Saturday, 5 November 2011

Run for Simon 2011

On a stunningly beautiful Saturday morning, 18 Harriers gathered to run up from the Loch Turret dam to the cairn on Choinneachain Hill, with Simon in mind.

We went up the long way round the hill road, and came down the short way through the heather, enjoying the company, the scenery and the day.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Simon Wake Comrie Hills relay, 11 September

This is mostly Phil T's account of the 2011 Simon Wake Comrie Hills relay, with a few added bits at the end.

I have always wondered how we would cope with bad weather. Well this year we found out. The few days before the race were spent looking for a decent forecast. We had to settle for a bad one.
I was down in Comrie at 7.30am and had a quick drive up Glenlednock to knock a few signs in and look at the weather. It all looked OK so a decision was made to run the usual course.
I had the marshals tooled up and ready to go in record time and the hour before the race was as calm as I can remember. The catering was to take place at Comrie Croft so there wasn’t much to do. All the parking marshals did a great job and Gordon was his usual model of efficiency. At 9.45 I gave the race brief which was too long but it is vital to say certain things, so I did.
All leg 1 runners were sent on their way at 10am dead.
All was going fine until a distress call from Richard who was looking for checkpoint 8 at Invergeldie!? We met up and decided it was Karen’s fault and off he went to sit in his car for the next 4 hours, sensible man.
Leg 1 runners all did well. Colin G ran his usual good leg to hand over to Phil and Digby with a deficit of about 3 mins and in 3rd place. Nicola and Karen had a good race with Nicola coming in shortly before Karen.. Tony ran a steady race and seemed happy enough with his run.
Fiona was checkpoint 2 Marshal and did a great job and after tidying up leg 1 proceeded to start tidying up leg 4 before it was gently pointed out to her that leg 4 was still to happen.
Phil and Digby ran a stormer overhauling Deeside to hand over to Will in 2nd place. Theirs was the fastest leg 2 of the day.
Gordon and Doug a now tried and tested duo ran one of their best leg 2s as did that other regular leg 2 pair Cathy and Ali. Grant and Emily were a last minute pairing. I think Grant found it a tough ru, with Emily keeping ahead of him and his scary shorts.
It was a tough day for all the marshals and I would like to thank each and every one of them for all they did. Liz and Tracey did a fine job at the end of leg 1 and the finish. Alastair spent most of the day getting wet and being a beacon of dayglo like a human lighthouse to guide runners to the Shakey Bridge. George was stoical as ever spending hours at the crossroads on the Maam Rd. He decided not to set off lara off for another leg 2 record this year.
Up on the west ridge we had Colin leading 3 women. Colin knows the hills like the back of his hand and carefully placed Julie and Elaine where they needed to be and marched Kirsty up to the top. Kirsty seemed to be having a fine time judging by the regular cheery radio comms. Apparently she did get a bit wet.
Ali and Beth were at their usual post at the leg2/3 handover. No real dramas here but looking up at Ben Chonzie it was anything but calm for the Marshals on leg 3.
Liz T, Seonaid and Alan marched up at breakneck speed with the consequence that they had to wait ages for the runners to appear. Apparently the weather was really terrible and apologies for sending them up there. Seonaid made the most of things making a nest for herself and falling asleep for 3 hours. Not quite what I had in mind. Liz spent 3 hours marching on the spot and Alan stoically stuck it out at the head of the Carroglen burn.
Will was 1st Harrier to appear and the only one to appear from the correct direction. He gave Liz a cheery greeting and went on his way to record another superb time. Andy appeared from the south, Kerry from the north and Graham from the south but at least they all made checkpoint 6.
Poor Kerry redefined what a rabbit caught in the headlights looks like before she set off. Checkpoint 6 was a low point even though it was the highest point for her but things then got better with the descent. Well done Kerry for putting yourself well outside your comfort zone and putting in a good performance.
Andy had a good run and Graham was reported looking v v unhappy at the top but toughed it out.
Meanwhile in the relatively balmy ambience of the leg3/4 changeover Edward was completely in control ably assisted by Karen. Matt had the parking well under control.
We had an interesting exchange with the leg4 Carnethy runner who was handicapped by visual impairment and no glasses. I realised that I was up against Mr Magoo and Mr M went off with a 3 minute lead on me.
After passing the enviable Richard and Rebecca in their warm car I did my best to make up time on the invisible Mr M up front. After passing Alastair I made my up to El Presidente who had an admiring crowd gathered around him. Up to the Monument and sure enough Mr M was heading down the wrong path. I have to admit to a split second dilemma of should I tell him or not but of course being the decent chap I am I hollered after him and up he came.
George informed me on the descent that I was 90secs behind now. I was happily reeling Mr M in when he sailed past checkpoint 10. I then spent some time hollering after him until he eventually turned around before carrying on in the direction of the A85. Ah well I thought, best push on. The rest of my run was fine and I really enjoyed bringing the Harriers in for our 3rd win.
Deeside came in 2nd after a good run from their leg 4 runner and Mr M eventually brought Carnethey in in 3rd place.
We had 4 teams which is a record for us. Our Men’s team was ably brought home by SWCHR debutante John and Rhian had a fine run to finish off a fine performance by our Ladies. Steph had a good run to bring our mixed team home. Well done to all Harriers and especially those running their 1st SWCHR. It does get easier than this I promise.
After presenting HBT women with their winner’s trophy we headed over to Comrie croft. This turned out to be a great venue and credit for the idea is all Phil m’s. Judith had everything well under control with an army of helpers. The cakes were awesome. Judith does an amazing job and I am enourmously grateful to her and Colin who does help in his own way. Thanks to Colin for organising the radios
Then we presented the prizes and that was it for another year.
Again, many thanks to the committee of Gordon, Phil and Tony.

In addition to Phil's account, it's nice to get good feedback from other clubs. Probably the best came from Sam Hesling, of Carnethy:

"Massive, massive, congratulations to all of the Carnethys out at today's relay !! The weather was comically bad with high winds, driving rain and mist you could stand a ladle in. It was awesome. This has got to be one of the best relays on the calender. The combination of stunning location, honest hill running routes, easy peasy logistics, super friendly organisation, bbq burgers, and one of the best home baked cake tables I've ever had the pleasure of raiding blend beautifully to provide an ace day out. The highlight of mine being waking up a dozing marshals close to the top of the hill on leg three, she had somehow contrived to fall asleep in near horizontal sheet rain.... Massive shout to our friends the Strathearn Harriers, you guys rock."

We do indeed rock!

OMM 2011

This is Phil T's account of an epic event:

This race was so far out of my comfort zone that it was in another universe. Mountains/bog/heather/tussocks/rain/wind/mud/navigation... but it was great.

I can't say how impressed I was with the whole thing. How anyone organises this massive event is beyond me.

After a week of refining the contents of my new OMM rucsac I met Sam on the Friday evening to make sure we both knew how to put up my tent. His rucsac was mainly full of sleeping bag so he took my old one.

I was carrying 16lb by the time it was all assembled which is more than I am used to running with!

Our start time was 10.19 and our bus left Cultybraggan at 9.20. There were literally buses every minute! Unbelievable. And there were temporary traffic lights to make sure it all ran like clockwork which it did.

We had a great cooked breakfast courtesy of Andrew Scott and his team and set off for St Fillans.

The rain had been falling all morning but started to clear as we headed up the track to the start which left just west of the Four Seasons hotel.

We had 10min to kill and then made our way to our start in B class. 26km lay ahead of us, surely that wouldn't take more than 5-6 hours? We heard that one elite team had taken one look at the map and gone home, hard to believe but true.

Off we went on time. Fortunately Sam seemed to know what he was doing and started up a track, not too bad so far. Then it started to rain and didn't stop for the next 7 hours. We headed west, took in check 1 and then 2 with John King marshalling and doing sterling work in torrential rain. All the marshals were awesome, what a job they had !

Then our 1st long stretch of the day across tussocky moorland. I fell, cramped, fell, cramped then did it all again. Then our 1st significant burn crossing, Chucked the bag across and went for it, got wet, laughed as another runner went in head 1st, applauded as Sam stayed dry. West over a hill, checkpoint 3, hurrah.

Check 4 manned by a late middle aged woman, where do these amazing people come from? It was horrendous for her and all the other marshals. Down to the pipe and wow, some actual running for a bit. So far we had been mainly walking, albeit quickly.

Next the long stretch east over the Corbett, but which way? We spent an age checking, checking getting cold. Made in to Glen Finn and up,up,up. Sam did start to struggle with cold, and uncertainty as to where we should be going. Big hill, gale force wind, horizontal heavy, heavy rain so hard it hurt but we have to keep going, no option really. Eventually we get to the top of something in thick mist and find 2 girls, one in shorts!!! Find others also lost. I take a punt and head along a path and there it is, the long awaited trig point we are all looking for. 857m up and it's about as bad as it gets, so down we go and find check 5 next to a raging burn. Checkpoints are like honeypots with lots of other runners buzzing around them, then it's relative isolation until the next one.

Off we go sniffing the end but it's a long way. Heading for Glenalmond and we go down a long way, sometimes on our backsides, then up again. There it is another checkpoint, this one next to a raging torrent we must get across. None of these checkpoints are easy to find. This is tough.

On we go with a real sense of the end in sight. We get into Glenalmond and slowly pick up numbers 8 and 9.Well done Sam you have got us to halfway, I am in awe.

We finish in 7.09hrs. How can we have taken so long? That isn't even a decent walking pace for goodness sake! However we finish 55/120 or thereabouts, not bad, we are pleased.

The camp is already full of tents so we pitch ours just as the v brief respite in rain comes to an end.

Strip off and get in the tent and try to get organised and warm. We both opt for lying in our bags and doing nothing, hoping not to have to emerge again.

Phil and Rhian are next door and they have had 2.5 hours more fun than us, god help them!

We spend the evening eating and warming up.

At 11pm we try to sleep. I toss and turn all night. Do I sleep? Maybe, but I'm not sure.

The hour goes back at 2am, I hear it above the gale outside.

At 6am we hear a deranged piper doing his thing, is that Rob Bolton?

Come on Sam, up you get, more fun today.

We breakfast and get ourselves together for our 8.53 start. It is a lovely morning, it is a beautiful glen, we are very lucky to be here and to be able to do this. We set off and do some running. More hills, some big ones. We end up on a boggy, peaty, moorland which is good because we can run across this. The mist comes down or do we go up to it? It is dry though and we move along quite well.

Eventually we reach the point when we turn towards Ben Chonzie. We have a fenceline to follow, no compass required, I bolt and run, passing many people and feeling great. We reach the foot of Chonzie and I bonk big time. Up,up,up following a line of runners up a gully. Where is the checkpoint? We follow the crowds and there it is. Then we make our only real error and head over Chonzie. This involves a big climb and loses us a lot of time. I bonk again and Sam gives me one of his precious gels which helps. This event is all fluctuating energy levels for me.

We find the Invergeldie track and head down and across to check 6. Then down and up along the muddiest track in this race which is saying something.

We make the Carroglen track and run through the farm and down the road. I bonk+++. This is awful, I can barely put 1 foot in front of the other and check 8 is up another hill, will this never end?

Finally we find 8 and Sam feeds me some energy bar which does help after 10min. We are on the TDS, OMG we are actually going to finish this. Check 9 is just above the cattlegrid on the Balmuick Rd. We turn onto the forestry track above the golf course and run. We pass lots of people and I start to feel quite emotional. Check 10 and then we race along the river to Laggan park and the finish.

There is Elizabeth, Liz, Kath, Kerry and Nicola. We finish.

What an event.

St Andrews Hospice 10k, Oban half marathon, 2 October

More races on a busy weekend for Harriers runners. Following her success at the Pitlochry 10k, Angela once again headed the women’s results at the Saint Andrews Hospice 10k, held at Strathclyde Park. Angela was first woman home in a time of 41:51.

Also running on Sunday was Elaine, at the Oban half marathon. Elaine ran a personal best time of 1:51:15 to finish 8th woman on a course which has a very nasty sting in the tail, with a steep climb right at the finish.

Loch Ness marathon, 2 October

The Loch Ness Marathon is the biggest marathon in Scotland and follows a scenic, if slightly lumpy, route from the southern end of Loch Ness to Inverness. We had a good group running, overcoming the logistical challenges of the registration and buses.

Kerry and Nicola did their buddy thing and ran together and finished in the very impressive time of 3:39:10. Beforehand, Kerry had said they'd be running at about 9-minute mile pace, so to actually run at about 8.20-minute pace was a pretty impressive feat. This was only the second time that Kerry and Nicola have run a marathon, and they were delighted to improve their previous best times by more than 10 minutes.

Karen P was next Harrier home, in a time of 3:49:51, followed closely by Allan MacI in 3:53:04, taking about 47 minutes off his time from last year - good effort!. Susan Saunders run her first-ever marathon and finished in a very creditable 4:21:46. Colin T made it round without the help of his regular running partner FionaL, but still managed some sight-seeing while flying the flag for the over-60s with a splendid time of 5:05:42.

Ben Venue hill race, 1 October

The Ben Venue hill race was the sixth and final race in the Scottish Hill Racing Championship, and Will was racing for a top ten position in the championship table. Ben Venue's quite a cute hill, but some of the terrain at the top is pretty tough going. We had a hardy group of four runners travelling from Crieff - Will, Gordon, Andy and Rhian - and they were joined by Doug, going awol from a stag-do somewhere nearby.

The weather was pretty miserable, but a good time was apparently had by all. Will finished tenth, in a time of 1:20:21 to cover the 12 kilometres distance and 860 metres of ascent from the bottom of Ben Venue, up to the top and down again. A bit further down the filed were Andy (79th in 1:36:13), Doug (112th in 1:43:25), Gordon (127th in 1:46:13) and Rhian (16th woman, in a time of 1:48:06).

Will’s finish gave him sufficient points to finish 7th overall in the SHR Championship, and 3rd in the V40 category. Last year Will finished 10th overall, so the Ben Venue result rounded off a very successful season in great style.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Ben Nevis race, 3 September

The Ben Nevis race is one of the stand-out races in the Scottish racing calendar, not least because it goes up and down Britain's highest mountain! In Adrian Wake, we're fortunate to have someone in the club who's been up and down it more times than most, and whose wonderful achievement of 21 successful races was recognised with the award of a special bottle of whisky from the Ben Nevis distillery.

For this event, Adrian was joined by Ben, who now has a considerable tradition to uphold - good luck! Also running were Will, Colin and Gordon. Will continued his very strong season to finish in 13th position in 1hour 44minutes. Colin wasn't too far behind, finishing in 1hour 57minutes, and Gordon came home in 2hours 35minutes. Fantastic achievement by everyone involved.

Killin 10k, 27 August

Four of us headed over to Killin for a new 10k race, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I'm always a bit nervous about new races, because you never really know what the organisation is going to be like, but in this case, apart from a slightly dodgy start into oncoming traffic at the Falls of Dochart, this went really well.

The race route goes through Killin and heads up one side of Glen Lochay to the hydro station before coming back down the glen and back to the finish in the park. It's not quite a pb course, with one slightly unpleasant hill at about the 5.5k mark, but apart from that it's a very nice course.

I was very happy to finish 4th overall. Sadly there were no prizes for first vet, as I would have won that. Elaine was next Harrier home, followed by Kirsty, who managed to pip Rob by 9 seconds!

It's a nice race, and I'll certainly be keen to do it again next year.

Great Scottish Run, 3 and 4 September

The Great Scottish Run in Glasgow is one of those things billed as a festival of running with a whole assortment of races for everyone, over different distances. This year, there were races for juniors on Saturday and adults on Sunday.

For the juniors, this was the biggest event most of the juniors had run in, with 1160 boys and girls aged between 9 and 16, from all over Scotland, racing over a 3k course on Glasgow Green. First Harrier to finish was Sol , with a very good time of 11:32. Sol was 60th overall, and 9th in the 11-12 boy category. Not far behind Sol was Andrew (33rd in his age category), followed by Savannah (18th 13-14 girl category) and Levi (115th in his age category).

On Sunday, a convoy headed from Crieff back to Glasgow for the Great Scottish Half Marathon. Eleven Harriers ran this major event, which had nearly 8500 participants. This race attracts international class runners, and the winner this year was Joseph Birech of Kenya, in a time of 1 hour, 1 minute and 26 seconds. Harriers runners didn’t quite match that pace, but they did put in some very strong performances. First Harrier was Phil T in the very creditable time of 1hour 24minutes and 23 seconds. First woman was Kerry, improving all the time with her best-ever half marathon time of 1hour 39minutes and 28 seconds. Elaine Moffat also managed a pb, and all the other runners had a splendid day out: Karen P, Jeff Sweeney, Nicola, Alastair, Fiona L, Colin T, Allan MacInnes and Kirsty.