Wednesday 26 August 2009

Ayr 5-mile Trail Race

26th August 2009


A new race starting at Ayr's Dam Park Stadium and following trails along by the River Ayr.

I only saw 3 of the 55 or so runners during the race. Kerry Wilson made an early break, followed at some distance by Alex Allardyce of Irvine and Brian McEwan, with myself chasing in 4th position. I tried to keep up the pressure just in case Brian faded, and from 3 miles onwards I appeared to be gaining some ground, but a slight bit of marshalling confusion just before 4 miles sent me the wrong way, and when I straightened up the momentum was lost and realised I wouldn't catch him now, and so I finished 3rd in 29:08.

My navigational hiccup was however minor compared with Kerry Wilson who unfortunately went off course altogether just after 4 miles by missing a crucial right turn, and seemed pretty annoyed when he finished 4th overall, since he should easily have won the race. When I saw Kerry on the track behind me after I'd finished, I assumed he was on a warm down jog, but his fury as he crossed the line suggested otherwise. Read Kerry's colourful version of events at his Fetch blog.

The first 3 women were Toni McIntosh 32:10, Sarah Munn 33:13 and Jacqui Thomson 33:49.

Race report at Scottish Running Guide

Sunday 23 August 2009

Sedbergh Hills Race

23rd August 2009


Vile wet and windy weather for a misty confusing plod round the Howgills above Sedbergh.

The race went OK for the first 14km apart from a rubbishy line off Arant Haw skittering across a greasy contour rather than running straight down the main ridge on the descent before Castley Knott. This allowed Peter Brittleton to get a good bit ahead after I'd passed him on the initial climb up Arant Haw.

On the climb up Castley Knott I caught Mike Robinson of Dark Peak and then ran with him round all the contours more or less to Checkpoint 3. I then held my position across the next couple of featureless cols before dropping down to Checkpoint 4.

At this point I was in about 8th position and feeling OK, but I totally underestimated the final 10km back to the finish and dropped about 16 places, which was all fairly annoying.

The first 8 places I lost as a peloton of runners went by me on the long slog back up to The Calf. The weather by this point was totally vile. Torrential rain, wind and thick mist. I was shovelling down jelly babies and lucozade but getting no benefit and getting cold and uncomfortable running in a vest.

Reaching the summit of The Calf in thick mist and driving rain, the 8 runners had passed and disappeared, so I had to repeatedly stop and check the map to try to convince myself I was on the right path. I missed the contour of Calders, so essentially climbed an extra hill which no doubt allowed Paul Neild and another runner to catch me.

Finally arriving at the last top of Winder I thought I was safe from losing any more places but hadn't bargained on the marshal directing me off the hill in the wrong direction. I knew immediately I wasn't heading the right direction but kept hoping the path would bend round. When I finally dropped out of the mist there was no sign of Sedbergh since I was heading west rather than south, I could see way over to my left a stream of runners belting down the correct descent line, so chucked away another 5 or 6 places to finish 24th in 2:40. Mike Robinson held on and worked his way up to the 3rd and Peter Brittleton finished 5th.

All in all a fairly dismal unenjoyable race, but at least I wasn't shoved in the back and knocked to the ground like happened to Gelete Burka in the women's 1500m today. I imagine that must have been fairly upsetting! What on earth was Rodriguez thinking of?

After the race I caught up with Peter Brittleton and discovered that he'd summited Everest last year on 23th May with Adventure Peaks. In 2010 he's signed up for K2 with a Swedish expedition, but is also trekking to Everest Base Camp in November this year, so I may bump into him whilst I'm out there.

Also good to bump into Stewart Barrie and John Telfer, who are virtually the only other Scottish based runners I know of prepared to cross the Scottish/English border for a hill race!

Start photo courtesy of Ian Charters' blog

Friday 21 August 2009

Irvine Marymass 10k

19th August 2009


A few years since I'd last done this race, but only a few weeks since the Irvine 5-miler which is more or less the same course.

I set off like a scalded cat and clocked 3:16 for the first kilometre, which was probably a bit stupid since there was no way I could maintain 32 minute 10k pace. I felt tired by 2km and could only plod along at 3:40 pace for the next few km, which allowed Scott Martin of Kilmarnock to pass and gradually pull away.

At the 4.5km turn I could see a group of 4 just behind and realised I would get caught soon if I didn't start making an effort. So on the long steady uphill drag back I ground out a slightly faster pace and could see I was reeling in the 2 or 3 guys in front.

Bit by bit the guys ahead were coming back, and around 8.5km I caught Jamie Findlay of Irvine. It was a hard battle getting past, but as soon as I saw the 9km marker I started sprinting for home. This took me past David Houston of Glasgow Uni, and put Adam Peters in my sights who had beaten me at the Broadwood 5k last week. I was definitely gaining on Adam down but couldn't quite muster the extra 115% to actually close him down, so coasted in using him as a marker.

My time was 35:10, which is massive PB for the course and my fastest 10k in 18 months, but still a good bit off what I was running 2 years ago. Still it was my 12th race in 19 days, so I can't complain too much.

Ellie had a good run to finish as 4th lady in 40:10, which is her fastest 'official' 10k time so far, and getting dangerously close to clocking sub 40. She has once run sub 40 minutes at Leyland Boxing Day 10k in 2007, but the timings from that race were screwed up by the time-keeper forgetting to start the watch when the race started!

Sunday 16 August 2009

Lomonds of Fife

16th August 2009

Results | Photos

Tiring run today at Lomonds of Fife with strong westerly wind blowing.

I plodded up the opening fields in the lead, before Brian Marshall, Mark Harris and Jon Ascroft took over. I gradually dropped more and more places on the climb up West Lomond. On the descent I made back 3 or 4 places and caught Martin Laing in the forest.

Shortly after turning off the forest trail for the uphill to the monument, Martin Laing and Manny Gorman both went past. Shortly afterwards John Bell of Springburn caught me. I ran with John more or less to East Lomond, but then started fading and dropped a couple more places to Ian Mills and Shane Bouchier.

I stopped at the drinks station on the road on the way back for water, then followed after Shane towards Maiden Castle. I was caught by yet another runner at Maiden Castle who smacked me in the teeth whilst I was taking a bottle of water from Adrian Davis. This gave me such a shock and bolt of adrenalin that I woke up and started chasing down the runners in front and quickly got past 3 and started hunting down Ian Mills.

I caught Ian just below the summit of West Lomond, but he then lead down to the grass gully and I just followed his bumslide down the gully and trotted after him before turning on the gas on the last 2 fields to open a gap to the finish.

If I'd realised just how close I was to Martin Laing, I might have pushed on a bit sooner for the finish. But I was pleased to finish 8th given how tired I felt in the middle of the race, and seeing as it was my 11th race in 16 days.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Pollok Park Run - Event 36

15th August 2009

My 3rd out of the last 4 Glasgow Parkruns.

The day dawned with torrential rain. Muffy, Ellie and I headed to Pollok Park but arrived over an hour too early so visited the delights of Pollokshaws for a nice quiet coffee, before heading back to the park.

Little did we know but this would be the biggest ever Westie turnout at the parkrun with Ana, Johannes and Beatrice arriving by bike and trailer, plus the marvellous Hutchinsons and Bertie 'Hamilton' Wooster. Even Drew turned up impromptu just after the race.

The foul early morning weather kept the numbers down on recent weeks, with only 183 runners. I set off fast but steady, and slowly worked to 4th place by the turn up the first hill, and then crept to 3rd and thought I was catching the 2nd placed runner (Martin Fishwick) during the first lap. However as usual I was caught on the descent, this time by David McElhinney of Inverclyde running his first parkrun. I rallied to pass David again on the climb at halfway, but during the 2nd half David and Martin both pulled away and maintained their lead, so I finished 4th in 17:35.

This was only 5 seconds off my PB, so I was quite pleased given that the course was awash with water and it was my 10th race in 15 days!

Thursday 13 August 2009

Broadwood Loch 5k

13th August 2009


A much bigger field than last time I did this race 2 years ago, and finished 2nd in 16:53.

I knew I wasn't on for sub 17 minutes this time, and had far more competition at the front. The 2 young guys from Glasgow Uni, Michael Deason and Daniel Bradford, set the pace with Ross McLennan in pursuit. I held 4th place for almost the first kilometre before Ian Stewart (Carnegie) and Adam Peters (Kirkintilloch) both went past.

Just before and after 2km there were 2 critical junctions, neither of which were flagged or marshalled properly. I stopped altogether at the first one wondering where to go as the other runners had disappeared, and at the 2nd junction discovered the lead runners returning having turned right instead of left. I was therefore amused to find myself briefly back in the lead!

I found it slightly confusing knowing how to pace it, being plonked back in the lead, so I backed off and allowed the leaders to take over, but they realised I'd also let Anthony Devlin of Falkirk overtake so I had to suddenly speed up again.

I was feeling fairly worn out and uncompetitive by 2.5km and this allowed Rob Soutar of Shettleston to sneak past. Then at 3km Paul Thompson pulled alongside and we ran elbow to elbow until the wooden bridge at about 3.8km. I tried to dredge up some resolve, but couldn't raise my game and Paul pulled away.

I pressed on across the dam and tried to close down Paul and Robert in the final 200 metres, but I was chasing shadows and came in 3 seconds after Robert in a time of 17:13 for 8th place.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Caerketton Hill Race

12th August 2009

Results | Photos

My first Caerketton hill race in several years. I arrived from Newport, Gwent via Bristol Airport with an Easyjet flight to Edinburgh, then a quick trip to the off-licence for £95 worth of beer and wine for Bog & Burn prizes.

Legs still super-sore from Glenshee 9 plus last week's Tour of Clydeside. The initial jog uphill felt steeper than normal, and I couldn't quite reach the stile before breaking into a walk. Over the stile and Russell Anderson and Bruce Smith came straight past. My legs went into some sort of strange lactic cramp as I flogged up the steep bit of the hill, then got running a bit out to the cairn and back and made a bit of ground. More or less caught Russell again, but somehow forgot to overtake him before the stile, then once over he gained a few yards and I never managed to close the gap.

Social evening afterwards in The Steading handing out Bog and Burn prizes. Murray Strain won the series off the last 4 races, with 3 wins and a 2nd place tonight at Caerketton.

Sunday 9 August 2009

Glenshee 9 Munros Race

9th August 2009


Feeling a bit tired after the Tour of Clydeside 4-race series.

We picked up JD at Banknock and made our way to the Glenshee Ski Centre. It was quite cold and windy when we arrived, but brightened enough by midday to run in a vest.

The start was steep and slow, and it took a while to get running properly on the long traverse out the first hill, Creag Leacach, switching places with Craig Mitchell and Dave Scott. The running around the next 5 hills was pretty straightforward before a fairly steep heathery descent, and tricky path that leads out to the main road where I switched drink bottles.

After the road crossing the route changes complexion with a steep flog up through heather to climb Carn Aosda. I passed Jason Williamson and Adrian Davis just before the summit, and could sense Dave Scott was catching me all the while.

The optimum route after Carn Aosda is not at all obvious, and Dave and I began a fiddly contour rather than climbing onto the ridge. As Dave passed me both my thighs went into cramp, and Dave thankfully stopped and gave me some High5 powder which thankfully helped to keep further cramp attacks at bay, although I was feeling super-tired and jaded by this point.

I reached hill no.8, Carn a'Gheoidh at 3:29, so I still thought sub 4 hours was on the cards, since the return leg to Cairnwell didn't look that far at all. However this last section contains a lot of hidden ground, with several hummocks on the ridge, so it was 3:58 when I reached Cairnwell summit felling pretty washed out, and not moving too fast.

The run down to the finish is nice soft grass under the chairlift, so I finished in 4:05, but pleased to get round having not done a long run in ages.

Friday 7 August 2009

Pollok Park 10k

7th August 2009

10k Results | Photos | Series results

The final race in this week's Tour of Clydeside 4-race series.

I started the race comfortably in 2nd place in the series, with no real possibility of gaining or losing a place. The race began with a quick sprint out onto the main road for the first clockwise circuit of Pollok Park.

I ran with or just behind Chris Devenney, the series leader until just before we turned back into the park at 2km, but then I droppped off the back of the front 4 runners - Chris, Daniel Bradford, Alun Myers and Denis Williams - and felt a bit stranded and worn out as I ran through the park on my own, just waiting to be caught.

I kept catching glimpses of Bellahouston vests just behind me, but it wasn't until we were back on the main road that Bryan Burnett finally made his move and went past. This strangely took the pressure off and I found I could just relax and follow him back around and into the park again.

Once we hit 8km I began to surge the pace and tried to pull away. I could see we were gaining on Denis and Alun, so I repeatedly tried to drive the pace to bridge the gap to Denis, and each time Bryan was responding. Once we got to 9.5km I was working really hard and couldn't tell if I'd dropped Bryan or not when suddenly Gerry Scullion came past, which totally surprised me. I let Gerry go, then spontaneously reacted and realised I'd just overtaken him with 250 metres to go and was closing fast on Denis Williams, but not really knowing where the finish line was.

I just failed to catch Denis, but held off Gerry and Bryan, so I was pleased enough to finish 5th, given it was my 4th race of the week! My time was somewhere around 36:10, and Ellie had a good run to finish around 40:34 as 2nd female in the series behind Ruth Joss.

Well done to the Tour of Clydeside organisers for providing a week of top class entertainment.

Photos courtesy of scotjem

Thursday 6 August 2009

Dawsholm 5k Trail Race

6th August 2009


Race no.3 in the Tour of Clydeside 4-race series.

I started this race with a 27 second lead over Chris Devenney, following the first 2 races at Kilbarchan and Clydebank. I started fast and tried to track Chris, but he kicked away on the first climb and drove away the entire race, and was soon out of sight on the twisty hilly course around the woods in Dawsholm Park.

I held onto second place on the initial short lap, but on the first long descent John Bell of Springburn went past, and a little later Paul Thompson of Helensburgh got a yard or two in front.

I planned to close down Paul on the third and final lap, but discovered the tank was empty, and finished 19 seconds adrift in 4th place in 19:21.

Just one race left now. Tomorrow night's 10k featuring 2 laps of Pollok Park.

Photo courtesy of Ian Goudie

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Clydebank 7.52km Canal Towpath Race

4th August 2009

Race and Series Details | Results

The second race of this week's Tour of Clydeside 4-race series.

A small field of 41 runners gathered at the bandstand near Clydebank shopping centre.

I felt pretty wasted after gutting myself last night, so there was no way I setting off fast this time. Instead I ran more or less co-operatively to the first turn at just over 2km with Chris Devenney, Paul Thompson and Alex Chalmers. Soon after the turn Chris opened up a decisive gap, which never closed. I didn't have the energy to chase so I battled along with Paul, trying not to get dropped into 3rd place.

As we passed back through the start/finish area I was still neck and neck with Paul, with Chris ahead and Alex now dropped. I had to dig deep on the stretch of loose gritty towpath leading to the second turning point, counting down the minutes. We turned at exactly 21 minutes, with Paul right on my heels, so I figured there was just over 5 minutes to go, and time to start ramping up the pace.

I kept on turning the screw a notch at a time, expecting Paul's footsteps behind me to fall away, but no matter how much I accelerated Paul kept on coming. As soon as I could see the brown brick buildings I threw everything into the finish, with Paul still only a second behind. My time was 26:37 which gave a pace of 3:32/km, so 3 seconds per kilometre slower than yesterday, but the route was more twisty and slightly undulating here and there, and on a looser surface in places.

Ellie did well to finish as 3rd lady, and really not that far behind the first 2 women from Helensburgh and Giffnock.

Photos courtesy of Kenny Phillips

Monday 3 August 2009

Kilbarchan 8.75km Cycle Path Race

3rd August 2009

Results | Photos | More photos

The first race of this week's Tour of Clydeside 4-race series.

A fairly small field of 50 runners gathered on the disused railway line at Kilbarchan. I decided to set off pretty fast and then try to hang on. Within a couple of minutes I had opened up a lead where I couldn't hear any footsteps behind me, but I knew that this wasn't a pace I could sustain for the next 8km, so I backed off a fraction and allowed a young runner in orange vest (Chris Devenney) to join me. We then ran side by side until the halfway point at about 4.4km. We hit the turn in 15:10, so I was guessing around 30 minutes for the finish time.

Just after 5km I got a rush of blood to my head and suddenly increased the pace, which was enough to open a gap again, but I realised I couldn't hold this pace for 12 minutes, so started slowing again. By 7km I was feeling wasted and could hear footsteps closing me down, and half thought about letting the runner behind catch me and drag me along for a bit, but as soon as I had 5 minutes left I upped the pace and forced myself to accelerate all the way to the line.

Thanks to John McMillan who supplied the chasing footsteps for the last couple of miles!

Despite finishing first, I discovered I went through 5 miles in 28:11, which was slower than my Irvine 5-mile road race time from a couple of weeks ago. However it was a very rare race win for me, so I was pleased with that! And it was good to have a chat with Colin Shields and John Kynaston. And Ellie did well to finish as 2nd lady, as usual!

Photos courtesy of Michael Finlay

Sunday 2 August 2009

Creag Dhubh Race, Newtonmore

1st August 2009


Strangely this was my 1st ever running at the Newtonmore Highland Games Creag Dhubh hill race. The drive up was pretty exhausting since I followed the back roads via Crieff to avoid the tailbacks at Bankfoot, which wasn't perhaps the best detour. So we arrived pretty shattered about 30 minutes before the race was due to start. It took a while to find where to register, and we were duped by paying entry to the games and entry to the hill race.

So I was feeling pretty dizzy from fatigue on the startline, and not looking forward to the steeplechase obstacle course of fences and barriers to tackle before reaching the hill. I was pretty much off the pace from the start, but stayed ahead of Manny and Alan Smith until partway up the main climb, before Manny really took off. I plodded up the hill behind Alan to the summit, but Alan tore away from me on the rough heathery descent.

Alan was quickly out of sight, so instead I latched onto Paul Maclean to show me the way off. Lower down Stuart Malcolm of Cairngorm Runners went past. I had almost given up when an insanely enthusiastic shout of support from Elke Schmidt got me going again and I chased to Stuart and Paul, and had the most uncomfortable sprint in the final 200 metres on the games field to finish just ahead of Paul in a time of around 33:50.

Pollok Parkrun - Event 35

1st August 2009

This was my second Glasgow Park Run in 2 weeks, and I was feeling pretty sluggish and only half awake. Not surprisingly I clocked a PW, finishing 6th in 17:45. Patrick Duffy of Greenock Glenpark caught me on the 2nd lap and held onto a 2 second lead. I was feeling jaded, and knew I had a long drive to Newtonmore for the highland games Creag Dhubh Hill Race in the afternoon.

I reckon on fresher legs and a more determined approach I can get sub 17:30 at the Pollok Park Run. My January time of 17:23 doesn't really count, since this was on the earlier shorter course.