In fact it was pretty grim with scruffy little shanty towns, twisting roads, thick mist and rain.

I drove down to the north coast at Taganana and Benijo, but these places were awful. Complete bandit country, so I just turned the car around and headed for the end of the road at Chamorga. This place wasn't much better, but at least there was a small bar where I could get a coffee and sit down for a few minutes.

The scenery didn't look too inspiring, but it had more or less stopped raining so I decided to go for a short run around the north eastern most tip of land, down to El Draguillo past the Roque de Dentro to Faro de Anaga to Roque Bermejo and back to Chamorga. This was actually a fairly pleasant run. And about the only person I saw was some scumbag bandit with a shotgun and hunting dogs who was blasting away at what little remaining wildlife there might be.

There was nothing to hang around in Chamorga for, so I drove to Igueste de San Andres to go up a small 426m hill with quite a fine outlook. There was no real path along the summit ridge, so I ended up thrashing through the jaggy undergrowth. I didn't see anyone else on the hill apart from another scumbag bandit with a shotgun and hunting dogs, blasting away indiscriminately at wildlife and bits of tree. I didn't feel entirely safe descending the hill to Lomo Bermejo where more scumbag bandits were blasting away with their guns. It felt all a bit too spaghetti western for my liking.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Run of the Mill Hill Race

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect

My photos

Photos by Bill Fairmaner

Photos by John Donnelly

Race video by Steffen Gorgas

This was my first attempt at organising a proper race, and it pretty much beat all my expectations.

The weather couldn't have been better. Bright sunshine with a smattering of snow on the tops.

Ellie and I went to Tillicoultry first to mark the route from the Woodland Park track to the Maddy Moss approach path, and then went to Alva Glen to mark that section. Unfortunately our marking was not sufficient, and a few runners went wrong here on the descent, probably missing the left turn under the waterpipe to drop down the steps.

At 10am we set up registration at the Johnstone Centre and helped Ian White of Run-4-It to settle in with his stand of sports gear.

By mid-day 128 runners were on the startline and more or less ready to go. I sprinted off ahead in order to get some photos, but got trapped holding open a metal gate for the entire field as they caught me sooner than expected.

After the field had departed in the direction of Tillicoultry I sauntered up Ben Ever where I met Charlie Campbell and his folks braving the chill wind. I didn't get far in the direction of Ben Cleuch before Al Anthony came into view. He had a massive lead over the Carnethy duo of Sam Hesling and Andy Fallas, with Tim Austin in Westie colours chasing hard in 4th position.

In the women's race, Natalie White made the trip from the Lakes to finish in first position, followed only 2 minutes later by Ellie, with Louise Burt in 3rd place.

I think that all things considered, the race worked out pretty well, and most folks seemed to enjoy it. The great weather certainly helped. And having a huge car park, and natural good route also made life easier.

I'm toying with the idea of another new race early in 2011, but I'll need to do a bit of reccying first to see if the route I have in mind would work as a race.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

National Cross Country Relays

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect | Photos Senior Men | Photos Senior Women

Scottish National Cross Country Relay, Cumbernauld Park

I set off as fast as possible with much jostling and elbows flying. The first hill starts bringing people back, so I was immediately overtaking. In fact I seemed to spend most of the race overtaking folk, until I got up with Jeff Farquhar and Andy McCall. I wasn't sure whether to pass them or not, but just pressed on all the same. But as soon as I passed my doubts crept in and they got past again. We swapped positions a couple of times before they both got away from me again. I tried to visualise the run into the finish from after the last climb, and with 500 metres to go threw everything at it, and did enough to get past Damian McAuley. I couldn't see that I had any chance of catching Jeff, but with 100 metres to go I thought it was worth a shot. I closed him down just enough to cross the line simultaneously, but my additional momentum threw me in front in the finishing funnel, so we both finished on equal time of 14:45.

Senior women's race:

Senior men's race:

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Inov-8 Oroc 280

Oroc 280 product page

My latest running shoes are Inov-8 Oroc 280s courtesy of Run4It.

I used these for both the Mugdock trail race and Pentland Skyline, and although marketed for orienteering, they are equally suitable for trail and hill running. At first glance they look a bit like the X-Talons, but on closer inspection they are a good bit more robust with more substantial midsole, and have an interesting widely spaced tread with tiny metal studs designed to grip on wet rock and in snow and ice conditions. So you get an interesting clattering sound when running on hard surfaces, making it tricky to creep up quietly behind someone on tarmac.

The Oroc 280s were instantly comfortable and gave no blisters or burning heels at the Pentland Skyline. I should be giving them another outing at the British Hill Relays in Fife on Sunday.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Pentland Skyline

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect

My 9th Pentland Skyline in a row, and very much a case of making up the numbers. The weather was cold, grey, windy and thick clag sat over all the hills the whole day.

I set off as slowly as possible, trying to inflict minimal damage to my legs on the first climb up Caerketton. Once on the ridge towards Allermuir I sped up a bit, but in the thick mist I couldn't see any runners in front to chase. After Castlelaw I found myself with Jonny Knox and Steven Best, both doing their first Skyline, so I acted as tour guide and paced them round to Black Hill. They both got slightly ahead of my going up Bell's Hill, and I almost gave up chasing until I realised at Capelaw that I was dangerously close to going over 3 hours. So suddenly I needed to increase the effort.

I gutted myself climbing the last bit of Allermuir to pass Steven Best, and ran along the ridge to Caerketton as fast as I could, now completely panicking that my leisurely dawdle round had tripped me over the 3 hour mark. I caught and passed Konrad Rawlik and Gareth Marshall at the summit of Caerketton, but then dithered slightly over the descent and they got back in front. I could have passed them both just before the stile, but thought I could outrun them down the steep grass. However on the grass I was also caught and passed by Steven Best, and then all 4 of us hurtled towards the finishing funnel passing Johnny Lawson of Portobello en masse.

To my considerable relief my time was 2:59:09, but this was too close for comfort, so next time I'll need to treat it more like a race, and perhaps not stay up until 2pm the night before, if I want to get to 10 sub 3 hour times in a row.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

West District Cross Country Relays

Rouken Glen Park

Women's results | Men's results | Activity on Garmin Connect

Opening race of the 2010/11 Cross Country Season.

For the senior men's race, I ran Leg 1 and was surprised at not being able to match the pace for the opening 500 metres. The ground was heavy, and John Bell of Garscube had a gap on me cresting the first hill. I didn't panic, and thought I might catch John later. During the second lap I made a move to get past Denis Williams and Damian McAuley, and drew level with Adam Peters of Kirkintilloch with about 400 metres to go. I knew it was pretty much totally flat from here to the finish and figured I should be able to find one last effort. We both pulled each other along, until I made a move at 100 metres to go, and opened a small gap. But I didn't get anywhere near catching John Bell.

I was pleased to get under my target time of 15 minutes, with splits of 7:28 and 7:31 on the 2-lap course, to record 14:59. The only runner older than me who ran faster was Paul Thompson of Helensburgh, who clocked 14:53. And the only V45 to run faster was Alan Derrick of Calderglen with 14:34.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Lock 27 Time Trial

Activity on Garmin Connect

My first Lock 27 Time Trial in ages, and possibly the biggest ever turn out.

The rain came on just in time for the start of the race. I went off last with a slightly duff handicap that saw me catch only one person. I caught Johnston on Cleveden Road just before the pair of mini roundabouts. It was fairly risky running in the dark on wet surfaces, cutting straight through traffic and hoping not to get mown down.

Once on Great Western Road I couldn't see anyone ahead to chase. Likewise on Dorchester Avenue. It was only as I turned back onto the canal that I caught sight of Neil Adams and Scott Mitchell. I figured I would catch Neil as I wound my heart rate to 176 bpm, but the gap wasn't closing fast enough, so when I reached Lock 26 with 100 metres to go I switched to 181 bpm, but Neil put in a spirited response and held me off by a metre or so.

My time on the night was 16:39 for the 4.6 km (2.9 mile) course.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Mugdock Trail Race

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect

Westies vs Glasgow Uni Hares & Hounds trail race at Mugdock Country Park. Ellie, John Hutch and myself marked out the course last night after Ben Venue. The route is 10.8 km, and follows scenic trails through woodland and along part of the West Highland Way.

16 runners are recorded, however Ana Talbot also ran, but setting off well in advance, plus Johannes pushed Beatrice around the course in a baby buggy, and Tim Austin managed to cajole his dog Valentino around the route, albeit with a reluctant start that cost Tim the fastest time.

Neah Evans (daughter of 7 times Ben Nevis winner Ros Coates) won the handicap, and I posted the fastest time with 44:39. I predicted a time of 43 minutes, but the duck boards were super slippery, so that must have cost a few seconds.

We will hopefully run this route again during the Spring 2011.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Ben Venue Hill Race

Race details | Results | Photos

Torrential rain in the Trossachs for the second running of Bellahouston's Ben Venue Hill Race.

I started slowly with a sore knee and little optimism for completing the course. The first 4km follows forest track before launching steeply up Ben Venue through rough heather. The burning pain behind my right kneecap was making this quite unenjoyable so I decided to pack it in and jog back to take photos instead. I reached the finish line after precisely 1 hour. About ten minutes later the first runner emerged into view with Matt Sullivan winning the race.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Stirling 10k

Results | Photos | Route map

Cool, rainy, wind-less conditions in Stirling made for fast running times, but tricky for taking photos, with a wet camera and slippery road surfaces.

The first 4 runners all dipped under 30 minutes. The Shettleston Eritreans took positions 1, 2 and 3, followed by Caithness runner Andrew Douglas (now running for Inverclyde) in 29:46.

Tsegezab Woldemichael won the race in 29:28, followed by Tewoldeberhan Mengisteab and Tsegai Tewelde in the equal time of 29:37.

First lady was Sarah Inglis in 34:31, closely followed by Jennifer MacLean in 34:40.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Cashel Trail Race

Activity on Garmin Connect | Photos

Today I went to Loch Lomond to take a few photos at the Cashel Trail Race. The 7km route follows a figure-of-8 on scenic forest trails.

I've been out of action all week with a crocked back and floored by a virus, so I just hung around near the start of the race. There were only 15 runners. Peter Devenport was first, followed by Paul Thompson, David Dickson and Ellie as 1st lady. I'm pretty sure that Helensburgh and Westies made up more than half the field.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Millport 10-mile Road Race

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect

This was my 8th 10-mile road race, and turned out to be my 2nd fastest ever.

The previous 10-milers I've done are the old Tom Scott route from Law to Motherwell Strathclyde Loch, round Derwentwater (twice), Llandudno, Lasswade (twice) and one previous attempt at the Millport race.

The old Tom Scott route was early days, so I stood no chance of getting under the hour. I close to the hour with 60:30 at the hilly Derwentwater course. I've missed the hour both times at Lasswade with the big climb out of Roslin Glen. Llandudno was my first sub-60 minutes 10-miler back in 2004 with a time of 59:56. This was far too close to be happy with, so in 2007 I managed 56:25 at Millport.

I'm sure I will never beat this 10-mile PB, but I was still keen to clock another proper sub-60 time, so was aiming for around the mid 58-minute mark, which I thought should be comfortable and achievable.

At lunchtime it was far too warm for running, but luckily by 2pm it had clouded over, with a breeze picking up.

I set out with the front runners, but soon David Simpson, Keith Hood, Grant Wilkie (all Corstorphine) plus Stuart Gibson of Cambuslang had all pulled away. So I was left chasing Alex Allardyce and Tommy Lawrence, sitting in 7th place. After less than 2 miles I was caught by Kevin Hutchinson, and we ran together until about mile 9 when I suddenly upped the pace and managed to pull away by 7 seconds in the last 200 metres.

I was pleased to record 58:28, which pretty much matched my target time. And Ellie did well to finish as first lady in 66:37, which was almost a minute faster than she ran in 2007.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Strathclyde Parkrun - Event 23

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect

My first attempt at the Strathclyde Parkrun down at Strathclyde Loch.

The field was much smaller that at the Pollok Parkruns, and the course is quite different. Where Pollok is a hilly, 2-lap course, sheltered in the trees, Strathclyde Loch is a totally flat, out and back course, exposed to the elements.

There was a noticeable headwind as I set off with Daniel Bradford and Bryan McLelland from Glasgow Uni. I probably started too fast, clocking 3:15 for the first kilometre. Fatigue, the headwind and a sore right knee all kicked in during the 2nd kilometre, so I started drifting backwards and was caught by David Gardiner and David McElhinney. I tried to hang on, but never got near them again.

The final couple of kilometres drag on a bit since you can see the finishing tent from a mile away. However the dog walkers and cyclists keep you on your toes by repeatedly blocking your path, and stepping in front if you.

I was hoping for around 17 minutes, but timed myself as 17:27, which puts me currently on 3rd place in the MV45-49 league table.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Ben Nevis Race

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect

My 6th shot at the Ben Nevis Race and a new PW of 1:55:49.

The race started 3 minutes early at 12:57. We were all gathered on the start line, and I was wondering what we were going to do for the next 3 minutes, when suddenly and without warning a hooter sounded. I was jolted into action, not knowing if this was a false start, but it seemed that the race had begun so I tried to scramble clear of the masses by running around the outside of the field and then realised that the only runners in front were Ian Holmes and Robbie Simpson, who were just jogging along chatting. I could easily have passed them to lead the field out onto the road, but thought I would look a bit of a prat, so eased back and starting letting people overtake.

Once on the climb above Achintee my legs felt pretty rusty at this kind of thing, and I was struggling to run much, and losing dozens of places. Eventually above the aluminium bridges I got back into it and started catching people again, and above Red Burn it was the usual grunt to the summit, with Paul MacLean and Steven Fallon for close company.

The first woman, Italian Cecilia Mora powered past just before the summit, but I guessed I catch her on the way down. On the descent I tried to follow Bruce Smith and Bruce Poll, and was doing OK for a while pretty much tracking Bruce Smith, but just before the Green Wall I could feel my heels on fire and my right knee burning, so I could only hobble down slowly, catching Cecilia Mora just before Red Burn whilst tripping and almost going headfirst down the last steep bit.

Once on the tourist path, my descending lacked any commitment. I just pottered down and gave no chase to Dave Murray as he sped past.

Hitting the road I was surprised to see Steven Fallon just standing there having a drink, looking for all the world like he'd dropped out of the race. I took a drink and tried to galvanise myself into action. I already knew I wouldn't do sub 1:55, and could hardly be bothered to make any additional effort, but just by increasing my foot speed I went past 3 runners on the road and jumped in front of John MacDonald in the last 100 metres.

The race was won by Finlay Wild in 1:35:39, beating both Robbie Simpson and Ian Holmes.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Glasgow to Edinburgh Bike Ride

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Ellie and I couldn't think of anything to do today, so after visiting Bagel Mania on Queen Margaret Drive, we cycled to along the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Falkirk Wheel with the idea of getting some lunch and returning the same way. However the visitors centre looked too crowded, so we continued up the hill behind the wheel to join the Union Canal.

We had never cycled on the Union Canal before, so this was a step into the unknown. The route along the Union Canal to Edinburgh is much tougher than Glasgow to Falkirk for several reasons:

  1. It is much longer
  2. There is one very long challenging tunnel to negotiate (YouTube video)
  3. It is generally more overgrown and on rougher surface
  4. There are several high and exciting aqueducts you need to cross on sloping slippery cobblestones, with great scope for ending up in the canal

Once in Edinburgh, we wondered around Princes Street Gardens and watched some fire jugglers before catching the train back to Glasgow.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Ochil 2000s Hill Race

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My first hill race since dropping out of Glenshee, 3 weeks ago.

The first half of the race went pretty well. I started OK and ran behind Oleg, Stewart Whitlie and Andy Fallas up the forest track, chatting with Mark Harris as he went past.

I remained in 5th place until the stile above the forest, where in my haste to cross with Peter Simpson bearing down on me I skidded and twanged my right knee, which then hurt for the rest of the race. Peter of course went by and disappeared off in the distance with Mark Harris.

Next to pass was Craig Mattocks, and looking back Claire Gordon was getting extremely close as I reached the summit of Innerdownie. The ground then flattens out with fast running all the way to Tarmangie. I held position here, although Adrian Davis, Dave Godfree and Will Hensman were all closing me down. Then all went past as I hobbled off Tarmangie with a burning sensation behind my right kneecap, and I was thinking about dropping out at this point.

Climbing up King's Seat I got a second wind and pulled ahead again, and stayed ahead over Andrew Gannel and The Law. At this point I was 3 minutes ahead of last year's time.

Climbing Ben Cleuch, a few squally showers came through. I ran to Ben Buck and Ben Ever with Will Hensamn and with Dave Godfree starting to pull away. I then made my first big mistake.

When we reached the peat hags I should have just taken the line I took in 2009, but out of interest I followed Dave and Will on some huge flanking manoeuvre on a rough quad-bike track that avoids the peat hags to the south, but also adds on at least 400 metres of distance and some extra re-ascent. This route was not only 2 minutes slower than taking the direct line along the northen edge of the hags, it also required faster running to cover the extra distance so trashed my legs more, and this gifted 2 minutes to anyone chasing me down. So I was a bit annoyed and frazzled when I reached Blairdenon that I hadn't just stuck to the more direct route.

I was also conscious that the extra effort at trying to speed up to cover the extra ground had suddenly completely wasted me. I then made my second but less significant mistake, and that was to hack straight across the bowl south of Blairdenon. Again, I should have followed by route from last year where I avoided dropping right into the bowl by skirting slightly to the left whilst descending.

I could feel now that these 2 mistakes had totally trashed my legs, and there was nothing in the tank as Bruce Poll came lolloping past through the tussocky boggy section before descending towards Jerah. I knew I was in trouble now, as I tripped on tussocks and my legs shot into cramp. I felt like everything was slowing down and the ground was barely moving, a sensation confirmed as Andrea Priestley, Adrian Davis, Craig Love and Graham Nash all came bounding past.

This suddenly awoke me from my torpor and I tried to kick start the dead horse.

I flogged my body to keep moving to get to the climb towards Dumyat, where I then consumed my entire drink - which I should probably have been drinking earlier - and took a gel. This gave me enough oomph to get up the hill and pass Adrian, Craig and Graham, but I couldn't get back to Andrea who was finishing very strongly.

The effort of climbing Dumyat had finished off my legs altogether, so I could only manage a slow shuffle down the hill. Adrian, Craig and Graham all flew past again as I repeatedly pulled up with my legs twanging into cramp. I couldn't compete on the descent, but was astonished when I saw they all chose to ignore the track heading down towards the finish, and they were too far away to shout back (unlike Iona Robertson last year).

This was just the fillip I needed to galvanise myself back into action. I was pretty sure I had every chance of getting to the finish before them, with their self-imposed detour.

I was still ridiculously slow on tottery legs down through the bluebell woods, and after the steep slappy tarmac road I was reduced to a walk up the back lane, until I saw Graham Nash barrelling down on me again.

There was no way I was going to drop a place with 1 kilometre to go, so I forced my legs to start moving through a curtain of pain, with stupid cramps firing off in every muscle.

I finished the race in 3:12:25, more than 6 minutes slower than last year, which was a bit frustrating given that I was 3 minutes ahead of last year's time at Ben Cleuch.

Oleg Chepelin knocked a minute off the course record to win in 2:46:36.

Ellie knocked 27 minutes off her time from 2007 to finish in 3:33:24.