Rat Race - City to Summit - 110 mile cycle then a wee 27mile run up Ben Nevis the next day - Lucy Marshall
What an epic adventure! I had trained for City to Summit in rain, snow and hail with friends, Pentland Triathletes and ERC. I had even cycled the first part of the course in fog and mist with Seona. I nearly deferred, transferred my place and I shamelessly begged for others to come along and do it with me. My friend John Pickard unfortunately deferred until next year so I stood at the start line on my own with some cheering friends, Lesley, Alastair and Paul and my support crew Zuzana. Why was was I so worried about doing this on my own.....? I need not have feared. Everyone said I could do it and they were right :)
The weekend arrives and Scotland is blessed with perfect conditions for the 110 mile cycle on Saturday and amazingly sunny weather for the 27 mile run/trek up Ben Nevis on the Sunday. There were so many like minded people along the way doing the challenge. I started the cycle with a guy called Joey from Loughborough who like me was also more of a runner than a cyclist. The plan all along was to complete this and enjoy it and at no point was I looking at my watch so we chatted away for a while. I lost him when he was de-layering then ended up meeting up with Maria and Karen from Ireland and tagged along with them for a while. Karen had a matching bike to me! The course was so well marked with friendly and encouraging marshalls along route. I am relatively new to long distance cycling so the feed stations were definitely a bonus. I was lucky enough to have Zuzana support me who in a past job was a personal trainer. She stocked me up with food too as the amount of calories burnt throught the day is incredible. The cycle was all so scenic. I really enjoyed the section around Crieff and Lochearnhead. The worst part of the cycle and the only negative of the whole challenge was the A82. It was scary! Really bad surface for cycling. I passed two people with punctures but ended up cycling this part on my own with cars whizzing by way to closely. Why are they so inpatient and why are they not giving me space? I passed Bridge of Orchy and guess who was there cheering ? Donald, Elaine, Shona and Derek! That gave me a huge boost. When I arrived at the descent through Glencoe unfortunately the rain had settled in and it was getting cold but the area was so atmospheric and beautiful. Not long until the finish now! Speeding down the final section I was so ectatic to have completed the cycle in 8 hours 20- well within the time limit. Calf guards a new seat and ibruprofen meant I was on pretty good form. Come to think of it I could have tried harder!! However, I think I did the right thing by conserving energy as tomorrow was another day and was so much tougher than I expected. Off for a meal, massage and sleep!
What an amazing event through stunning scenery of the Scotland. This is by far the toughest thing I have ever done. So pleased to be part of this inaugural event from the City to Summit. It turns out that I was actually the fourth girl in the challenge!! (but to be honest not that many girls were crazy enough to do it so that is why!! ) Maybe next year if my swimming improves I could venture into the shores of the Forth and do a 'wee' triathalon!
Rigg Race Photos - 27th May 2013
My Edinburgh Marathon Story 2013 - Ann Laidlaw
Having decided last year that I would like to try a full marathon and after getting permission from my Rheumatology consultant, I signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon.
Most of you will know that I have psoriatic arthritis; I was diagnosed when I was 24 years old and for the first 10 years or so I just accepted it. Then after deciding that enough was enough I started to dabble with a bit more exercise. This eventually led to me joining Harmeny AC .
My first run was with Norma and I did not even make it along the Water of Leith to where it joins onto Lymphoy, I was having to Jog/ walk. Norma was great. She built up my confidence starting with doing a bit on a Friday morning, before she eventually encouraged me to come along on a Sunday Morning too.
It took a while but I eventually made it round the water of Leith loop without having to walk. It was only 5k, but it felt good.
Training for the marathon started in late January / early February. The Arbroath Smokies Ladies 10 miles Race in March and the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in April were both built into my training plan. I was trying to run at least 4 times a week.
It all started so well. My main training partner Helena Mackay joined me most Mondays and Wednesdays and some Saturdays we even went down and ran at Parkrun.
Even with some of the winter weather I still made it out. On a couple of occasions I even had my yak trax on, I was that determined. January and February came and went and all was going well. On 3rd March it was time for the Arbroath Smokies race. It wasn’t the best idea being out at a birthday party the night before, not that I was drinking, but it was a later night than I had planned. The race did not go all that well, but I struggled round.
By the middle to end of March I had a chest infection and training stopped for a week.
Then came April and the Rock & Roll Half. The weather was not kind that day. I got round but did not enjoy the race and really struggled. I now doubted myself for the full marathon. I had only just managed a half marathon, how on earth would I manage to run double that distance?
The day after the half I was so sore. I told myself the full marathon was just not going to happen and that I was going to have to pull out. My body was not coping with the training and I felt my health was suffering. I took the week off and did not run. I had received a text message from Caroline Miller asking me if I wanted to join her and Gordon on a 15 mile run. Caroline had also signed up for her first marathon.
I told Caroline that I was thinking of pulling out, however she told me the offer to join them for a 15 mile run was still there, why not just come and give it a try? For some reason I decided to go. In my head this was make or break. If I could do 15 miles and not feel too bad then perhaps the marathon was still possible.
Caroline and Gordon were great, full of encouragement. They stopped and waited on me when I fell a bit behind and when our route turned out to be shorter than the planned 15 miles and I was ready to just go my car, but they both motivated me to keep going and I was so glad I did when the 15 miles were done.
I was still resigned to the fact that I was going to pull out as 15 miles is some way short of 26.2. Caroline and Gordon asked me to join them the next weekend for an 18 mile run despite the fact that I had slowed them down on their 15 mile run. I had told friends and family by now that I was no longer going to run. However for some reason I still went out with the Millers the next weekend.
I struggled badly that day and only made it to 17 miles. Caroline and Gordon were fantastic, running back to make sure I was ok and telling me I was doing great, but I just felt floored.
This was not for me!
The next week, on 3rd May, I was back at the doctors. The diagnosis was another chest infection which meant more antibiotics. At this point I had very mixed feelings about deciding to pull out. I had some friends who thought I should still go and do it and just walk round, I had others who were very happy I was not going to attempt it my husband included.
After finishing the antibiotics and feeling a bit better I made my decision. I was going to give it a go. I had paid my money and so what if I had to walk part of it. I would still have done it. I had got to 17 miles in training and it was only another 9.2 miles!
The day before the race I took my Harmeny vest and got my name printed on the front of it. Strangely, I was not too nervous the night before the race. I had struggled with a lack of appetite for most of the week (this does not often happen to me, think it may have been nerves) and was a little concerned that I had not carb loaded sufficiently.
Finally the day of the Race came!
I got up and walked the dogs then had toast and banana for breakfast before setting off into town. Only once I got to Regent Road did my tummy begin to flutter. I met Caroline and this helped. We stood and chatted until it was time for us to go. We wished each other good luck and set off, staying together through the park until I felt that my pace was too quick and eased back a little.
The first part of the route I know from running the half marathon before. I was feeling ok and seemed to settle into my own wee rhythm. It was quite hot though and I was glad I had my sun cream on.
The first water station was at Leith links. I had on my camelbak with its own bottle so I did not feel the need to take any. I was surprised at the number of people already queuing for the toilets as we were only 3 or so miles in. I hoped that the queues would not be so bad further round the course, in case I needed to go.
Down we ran and onto Portobello promenade where the crowds were out for support. I was feeling good, if a little too hot. It was nice to hear people cheering us on. I even got a few shout of “Come on Ann”. That’s the advantage of having your name printed on your running top. These people, who do not know you, are shouting out and encouraging you. It gives you a real lift.
I had now run over 10k. I had broken the race down into sections. Gail McFadden had told me that it’s only four 10ks plus another wee bit.
First 10k down, how hard could another 3 be?
Around 8 miles now and coming into Musselburgh. At this water station I slowed down and used the water to re fill my own bottle. After turning and heading along past the racecourse I again heard my name being shouted. This time it was my boss. She had ran the first leg of the Hairy Haggis and she was waiting to cheer me on. She told me I was looking good and told me to enjoy the run, which so far I was. I did wonder at which point the enjoyment was going to stop and the doubt of finishing was going to kick in.
I was now out past Cockenzie and I think it was near Longniddry that I saw Norma. She gave me such a big smile when she saw me. She ran with me for a few minutes telling me I was doing great and looking good, she also made sure I had plenty of water before giving me a hug and letting me carry on.
A little later, coming up on 16 miles I think, and things got harder. I was now beginning to tire. I had passed a runner who had collapsed and who was being attended too. It is not a nice thing to see and it made me remember I had promised my husband and friends I would be sensible and listen to my body.
By now I could feel at least 2 blisters on my feet. They were somewhat painful and I could feel that my feet were quite swollen. My hands were also swelling up and becoming quite painful. Despite this I was still enjoying my run. At about 16.5 miles I was met by Helena Mackay and Gail McFadden. I had not expected to see them until I was on the return journey from Gosford House heading to Musselburgh, but there they were. Their timing was perfect as I was beginning to flag and I was glad they joined me when they did because the next section along to Gosford House seemed endless. I think I must have asked 3 times how much further till we turn back. Gosford was my least favourite part of the course. The ground was very hard and stony and hurt the blisters that were developing on my feet.
This was new territory for me now. I was now running further than I had ever run before so every mile was another goal ticked off. I was now feeling a bit sick and was struggling to eat any of my Cliff Shot Bloks. Gail and Helena were kindly getting water from the water stations and pouring this over my swollen hands, trying to make them more comfortable and over my back to keep me cool. They even told me it was ok to be sick if I had to.
My legs were now heavy and sore and my back was beginning to hurt too, but here I was at 21 miles, only 5 to go. Again the support from the crowd and other runners was great, with lots of cheers of “Well done ladies”. We were also shouting encouragement to those who were still running. I was still smiling and although sore I was still happy and I like to think cheerful.
I was nearly there.
Turning into the finishing straight, Helena and Gail peeled off into the crowd and I started the run along the mats that had been put down over the grass to the finish. Again there was huge support from the crowds lining the finish area. The matting was not very easy or comfortable to run on but I did my best to put on a little bit of speed (well for me, anyway).
I had done it. I had made it round the course and I had enjoyed it. I could not stop smiling when I crossed that line. 5 hours, 21 minutes and 54 seconds may not be a fast time, but it is a PB!
I did it and I had fun along the way.
A huge thank you must go out to all of the Harmeny members who lined the route for support and who shouted out to me on my way round and also to the Harmeny runners on the course who, while running to reach their own goals still looked out for me and shouted words of encouragement. You all helped me round the course that day. Big thanks also to Helena and Gail for running/walking the last 10 miles with me. The banter was great.
A few facts about Psoriatic Arthititis.
Psoriatic arthritis frequently involves inflammation of the knees, ankles and joints in the feet and hands but it may affect any joint in the body. Usually, only a few joints are inflamed at a time. The inflamed joints become painful, swollen, hot and red. Sometimes, joint inflammation in the fingers or toes can cause swelling of the entire digit, giving them the appearance of a sausage.
Joint stiffness is common and is typically worse early in the morning. Less commonly, psoriatic arthritis may involve many joints of the body in a symmetrical fashion, mimicking the pattern seen in rheumatoid arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis can also cause inflammation of the spine (spondylitis) and the sacrum, causing pain and stiffness in the lower back, buttocks, neck and upper back. In rare instances, psoriatic arthritis involves the small joints at the ends of the fingers. A very destructive form of arthritis, called "mutilans", can cause rapid damage to the joints of the hands and feet and loss of their function. Fortunately, this form of arthritis is rare in patients with psoriatic arthritis.
Patients with psoriatic arthritis can also develop inflammation of the tendons (tendinitis) and around cartilage. Inflammation of the tendon behind the heel causes Achilles tendinitis, leading to pain with walking and climbing stairs. Inflammation of the chest wall and of the cartilage that links the ribs to the breastbone (sternum) can cause chest pain, as seen in costochondritis.
Psoriatic arthritis can cause inflammation in other organs, such as the eyes, lungs and aorta. Inflammation in the coloured portion of the eye (iris) causes iritis, a painful condition that can be aggravated by bright light.
Inflammation in and around the lungs (pleurisy) causes chest pain, especially with deep breathing, as well as shortness of breath. Inflammation of the aorta (aortitis) can cause leakage of the aortic valves, leading to heart failure and shortness of breath.
Another good year for our local Rigg Race - by Iain Morrice
110 entries were received on the night with many old faces turning up which is always good to see.The weather was really perfect although the winds up on the Rigg road were blustery and offered a challenge to those not used to running in these conditions. The main thing was it was completely dry throughout the whole race and there were no serious injuries.
We again this year were able to attract some excellent sponsorship for the race.
We were able again this year to provide refreshments in the Currie Rugby club and the many cakes and fancies were well munched by the hungry runners and helpers. Many thanks to all the people who took the time to bake, buy or steal cakes etc. Much appreciated by all.
The race this year was won by Colin McGill of Edinburgh AC in a time of 31.59.The team cup was retained this year by HBT with Dave Ward(4th place), George Ashley(5th place) and Michael Taylor(7th place).
The highest place Harmeny Pentland Runner was Darren Cavaroli 10th place in a time of 36.03 with Harmeny Pentland Tri club member Nial Darroch finishing in 8th place with a time of 35.54.
A special mention must go to our very own 70+ year old runner Hugh Chalmers who finished in 75th place in a time of 48.37.
The full results can be found here Rigg Race Results 2013.pdf
Lets hope that next year is as good as this years event and thanks again to all helpers for the total support before, during and after the race.
London Marathon 2013 - Report by Elaine Scott
I was elated but daunted in January when MACS accepted my application for a Golden Bond place in VLM 2013. Frank Tooley had run for MACS in the past, and persuaded me that they were a worthwhile charity to run for. Raising the minimum £1250 seemed like a huge mountain to climb. However, on a training run with Katrina Fleming we bumped into Kirsty Stoddart who first planted the idea of a 'joint effort'. Katrina and Alan Fleming gave me their wholehearted support and we started a joint fundraising page. There followed a number of fun and crazy fundraising efforts, and we were so touched by the support and help given selflessly by so many friends. Harmeny members have been incredibly inventive and generous. By race day we had raised about £3200.
London Marathon 2013 - Report by Gavin Orr
A Pasta meal in the evening with family, double helpings despite thinking I shouldn't overeat! Just one glass of wine (no change there then!), sugary pudding, and actually tucked into choc bar and fruit and nut bar for supper too! So plenty of carb / glycogen storage going on there then! I love *not* dieting! Had put number on vest night before, chip on shoes, laid out stuff to wear and stuff to take in kit back to change after. Checked Garmin had charge (twice!) and was switched off, in bed by about 11. Slept fitfully, but prob got 7 hours, awake at 7am. Got ready quickly enough (though 20 min faff with my *decoration * - more on this later!) Porridge with sugar, nice big glugs of water, strong coffees. Yum!
Got a lift to the station from my lovely stepmum, on the tube at Clapham, Northern Line to London Bridge, then overland to Blackheath. Thought I was crazy leaving about 7:40 early but actually, was perfect timing. Great chat with Englishman over from Australia for weekend, Australian who lived in London just round the corner and other general international-ness of a wold marathon major. It's major you know, this London thing. It might not be the *only* marathon in the world, but it really is one of the biggest and surely one of the best? I'm looking forward to others abroad one day, but again, that's for later.
Into Greenwich park, floods of runners, lovely atmosphere, great banter, perfect weather. Though some were fretting about too much sun, it was cool air, no wind (which was my only concern) and I really couldn't fault the weather. Asked how did I feel, I answered "I'm out of excuses, there's really nothing stopping me, I just have to go out and do it now!" I met club mates Peter, Alan, Katrina and Elaine and did hugs, some photos and good chat.
Into the Red Fast Good For Age area. This was quite nice, but actually a wee bit intimidating. A lot of racing snakes, very few "normal" folk! I saw and said hi to a guy who I know is 2:47 and he was in good shape and looking for PB (must check what he got). And we still had to queue for loos, so it wasn't that special. Got my free lucozade and water bottles. I always down a 500ml lucozade before a race, and I also added 1 of my 8 (yes 8, count 'em!) SIS Go Gel caffeine. Yuck! Swish out with water. Had had one *big* (sorry, but this is the race blog!) loo stop before leaving home and portaloo here was equally, ahem, productive. Soz! Really didn't want tummy cramping up. Bag on truck, kept a t-shirt and bin bag out but actually took it all off as it was warm enough without. Met Darren and then another pal and we did our warm ups together. One photo taken by Darren (add pic here?) And we were all ready. Warm up was 0.75m 8 mins? and I did maybe 3 very gentle strides (not many folk were doing any strides, is this not normal pre-race?)
So, we're in start pen and atmosphere is just electric. 15 mins to go though, so opportunities to get nervous. But I felt strangely relaxed, which is not like me. I left myself towards the back of the FGFA area. I don't know why I still do this. I had said to myself, I need to be near front, because I don't want too much congestion and I need to have faster guys coming by me later to pull me on, not me passing people the whole way, which is more normal. But I hung back. Some good chat, throw away the empty water bottle, bin bag and t-shirt (a nice Reebok collared squash shirt actually - I'd run out of carp race t-shirts Hope someone gets some benefit from it!)
And we're off - about 1 min to cross line, should really have noted exactly what it was because if I had to use the course clocks I was going to need to know, but I was just happy to be moving, Garmin button hit and grinning like a loon, loving the cheers and support right from the off. Lots of good back slaps and hand shakes with friends, but very quickly I let them go. I didn't particularly want to run with anyone. My Garmin and I are very good friends and I don't need anyone else to pace, take my mind off things - if anything it can mess with my head. So we're doing 7:0x and I'm smiling away.
1) - 1m - 6:59(6:59/m) - 161bpm avge - 172bpm max - 125cal
So, feeling good, as it should, at the start. Amazing atmosphere, lots of noise from the lovely people of SE7 (?) music blasting from windows, pubs (yes, pints in hand at 10am!). Not much chat among runners, but incredibly congested. So much for F-GFA will give you clear road. I don't know if it's the GFAers or pens 1, 2, 3 coming pouring through from behind, but the usual runners going past me and lots of dodging and weaving. I tried to remember a friend telling me that the blue line doesn't matter much (there wasn't any here actually, because Elites started at Blue, presumably?) but not taking racing line, because we were just flowing en masse. And also, tough to regulate pace, because you'd have to weave through people quite a lot. For first mile I was actually over 7, which I was pretty relaxed about but started easing it up a bit and glad it was 6:59 going through 1 mile, so no 7:xx s today, Miss! Met Darren in second mile and he was absolutely brilliant. Metronomic 6:45s, we had a bit of chat. He's quicker than me but lost a month in March with a hamstring injury, so was less certain for this one. After 2 or 3 miles together, I started taking the lead a bit, we'd agreed not to push each other, so when he wasn't there any more I didn't worry for him. Top man Darren. Great noise at the Red and Blue merge. Some "Booo!" and good natured banter. Less than when I did it with Blind Ken in 2010 though. Bit more serious up this end of the field?! And a few more hills than I remembered too - nothing serious, just working up them a bit, but nice rest on way down. I'd spotted this though - which I think was significant for pacing for whole race too - when going downhill and thinking "Ooh, 6:3x, that's a bit quick", the average was still ofter 6:4x or even 6:5x. It was the concertina effect - each corner, incline, narrowing of road, the pace dropped. Not much, but enough to mean that you *had* to push to 6:3x in order to maintain 6:4x wherever you could. Important. It was like a river of people. And that meant pushing harder than I would in a nice, open road (Scottish, or Northern England, 400 - 2,000 person) marathon. Hmmm. This was going to be tricky. Marathon Fartlek anyone?!
5) - 1m - 6:49(6:49/m) - 166bpm avge - 170bpm max - 128cal
So, I started pushing on a bit. I don't remember much here, just trying to keep it steady, keep it to low 6:4x. I spotted the 5K clocks and timing mats. 21 min per 5K, but actually I was about 1:10? behind the clock. Needed to remind myself not to panic each time I saw that. My Garmin time was all that mattered. I was already a bit ahead on distance (finished 26.6 nearly, so really important that I had considered time and not just average pace). I wasn't doing paul the builder's patent "manual mile lapping" technique, so had to just mentally allow for slight quicker average required to get the time to stay in zone. And the pace band that everyone laughed at (I'll try and post a pic maybe) about 4 inches wide, with big numbers for 5, 10, 13.1 and 20 miles on it - I actually used it to double check my time calcs against Garmin time. And I was close. I was actually behind at 5 and 10 by 30s to a min from my own targets. It gave me a bit of a hurry up.
I've split this section to 9 because at 8 to 9 I like to think of the 1/3 done point. It is a wee psychological boost. About here I caught up with union, who was going well and we had a wee chat. Just as we did, another Fetch friend came up from behind too. He was going great, but maybe a smidge ahead of his pace, so after some mutual encouraging words I went on again. It was still feeling pretty comfortable and actually pushing to 6:3x felt almost smoother at some points, so wherever I saw clear road I tried to get into my own rhythm. Oh, gels. 4, and 8 done, and with ubiquitous water, you could always swish the mouth out and get a wee hydrate almost any time. Fantastic facilities at VLM, tbh.
10) - 1m - 6:34(6:34/m) - 169bpm avge - 173bpm max - 128cal
Pushing on fine here. Again, was still a bit behind at 10, but not bad. And now I was thinking about Fetch supporters at The Fetchpoint. Woooooohooo! Tower bridge was less noisy than I remembered. I was showboating here, a bit of clap to the crowd and hand waving to get them going. Very slightly disappointing, but not really, maybe it gets loader a bit later on. But Fetchpoint wasn't quiet and here it came!
12) - 1m - 6:41(6:41/m) - 168bpm avge - 173bpm max - 128cal
I had planned a wee surprise. They're quite a long way away and just doing thumbs up is about all you can do. But I wanted to give them a laugh I was going to flash them! I had got some theatrical grease paint and drawn a big heart on my torso. So, t-shirt over head and mouthing "I love Fetchies", I tried to pick out faces, but really you're just a sea of red, yellow and happiness. indeed! You can see I slowed down a bit actually in this section, just in prep, anticipation and execution. But with your joyous shouts ringing in my ears, I went off with a bit of a spring. Thank you so much!
14) - 1m - 6:34(6:34/m) - 172bpm avge - 183bpm max - 128cal
About here I found a guy went past me looking quite strong (Elmo on shirt, Ineos, Invicta errr, can't remember the charity or company actually?) He was quite a big chap and was carving through the pack nicely. I needed to be doing same, so I followed him for a bit and it was helping. I didn't want to just use and abuse though, so I said "Do you mind if I use you to pace me, you're going strongly and it would really help?" He said no problem and we chatted - he's a 2:54 so this is giving me confidence that he'll be sub 3 ing and will keep pace strong but steady. Oh, quick note on Sub 3 pace maker - bliddy annoying! Not their fault, but maybe 30-50 people were running with that flag. It was ahead of me at 8 or 9 and I passed it, it was hard work. But I didn't notice that it must have passed us because at 15 or something we had to pass it again. And it was getting harder as folk were bunched up, maybe stumbling a bit more, I don't know. So I was very glad to have Elmo as my bodyguard, carving a wee niche for me to go through as we went through the field. But strangely, but 17 or something, he seemed to be slowing down, I was taking turns in front of him. We went side by side for a while but then I noticed he wasn't on my shoulder. I had to just keep pushing. I hope he did OK.
20) - 1m - 6:33(6:33/m) - 169bpm avge - 175bpm max - 131cal
So, by myself now, I was still enjoying it, but starting to hurt. Really looking forward to Fetchpoint again. It's just fantastic to have it to look forward to, take your mind off things a bit. This section was smooth, we're point west towards the finish, it really feels like you're starting to point for home. I still felt good. The left piriformis and glute had made themselves known early on, but it wasn't going to go completely, right knee a wee bit maybe, but barely. Sun was beating down on the face a bit by now. I didn't fancy the showers, and I don't like tipping water over me. So I just kept a wee drink every now and again. Surprising how hot just 12C (or maybe I'll find out it was 18C or something in the sun?!) can feel. I've got a touch of sunburn today actually! Vest marks - first of the year! Gels went in at 12, 16 and a bit early at 19 I think. I had 7 still with me, so still a couple left. Perfect planning! So, Fetchpoint arrived, I decided to high five, the noise was fantastic. Your high fives were slightly *too* vigorous, as I nearly got knocked back, and felt my left calf start to spasm. Now that *would* have been unfortunate! But no, just fantastic support as ever. I've said it before, I don't know *what* other runners think of you - they must be so jealous! But you can see it knocked me back slightly, but 10s of time, for a lifetime of good memory and the biggest adrenalin and endorphin boost - I'll take that trade!
24) - 1m - 6:36(6:36/m) - 171bpm avge - 174bpm max - 127cal
And off I went with as much of a spring as I could muster. Found a very fast lady who again I tried to hang on to. I hope I helped her a bit took as I took a turn at the front, coming up out of one of the underpasses. Amazingly quick and about 5ft nowt! She went away from me in last mile or so too. Very inspiring, she must have overtaken a dozen ladies in the last few miles. We were going through most people, though "Joe" World Record fastest marathon in a suit, was slightly ahead the whole way. I never did catch him! Glad I got past Welsh mankini - didn't want to be in any pics with him in!! Had a chat with suit lad at end, he got sub 3 and beat the record by over 20 mins. Guinness people gave him plaque 30s after he finished too. Some great shouts at 24 and 25, I knew some more Fetch friends were around - also great shout from Lucy, just so wonderful to hear your own name shouted amongst all these other thousands of people. It's a lift every time. So, we kept a good pace going, I was working hard here, but still flowing OK. Felt left calf threaten to cramp but just tried to adjust stride a bit. Arms were pumping a bit by now, and I knew I was slowing, but doing my best to keep it going. 800m seems an awfully long way when you think it's just around the corner. I knew I was sub 3 but genuinely didn't know how much by. I stop looking at time by about 20 miles but knew I'd set myself up right and most miles had been around the right pace or ahead a bit. So last couple of miles was just about not dropping too much time, giving it everything, not leaving anything out there. A few folk were finishing more quickly than me, but not many. Amazing how many were stretching off cramp or having to walk - at this pace, I couldn't imagine that happening, but I guess if something goes, it goes. So round the corner and we can see the finish line. How amazing is that sight? The gantry is saying 2:59, yay, even my photos will have sub 3 on it! And I was smiling this time, not crying or grimacing, I decided to do a wee fist pump, arms aloft and apparently a lot of friends and family saw that and knew it was me, so even if I looked like a twit at least it let them know I was OK. And I did a shirt lift, I actually don't remember this and feel a bit embarrassed about it. What was I thinking. Esp as the smudged heart looked like a gunshot wound by this point. However, I think I'll be forgiven for my indiscretion.
Over the line and Garmin says 2:57:xx (I don't show seconds on my time - no point in worrying about seconds!) and I knew it must be right, a bit under 2:58. Delighted. A wee whooop! and huge grins and thank yous to the medal girls and goody bag folk.
Then had a lovely meet up with some more Fetch friends who just finished same time. One with his first sub 3 too. Many congratulations. It was really nice to be able to share the moment. One who is like my online coach, was so generous - I think he was more pleased about my time than his own. Yet he did another great sub-3. The guy is so consistent.
So I'd got the time I wanted, it was a lovely day. I was tired but not broken. I was grinning from ear to ear and I had meeting in the pub with Fetchies and Harmeny club mates to look forward to. I flopped down on the grass near Horse Guards and was as happy as Happy can be.
The end! :-)G
The Allendale Challenge 2013, 26 mile route - Report by Iain Morrice
The Allendale Challenge is an LDWA event open to both walkers and runners, this year there would be approx 800 walkers and 150 runners. All the proceeds from the Challenge go to support The North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Teams.The route is a cracker and starts and finishes in the Square in Allendale Village which is situated in the Northumberland Moors area.
95% of the route is off road with a couple of small tarmac sections
The route starts uphill for the first 4 miles of which 1 mile is on tarmac, its then 3 miles offroad uphill all the way past The Chimneys to a tarmac road.
Run along this flat section for approx 1/2 mile then its off road over the heather moors. All the offroad sections were covered in thick hard compounded snow and as such there was only a very narrow path to follow.This had been trudged down by the 800 walkers who had started out 2 hours before the runners. Many parts of the route you have to follow your nose or map to get to the checkpoints of which there are 9. The route goes over heather moors and peat haggs although this year they were all covered in snow.
The going was pretty steady until you catch up with the many walkers and you have to be very careful as they dont hear you coming and you have to get past them. I made the mistake of wearing socks that did not cover my ankle bones. This was a problem because in many sections to get past the walkers you had to run off piste on the softer icy snow and I ended up with both ankle bones bleeding badly due to the abrasions from the icy snow.
The checkpoints are also water stations and at these the friendly helpers will always offer encouragement and medical assistance if required. There are many long high climbs on the route and you must make sure of keeping yourself warm and hydrated. I love when you catch up with the walkers as you fly past them for hours which really bucks you up. I managed to only fall down twice and both times landed with a thump.
The remoteness of the area really adds to the enjoyment of this type of race and the views are spectacular. It really is an area of beauty and one you must try at least once.
The entry fee was £12.00 and for this you get water stations and food at the checkpoints, a race certificate and a free meal in the local Hotel at the finish.
I managed to come 22nd out of 150 in a time of 4 hours 10 mins so was well pleased with that.This was my second time of doing this Challenge and I be doing it again next year because its such a fantastic event
Lochaber Marathon 14 April 2013 - Report by Lucy Marshall
Lochaber Marathon took place on 14 April 2013. A fast flat scenic course. It probably would have been more scenic if there was not so much rain and mist! However, overall the running conditions were not as bad as we expected. Some runners may not like the out and back course however I enjoyed seeing the faster runners coming towards me. I ran with Laura, a Lochaber runner for around ten miles and it was fantasic as it felt like all the supporters on the side of the road knew her and they cheered us as we ran along. A total of 364 runners took part so in comparison to Edinburgh this is a small but friendly marathon. I said I would start out slow but as usual set off a bit too fast and got swept along with the crowd. The last half was running into the wind and the final two miles were torture into a head wind! The female course record was broken by JOANNA ZAKRZEWSKI time of 2.45: 55!! Maybe next year!
Well done to Mo May who was first in her age category - Fantastic result! There is a picture here of Mo recieving her prize
Angus Kay 3.12:08
Lucy Marshall 3.42:48
Monica Evans 4:12:05
Ian May 4:44:25
Mo May 4:59:19
Unfortunately Kenny had to pull out at 5 miles but kindly waited for us all to finish. Angus did a fab time in 3.12:08. PB for me of 20 mins and my legs recovered the quickest ever after a marathon! London marathon next year for me then :) However I would be tempted back to Lochaber - really well organised and nice low key event with stunning scenery.
Pic above - Lucy on the finishing straight.
Harmeny Runners Brave the weather for the Rock and Roll Half marathon- 14 April 2013
Well done to all the brave runners that took part in the Rock and Roll Half marathon in Edinburgh on 14 April 2013. Conditions were tough through the wind and the rain as runners ran through the Meadows, the Mound, the Queen's Palace at Holyrood, and the Scottish Parliament building and also through Portobello promenade.
The music kept everyone going and no doubt the next half marathon will feel easier!
Jon Waters 1:31:59
Neil Sneddon 1:33:34
Heather Packwood 1.44.34
Karen Davidson 1.52.10
Frances Turnball 1.55.55 (in pic above)
Nicky Torkington 1.58.29
Pam Williams 2.02.42
Jane Scaife 2:05:08
Janis Brown 2.15.08
Ann Laidlaw 2.33.10
7R Half Marathon News Report
Mar 4, 2013 - 7R Half Marathon - News Report
Here's the report that appeared in the C&B News:
Harmeny in the prizes at DeVilla Forest.
Feb 24, 2013 - Harmeny in the prizes at DeVilla Forest.
Congratulations to Lorna Broadhurst, 3rd Female in the 5k and to Iain Morrice who was 2nd M60 in the 15k trail races at Devilla near Kincardine this morning.
Ross Millar had a storming run, finishing in just over the hour. Andrew Corrigan, Nicky Freedman, Howard Okley, Alan Price, Frank Tooley, Timothy May, Marion Kennedy and Linda Buchanan also ran well in the 15k.
Results 15k at http://www.carnegie-harriers.co.uk/Results/877/2652.pdf
Scottish Cross Country Champioships, Falkirk
Feb 23, 2013 - Scottish Cross Country Championships, Falkirk
Harmeny Pentland Runners Ladies were represented by Margie Leitch (36.23) and Lucy Marshall (37.55) at the Scottish Senior Ladies Cross Country Championships. Margie had a strong run, improving her position on both of the testing 4k laps. Lucy also ran strongly finishing a minute and a half behind Margie.
In the Mens Senior Race, Darren Cavaroli (47.47) continued his excellent form finishing well up in a very high quality field full of International Road and Hill Runners. Angus Kay (51.34) just managed to stay in front of Murray Peebles (51.37) in a close finish at the end of their 12k course (3 laps). Craig Stewart (51.42) had a strong run and possibly the most impressive finish of all, storming down the home straight to improve his position by 6 or 7 places to finish only 5 secs behind Murray.
Andrew Corrigan (57.47) was the fifth finisher for Harmeny Mens team. Andrew lost a few seconds when he came up to hug Margie as he was so happy he had not been lapped!!
Unfortunately Ian and Chris were unable to run; get well soon to them.
Maybe we need a bigger tent for next year
Report by Lucy and Kieran
33 HALF MARATHONS IN 3 YEARS, BY TOM MATKO
I have completed 33 half marathons in 3 years!! I ran 10 half marathons in 2010, 11 in 2011 and 12 in 2012 (perfect mathematics). I am 2nd in the Scottish rankings for the most number of half marathons in 3 years. I am one of only 2 Scottish runners to have more than once, run 10 half marathons in a year. I do not intend in the future to improve on the tally of 33 half marathons, as my next challenge is focused on full marathons instead.
The story began in October 2009 at my 50th half marathon in Jedburgh in the Borders. I told the race organiser it was my 50th, and my name was announced at the start to all the runners. I then thought up the idea of running 10 half marathons in a year (my previous best was 7). After completing 10 half marathons, I thought it would be interesting to try to beat this mark in 2011. I then thought about running 12 (one for each month of the year), and fittingly around Britain’s Olympic Games in 2012.
I have now run 83 half marathons (personal best of 1.17.54 set both in Falkirk in 1989 and Great North Run in 1992). My plan is 7 in 2013, 5 in 2014, and 5 in 2015, to reach 100 half marathons. I also hope to run some of the most scenic half marathons during this time, on Scottish islands and on the far North West of the Scottish mainland. In 2013, my targets are to reach 90 half marathons (7 to go), 25 marathons (3 to go), and my 250th lifetime long distance running race (3 to go).
The Scottish rankings at the end of 2012 are shown in this table. If you know of any other Scot to be included, please send me an e-mail. I statistically analysed the “Power of 10” Website.
Bill Adams holds 3 Scottish records (set at the age of 65!):
The following table shows how I run 33 half marathons in 3 years:
The beauty of the countryside determines how good the running experience. Flat city races of which I have done many are unfulfilling in comparison to their beautiful rural cousins (bit like the story of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse). Steep rural road races (with very little off-road) are the best ones, feeling like running the Tour de France!! My favourite half marathons so far have been: Moray (Elgin, 2007), Oban (2009), Aviemore MT (2009), Heaven & Hell (Perthshire, 2010), Dumfries (2010), Jedburgh (Borders, 2010), Glen Clova (Angus, 2011), Burn Valley (Yorkshire Dales, 2012), Pewsey (Wiltshire, 2012), Ashbourne (Peak District, 2012).
When I hopefully reach 100 half marathons at the end of 2015, after that my next challenge is to run 6 marathons in a single year. My best so far is 4 marathons completed in 2010.
My e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CRAIG STEWART REPORTS ON HIS FIRST CROSS COUNTRY RACE FOR HARMENY
The build up to the cross country was more eventful than the race itself and consequently it was a real pleasure to see such strong Harmeny teams representing both the ladies and men – and on such a beautiful, sunny day in Stirling. With this being my first event, I was a touch nervous especially as I was also team-managing the juniors. But the rushing around did take my mind off things and my only real regret was not having the time to cheer the ladies around the course especially as the support they subsequently gave to the men was nothing short of fantastic.
When race-time came I cautiously took my place towards the back of the start-line having remembered the general chaos that used to take place at the start when I last did cross-country – at school over 25 years ago – with elbows flying and spikes making painful contact with flesh. However, there was none of that and the start was much more civilised than I remember and I managed to settle into a position towards the rear of the field.
Some imparted wisdom from Kenny Tindall in the first half mile put me in good stead for the race “if there’s one thing I’ve learned in cross-country it’s that there are no medals for a fast first lap”. Great advice which I think paid dividends as I tended to move up the field as the race progressed.
But it wasn’t all positive; cross country is tough – the 3-lap race was full of short, sharp uphills (and surprisingly few downs) and very, very muddy! And while everyone tried to avoid the worst of the mud in the first lap, by the 2nd people realised the best course was to trudge straight through. The mud really has the effect of sapping all of the energy from your legs and I think any first-timer will be surprised just how tough a relatively short race can be – and it’s fair to say that at the end of the race I saw more people vomiting than I’ve seen since my days of drinking in the Bigg Market in the early 90s!
But the support from the ladies and the remaining juniors (and Gavin) had a real motivating effect – especially as you had to pass them 3 times, each time spurring you on with their cheers and high-5s. So, despite twisting my ankle in exactly the same spot towards the end of laps 2 and 3 I came over the line feeling knackered but exhilarated from the experience.
For anyone wavering about whether to compete in the remaining cross-country races of the season (Livingston on 24th November, Broxburn on 12th January) I would highly recommend it – it will really sharpen your fitness and in a sport as individual as running often is, the chance to compete for Harmeny and experience the team-spirit you would expect from such a great bunch is not to be missed.
Only thing missing for me - next time let’s make sure that we cement that team-spirit in one of our favourite hostelries afterwards!
Results can be found here: http://www.scottishathletics.org.uk/index.php?p=80&itemType=fixtures&itemId=15757
Read about Gavin's Loch Ness Marathon experience here:
My WHW race - Fionna Ross
June seemed to arrive too soon, and all the plans I had made to come into the race being super-fit, super-toned and super-ready never did seem to have materialised. But on the positive side, at least I was ready to get to the start line - and that meant I knew that nothing would stop me from getting to the finish line in Fort William.
The start of the year had begun badly - an awful Inverness half marathon in March, and disastrous D33 later that month during which I almost pulled out, and then an equally disappointing Fling in April. I was seriously thinking that running just wasn't happening for me this year and that maybe I should take a break and reassess things. Several people told me that the D33 and Fling experiences of this year were actually positive things for me - that it was good to experience races where things go really badly, because the WHW certainly wouldn't be easy: it would hurt, I would feel miserable and I just had to get on with it. But I couldn't get over this overwhelming feeling of apathy; that I just couldn't be bothered anymore and what was the point anyway? Life's short enough as it is, so why voluntarily make ourselves suffer more than we need to? But as any other runner knows, the question is never "why", but "why not". So I decided to stop stressing about why I was running so badly for the time being and just concentrate again on enjoying running. The months following the Fling and preceding WHW were therefore taken up with a Glee Club run at Glen Coe, several social runs in the Pentlands, parts of the Cateran trail and WHW, and other runs with my Harmeny clubmates – the main emphasis was on running in beautiful, inspiring places and not worrying about how fast or slow I was going. The decider would be the Cateran Ultra in May - if it went ok, I'd run WHW, if it didn't then I just wasn't cut out for that distance, not this year anyway. The race did go well though - I got a huge PB from last year and it felt good, so the WHW was back on!
My husband Mark and Harmeny clubmate Keziah had agreed to support me for the first "half" of the race up until Auchtertyre, after which my dad, Charlie, and other Harmenite Lorna would take over, with Mark and Keziah returning again at Kinlochleven. So Mark, Keziah and I left Balerno around 10pm on the Friday evening (usually around the time I would be going to bed!) and headed through to register at Milngavie. I wasn’t feeling particularly rested – my plan to doze for most of the day and do very little didn’t materialise and instead I spent the day rushing around the supermarket buying last minute stuff, running up and down the stairs at home trying to pack and going over the map and meeting places with my Dad, who had arrived the night before. To top it off, I’d woken up that morning with my glands swollen and a sore throat – I’d felt like I’d been fighting off a cold for the past fortnight or so and finally, on the day of the biggest race of my life so far, it looked like my immune system had finally given up. I spent the day gargling TCP (discovered it actually takes like Laphroaig!).
I was feeling and probably looking very nervous, something that another of my clubmates, Donald, pointed out when we bumped into each other at registration. It didn't take long to pass the time between registration and race briefing, and we spent some of it with Donald and his support crew in their luxurious motorhome (thanks again for the cuppa and biccies Derek and Shona :)). I was pleased to see that Donald had been reunited with his (in)famous tartan shorts that had worryingly gone astray following the Cateran the previous month.
It wasn’t long before 1am arrived, and as we all headed towards the official start, I bumped into another Harmenite, Paul and we agreed to run the first section together. It was nice to know I'd be running with a friend through the dark as anyone who knows me, knows I'm a big feartie in the dark on my own! It was an amazing experience leaving Milngavie and heading out towards Drymen - looking behind us all we could see was a string of headtorches meandering behind us. The pace felt fine, and I felt surprisingly more awake than I thought I would have at that time of the morning - the adrenaline and excitement of it all must have played a part. Weather-wise, there had been a brief interlude from the torrential downpours earlier on that day during the race briefing (actually in Balerno, there had been thunder and lightning, horizontal rain and even hailstones!!), and as it was really mild, I had decided to start the race wearing my long sleeved t-shirt and carrying my goretex in my rucksack. It didn't take long however for the rain to start again and before long I was soaked through. I didn't want to stop though - I figured if you are going to get wet, then you are pretty much going to get wet, regardless of whether or not you are wearing waterproofs. Because of all the heavy rainfall, underfoot conditions were very muddy and flooded in areas, and any hope I'd had of keeping my feet dry were soon dispelled. I don't usually get bothered with blisters, but then again, I don't really have much experience of running for 20+ hours at a time in torrential downpours! Not a problem though, just meant that I didn't have to try and avoid the puddles, I might as well take the direct route. Other parts of the first leg were quite narrow and there were times when we were all funnelled single file along the muddy tracks - not ideal as I felt my pace was dictated by those in front and behind me - but it was early days, I didn't feel like I was going excessively too fast and so I stuck behind Paul.
I took the opportunity to eat a honey roll – I’d had a banana just before the start, but know that often I find it hard to eat later on in a race, so the earlier I got food in, the better. My strategy was to eat mostly real food (honey rolls, rice pudding, soup, fruit), substituted with shot blocks, and to drink alternating bottles of water and lucozade. I’d stuck some gels in for the later stages as well – ordinarily I avoid them as they are gross, but I packed them in case I wasn’t able to stomach anything else in the latter stages. By this point I was pretty much soaked through and starting to get cold – but I didn’t want to stop – so managed to get my goretex on when we walked up one of the hills. It made a huge difference just to keep the wind off and it didn’t take long to feel comfortable again. Soon we could see the lights of Drymen and the first 12 miles were done. Mark and Keziah were waiting for me, and Paul had Iain and the rest of the crew waiting for him – I had a quick change of bottles, grabbed a rice crispie square (I’d never had one before, very tasty!), and then we both left for the next leg, over Conic hill to Balmaha.
I love Conic hill – I’m a hill runner, so gradients, mud and descents don’t usually phase me (although talk to anyone in my club and they’ll tell you I always moan whenever I see a hill….it’s a love/hate relationship!!). I don’t usually enjoy the forest part though to get to Conic Hill, but the time passed quickly as Paul and I chatted away. We even passed a few runners which felt good, especially as it didn’t feel like we were pushing the pace. The morning was starting to arrive and it didn’t take long before we were able to turn our head torches off – the misty view out over Loch Lomond as we approached Conic Hill was breath taking, and it was an amazing sight, seeing the string of runners making their way up Conic. As we started the ascent, I felt the pace was a bit fast for me and there was still a hell of a long way to go, so Paul pushed on to the next stop without me. I’d never climbed Conic in such atrocious conditions before – the paths had gone and instead there were just torrents and streams cascading down. It was like walking up a melt-water channel, most of the sediment had been washed away leaving only rocks and pebbles. I caught up with Donald just before the top and we pushed on together. I tried to take a photo – it didn’t come out, but it would never have been able to capture the beauty of it all anyway (Loch Lomond, not the rear end of Donald !!) – Its times like these that I wish I was an artist and could paint! The descent off Conic Hill was fun, very slippery and so much water. I had my first and only fall (that I can remember) of the race, landed on a slab of rock, no problem though as I have lots of padding and tend to bounce! Donald and I caught up with another of my friends, Graham, as we came into the car-park at Balmaha, and I was happy that although the weather was still grim, I was feeling good.
Mark and Keziah were waiting for me in the car park at Balmaha – Keziah waving Harmeny-coloured pom-poms – and it was great to see them both! That was the last time I was to see the pom-poms however as they weren’t waterproof and Mark and Keziah’s hands started to turn an alarming colour! I changed over bottles, ate a tub of rice pudding (which I’ve never tried in a race before – was brilliant), grabbed a few other things and set off on the next leg to Rowardennan. Anyone who knows me is aware that I have a pretty awful memory, so the remaining stages are pretty patchy! I remember catching up with a girl who was wearing headphones and thinking she’d be deaf by the end of the race as they were blasting so loud I could hear her playlist! I know that lots of people use music in races, but I’ve never seen the attraction. I like to concentrate on running and what’s around me, so I started to feel a bit irritated with the noise and pushed on ahead of her. I love the section between Balmaha and Rowardennan. It can be pretty draining, but at the same time, its fun so doesn’t feel like such a slog. The midges were bad in places though which surprised me as it was still chucking it down, and parts of the path were pretty treacherous – some bits even looked like they had been completely washed away. I soon caught up with Paul (a side glance suggested he was having a quick “pit stop” at the side of a tree – probably not the best time to shout hi and stop for a chat) and ran ahead, but he caught up with me a few minutes later and we ran on together for a while. I caught up with another girl on one of the steeper uphill sections and stuck with her until Rowardennan, pulling away from Paul. I didn’t know if the pace was too quick for me or not, but I’d planned from the start to run how I feel rather than rely on times, and as it didn’t feel excessively fast, decided to go with her into Rowardennan.
The “run how I feel” strategy however wasn’t the best plan for my support – the estimated times I’d given them up until this point had been far too conservative and so I arrived in Rowardennan without my support team. It was a bit of a blow, as I’d planned to change my socks here, which by this point were full of silt, and have breakfast, but I couldn’t find my team!! I saw Iain M, Paul’s support and shouted to him if he’d seen Mark and Keziah – he called over Norma, Paul’s other support, who kindly gave me a bottle of lucozade and an amazingly tasty flapjack, while Iain ran around the car-park looking for my support crew. We couldn’t find them; the girl I’d been running with and hoped to stick with had disappeared, and so I just had to push on. Paul had come in at this point but decided he wanted to rest up a bit as the pace felt fast, but I still felt ok at this point, so pushed on, Iain M shouting out after me to take my time.
It later turned out that Mark and Keziah were parked 4 cars down from Iain, but were having a wee power nap……!!! The alarm they had set went off 5 minutes after I checked out, so they had just missed me!
I walked for the first couple of minutes out of Rowardennan so that I could eat my flapjack and try to phone Mark to find out where they were. I was worried they might wait in Rowardennan and wouldn’t realise I’d passed, and so miss me at Glenbogle. Also, Mark had been having some car issues over the last couple of weeks, so I was wondering whether the car had broken down somewhere. Poor Mark was so apologetic, he felt really bad. This was a first for all of us though, it was no-one’s fault and I’d made sure to carry extra food supplies in my bag anyway. Regarding the shoe change, it probably didn’t matter anyway, as I would never have been able to keep them dry and silt free!
I soon caught up with the girl I’d ran a bit with in the previous leg and we got chatting. Gaynor – I recognised the name – one of Debbie Martin-Consani’s “just for fun” predicted race winners – so I must have been going too fast, I shouldn’t be anywhere near a potential race winner! Paul and Donald were both behind me too, it didn’t seem right, but at the same time I still felt ok and thought I might as well go with it, so kept with Gaynor into Beinglas. I enjoyed chatting to her, and thought, well if I end up finishing last now, at least I can say I ran with one of the fast girls for the first 40 miles…..!
John Kynaston was waiting to check us in at Beinglas Farm with a huge smile. I had a quick stop to get some food and change over my bottles, and when I looked round Gaynor had disappeared. My changeovers were proving to be far from slick, something I need to think about for future races! I plugged on, feeling quite good and it seemed like I ran for a while on my own without seeing anyone. Graham caught up with me again as I slogged up one of the uphill sections and encouraged me to dig in which helped, and soon we saw support crews waiting at Glenbogle. Graham saw his support team first and I was beginning to wonder whether mine had made it when I heard Keziah shouting – great, I was looking forward to changing my sodden top for a fresh, dry one, not that it would stay that way for long. Again, it wasn’t the slickest of changeovers, I struggled to get my waterproof Haglof off and on the right way around again (thinking I really need to buy a waterpoof jacket with a full front zip rather than my current pullover one), but managed to grab some food, top up bottles and set off again. I felt a bit guilty about Mark and Keziah, I didn’t know how long they had been waiting for me in the pouring rain, and they both looked freezing. Support teams are absolute heroes!!
I remember feeling really crappy on the Crianlarich to Auchtertyre leg during this year’s Fling, I wasn’t running well and every step felt laboured. I was feeling much better this time round though and power marched the uphill sections, enjoying running on the rolling downhill parts. Usually around this distance my legs start to feel heavy and I don’t pick my feet up properly, causing me to trip over rocks. But my legs still felt light and I didn’t feel like I was shuffling at all. I was looking forward to seeing my Dad at Auchtertyre. My dad’s amazing, he’s supported me with running ever since I was at high school and tries to come and see me run whenever he can, so it made sense to ask him to be part of my support team for WHW. And at this point it looked like I was still second lady, so even if the rest of the women passed me now, even if I did finish last, at least my Dad saw me when I was running well! As I got nearer Auchtertyre, I caught up with Andy Johns – he was struggling and looked like he had picked up an injury. But he was still smiling away and being super positive, even though he should have been miles ahead by this point. I’ve met so many positive people since I started ultra running – people that manage to put a positive spin on even the worst of situations, and it’s really inspiring, something that I’ve tried to take with me outside of running too. The “reception” coming into Auchtertyre was amazing, lots of cheering and encouraging shouts. I spotted Lucy C smiling away in the crowd and then looked over and saw my team – now joined by my dad and Lorna. I got checked in and weighed (lost some weight, yes!), then Mark pulled me over to sit down and get some food in me. I changed my socks and shoes for the first and only time during the race – it felt nice to get fresh shoes on, but at the same time I was anxious that I was losing time. My dad and Lorna wouldn’t let me go on though until I ate some soup – my dad had brought some of his home made tattie soup in a flask (complete with quorn “beef” strips – great stuff!) – it tasted amazing and I was pleased that I was able to eat it all. This point at the Fling, I remember feeling really sick and being unable to get any food down, so the fact that my appetite was still intact was an excellent sign. I arranged to have some chips waiting for me at Tyndrum and set off.
It’s hard to believe that just a month or so ago I was running the Crianlarich to Tyndrum leg with one of my friends, Dan, who was visiting us from down south – in completely different conditions. Today I don’t think it could have been any wetter. Last month, it was so unbelievably hot and dry, it felt like we were in some other country. We were so hot that we ended up stopping off at a river just past Auchtertyre to have a wee swim and cool down. Slightly different from today’s conditions! It was during this leg (I think!) that I was overtaken by another girl, I think it must have been Rosie Bell (another of Debbie’s predicted race winners). I came into Tyndrum just behind Rosie, who seemed to push right through without stopping. Another sloppy changeover from me – Mark and Keziah were wandering over when they saw me so started running. My dad was still at the Real Food Café in the queue for food, so no chips or hot cup of tea waiting for me. I also had a craving for some coke – it was in the car though which was parked across at the Green Welly stop. Keziah tried to get me to stop to wait for the chips, but my chances of finishing top 3 were slipping further away so instead I grabbed a banana and headed off. I passed Andy’s support crew who were waiting for him and think I mumbled something about really looking forward to getting chips. I noticed they were all drinking steaming cups of tea and coffee and felt a bit jealous…..then Mark came running up behind me with a bottle of coke, he’d ran back to the car and got it for me. I felt really guilty, his arthritis had flared up really badly in his hands and feet the weekend before to the extent that I was wondering if he’d actually be better in time to support me, so the fact he was running just to get a bottle of coke to me and was in obvious pain, made me so grateful. I said my goodbyes – this was the last time I would see Mark and Keziah until Kinlochleven. They were heading to Onich to check into the accommodation I had booked us and to try and get their heads down for a couple of hours.
It felt exciting running on from Tyndrum – I’d run the Fling and the Devil before, but never back to back. I remembered how tired I felt after the Fling the previous two years I had run it, and was happy that I was feeling good at this point. Still a long way to go though and I still had the Devil and climb out of KLL to get over, as well as the long slog over the Lairig Mor. I forget where I saw Debbie and Sharon who were both out running (by now you are probably getting the point that I have a rubbish memory….!!) but I think it may have been on this leg. It was such a boost seeing those two, Debbie was shouting words of encouragement, letting me know that second lady wasn’t that far ahead and to stick in – it really made me believe that I could finish well up, if I just kept focused. Hearing about Debbie’s recent achievements had been a huge help in getting me in the right frame of mind for the WHW too. She had recently come first (i.e. beating not just all the other women, but all the other men too!!) in a 145 mile race!! All of a sudden 95 miles didn’t seem that far!!
I love the wee section down to Bridge of Orchy – it feels a bit of a slog for some of it, but when you see the railway station and know you are almost at the hotel, it’s a good feeling – another section ticked off. I’d caught up with two other runners and we all came into Bridge of Orchy together. As I ran in, I realised I hadn’t actually confirmed to my team where to meet me – at the hotel car park, or down by the bridge – so I wasted a bit of time wandering about. I was happy to see Lorna run towards me though, and she directed me to my dad who was waiting for me with a chair and more of his magic soup just over the bridge. The chair felt too comfy though, and I mumbled something to that effect, so next thing Lorna and my dad were pulling me to my feet and telling me to get going again – the sign of a brilliant support crew!! Andy’s support team were there too, so he couldn’t be far behind, and Gavin (another Harmenite) came over to say hi – he passed on a big hug from Kenny, one of my running friends from Balerno, and also a kick up the ass (yeah, thanks for that KT!). It gave me a boost though to know that people were thinking about me. I had hoped to have Lorna run this section with me, but I was within 4 hours of the overall leader at this point, so had to push on alone.
It’s just a short wee section over to Victoria Bridge, but there’s a bit of a climb in the middle. The weather was still pretty horrendous, so I was amazed to see a guy standing at the top of the hill when I finally slogged up, cheering on all the runners and handing out jelly babies (think it was Murdo?). These guys are the true heroes! Should probably point out here, I have been a strict vegetarian now for over 15 years – to the extent that I won’t eat jelly babies, wine gums, certain brands of wine/beer and anything else that contains gelatine or other dead animal by-products – I kind of flung that out the window for the WHW though and had been eating jelly babies and wine gums. (That’s as far as it went though!!) I gratefully received a soggy white jelly baby from Murdo and pushed on. The weather really was awful – but I loved it, I’ve run in a lot worse conditions, and the great thing about these kinds of conditions is that you know it’s not just you feeling it – everyone is. So in a way, it kind of levels out the playing fields a bit. Everyone is getting wet, falling over, and slipping about, so I was thinking “bring it on!!“ These are the kind of conditions I love!! The section from the top of that hill down to Inveroran is another of my favourites (downhill ones usually are!) and I enjoyed coasting down to the bottom, where my Dad and Lorna were waiting for me. It was a quicker handover this time as I grabbed some wine gums, topped up on drinks, and started the slog over Rannoch Moor to Glencoe.
I’d really hoped to have Lorna with me over Rannoch Moor. It’s not a particularly tough or technical section, it can just be a bit exposed and lonely and a bit of a slog. I’d run it a few times this year in training runs though, so could mentally break it down into wee sections. And the treat at the end was the fun downhill section into Glencoe, so I had that to look forward to. This section was pretty uneventful – I could see some runners in the distance, and there were a few walkers out braving the weather. Again, the weather was so different to one of the times I’d run over here last year – it had been so hot and dry that day, that a huge fire had caught on the heather, lighting up an enormous area of the moor and causing huge plumes of smoke that you could see for miles. We almost didn’t make it back from that training run as the fire had spread over the path and we were lucky to make it through. The conditions couldn’t have been more different today though! I plugged on and it didn’t feel like too long before I’d reached the high point and began coasting down to Glencoe. I made a huge error here though – rather than cut up to the ski centre, I followed the WHW signs which took me out much further down the hill. I could see groups of people up at the ski centre but couldn’t remember if this was one of the checkpoints or not (crappy memory…!!!). Lorna and my Dad weren’t there and I didn’t know what to do so I started to try to phone my Dad. I didn’t want to waste even more time and energy having to run all the way back up the hill again, so I figured I could run on to Kingshouse and meet them there instead. Luckily a runner saw me though and told me I had to check in at Glencoe first. I was so annoyed with myself, I was starting to feel tired now and I couldn’t afford to go the wrong way – I had far enough to run as it was and I’d just added an extra hill on!! Lorna saw me as I started to jog back up the hill and I had a wee rant to her – she got me checked in quickly though and then my dad saw us and came running over with some chips. By this point I was allowed a support runner– great, so Lorna could help me get up the Devil’s Staircase! I managed to eat a few chips, have a quick cup of tea and set off on the next stretch to Altnafeadh.
It was great having some company, someone to help me keep focused and take my mind off what lay ahead. We ran straight through Kingshouse, there was no point stopping as I’d just seen my dad a couple of miles back, so he raced on ahead to Altnafeadh. The rain just didn’t seem to want to give, but luckily it didn’t feel cold, so we pushed on. My dad was waiting for us at the foot of the Devil – some lovely woman had gone over to share her huge umbrella with him, so he wasn’t as soggy as he otherwise would have been! I topped up on more wine gums and pushed on with Lorna.
The Devil’s Staircase had been one of the legs I’d been a bit worried about. In the Devil last year my calves had cramped going up it. The weather had been slightly different then though! I felt like I was having to dig deep now to get up the hill. Lorna was great, she just kept pushing on ahead of me, so it gave me something to focus on. We caught up with and passed two others and I was glad to see the top. Coming down the Devil’s Staircase at the other end is magic, another of my favourite parts of the WHW. I love the huge stepping stones at the bottom too. The second lot though were completely submerged by the raging storm waters, so we gingerly crossed over them. It always seems to take an eternity to get into KLL – you can see it from so far away but it never seems to get any closer and you seem to have to run downhill for a long time. At least it was downhill though. We made good progress and it didn’t feel like long until we saw the familiar street leading into KLL. Not so familiar though – I made another mistake as I couldn’t remember how to get to the check point – I thought it was along a road on the left, so we kept running along the road trying to find this turnoff that never came. I started to feel annoyed again, where were my support team and why weren’t they here looking out for us? I was being a typical blonde though, would have helped if I’d actually spotted the WHW sign and followed the path! I may have been slightly arsy with Mark over the phone when I was calling him to find out where we were meant to go, but at over 80 miles in, I thought I’d done well to keep my temper tantrums to one…..! I was more annoyed with myself at wasting more time – we were so close to the finish now, I was 3rd lady, and I desperately didn’t want to give that up. I was really happy to see Keziah run towards us when we were retracing our steps, she’d had the common sense to work out where we’d gone wrong and sprinted out to bring us in. I got checked in and weighed, and finished off the rest of my dad’s soup, confident that its powers would see me through to Lundavra! It was great to have Keziah join us on the final stages too, an extra person to drag me in if it came to that!
The climb out of Kinlochleven was another stage that I’d been worrying about. It is such a long drag, I think its actually worse than the Devil’s Staircase, and just seems to take ages to get up. Keziah and Lorna were great at distracting me though and we chatted (I was probably complaining at this point) as we power marched up the hills. This section also has the Lairig Mhor, another section that I remembered from the Devil as being a particular slog. It was along here that we caught up again with Graham who by this point had his brother running with him. We stopped briefly for some iron bru and photos with the mountain response guys (it was them who introduced me to the amazing powers of irn bru during the Devil last year – more heroes!) and plugged on along the Lairig Mhor. I was really having to dig deep here and Lorna and Keziah were great, like my two body guards motivating me to keep going! I was just so scared that, after all this time of the race, some girl would whizz past me and take my 3rd place. For a moment we thought that might happen too – my neck and shoulders were so sore that I couldn’t turn my head properly, so I was getting Keziah to look behind us every so often to see if anyone was gaining – Keziah announced there was a group of 3 runners making ground on us and one was a female. My heart sunk – I’d worked so hard for this and I didn’t want to give it up now. The next few miles we really pushed the pace, catching up with Graham and his brother again and pushing on further. The group kept catching us though and soon came level with us. I felt devastated as the girl ran past me, I didn’t know if I had any fight left in me to chase her. I wanted this place so badly though!! Huge sigh of relief though when Lorna just asked her outright if she was racing and it turned out that she was supporting one of the guys. Phew! That in itself gave me more determination again and we pushed on to Lundavra where Mark and my Dad were waiting for us.
I was so happy to get to Lundavra – I was tired obviously, but I still felt like I could run and we were so near the finish! I stocked up for the last time on more wine gums and juice, had a nice hot cup of chocolate and the 3 of us headed off on the final leg. The climb through Lundavra wasn’t as bad as I remembered it during the Devil and I felt strong going up the hills. We were on the final stretch, I was hurting, but I knew it would soon be over. I wish I’d looked into the finish properly though – when we dropped down towards the final stretch into Fort William, I remember the confusion of last year at the Devil. I’d followed the official WHW signs down onto the road, which takes you in the opposite direction of Fort William and the town centre, but I remembered some runners cutting it short through the Braveheart car-park. I wanted to go through the car-park, but I wasn’t sure if that was the route for this run – the three of us stopped to discuss briefly and then we kind of concluded that we should go the official route just in case – I wasn’t going to run all this way only to get disqualified for taking a short cut! Is that the wrong way? Its definitely the longer way, so I was feeling a bit downhearted when we finally got to the point along the road where we would have come out if we’d taken the car park!! What if another girl had sneaked ahead through the car park?!! I was soon distracted by bats flying over our heads and then a young deer further along the road, standing right next to where we ran past – amazing! We were so near the finish, but again, being the disorganised person I am, I hadn’t checked to see where the actual finish was!! So we ran past the official WHW tourist finish and weren’t sure which way to go! Luckily Graham’s wife was out on the street waiting for him and sent us in the right direction. The final stretch along the road to the leisure centre was amazing – there was no-one behind me and I knew I’d done it – I knew we’d done it!!! I ran up the steps of the centre and just stopped, not quite sure what to do, where to go or how to feel! Ian Beattie saw me through the glass doors and beckoned me in. I’d finished! My only aim for this race had been to finish within the 35 hour time limit. I’d finished so much further ahead of what I could have imagined – 21 hours and 32 minutes – 3rd female and 18th overall!!! And my Dad was there to see me do it.
The WHW race for me was amazing – I expected the worst (in terms of how I’d feel), but can honestly say I loved every minute of it. My support team were amazing – to give up their weekends and support me the way they did, I can’t thank them enough. And same to all the other supporters, and of course to the organisers and countless other individuals who are mad enough to give up so much time to be part of such a mad and amazing adventure! I am so proud of my team and of course, my goblet….and maybe one day there will be another one to join it!
My amazing support crew
Lairig Ghru Hill Race - Sunday 24th June 2012
My first ultra (it just qualifies at 27 miles), and my 2nd ever hill race (the 1st was Red Moss 4 days earlier). As a long time hillwalker I knew the Lairig Ghru well, having walked it and the mountains on either side of it many times over the years, therefore when I started running last year and I heard that there was a race through the Lairig Ghru, it was one that I immediately wanted to do.
The first time I walked it with a group of work colleagues back around 1989, then we left Braemar at about 9am and didn't get to the Hostel in Aviemore until after 10pm - 27 miles over rough terrain can take a long time in a group of varying abilities. Roll forward about 23 years and I was hoping to do it considerably quicker, even allowing for the advance of years (and waist-line !).
Met up with Gary Connelly at Braemar and we got our race numbers. I had entered this race very early as I was so keen, but in retrospect this was a bad move on my part for the organisers, as the on-line booking company borntorun.co.uk went into administration and Deeside Runners never received the fee I paid, I feel a bit bad about that, but not my fault.
The weather the day before had been really bad with lots of rain, thankfully on the Sunday itself it was more just showers, but certainly not a warm summer day ! I went with a long sleeve thermal and club vest, as I thought it could be quite exposed going over the high point of the Lairig Ghru at 2800 feet.
132 of us set off in dry conditions, the first 4.5 miles are on tarmac, from Braemar along to Mar Lodge, where there is the one and only water stop. Knowing the route quite well, I had decided not to use a camelbak, but instead just carried a water bottle that I would fill up from the plentiful streams along the way. This allowed me to just use a bumbag which I prefer over a rucksack.
Pre-race, looking at previous race results, I was hoping for somewhere around the 5 hour mark, and had sort of thought that 8 min/miles on the road and good trails would be required, given how slow the rougher sections in the middle would be. I ended the road section slightly faster than this, but felt very comfortable, the initial miles had flown by chatting away to a guy from Banchory who was trying to convert me to barefoot running, hmm, not convinced about that !
The next 4 miles from Mar Lodge to Derry Lodge was on good trails, and relatively flat, an overall slight rise, this was uneventful, but we were more spread out now, so just concentrated on the uneven ground, and tried to enjoy the scenery. It was still fair at this point, but was black and obviously raining ahead, glad I'd put the thermal on !
After Derry Lodge the path begins to get a bit rougher, more bouldery, and with the recent rain lots of puddles and mud. Somewhere in the next mile or two I "did a Kenny" and tripped over and hit my knee hard and had blood streaming down my leg. Initial thoughts were would I have to retire, but it eased off a bit. Soon came to the one major river crossing - there's a bridge over the Luibeag Burn, but involves a detour of about half a mile, so for us hardy (or is it foolhardy ?) runners it is straight through. In summer it's normally possible to step across the rocks and keep feet dry, but it was in spate and was knee high wading across - at least it cleaned the blood off my legs !
From the other side of the river it's a steep climb for half a mile, then a more gradual climb for another couple, all on rough paths, mile times plummeted at this point, but I knew they would so was ok with that. As we turned the corner of Carn a' Mhaim, with The Devil's Point opposite, the main pass of the Lairig Ghru became visible for the first time, rising for about 3 miles straight ahead - looked a long way, and weather wasn't nice at this point, and the paths were like streams. I was managing to keep a shuffle going on the uphills, with bits of walking here and there, everyone around me seemed to be doing similar.
As you start to approach the high point of the pass, the ground becomes considerably rougher, the path disappears as you enter various boulder fields. The rocks are always a bit unstable here, but when dry are quite grippy - not today, found them very slippy in my Roclites, this slowed me right down and afterwards looking at my Garmin then had my slowest mile at 19 mins at this point. Eventually, after a couple of false summitswe reached the high point and normally you get a fantastic view down into Rothiemurchus Forest, with Aviemore visible in the distance - not today, driving rain, cold wind, mist down with visibility about 50 yeards (some folk going off course, but as we were in a steep sided valley, they couldn't go too far wron ).
Eventually we came out of clouds as we start to descend and get the view of Aviemore, still about 9 or 10 miles away. The initial few miles downhill is still very bouldery and rocky, so not too fast (for someone of my ability at least !), but gradually the path improves. At one point there is a fantastic 400 yards of smooth new path where some workers are improving the path - looks slow painful work, but I gave them all a big THANKS as I passed, as it was so nice to run on. Finally hit the start of the forest, and decent paths and was able to pick up the speed a bit, although legs were pretty shot by now. 2 or 3 miles later hit the Piccadily junction where you get on to really good forest tracks, and just over 5 milesto the finish from there, 3 on tracks, 2 on road. Was able to keep to 8 min miles for the last 5 miles (which I couldn't do in my marathon) and there is a nice finish running up the main street in Aviemore past all the tourists and shoppers, crossing the line in 4:44:10 ! Happy with that.
Home made soup, cheese scones, chocolate cake, cookies etc were fantastic and very welcome !
Gary came in a few minutes later in 4:51 which was a fantastic time considering he'd not run longer than 10 miles since the Lochaber Marathon back in April.
I managed to get the last shower in the public toilets (for some strange reason the council switches them off at 3.30pm even though the toilets and attendant stay open until 6.30pm !).
Prize giving is a low key affair, most of the entry money goes to Cairngorm Mountain Rescue who were marshalling the course at the top of the pass. Great effort guys, thanks a lot. Winner(Dan Gay from HBT) did 3:12, no idea how they can go so fast over such rough terrain.............
Bus back to Braemar, via Grantown and Tomintoul took ages, but thankfully not as long as driver said it would.
All in all, a tough but enjoyable race, in a fantastic part of Scotland. If you're looking for something a bit tougher than a marathon, then would definitely recommend this one !
West Highland Way 2012 (The story of a PB)
Hopefully a bit shorter report than last years epic in which I shall quickly recap in as far as, I ran well for 60 miles and then developed a mangled right foot resulting in me hobbling/hopping/crawling the last 35 miles finishing in 27 hours 45 minutes.
This year I was sure if I could take it easy for the first 50 I would be able to get under the mystical 24 hours or at worst 25 hours.
The forecast leading up to the race just got worse and worse as the week went on and by Friday it was thunder with severe flood alerts.
Same competent support crew this year with Elaine, Derek and Shona Stewart and their big camper van Bessie.
Arrived at Milngavie at 10pm to register early and soak up the atmosphere (no pun intended) and meet up with so many great friends. I suspected that with about 24 hours of wading through puddles, foot problems could be a real issue. In a new experiment I taped my feet and then smothered them in Sudocreme and Vaseline.
It was a huge Harmeny team this year with Race Organiser Ian, runners Sandra, Paul H, Fionna and myself (also Pentland Tri coach Karl), and Iain, Norma, Keziah, Paul T, Lorna, Gavin, Kieran, Lucy, Elaine, Shona and Derek all on support duties.
Fionna and Paul looked particularly nervous, even worse than me, but Sandra was her normal bubbly self.
The rain stopped just before the start but within about 3 miles the heavens opened and it more or less stayed that way for the next 14 hours. There was no point in even trying to avoid the puddles but at this point it wasn’t overly problematic for the runners. It took a long time for daylight to break through and I was passed by Paul on the white water ascent of Conic Hill. Fionna caught up with me near the top and we both had minor falls on the slippy descent.
I changed my socks and applied more Sudocreme at Balmaha and Rowardennan feeling comfortable throughout, apart from a couple of emergency trips into the bushes.
The trees at the side of Loch Lomond gave a bit of shelter but were plagued with midges. Thousands of them were sticking to my sweaty exposed skin and many more met their demise in my eyes, up my nose or down my throat. I went through Inversnaid still right on schedule and was delighted to see Karin McKendrick and her sister Brenda who had set off at 5.00am to stand in the downpour to cheer on the runners.
Heading up through the technical bit I came across Paul who looked totally wasted and told me he was dropping out, We had a bit of a heart to heart man talk thing to try and spur him on but I wasn’t convinced that he would be able to pick himself up. I felt really sorry for him as he had put so much in to it.
Through Beinglas, over the rollercoaster to Auchtertyre, feeling great. The rivers, waterfalls and puddles were regularly over my ankles but I was spot on my schedule for a sub 24 and was also getting plenty of food down. News came through that Fionna was just behind the leading lady and this really excited me. I kept trying to phone ahead to tell my team but couldn’t get a signal. I met Paul T and Norma above Crianlarich and warned them about Paul’s condition. Some hot food and a clothes change and I was through the Fling distance in under 12 hours. Spot on.
The uphill section from Tyndrum round Ben Dorian was into a strong headwind, still with driving rain and I was soon shivering. I was joined by a couple of guys running really strongly and joined them for about 4 miles at about 7.50 pace. This warmed me up but I think is where it all went wrong…..exactly the same place as last year. On leaving the Bridge of Orchy checkpoint (60 miles) I felt a twinge on my calf which worsened as I climbed Mam Carraigh. By now I was allowed a support runner and was joined by Shona.
I stopped at Victoria Bridge to sort out clothes for the crossing of Rannoch Moor and Elaine took over on support. As soon as I set off, my calf started to give in and I felt devastated. No good time this year, it was going to be another massive struggle to finish. We walked all the uphill sections of the moor and were passed by many runners, including, amazingly, Paul and his support Iain, going like a train. My elation then dropped when we came across Karl who looked broken with iffy knees and he indicating that he was probably going to have to pull out. The rain nearly stopped and I managed ok through Glencoe and over the Devil to Kinlochleven but by now mainly walking, changing over support runner when possible. The calf was rapidly deteriorating but I was more concerned about a possible kidney problem or hyponatraemia due to big thirst and an awful lot of peeing. I got weighed and checked over by the race doc Chris Ellis whilst having a fish supper at the checkpoint and all seemed ok. I didn’t mention the calf to him as you can’t die from that!
Leaving Kinlochleven I found I could barely even walk and climbing the big hill was virtually impossible. Every time I put pressure on my left leg (every second step) I felt a searing pain and burst out in a sweat. I had to sit down about 6 times on the climb to recover but it totally drained all the energy I had left. I knew there was only 15 miles to go and was hopeful that things would ease on the flatter Lairig Mhor but was proved very wrong. Elaine was supporting at this time and on numerous occasions she had to hold me up as I stumbled across the rocks as darkness fell. I was in a very similar situation at the same place the previous year. I knew the sensible thing would be to withdraw but I’d done over 80 miles and still had over 12 hours to reach the end. I was still forcing sweet food and drink down me but just felt the energy go every time I moved my leg.
A couple of strange things happened. I had some great hallucinations which I had only experienced before in the Marathon Des Sables. The rocks were turning into all sorts of animals, or people sitting around and in one occasion an army of gnomes appeared down the track. Another very strange feeling was that when I did fall over, which was often, the pain and misery went 9/10 instantly to 0/10 and a beautiful feeling of calmness came over me. Normally you still feel something but this gave me the heebie jeebies and is maybe the feeling you get when you die. Elaine didn’t give me the opportunity to find out.
On passing the second Wilderness Response team post I received some great help from the guys who strapped my leg with an ice bandage and gaffer tape which gave a bit of relief. The trip to Lundavra seemed to go on for ever and I was getting really angry at the ever increasing difficulty in walking over the rocky surface. It felt like dozens of runners were passing me but that didn’t concern me too much.
Derek was due to take over as support at Lundavra but the thought of still another 7 miles through the forest in the dark worried both Elaine and I and we decided that she should also come along. I was flaking out most times that I fell and I felt that there was a good chance of things getting worse and Derek having to go for more help. We got through the forest in the same manner but I was, by now, often hanging on to both of them. Yes this is taking support running too far and should probably be considered as cheating but tough. It took them about five minutes to get me down the wooden steps at the bottom of the gully. But eventually we reached the forest road as my 2nd dawn was breaking. There then followed a very long and slow shuffle down to Fort William. Derek, who is a type 1 diabetic, was trying to pour lucozade into me in the hope that it would at least make me able to speak but it had no success. After an eternity we reached the finish and unlike last year I felt very little emotion, elation or anything. In fact I can barely remember it.
I didn’t shower, or brush my teeth or even have a whisky. My support team carried me to the camper.
I awoke a few hours later as a solid, shivering, perspiring, smelly lump of flesh but by now feeling elated and glowing in the achievement. I managed to get back over to the leisure centre to get cleaned up and see a few of the later finishers coming in.
Huge joy in realising that Fionna had finished 3rd lady, Paul got in under 24 hours and that a new course record had been set by Terry Conway. Relief at learning that there were no serious casualties
Disappointment at learning that Sandra, Karl and many other good friends had dropped out.
The presentation ceremony was great. By now I know most of the West Highland Way family and it was fantastic seeing them getting their goblets. A great party followed that evening.
1. Once again my support team went far, far beyond the call of duty. I feel guilty.
2. Sudocreme is wonderful. Despite 27 and a half hours and 95 miles of wet feet I didn’t even have a hot spot. Just a couple of lost toe nails.
3. The support team and I agreed and have announced that I will not be doing it next year. There is no way they, or I, could cope with a night like that on the Lairig Mhor for a third year…..however…..if I promised and promised to give up if I got an injury I would really love to finish the race feeling like a human. It will be totally up to them though (no pressure)
4. The report probably sounds like a horrible experience. It wasn’t. It was an experience though. Please don’t be put off. It’s a fantastic race and you always learn a huge amount about yourself.
5. The people involved in this race in any capacity are amongst the best you will meet anywhere
A few stats:-
238 entered but 66 withdrew for various reasons before the start. 172 started. 53 dropped out leaving 119 finishers. I was 70th in a time of 27 hours 35 minutes. The winner was 15 hours 39 minutes and last finisher was 34hours 15minutes.
Hmm…. That wasn’t much shorter than last year’s after all but to give a recap, I ran
well for 60 miles and then developed a sore left leg resulting in me hobbling/hopping/crawling the last 35 miles finishing in 27 hours 35 minutes. A TEN MINUTE PB!
LONDON MARATHON - from Derek Stewart
Wow!! That was an experience!! Many people said to me it’s one of the best in the world - I won't disagree.
From the moment you get on the tube, packed full of runners, the atmosphere starts to build.
Seeing some well known faces from Harmeny, at different places along the way, to the three different starting points, you wonder who you’re going to meet next. Plenty of 'celebs' as well.
Next you queue up to be put in your pens, ready for the start.
Surprisingly to me, we went off at a good pace - just over 9min/ miles, certainly didn’t want to go any faster. I was trying like mad to take in all the things going on around me. One runner, carrying a 20ft pylon, having to take great care going under rail bridges & overhead telephone wires. Past a girl Hoola Hooping as she ran, and a guy dribbling a football. Then past a pantomime horse, doing a good gallop. Blimey!!! running has enough for me without all that malarkey!
From the moment you step over the start line there are tens of thousands of people supporting the runners all the way round. The noise and atmosphere help make it a very special day.
I had a wish, that I might run it in 4.30 hrs. Things were going well for me. At 23 miles, apart from seeing younger athletes 'cramped up' & some in a poor state at the side of the road, I started to believe that I could possibly beat Shona's pb time of 4.22 hrs. I eventually finished in a time of 4.23 hrs. I have lived the past weeks 'on cloud 9'.
A huge thanks to the people of Harmeny for my club place who make it such a great club to be in.
LONDON MARATHON 2012 - Fantastic Fantastic!!! From Shona Stewart
The whole 'marathon' experience was wonderful. I couldn't believe how emotional I was as we walked into the 'expo' at the Excel Centre. Walking up the red carpet, under the red & white Virgin London Marathon 2012 welcome sign, the now famous marathon music blasting out - the tears suddenly began to roll down my cheeks. We had made it!! Training done, no injuries & no dreaded coughs or colds. What a woos!! I must admit it was a bit embarrassing at the registration desk somewhat bleary eyed.
Emotions now in check, we bought some souvenirs, had lunch at the 'pasta party' and enjoyed the atmosphere.
On Saturday, Derek and I went to Westminster as I wanted to see the final part of the route. Past Big Ben, down Bird Cage Walk, round by Buckingham Palace and see the finish line on the Mall. It was a funny feeling to think we would be running this tomorrow - exciting!
Morning of the Marathon - blue sky, sunshine, little wind & cool - perfect. I always get excited before a race and London was no exception - it was great! I even worried I would have all my adrenaline used up before the start. The excitement, nerves and anticipation amongst the other runners was palpable. It felt like going to a huge party, so many fancy dress outfits. Getting on the train to the start dressed as 'Captain Hook' or' Elvis' seemed problem free - but dressed in a 'carrot' costume looked a bit more challenging.
The organisation of the whole event was great, for us everything went smoothly and in no time we were being squeezed into our 'start pen'. Derek and I had planned not to run together. We had a wee cuddle and kiss and wished each other good luck. In no time we off, everyone around us cheering and clapping. Even at the start there was supporters, a helicopter overhead and the TV cameras - never been in a race quite like it. It didn’t take us long to be able to break into a run, we were all going along at 9min/mile pace. So much for the slow start everyone told me about!!
There were so many supporters all the way round, right from the moment we crossed the start line, the pavements were full of people, shouting, waving, cheering. It was great having my name on my Harmeny top. The music was awesome - we ran past steel bands, jazz bands, rock bands, a pipe band, some folks even had their 'ghetto blasters' in the front garden. This never stopped the whole way round.
My plan was to run as close as I could to the famous 'blue line', which I managed quite well. Trying to run at my own pace was a bit more difficult, the road had lots of narrow bits or roundabouts when everyone bunched up and slowed down. Derek and I actually ran together for the first 30mins, and then I managed to go ahead. Around 16 miles he caught up with me. I don’t know which one of us was more surprised. Was I going too slow? or was he going too fast?. He then had the cheek to overtake me!! I stayed close behind then. By now we were both still running well. Around 23 miles Derek slowly began to pull away - he was like a man possessed!! Elbows out and pushing his way through the middle. Dave ran past, dressed in a blue mankini, with a huge amount of blue and white balloons tied to his shoulders. I joined the group of females running behind him - anything to take my mind of my tired legs as I ran along towards Westminster.
The crowds were even bigger now, encouraging me on, past Big Ben, down Birdcage walk, round by Buckingham Palace. By now I was grinning from ear to ear, head up, run tall, straighten my T-shirt for the photo and over the finish line - what a wonderful wonderful feeling!!!.
At this point I was still smiling. I met Derek and we were both a bit emotional. What a fantastic race he'd had - smashing his PB by 20 mins. I was so, so pleased for him. For those of who don’t know, Derek has had Type 1 Diabetes for almost 50yrs. Balancing insulin, food and marathon running is a huge challenge for him. Today everything went perfect.
A big thank you to Harmeny for giving me a club place and a big thank you to all you runners who have encouraged us while out on the club Sunday and Wednesday runs.
Scottish Cross Country Championship 2012
Harmeny fielded complete teams for both the Senior Men's and Senior Ladies' Races in this year's Scottish Cross Country Championships, held on Saturday 18th February 2012 at Callendar Park, Falkirk.
The Ladies finished in a very credible 19th place with their team of Margie Leitch, Lorna Broadhurst, Keziah Higgins and Amanda Pennycott scoring 506 points. Sandra McDougall and Kirsty Stoddart also completed the tough 8 km course.
The Men's Team were fortunate to have slightly better weather than the Ladies although they had to endure a 12km course. The men finished in 33rd place on 2209 points and were represented by Darren Cavaroli, Ian Beattie, Paul Thompson, Angus Kay, Andrew Corrigan and Tom White with Alan Grierson also completing the race.
Well done to everyone who took part.
There are some excellent pictures at
http://www.roadrunpics.com/012ScottishCCChampionships.html courtesy of David Bauchop.
Carnethy 5 – 11th February 2012. A Race Report by Kirsty Stoddart
My enthusiasm for this race started to rise during the week as the weather forecast promised to be mild and calm. This is the 42nd year that Carnethy Hill Running Club have hosted this and previous conditions have been extremely harsh at times. On the day, however, the conditions were near perfect with no wind, no snow and no ice and the ground just soft enough to get a good grip.
The main test of survival came before the start as we were unceremoniously dumped in a middle of a field 45 minutes before the start. The majority of our warm clothing had been left back at Beeslack High School and so we had to huddle in the marquee for warmth where we talked about a good warm up strategy but never actually got the courage up to go outside and try it out. The tea and biscuits provided worked just as well though.
Getting into this race is a challenge in itself, the online entries were full after 48 minutes, and so everybody lined up at the start was very pleased with themselves just to be there. The race is so popular as it is very tough and challenging but, being only 6 miles long and 2500 feet climb, is within the reach of most experienced runners’ capabilities.
We started with a 400m charge across the boggy ground to the foot of Scald Law. There is a lot of vying for position at this point and my fellow club mates bought into the Braveheart spirit and disappeared into the distance. I preferred more to take on the spirit of Bambi and trotted along the path enjoying the sights of the coloured tops ahead already starting to meander up the hill in a line. This is one of my favourite sights in hill running and fortunately, as a back of the pack runner, one that I get to appreciate fully.
The climb to Scald Law from this direction is particularly steep and I had to use my hands in a couple of places to help clamber up. My body went into shock for the first half and I thought my lungs were going to burst, my quads burst into flames and my Achilles tendons snap. I had started to warm by the top though and settle into it. The first descent came as welcome relief but there were a few icy patches in places. The next couple of miles weren’t too bad at all and took in South Black Hill, East Kip and West Kip. The climbs were steep but a relatively short pull to the summit of each.
We were then, rather cruelly, plunged down the steep North face of West Kip right down into the Howe. All that effort to get up there and there we were back down at the bottom again. The descent itself was slippy and a few of us lost our footing. I covered quite a large part of ground on my backside!
The last climb of the race started again almost immediately, up Carnethy Hill. It felt endless and had a sneaky false summit. I reached this top gasping for breath, ready for the final downhill, only to hear the marshall shouting well done, only one last hill to go. I looked up and saw the actual summit ahead still lost in the mist somewhere.
The final downhill was fun through the heather, where the best technique is to bound. I need to practise this a bit more as I tripped a couple of times and rather ineloquently tumbled down in full view of the finish line. It was fast but still not enough to catch up on Keziah. As she reached the bottom ahead of me, she gave a whoop that resounded around the Pentlands. This was either out of sheer exhilaration and adrenaline or relief at getting down off the hills without any broken bones, 10 inch gashes or barfing incidents! Regardless though it emulated the emotions of us all that day as we crossed the finish line.
It was a really good day and topped off by a hot shower and meal back at the school. Well done Tom, Paul T, Alan, Kieran, Norma, Lorna and Keziah. There were some spectacular times in there and a 10th team place for the Ladies!
Forfar Multiterrain Race 2012
8 Harmeny members and Purdey the Dog entered the Forfar Multi Terrain Half Marathon on Sunday morning.
The "part time local lad", Iain Morrice, who has a place in nearby Kirriemuir, had text earlier warning of the conditions but what faced us during the warm up was almost frightening as even the grass was solid with ice and treacherous underfoot. But the sun was shining, the temperature was rising and the terrific race atmosphere was taking our minds off the ice as the starting gun fired at 11 o'clock.
Iain M, Paul Thomson, Col Barber and Fionna Ross started at a good pace followed fairly closely by Lorna Broadhurst and Keziah Higgins as a record 230 runners set off along Forfar Loch side. Gavin Orr and Norma Bone were just behind me (wearing my Carnegie tic-tac top) and we were certainly taking a safety-first approach nearer the back of the field - ie stay on our feet !
After 2 miles around the banks of Forfar Loch, the route takes a sharp uphill through a small housing estate but the salted estate roads were welcome as they provided the first real traction of the race. But this was short lived as we were back onto farm tracks within 300m and i heard a sudden yelp behind me as a lady slipped on the ice and landed awkwardly. A quick check back to make sure she was ok and we headed out onto a main road and another welcome grippy surface. This was beginning to feel like a fartlek session and that's how the race went for me, speeding up where it felt safe to do so and teetering gingerly where it didnt.
Through the first of many checkpoints past Mile 3 and we were off on the road north, past the Golf Range and then a turn onto a mile long section of icy puddles and slippery farm track. I had managed to catch up with Keziah and Lorna at this point (sorry for not saying hello K) and had a brief chat with Lorna before she took off again up a narrow track. This was the only place i fell over, albeit briefly, and surprisingly, it was on an uphill section!
A couple of small estates, a main road and a tidy but very smelly farm were passed before we approached the notorious Swamp at Mile 7. In the previous 2 years races that i had run, this had consisted of a 75 - 100 metre long stretch of icy water which, depending on how vertically challenged your parents made you, came up to at least your knees OR could wet your pants. It was so cold that you couldnt feel your legs or feet for a mile or so afterwards. Almost disappointingly however, this whole area was dry this year but at least it allowed us to see terrain what we hadnt seen before.
The next 2 or 3 miles are trails with opening and closing of gates, followed by main road etc. Gavin, Lorna and I were running together at this point and we checked that each other was ok as well as chatting briefly to Mary from Portobello.
Mile 9 sees the start of the mile long climb up Balmashanmer Hill and i was pleased to realise some benefit from my long distance winter training in being able to keep running all the way to the top. Gavin had pulled a couple of hundred metres away by now and as i looked up the hill, i could see he was passing another Harmeny vest which turned out to be Fionna.
With that last climb of any note past, i looked forward to relaxing and recovering on the downhill section but alas, the icy surface made this quite a challenge and i could feel myself tensing, trying desperately wherever i could to find grip on the edge of the long grass.
I was wearing fairly new Mizuno Trail shoes in this race which, although broken in, were starting to nip at my insteps and the marshall at the bottom the hill asked if i was ok as i appeared to be limping. I looked down to see that the instep of my new Mizunos was now blood red instead of the yellow colour they had been to start with. However, with Fionna not too far in front of me and Lorna only 15 seconds behind, i had no time to do anything about it and quickly forgot any pain.
A short section up the Dundee road is followed by a short farm road and then a brilliant long downhill track. I could sense the end wasnt too far away and i was definitely closing on Fionna who, in fairness, didnt seem to be having her best ever race but this helped keep my focus as one slip could have ended the race on such a tricky stretch.
Through the ploughed field at Mile 12 and then across the main road and through the Industrial Estate. All of the competitors around me were starting to stretch the pace now. Looking round at the start of the last section alongside the loch, i noticed that Lorna was now about a minute behind but i just couldnt close that 10 second gap on Fionna. We were back on solid ice again so my focus turned once again to making sure i finished in one piece.
A final sprint to the finish line and my race was over. 1 47 07 said the electronic clock which, in the conditions, i was pleased with.
A few quick congratulations to those around me then off to warm up in the shower, followed by forfarroadrunners' legendary hospitality of soup, sandwiches, cakes and tea. Great banter and tales were told before the prizegiving rounded off the event.
Once again, this was a fantastic event and if you havent tried it yet, it would be worth noting in your diary for next year.
Thanks and congratulations to forfarroadrunners for hosting and organising such a terrific, and legendary race.
See you next year
Race results are at www.forfarroadrunners.co.uk
Superb race photos care of David Bauchup are at http://www.roadrunpics.com/012ForfarMTHM.html
Speed of Light event in Holyrood Park. August 2012
21 Runners went to Marrakech in January 2011. Read the article from the Scottish Running Guide here
Dumyat Dash Hill Race Report
on Wed, Nov 9th 2011
Carnegie Harriers' Andrew Wright organises 2 hill races in The Ochil Hills every year, The Law Breaker which is run in June and the Dumyat Dash which is the most westerly hill in The Ochil Range, situated about 2 miles east of Stirling University. Both are challenging but terrific races.
80 Hill Runners contested last Saturdayâ��s Dumyat Dash setting out from Menstrie Green on a cold, misty but beautiful autumn morning.
As the assembled runners started off, there was only ever likely to be one winner with Internationalist Prasad Prasad dominating from early in the race. But every athlete has their own personal goals in hill racing and knowing the climbing and descending strengths and weaknesses of their regular fellow competitors also introduces an element of individual tactics which adds to the very friendly competition throughout the event.
The route headed off up the east side of Menstrie Burn, turning right up onto the west side of Myreton Hill. Some steep parts at first but a lot of runable sections along farm tracks followed before a couple of sharp turns took the route decidedly off-road. Steep downhill next though the fern covered slope hid a very slippy track beneath. A few options then followed in deciding how to cross The Menstrie Burn the two exposed rsj's left over from the now missing bridge didn't seem at all appealing but i believe a few dare devils saved wet feet by using this crossing route. I opted for the safer, though wetter, passage by wading through the freezing water!
On then to the long climb up the north east slope of Dumyat itself and I was only half way up when the eventual race winner flew past me in the opposite direction a clear 2 or 3 minutes ahead of the second placed runner. Good to see an M50 friend Pete Simpson in 5th place at that point, obviously having a terrific run although he did admit afterwards to being as knackered at the summit as I was! I too was honest saying that it's something of a comfort that the gazelles at the front suffer the same bodily challenges that us slower coaches do!
Up the rocky face to the summit, there were a surprising number of spectators offering cheery encouragement to which I think I managed to grunt a gasping response. A brief glimpse of stunning weather and spectacular views over The Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle were taken in before rounding the cairn and starting the descent.
The downhill route retraced our steps until the burn crossing which then turned sharply right and headed off down the east side of Menstrie Glen. Some uphill sections preceded possibly the most difficult 2 kms of the course where the very muddy trail, cut into the side of the glen, proved particularly challenging with various reports of slips and falls being backed up at the end by some very muddy looking legs and butts.
The few shortcuts that were available to cut some distance off the farm track chicanes proved difficult to find and a recce of the route would be worthwhile if intending to run this again.
Onwards back into Menstrie and the finishing line came quickly at the end of Menstrie Green. I managed a good steady run and completed the 9km course in 1 hour 14 mins.
Another excellent race, very well organised with possibly the most generous list of prizes around with the first 3 in every age section up to M&F60 receiving booze prizes. One for next year's diary and well worth the £5 entry fee. Excellent race direction by Andrew and a big thanks go to the members of Carnegie Harriers who assisted at registration and marshalling on the hill.
The "Run of the Mill" Hill Race
on Wed, Nov 9th 2011
The 14.5km route started at the foot of Alva Glen, rising steeply up until it crossed the Silver Burn before heading down through a fast but tricky and slippery woodland stretch, emerging out alongside Tillicoultry Golf Course. Into Tilly and past Tillicoultry Mill Glen (which is currently closed due to rock falls), the steepest climb in the race awaited the 130 runners before heading out on the Blackford Path. That climb felt relentless although it was only 15 or 20 mins before the wind was felt on our backs again, encouraging some running along the side of Elistoun Hill.
A sharp but very slippery downhill path off the west side of King Seat Hill was shortlived before the long drag up the eastern slope of Andrew Gannel, followed by the boggy peat section on up to the highest point in The Ochils, Ben Cleuch. It was pretty cold at this point with a biting wind but the forecast monsoon-like rain didnt materialise and some terrific views could still be glimpsed south over the Forth Valley.
And, the best was yet to come.
The 2200 foot drop from Ben Cleuch back to the start in Alva was interrupted only by a short 2 or 3 minute climb up to the top of Ben Ever. Thereafter it really was a terrific descent over open heather, rough tracks and cutting as much as you dare off mini-alpinesque chicanes where confidence in your chosen brand of footwear - and any remaining strength in your legs and ankles - was really stretched to the limit.
The finish line came quickly after and the usual ad-hoc hill-running hospitality was again present with water and sweets available followed by soup and bread at the prizegiving in The No.5 Pub.
Well done to Kieran Morgan, 1 hour 46; Kirsty Stoddart 1:56 and Lorna Broadhurst 1:58.
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