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.