Monday, 31 October 2011

Phil M at the Lairig Ghru, 26 June

The Lairig Ghru race is one of the beasts of Scottish running. It's a hard enough walk, from Braemar to Aviemore through the high pass of the Lairig Ghru, with ankle-snapping boulder fields and the potential for seriously bad weather, even in the height of summer.

So it seemed just the thing for Phil M to run this one. And very well he did too, with a top 30 finish and an outstanding time of 3 hours, 59 minutes and 3 seconds.

The photo shows Phil in the Rothiemurcus Forest at about the 3 hour mark. Being brutally honest, I do have to say that the leading runners did look a wee bit fresher than Phil did at this point.

Milnathort Dash, 23 June

For the eighth race in the club championship, eight Harriers made it to the Milnathort Dash. The Dash is a 5.5 mile race on minor roads through pleasant farmland to the north-east of Milnathort, near Kinross. This is the first year the race has been included in the club championship, so it was an unknown quantity for all the Harriers.

Once again, Will was first Harrier home, finishing fourth overall. Angela was second Harrier, finishing 27th overall and fourth woman. Kerry and I weren’t far behind Angela, followed by Gordon, Cathy, Nicola and Ali. In addition to the quality of the racing, this was an outstanding event made memorable by the quantity and quality of the after-race spread – heaps upon heaps of cakes, sandwiches, sausage rolls and assorted post-race scoff. Definitely one for next year!

Not surprisingly, this result cemented Will’s lead in the club championship. The women’s championship was a different story, with just one point out of 80 separating Kerry and Angela, making the results of the final two races very interesting!

Lang Toon 10k, 1 June

A record turnout of 18 Harriers made it to Auchterarder last Wednesday for the annual Lang Toon 10k race. This was the sixth race in the Harriers Championship series, and saw some great performances from the runners.

Not for the first time, Will was first Harrier home in a time of 37:17, followed by Phil M in 40:49. Angela and Kerry repeated their strong performances in earlier races, with Angela coming home as second woman overall in a time of 42:18, and Kerry a short distance behind to finish third woman in a time of 43:01.

At this stage in the season, Will had consolidated his lead in the club championship and was well set to retain his title. Kerry moved to the head of the women’s championship, ahead of Angela and Nicola.

Cape Wrath marathon, 21 May

Just to show what an adventurous club we are, we had a runner in one of the most remote (the most remote?) marathons in the UK, when Phil T ran in the far north-west at the Cape Wrath Marathon. The original race route, which involves a ferry across the Kyle of Durness, had to be abandoned because of bad weather, so the organisers quickly made alternative arrangements with a route from Durness to Kinlochbervie. Phil ran in difficult conditions to finish in a time of 3:38:56.

Slioch Horseshoe hill race, 21 May

Not content with racing three days earlier at Kinnoull Hill, Will made the trip up to Kinlochewe for the Slioch Horseshoe hill race on Saturday. This is one of the most demanding races in the Scottish Hill Runners championship, with a route from the head of Loch Maree to the summit of Slioch and back again, to give a total distance of about 12 miles and 3300ft of ascent, much of it over difficult terrain, and on Saturday, in difficult weather conditions. Will put in an exceptional performance to finish second in a field of 150 runners, just a bit under a minute behind the race winner, beating some of Scotland’s best hill runners.

Kinnoull Hill race, 18 May

The sixth race in the Strathearn Harriers championship series was the Kinnoull Hill race in Perth. Once again, there was a great turnout from the club, with some outstanding performances.

First Harrier to finish was Will, in 3rd position overall with a time of 27:48. Next home was Phil M in 27th position in a time of 31:22, followed by Andy G in 33:14. Angela was first Harrier woman to finish, just 2 seconds behind Andy, to finish in 4th position in the woman’s race. Kerry was second Harrier woman home in 35:53, with Cathy third in 37:11. Following Cathy was Jim Cahill, competing for the first time in a Harriers vest. A bit further down the field were Nicola, Liz, Alastair and Fran.

Loch Leven Half Marathon, 14 May

A strong team of Harriers women Harriers were out in force at the Loch Leven Half Marathon. The race route follows the A and B roads from Kinross round the loch, finishing back in Kinross at the King George V playing fields. It’s mostly flat, but there’s an unwelcome slope in Scotlandwell, at about the 7 mile mark, just when you could do with a bit of help. The weather was kind for most of the race, but a headwind over the closing few miles made the going hard for tiring runners.

Kerry continued her strong start to the season to come home in 10th position in the woman’s race, in a personal best time of 1:41:08 (and just to prove what a good race she ran, she also set a personal best for her 10k time in the first half of the race). Next Harriers home were Julie H in her first half marathon in a time of 1:49:40 and Steph in a personal best time of 1:49:51. Not far behind was Ali M in a time of 1:50:54. A bit further down the field were Fiona McDonald in another personal best time, delighted to come in under the 2 hour mark, Tracey Oates in her first half marathon, Shelagh Wake and Kirsty McKay.

There had been rumours beforehand that club president George Carson was going to run, but in the event, he turned out to do a splendid job of touring round the course in Kirsty’s new car, offering support to all and sundry. So I ended up as the only man running for the Harriers. The first few miles felt okay, but I developed a foot injury and found the last few miles really tough going, and it ended up as my slowest half since the Tewkesbury half marathon donkey’s years ago.

Glen Lednock race, 8 May

A torrential downpour an hour before the race start wasn’t enough to put off the 30 adults and 22 children for the Glen Lednock race on Sunday morning, and by the time the race started, the conditions were close to ideal for this annual race run for the Margaret J Gordon Art and Craft Trust. Harriers were out in force, and very grateful for the shelter offered under Graham’s gazebo-thingy. This was the fifth race in the club championship, and we had ten runners competing in the main adults’ race. There were also assorted juniors races and a shortened adults race. All way too confusing.

The adults’ race, run from Carmichael’s Yard at the foot of Monument Road in Comrie up the glen to Invergeldie and back down again, was won by Paul Acari in a very fast time of 45:31 for the 8.5 mile course. I hung on to Phil M’s heels for the first 5 miles or so and then managed to open up a gap on the downward half, and I was first Harrier to finish 9th overall in a time of 57:08, about 5 minutes faster than I’d managed last year. Phil was just under a minute behind, finishing 10th in 58:03, followed by Andy G in 14th position, in 62:29. John Davidson, James and Gordon finished close together in 17th, 18th and 19th positions.

For the Harrier’s women, Angela won the women’s race in a time 59:35, with Kerry second in 63:14, and Nicola fourth in 66:52. Karen G and Jayne M completed the Harrier’s turn-out a wee bit further down the field.

The Junior race started at the same time as the adults race but followed a different route up the steep path towards the Deil’s Cauldron, with a turnaround up the hill to give a 1.5 mile run. The race was won by Dominic M in an exciting sprint finish with Lewis following just 10 seconds behind, with Sol in 3rd place.

In the girls 13-15 race, there were great performances with Poppy Robertson finishing first girl in 6th place followed by Maddy in 8th place with Sav having a great run finishing 10th. The girls 9-11 race was won by Abigail, followed by Catriona and Morgan in 13th and 14th place respectively. There were good performances from all the other junior Harriers, including Chris Martin, Sammy Wake, Levi Sweeney, Daniel Saunders and Jessica Martin.