Monday, 19 August 2013

Crieff 10k 7 July 2013

Sunday dawned bright and clear, with warm temperatures, making for a perfect day for Strathearn Harriers’ annual Crieff 10k race, run as usual from the Morrison’s playing fields at Dallerie, over Laggan Hill to Trowan farm and back to Dallerie via Lady Mary’s Walk, making this one of the most scenic 10k races in Scotland.

Race entries were up on last year, with over 250 runners taking part. Race winner was Lewis Millar of Central AC, fresh from his mid-week win at the Brig Bash in Bridge of Earn. Despite good course conditions, Lewis’s time of 33.57 couldn’t match the course record set by Robert Gilroy in 2008, but was nonetheless very impressive time. Robert Gilroy of Ron Hill Cambuslang, looking to provide some inspiration for Andy Murray later that afternoon, was second in a fine 34.19 and Andrew Wright of Ochil HR was third in 34.59. First woman was defending champion Edel Mooney of Lothian Runners, in 39.49. Edel was comfortable in first place, but there was a real race for second woman, eventually won by Claire Douglas of Perth Road Runners, in 45.00, just four seconds ahead of Hazel Dean on Central AC in 45.04.

First Strathearn Harrier was Colin Glencorse, in 39.36 on a return visit. Wattie Mackay was first local runner, finishing in 39.26, with second local runner Chris Clarke of Strathearn Harriers in 40.39. This is very much Chris’s local race, since his house overlooks the start and finish area, so he doesn’t have far to travel to get to the race! First local woman was Wendy T, also of Strathearn Harriers in 47.40, with Maddy second local woman and first junior woman in 49.42. First male junior was Matthew O’Brien in 42.46, and second male junior was Charlie Grimson, of Strathearn Harriers, very close behind in 42.51.

Other local finishers were:

Daniel Mestecky (Strathearn Harriers) 44.39

Jim McConnell (Strathearn Harriers) 45.38

Dave Torgersen 49.09

Calum Brown 51.48

Andy Scott (Strathearn Harriers) 52.40

Andrew Aitken 52.48

Hana Issa 53.49

Cara Jones (Strathearn Harriers) 54.37

Charles Robertson 56.55

Colin Howat 57.28

Anna Blackie 57.52

Des Hamilton 58.44

Arianne Newlands 64.02

Aileen McLeod 73.34

While the main race was underway, the Junior 1 mile race was run. Overall boys winner was Lewis Forsyth (Strathearn Harriers) in a new course record time of 5.25, and Rachel Kneen was first girl, in 5.59, also in a new age-group record time.

Under-11 boys

Huw Thomas (Strathearn Harriers) 6.04 (new age-group record)

Ollie Stewart 6.14

Alex Douglas 6.16

Under-11 girls

Millie Stokoe 6.51

Valencia Wright 6.52

Gemma Graham (Strathearn Harriers) 7.19

Under-13 boys

Conor Ryan (Central AC) 5.30 (new age-group record)

David Alexander (Strathearn Harriers) 5.55

Andrew McInnes (Strathearn Harriers) 6.01

Under-13 girls

Rachel Kneen 5.59

Catriona Roberts (Strathearn Harriers) 6.43

Peigi Urquhart 7.18

Under-15 boys

Lewis Forsyth (Strathearn Harriers) 5.25

Findlay Lennie (Perth Strathtay Harriers) 5.58

Under-15 girls

Claire Reid (Strathearn Harriers) 7.34
The races were supported by Highland Spring and The Handy Shop in Crieff, and by a small army of volunteers and marshals, without whom the races could not happen. Special mention must be made of Shelagh and her team for the fine post-race spread of sandwiches, cakes, teas and fresh fruit, and Rob Bolton and his pipers, whose efforts make the races a special event for many of the runners.

Strathearn Marathon 9 June 2013

Marathon time again! We were so chuffed with the way the 2012 marathon had gone, we had to do it again. Besides, we’d spent so much time planning it in 2012 that it would have been a shame not put all that hard work to good use.

So, second time around, and there wasn’t too much to change. We moved the finish line a wee bit, to make the finishing funnel a bit easier to organise, but apart from that, we kept the route the same. We didn’t get support from Run4It – the race is a bit small for them to make it worth their while – but we did get lots of support from locals, and as always, club members were quick to volunteer to help the event on the day.

Race day numbers were very good. We’d been a bit worried six weeks earlier that the entry list was a bit short, but we had an acceleration in entries over the weeks immediately before the race, taking entries up over the 150 mark and past the number of t-shirts ordered! We even had people phoning after the entry deadline, which may something about their forward planning! In the end, we had 143 runners starting the race, an increase of nearly 30 compared with last year.

On the day before the race, a small gang met at Cultybraggan to fill the goody bags, sort out the t-shirts, and arrange the signage at Cultybraggan and around the route. It was very warm that day, so we were more than a bit concerned  we were going to have to cope with dehydrated runners on the day. Fortunately, we did have lots of water from Highland Spring for all the water stations, and we kept our fingers crossed.

Crossing the fingers obviously worked, since Sunday dawned with almost perfect marathon conditions – cool, dry, no wind – and in a change from last year, not many midges, which made life at the water stations much more pleasant. Registration opened early and there was a regular stream of runners and their supporters, along with the marshals receiving instructions and being dispatched to all points far and wide around the race route.

We had a good clutch of Harriers running this year. For the men, we had Sandy S, Jonathan B, Chris Clark, a resurgent Jim McConnell, a sadly slightly injured Paul Taylor and Jeff Sweeney taking on his first marathon. Elaine M was leading the way for the women, back for a second time, with Susan S running with Jeff and Paul raising money for the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund. Also running a first marathon was Julia Greenlees.

Last year’s winner Will Beauchamp was back to defend his title, and looked as calm and composed in his warm-up as he had done last year when he romped home (if you can romp in a marathon) to win by a very comfortable margin.

However, it was soon apparent he wasn’t going to have it all his own way. From the off, he was matched stride-for-stride by Roger Van Gompel of Dundee Hawkhill Harriers. Both Will and Roger had run in the London Marathon in April, with Roger finishing a few minutes ahead of Will on that occasion. This time, they had a genuine race, splendidly described in Will’s blog

I was on Dalginross as they came past, when Roger was opening a decisive gap, with just over a mile to the finish. Both were running hard and their times were well inside last year’s time. Roger won in a superb time of 2.39.33, with Will finishing in 2.40.10. Will’s time was a new personal best and two minutes faster than his time in the London marathon. Third placed man was Adam McLean of Inverclyde AC, in a very good time of 2.52.33.

The women’s race didn’t quite see the same intense racing, but winner Fionna Cameron of Harmeny AC set another course record of 3.8.10. Victoria Hunter was second woman in 3.13.30 and Fiona Ramsay was third in 3.25.13.

Harriers runners did themselves proud. Sandy Storey ran a very sound race, pacing himself well – he was third Harrier when I saw him at the 10.5 mile water station behind Jonathan Beck and Chris Clarke, but picked them off over the second half to finish in a very good 3.13.03 as first Local man. Jonathan was second Local man in 3.19.24, and by his own admission, Chris had a bit of a nightmare over the last few miles, but still managed a very creditable 3.25.30.

Elaine Moffat was first Local woman, finishing in a terrific 4.1.30 despite an injured calf, and Susan Saunders, running with brother-in-law Paul Taylor and raising money for the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund, was second Local woman in 4.10.11. Susan was another runner achieving a personal best, beating her previous marathon time by 10 minute, finishing with Paul in a time of 4.10.11. 

The second Strathearn Marathon was also notable for the return of Harriers stalwart Jim McConnell. Jim has been plagued with injuries over recent years and it was great to see him back running and finishing in an 3.34.47. Jim has run many marathons so knew what to expect, but at the other end of the spectrum was Julia, who admitted to having hated the training but looked like she was enjoying her day out. She must have been happy with herself, as she’s entered the Glenogle 33 Ultra later in the year.Jeff was another first-time marathoner, and should be very proud if his time of 3.53.49. He'd be dangerous if he trained!

As is always the case with Harriers races, the runners were superbly supported by the volunteers at Cultybraggan and out on the course, who gave up their time and whose efforts were greatly appreciated by the runners. Extra support came from Rob Bolton and Willie Nicol of the Comrie Pipe Band, who popped up in all sorts of unexpected places around the route and gave the runners a great sense of occasion. Catering was splendidly provided by the Comrie Allotments, with their cakes getting special praise from the runners and further support was generously given by Crieff Hydro Leisure, Highland Spring, CDT, Comrie First Response and the Fruit Shop, Comrie. Race photography was provided by Daniel Mestecky.

Brig Bash 3 July 2013

The latest Harriers championship race was the Brig Bash, a 5-mile road race around Bridge of Earn, run last Wednesday evening, in perfect running conditions. With an additional prize for the fastest first mile, the start was a helter-skelter dash through the streets of Bridge of Earn which caught a few runners going out faster than they might have planned  – I was certainly a bit startled to hear “6.12” shouted out as I passed the mile mark. I don’t often run at that pace!
Race winner was Lewis Millar of Central AC, in 24.55. Chris was our first Harrier to finish in 30.16, followed closely by Charlie Grimson in 30.27, and Phil T in 30.38. I finished in 32.16, down a bit on last year but not too disappointing, and happy to stay ahead of Jim on 32.55. Gordon lopped a big chunk of his previous best time on this course to finish in 33.55, while Zac Howie came in in 38.06.
For the women, race winner was Fiona Matheson of Falkirk Victoria Harriers in 28.24, flying the flag for the women super vets. First Harriers woman was Maddy in 34.26 after a very fast first mile. Nicola was second Harrier in 38.13, and Ali third Harrier in 39.07. Fiona L put in a fine effort to finish in 45.19, as part of her speed training for the Great North Run later in the year.
Positions in the men’s Championship race are unchanged, with Patrick still in a clear lead on 74.6 points. I’m second on 67 points, a fraction ahead of Phil T on 66.1 points, so it looks like Patrick has the men’s championship sewn up, barring injury, but the race is still on for second and third places and will depend on strategic use of jokers in the forthcoming races. It remains a tight competition for the women. Emily still leads the way on 71.8 points, with Maddy on 69.6 points and Nicola on 63.5.
Oh, and more good post-race cake.

Milnathort Dash 20 June 2013

Eleven Harriers made it to Milnathort for the annual Dash this year – a great improvement over last year’s entry of just three Harriers. The weather was considerably better too, after last year’s torrential rain. The Milnathort Dash is a very friendly event run over a distance of about 5.3 miles on the roads above Milnathort. It’s nominally a road race, and includes just enough of a hill to break up the rhythm. It also features a special competition for the first man and woman up the hill at the start, which provides a bit of added spice for the fast boys and girls.

First Harrier to finish, taking 10th position overall and 1st MV50, was Patrick, in a very good time of 32.57. Chris did his best to keep Patrick in his sights, but couldn’t quite hang on, to finish in 13th place overall in 33.52 – a particularly good effort given his marathon exertions 11 days earlier. Phil T was next Harrier home in 21st place, in 34.56, and I was next to finish in 28th place in 36.01. Also racing after the Strathearn Marathon was Jim, who was happy with his run of 37.35, and next in was Al, at 41.07.

Nicola was our first woman finisher, in a time of 41.30, with Ali M coming in not far behind on 42.20. Allan MacInnes was next home in 44.00, followed by Dave G in 49.10 and Mary, in 1.03.02, shepherding one of the Morrison’s runners in a preparation event for their Hong Kong trip later in the year.

The race was won by Greg Simpson of Perth Road Runners in a time of 30.07, while the women’s race was won by Amie McKimmie of Fife AC in 34.50.

The evening was rounded out with the usual fine Milnathort spread of sandwiches and cake, enjoyed in pleasant evening sunshine.

After this race, Patrick moved into a decisive lead in the club championship on 74.6 points. I managed a 1.1 point lead over Phil, so it looks like the battle is on for the silver and bronze positions. In the women’s Championship, Emily still leads the way with a solid 71.8 points, ahead of Nicola on 59.5 points and Maddy on 56.5 points.