Saturday, 19 May 2012

Goatfell Race

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Race Route
Due to multiple clashes with the Scottish Island Peaks Race, this was only my 5th attempt at the normal Goatfell race route. By far my fastest time was 1:27:32 back in 2004, when I came over with Bish and Rhona and the girls. Last year I ran 1:31:52, and expected to be around that kind of time again.

The route is a fraction under 16km, or just under 10 miles, and climbs 874 metres from sea level to the summit of Goatfell and back the same way.

Route Elevation
The Adventure Show were filming the race, so I kept a low profile to avoid the cameras, and also didn't bother with my usual trademark sprint at the start to lead the field out round the field and down the road toards Brodick Castle. This time around I decided to be a bit more conservative to see whether saving the legs until the forest would make any difference.

I found myself running down the road alongside Grant MacDonald of Bellahouston Road Runners, chasing after Gary Fraser of Ochils and the usual suspects in a group beyond Gary with Es Tresidder and Graeme Campbell setting the pace.

Once on the steepening forest track my lack of hill climbing became evident, and I slowed to a shuffle allowing John Hammond, Stephen Winter, Russell Small, Tim Allan and Alan Smith to pass. I tried to keep working and run where I could, but wasn't feeling very strong.

On the climb. Photo: Alex Ulivi
I turned at the summit in cool mist and quickly saw Jill Mykura and Jasmin Paris not far behind as I dropped off the summit plateau. The only place I can make any ground, is on the first bit of steep descent. Once lower down the trail is too technical and my legs too tired to gain on anyone.

I followed Tim Allan of Lomond Hill Runners down as far as the deer fence and wooden bridge, before he seemed to conk out, and after that I was running on my own, half expecting to get caught by Bruce Smith or Jasmin Paris. However nobody challenged me from the bridge to the finish at Ormidale Park, so I didn't need to work that hard and finished in 1:32:57, about a minute slower than last year, but still quite pleased that I'd felt OK and hadn't fallen on the descent.

On the descent. Photo: Alex Ulivi

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Helensburgh 10k

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Another year, another Polaroid Series.

Last year I surprised myself at Helensburgh, with a time around 35:18. I knew I was nowhere near that fit tonight, and the legs were slightly sore and tired after Cornalees Hill Race last night.

Helensburgh 10k Route
The weather was cool and rainy with little wind, so pretty comfortable for running. I was lined up with all the usual suspects: Scott Martin, Russell Whittington, Bruce Carse, Alex Chalmers, Dave Thom, Paul Carroll, Steven Prentice, Mick McLoone, Stephen Mulrine. On a good day, I would reckon to beat about half of these guys, but tonight I wasn't so sure.  I set off with intent to get around the first few sharp corners, and saw Gillan Scott snapping away.

I passed a few folk on the first straight and first slight climb, but looking ahead realised there were only about 3 runners ahead between me and the Shettleston and Ronhill Cambuslang vests disappearing into the distance, which meant I must have been sitting around 8th.  This was further up the field than I meant to be, and soon I was dropping places and chasing after a group with Paul, Steven, Mick, etc.

I wasn't really feeling totally up for a challenge, so I backed off until Scott Martin and Dave Thom came by. I then chased them until 5km, thinking I might reel them in in the 2nd half.

Once down on the sea front and on the home drag, we seemed to be battling into a headwind, and I suddenly felt pretty jaded, and convinced I was about to be caught. I didn't want to keep looking around, but I knew somebody was closing me down. Eventually I realised it was Marco Consani, as he pulled alongside and tried to go past with some momentum. Marco was looking pretty strong, so I said to "Well done, you can catch a few more now", but Marco didn't seem so convinced. We then ran together for a couple of km, with me putting in a few surges to try to keep the pace up. I had plan to break away at 8km and really speed up for the last 2km, but I never saw any 8km marker, and I didn't want to faff around looking at my Garmin, so it was more like 9km that I suddenly speeded up and started giving chase to Dave Thom and Scott Martin. I'm sure if I'd have gone a bit earlier I would have caught them both, but as it was I was happy to coast in behind Dave, in his words: "One Westies Captain giving deference to a former Westies Captain".

Photo courtesy of Gill Scott at Scott Sport Photography
Anyhow, having felt like I was coasting for most of the race, I was pretty suprised and delighted to find I'd dipped under 36 minutes with a time of 35:52 for 20th position, and only about 30 seconds slower than last year.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Cornalees Hill Race

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My 6th Cornalees Hill Race in a row.  Arriving early at the Glenpark Harriers clubhouse on the strangely-named Orangefield, I had time to inspect the trophy whilst waiting for the majority of runners to arrive.

Last year, in 2011, Westies' own David Riach proved victorious after I gave him a good fast lead out at the start. Prior to that, Glenpark's demon descender Andy McCall had won the Cornalees title 6 years in a row. But with David on the other side of the world in Brisbane, and Andy McCall not around either, there was a guaranteed new name on the trophy this year.

Cornalees Hill Race Route
It was fairly obvious from the start who would win the race, as 28 seniors lined up in cold and grey conditions. After leading for the first 50 metres or so, Shaun Lyon came trotting past, and continued you to trot away further into the distance on the climb. My main challenge for 2nd place came from Stevie Campbell and Christina Rankin, both who passed me just after we crossed the Greenock Cut.  Once the angle eased slightly I nipped back in front and tried to drive the pace up the big track, not sure whether pushing on I might be able to drop Stevie. As we crested the first main climb, I asked Stevie how he was, trying to gauge how hard he was working.

We broke off the path together and into the tussocks, but as soon as we hit the abrupt little pair of climbs, Stevie suddenly just bounded away from me. And in fact I felt so sluggish on the final climb around the cairn that I realised Christina was right on my tail again.

I tried to open a small gap on the run back to the main track, but wasn't sure whether I'd dropped her, and didn't want to keep on checking behind, so I tried to keep pressing on but my chest and stomach were tightening with a stitch so I was finding it hard to breathe and keep up any momentum.

I knew that if I got to the 90 degree lefthand turn with being passed, I would definitely open it up from there on the nice grassy final run in.

So I finished 3rd in 35:27, which was only 11 seconds slower than last year, so not too bad.  I saw that Stevie Campbell didn't look too happy at the end, with perhaps a sprained ankle. I hope he is doing OK, and thanks again to Stevie McLoone and Glenpark Harriers for hosting the event!