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Lairig Ghru race report 2016

170 runners toed the line at Braemar police station keen to get going on their journey to Aviemore police station through the iconic Lairig Ghru mountain pass as part of the 27 mile race which was being run for the 40th time. Quite a change from the 13 entrants who set off on the same journey in 1976 (does anyone know any of the entrants from that race?).

The weather was suitably summery at the 1000 start, temperatures were maybe a little warm once the field headed into the pass proper and the bright sunshine radiating off the rocks made it a little less than pleasant, but us hill runners are made from stern stuff! 

By the time the faster finishers had got stuck into the fantastic soup, scones and cakes, which were in never ending supply from the Mountain Café, the rain started to fall and did so for the next couple of hours, this did little to dampen the spirits of the competitors who had already finished as they cheered in everyone else at the race end.

Rob Sinclair from Garioch Road Runners, who is having a fairly stellar season, was the first finisher in a very quick time of 3:06:46, this time was less than 2:30 minutes away from the 2007 record, if Rob keeps improving as he has been then it may only be a matter of time before he captures the record.

Murray Strain (HBT) came in a very creditable second place after finishing third at the Eildon 3 hills race the day before, James Harrison was a good third leading Corstorphine AC to the team prize (ably supported by Tom Ferrington & David Hall).

The womens title was comfortably won by Moira Davie (Forres Harriers), she ran a very good 3:57 to win by over 24 minutes from Rachel Newstead (London Heathside), local lady Christine Campbell (Cairngorm Runners) closed out the top three. The ladies team prize was a very tight Tayside/Angus battle with Forfar (Shauney Watson, Donna Pass & Elizabeth Milne) edging out Dundee Hawkhill and Arbroath Footers.

A very good duel for the V40 title was clinched by Donald Kerridge (Deeside Runners) on the main road through Aviemore beating Billy Gibson (Dundee Hawkhill Harriers) by a mere 16 seconds, noted orienteer David Godfree (Forth Valley Orienteers) rounded out the top three in finishing 12th overall.

The ladies V40 honours were clinched by Allie Chong (Giffnock North AC) whilst finishing fourth lady overall, well travelled Clare Hansford (Axe Valley Runners) ran strongly to finish second and Corri Black of the wonderfully named Donside Chainsaw Club was the third V40.

The omnipresent Alan Smith (Deeside Runners) outsprinted the first lady in Aviemore High street to claim the V50 prize in under four hours, he decided to race at the last minute to help cure a wee hangover! David Weir (Forres Harriers) came in about 12 minutes down in second place whilst Steven Morrison (Unatt) was the third V50.

Alison Paterson of Stonehaven Running Club scored a good victory in the V50 section in around 5:20, closely followed by Maureen McInnes (Garioch Road Runners) and Cosmic Hillbashers’ Sue Savege.

The mens V60 prize was won handsomely by Charles Ritchie of Tarland (Cambridge & Coleridge AC) in just over 5 hours, Iain Thomson of Strathearn Harriers was second with Gordon Main (Nairn RR) edging out Ron Milne (Forfar Road Runners) for third in a photo finish!!

Deeside Runners would like to thank all the marshalls, the sweeper (and Poppy the dog), mountain rescue and helpers who make this race possible and all the entrants who contributed to the overall atmosphere of the race.

Proceeds of the race go to the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team and in a one-off donation to assist Mar Lodge with rebuilding their infrastructure which was badly damaged during the terrible flooding on Deeside during December 2015.

Lairig Ghru race report 2017

Lairig Ghru race 2017 – a record breaking event in more ways than one.

With a record 221 competitors toeing the start line at the Old Police Station in Braemar and the weather conducive to good distance running, spirits were high amongst those entered.

Once the obligatory safety measures were completed they were off, slightly behind time, which may have scuppered someone’s chances of making the 1400 train from Aviemore back home (I did think that a tad ambitious – no names)!

The men’s field had several standout entries but Murray Strain was the clear favourite.                            He showed his class and form of this year by not only winning the race but in being the first person to break three hours (2:58:10) for the event and taking over 6 minutes off, what was, a very strong record.  There was a headwind for part of the route; therefore, making Murray’s time all the more commendable.    

Hamish Battle ran a very good race to place second and his running lived up to his name judging by the state of his knees at the end, lots of blood but mostly superficial.  Rowan Boswood moved up a place from last year and dropped 10 minutes from his time to gain a very good third place with Christopher O’ Brien in fourth edging out first MV40 Jack Trevelyan. 

Second MV40 was David Wright about 5 minutes later followed by MV40’s Cameron Watson and then Ayron Comber, both under the four hour mark.

Adrian Davis came home as first MV50 in a very creditable 13th place in 3:43:59, he was one of three MV50’s to go under four hours, Donald Kerridge & Graham Kirby being the others.

Raymond Corbett had a comprehensive victory in the MV60 category in a very good time of 4:38:41, beating Ron Milne and David Nightingale respectively.

The ladies race was a much closer affair with Joanna Zakrzewski and Georgia Tindley running strongly at the front, Joanna had the lead heading from the Pools O Dee but fell and bumped her head (good thing she is a race doctor).

Georgia then lead them through the forest at Rothiemurchus until the road section at Coylumbridge where Joanna’s road running prowess proved decisive in allowing her to pull away and win by just over a minute in 3:53:27, coming in third was the current record holder (and FV40 record holder) Lucy Colquhoun in a decent time of 4:09:02, she was also second FV40 behind Joanna, I think you nearly gave it justice Lucy.

Lucy was closely followed by Fiona Maxwell who smashed the FV50 record by well over 6 minutes in a great time of 4:12:24, next in was Fiona McDonald who was third FV40 a few minutes later.

Shona Mackie and Zoe Harding had a good battle to be second female senior with Shona edging it by a minute or so.

Shona Young and Rachel McCuaig both had good runs, well under 4:45 to be second and third FV50 respectively.

Metro Aberdeen (Hamish Battle, Iain Manson & Chris Richardson) won the Men’s team event, whilst Hunters Bog Trotters won the Ladies (Georgia Tindley, Katie Walling & Zoe Strong).

Honourable mentions must go to the two super dogs who competed with their humans (Jack Ward & Tom Martyn), great times for both but I think Tom’s dog might have had way too much energy left at the end. It’s just as well we know that Tom is a better athlete than his time suggests or I might have had to disqualify him for canine assistance!

We had 219 finishers, which is a tremendous result, mind you once you get to near halfway there is little point turning back, even more so if your kit is in Aviemore!

As always, great thanks must go to all the marshals/helpers/kit checkers/sweepers/caterers and photographers, all from Deeside Runners, without them the race simply would not continue.

We are grateful for the assistance shown to us from the estates that we cross during the race, especially Mar Lodge.

Special thanks to OMM for supplying the spot prizes that I struggled to give away at the prize giving and to both Cairngorm Mountain Sports and the Mountain Cafe in Aviemore for allowing us to use their car park and supplying such lovely cakes.

Thanks also to bus company, Bremner’s of Aviemore for their usual speedy delivery of tired athletes back to Braemar.

Finally, special thanks to the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team who man the checkpoint at the Pools O’ Dee highpoint in the race (2733’) for what probably seems like hours.  A significant portion of the race profits go to aid the team in their endeavours in keeping us safe in the hills.

Here’s to next year.

Lairig Ghru race report 2019

This year was the 43rd edition of the Lairig race, the entries opened in mid-March, all 250 spots sold out in about 20 minutes, this was partly down to the Adventure Show effect and judging by the race numbers in other races, partly the popularity of hill running, long may it continue.

As always there was a high quality field in the men’s race, established hill runners, quality road runners and even an Australian ultra-running champion.

For the 237 runners who set off from Braemar with high hopes of reaching Aviemore, the conditions for the race were close to ideal bar the early headwind which became a helping wind later in the race with a welcome rain shower or two and a temperature conducive for running.

The men’s race went off at a healthy pace and it soon became apparent that Jonny Crickmore (HBT) was the man to catch, he took control fairly early on and never relinquished the lead, his winning time was an excellent 3:02:41 which was the second fastest time ever. He looked remarkably fresh at the end and was very low key about his achievement.

Leaders passing through Mar Lodge with traditional encouragement

Behind Jonny there was a pack of 3 very different runners, Chris Richardson (Metro), Jason Kelly (Metro) and Brendan Davies (Team Inov-8). Chris had achieved a sub 2:30 marathon this year and was newish to the world of hill running. Jason has been improving quickly over the last couple of years and was keen to do well and to beat Hamish Battle’s time from last year. There was also Brendan Davies (Team Invo-8), there is not really enough space in the report to do justice to Brendan’s racing CV but I will just say he is the reigning Australian Male Ultra Runner of the Year and was a worthy late edition to the race as an add on to his Scottish holiday.

The pack of three remained tight until the quicker running through Rothiemurchus forest where Chris, who expected to be strong here, dropped off the pace to eventually finish 4th in a highly respectable debutant time of 3:17:18. Brendan and Jason pushed each other along the Coylumbridge road and through Aviemore high street where Brendan put in a final burst to take 2nd in 3:14:38, Jason following him in 15 seconds later, thereby taking 3rd and also beating Mr Battle’s time from last year.

Brendan not only finished 2nd but took the V40 record into the bargain, this record had stood for more than 25 years and was held by our much missed club mate Ben Preece who passed away earlier this year, I think Ben would have approved of Brendan’s racing style!

The V40 race was a tight affair with less than 2 minutes covering the top 3 (excluding Brendan), Iain Carroll (Giffnock North AC) running a great time of 3:39:33, just over 30 seconds later Scott Fraser (Lomonds) crossed the line with race veteran Brian Bonnyman following about a minute later.

The V50 race had two outstanding protagonists in Donald Kerridge (Deeside) and Kenneth Davidson (Moorfoots), with the evergreen Donald prevailing in 3:52:37, Kenneth also handily broke the four hour barrier, Graham Kirby (Fife AC) rounded out the top 3 with a 4:16:50 clocking.

Donald Kerridge on his way to the MV50 win

The V60’s were, as always, super competitive, Richard Toller (Dundee RR) held on for a good win in 5:16:15, Robert Atherton and Kerry Gordon were seen to be racing neck and neck, weaving through the bemused afternoon shoppers and tourists, Robert just pipped Kerry as they recorded the same time, 6 minutes down on Robert.

The ladies race was between two athletes, Kerry Prise (Metro) and Katie White (Garscube Harriers). What the front end lacked in quantity was certainly made up for in quality. Kerry’s sister Siobhan had won the West Highland Way race the previous weekend so familial pride was up for grabs. Katie has a top quality marathon time to her name and has represented England in mountain running.

The two ladies battled throughout the race with Kerry coming in first, looking surprisingly fresh (there is a theme here for winners), her time of 3:42:28 was one of the top 5 times recorded by women in the race, Katie came striding through to record 3:45:11 which is likely to be the fastest any woman has run the race and not won.

Kerry Prise, smiling her way to first place

Lisa Johnstone rounded out the top 3 in a shade over 4:30.

Insch Trail Running Club have in recent years taken to the race in increasing numbers and it was heartening to see two of their ladies, Ros Baxter and Jacoline Dey occupying 1st and 2nd places respectively on the FV40 podium, Ros’s time  of 4:31:26 was exactly 12 minutes quicker than Jacoline’s, Ros finished 4th overall. Frances Britain from Forres Harriers completed the leading trio in a time well under the five hours.

Susan Brown (Deeside) has been improving consistently and would have been even more pleased if I had got the FV50 results correct and awarded her 1st place instead of 2nd on the day, apologies Susan!  Karen Young had a good run to finish 2nd with Donna Pass a creditable 3rd in 5:46.

The FV60 race had two competitors, Ann White (Garscube Harriers) and Patricia Whitelaw (2 Dash). Ann lead home in impressive style, even more so when you understand that she fell a couple of times around the half way mark, was bloodied and bruised but finished strongly.

I paraphrase, but she told me what else could she do but carry on. Her time of 5:19:48 would have won the FV50 race but more extraordinarily was a new FV60 record by almost exactly 30 minutes. A successful day out for the White family with daughter Katie taking 2nd overall. Patricia clocked a very good time as well, just a shade over 6 hours.

An honourable mention must go to Brian Howie (Carnethy), he completed the race in 3:40 in 1993 and was finishing again this year at 68 years of age.

Due to a computer malfunction the results were done the old fashioned way and there was not time to accurately calculate the team results.

Insch Trailing Running Club (Ros Baxter, Jacoline Dey & Rachel Little) took the ladies prize handsomely from Carnethy and Garioch Road Runners.

The Male team award went to the host club Deeside (Donald Kerridge, Jamie Ross & Peter McFadzean) who pipped Carnethy and Metro by a couple of points. Jamie well deservingly cracking the four hour barrier and Peter just 28 seconds shy.

The next Deeside counter, Dirk Wallis almost succeeded in wrestling back the family record for the race but this still stays with his wife Sally, next year Dirk! NIck Mardall rounded out the male Deeside contingent in a sub 4:40 time, safe to say the hat was in place. Lois McCulloch made the short journey from Queensland for the race and completed it in under six hours which is pretty impressive considering she had wee Murdo not that long ago.

As always, this event cannot take place without the hard work and support of numerous people, thanks to Mar Lodge and Rothiemurchus for providing the access to the estates willingly, to the Mountain Cafe for the fabulous spread, Bremners of Aviemore for getting everyone back home, Braemar/Cairngorm Mountain Sports for the number sponsorship and use of their car park, Braemar Village Hall for the use, the Braemar Gathering committee for the use of the car park/toilets, and Cairngorm Mountain Rescue for providing the hill support.

Most of all I would like to thank all my club mates, others from local clubs and anyone else I have forgotten to thank, who willingly gave their time to assist in organising the event, without the volunteers these events cannot take place. I am sure all the competitors would agree.

All the best,

Andy

Lairig Ghru race report 2018

This is the official race report with added extra Deeside content, mostly ramblings but there is some factual content.

Lots of thanks, Liz (cramp reliever extraordinaire), Katie (TV team wrangler, factotum exemplar and laid (very) back official photograher) & Sam (THE most exuberant welcomer of runners I have ever seen), the best registration / finish team who also showed how wearing a marshal’s vest can be made more interesting (watch the show to find out!).

Jane and Dave for their Derry Lodge duties, all the competitors were very grateful for both aid stations and me for the peace of mind they gave me for that portion of the race.

Bob, Hazel & Joe for their sweeping exploits, they got everyone back in good time to watch the prizegiving and to catch the buses.

Rich, Jamie, Ian, Ben, Clare, Mark (+ enthusiastic small helper) for kit checks and general assistance & Dave for his help all day and the procuring of the spot prizes from OMM.

Lina & boys for both registration and as lead out team to Mar Lodge, I hope you get your bike back Cluan (I think it was you).

Roger & Kirsty for the photos and support at Luibeg, great images.

Mr Hirst for his sterling, some say Churchillian, send off for the runners.

As you can see it takes a lot of folks, who willingly give up their time, to maintain this race, I do appreciate the help tremendously, if I have missed anyone, I apologise, it was rather hectic on the day.

From turning up in Braemar at 0730 and forgetting that I had asked for the hall to be opened, triple counting the runners and still get a different number, having a bus crash into me a few miles from Coylumbridge.

Consoling an upset “winner” of the race, administering first aid to various runners with cuts, bruises and broken fingers, having to speak with someone’s partner to tell them they had been coptered to Raigmore and not to worry.

Having to drive a very, very talkative (she was a lovely quine though) Russian lady runner all the way back to Braemar and finally getting home at 2300.

Then waking up on Monday morning and remembering (after looking in the mirror) that I’d neglected the sunscreen, definitely a Scottish tan! What else would I do with a Summer Sunday, until next year….

Finally, I have spoken to Meg (Adventure Show producer) and she is willing to give us a copy of the show, sometime in the Autumn, before it is broadcast. Would anyone fancy a night out, something to eat and a few beers to watch this and maybe the copy Ben has of the previous filming of the event? Let me know and I will see what we can organise.

Lairig Ghru 2018 or Some Like it Hot!

The Lairig race this year started warm and only got hotter as the country sweltered in a Scottish heatwave, temperatures reached 25C in Aviemore and running through this iconic mountain pass was made even more difficult with a lack of a cooling breeze.

We were honoured this year to have The Adventure Show filming the race, we laid on the weather, the enthusiastic competitors and the ever so supportive marshals along with the expertise of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue team, I am sure the AS team will do the race justice when it is broadcast later this year. Unfortunately Dougie Vipond had a prior engagement at the Royal Highland Show but he assured me he was upset to miss out on running the race!!

214 keen and tense runners toed the line in Braemar and were set on their way by Deeside Runners long standing past president and honourary club member, Dave Hirst who is recovering, very well, from a hip replacement operation he had about 5 weeks ago.

In the men’s race the early pace was set by Hamish Battle (Metro) and James Waldie (HBT) as they headed towards the Luibeg burn and the entrance to the Lairig itself, followed by Graham Bee (Inverness Harriers), Jason Kelly (Stonehaven Running Club), Mark Mosgrove (unatt) and George Foster of Keswick AC, indications from just beyond the high point suggested that James had taken the lead and that George was the main challenger with Hamish struggling with a touch of cramp (or maybe more than a touch if you had seen him at the end).

These placings persisted until the home stretch in Aviemore itself when James, who had what he described as “a winning lead”, neglected to cross under the railway via the tunnel thus letting George benefit from this navigational aberration and win in a highly respectable, given the weather, 3:18:36 with James appearing a minute and a half later having ran a wee bit further.

As the race insists upon the competitor carrying a map and compass and navigation is required, the person crossing the finish line first is the winner but I do have a little sympathy for James, I am sure he will come back stronger for the experience!

Hamish hobbled in a further three minutes later looking a little worse for wear but the spread laid on by Kj, Al and the staff at the Mountain Cafe soon had him back to his usual self.

A very honourable mention must go to Kieran Cooper, who at 18 years of age must have a bright future in hill running ahead of him, he finished fourth overall in a great time of 3:25:42, he even took money off Duncan from the Adventure Show, who conceived a slightly reckless bet that Kieran wouldn’t break 4 hours! (Kieran, Duncan paid up, I have your £3.50!).

Graham Bee rounded out the top 5 finishing strongly in 3:27:10.

The male vets race was, as always, keenly contested, Richard Cooper (Kieran’s father) was first, and tenth overall, in a little over 3:40, Peter Jones pipped Brian Bonnyman by 20 seconds for second place, both running 3:52 and change. These three were well clear of the next MV40.

The MV50 race was even closer, the inimitable Alan Smith delivered the win, clocking under 4 hours for what seems like the 40th time and winning in 3:57, Willie Rennie had a great race to finish second beating David Weir by about 30 seconds and finishing less than a minute over 4 hours. If success in politics requires stamina then the Lib Dems (other political parties are available) would seem to have a good leader in Willie.

The M60 category title was handily retained by Raymond Corbett, almost half an hour ahead of GTM, who was 5 minutes up on Joe Battle, who replicated his son’s third place, despite breaking a finger (he is well named).

There was a high quality and very diverse women’s field this year, with international orienteers, triathletes, ultra-runners, as well as the reigning Scottish hill running champion.

It was difficult to predict the winner but Tessa Strain (HBT) was keen to emulate husband Murray’s success last year and looked very determined on the start line. At Luibeg, Cat Morrison of Stirling Tri Club had a lead with Tessa not that far behind, and with this year’s Highland Fling winner and Scottish Ultra Trail Champion Rachel Normand (Carnethy) running well it looked like there would be no podium place for Scottish hill running international Steph Provan of the host club, Deeside Runners.

Tessa’s strength started to tell and all that hill training she has been doing in Cambridgeshire(!) must have helped tremendously as she powered to an excellent win and 9th place overall in a great time of 3:40:17, fantastic run, this goes to show how good Lucy Colquhoun’s record actually is. Never underestimate the hill runner, Stephanie stuck to her race plan (you probably will do it again!) and ran a commendable 3:54 to take 2nd place ahead of Cat and Rachel, the latter two also breaking four hours by a minute or two.

A battle scarred Sally Wallis rounded out the top 5 with an excellent time of 4:05, thus improving the Wallis household record for the race (sorry Dirk, you’ll have to do it again) by around a minute.

Tessa was extremely happy to have matched Murray but was more insistent on praising his time from last year, which to my mind was one of the best hill runs of 2017.

Double success for the Strain household as Murray finished 8th in the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Poland on the same day.

As Cat was on the podium for the overall, Charlotte Black from Shetland AAC was awarded the FV40 prize, she ran well to record a time of 4:31 and finish about 6 minutes ahead of Mary Lye from Carnethy, Ros Baxter from Insch Trail running club took the 3rd place, in well under 5 hours, recording 4:50:09.

Deeside were looking for another winner in the ranks and Sarah Dunn duly delivered, in emphatic fashion, running 4:51 and finishing more than 50 minutes ahead of her nearest rival, Mo MacInnes of Garioch Roadrunners, with Judy Leslie rounding out the podium for the FV50’s.

Of the rest of the Deeside Runners, Alan Sealy had a very impressive run to record 4:11:38 and 4th MV50, Martin Young ran well for a very creditable 62nd place in 4:38, Peter Henry recorded a 4:41, he didn’t seem to enjoy this one, looked less than enamoured with the race and strolled across the line, you will nail this race one year Peter!

Only being 27 or so miles meant that this was a warm up for Jim Savege who finished two places and one minute after Peter, not even the scorchio weather could release the hat from Nick Mardall’s head as he cruised round in a comfy 4:50. Frances Wright ran 5:25 and finished in the top half of the women’s field, a nice effort in the conditions.

Two retirals, Sara Henry, who was nursing an existing injury (a real one and not the imaginary ones you tell your rivals about at the start of a race), she started but the injury wouldn’t allow her to finish and Mr Pringle, he has been in good form and I was quietly confident that Stuart would finally crack 4 hours, alas twas not to be, he suffered from empty legs syndrome, a condition that we are all probably familiar with, I see you placing well in the MV40 next year when you go sub 4 Stuart….

Team prizes went to HBT, the heat got to me at this point (you will see the reason on the TV show) and I gave the beer to Stonehaven, sorry HBT!

Deeside clinched the ladies prize comprehensively from Carnethy and Insch respectively, with the triumvirate of S’s, Sally, Sarah and Steph all running well.

As always, this event cannot take place without the hard work and support of numerous people, thanks to Mar Lodge and Rothiemurchus for providing the access to the estates willingly, to the Mountain Cafe for the fabulous spread, Bremners of Aviemore for getting everyone back home, Braemar/Cairngorm Mountain Sports for the number sponsorship, Braemar Village Hall for the use, Deeside Spring Water for, well, for the water, and Cairngorm Mountain Rescue for providing the hill support. Most of all I would like to thank all my club mates, and others from rival clubs and anyone else I have forgotten to thank, who willingly gave their time to assist in organising the event, without the volunteers these events cannot take place. I am sure all the competitors would agree.

The race is run primarily to provide funds for CMRT, this year we had a situation which required a helicopter rescue, the runner involved suffered from heatstroke and was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital where he spent the night under observation and was thankfully released the following day and is fine now.

Special thanks to all the runners and marshals who assisted him, especially to Natalya Wallek of Insch Trail Running Club who gave up her race to ensure he was looked after until the chopper arrived, this is what typifies the spirit of hill running.

Looking forward to actually seeing the race for a change, if not running it again.

All the best,

Andy

LAMM Adventure

When I agreed to pair up with Bob on the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon it was late December and it seemed a long time away. Those six months flew by and before I knew it we were making final plans and preparations for the trip.

Katie and Bob were experienced Mountain Marathoners but Sam and myself were total novices and the delights of dehydrated foods, blisters and slit trenches were unknown to us. (In case anyone is eating whilst reading this I won’t go into graphic details on slit trenches but it was one of those experiences you only want once !

The LAMM is a test of endurance, stamina, teamwork, self sufficiency and navigation and this year was slightly different as the location was made known in advance due to the logistics of getting 700 runners across to the Isle of Harris. It also took place on Friday / Saturday to respect Sunday observance which still exits across the Hebrides.

So it was that on a sunny afternoon the Deeside Divas and the Deeside Duo set off from a sunny Deeside to arrive later that evening in an equally sunny Harris. The ferry crossing passed with conversations about which team would finish first and how much Harris gin it would cost the losers … or was it the winners, I never did figure out who was paying. 

We quickly registered, checked kit again and were off to bed ready for the early start, myself and Bob under canvas with Katie and Sam enjoying the comforts of the VW.

The campsite was up early to the sound of the pipes giving time for porridge, coffee, more porridge, another check of kit and then a bit more porridge !

Before we knew it we were on the bus and off to the start –both Deeside pairs were doing the B Class category which only added to the rivalry which became apparent when we got off the bus. Bob and myself took a time to enjoy the views and look at the route checkpoints, whilst the Divas were away, gone, showing us a clean pair of heels.

It is fair to say that Harris is stunning and we were blessed with great weather so it was a great feeling setting off on what we knew would be a tough day. Unusually, there had been little rain on the island for a while so it was very dry underfoot, which helped in a lot of ways but I am sure contributed to blisters and foot problems by the end.

Have I really run all that way !

As we approached the end of day one we had made contact with the Divas but with a steep downhill section to the finish they left us ( me in particular) so by the time Bob and I finished a particularly spritely Katie had done a three lap cool down of the campsite, had a swim and a wash and looked ready for day 2.Sam on the other hand was in semi meditative state in what I thought was a yoga pose, a bit like a snow angel but without the snow. She maintained this pose for a good few hours only responding in words of one syllable or less. She only regained a fully conscious state when fed the dehydrated Chocolate Chip Pudding which was a real hit ( I’ve ordered more for the shop Sam )

I made the fatal mistake of sitting down, fatal because I then couldn’t get back up and was periodically Immobilised by muscle cramps and spasms. The 100 metre walk to the beach took me an age and my only thoughts were “How do I do that again tomorrow !”

The evening was spent performing minor surgical procedures on blistered feet, infection control consisted of a safety pin being held in the flame of a gas stove and the final competitive act of the day was who could fit most compeed on their foot.

Overnight campsite – not a bad view !
Sunset from our overnight camp

Day two dawned and again the sound of the pipes told us it was time to get up. To my absolute and utter surprise I could walk unaided so with breakfast eaten it was time to start. Despite everything we had both made the chasing start but the Divas were a few minutes in front of us.

The day went well, we hit check points and had some interesting competition with teams around us and about 5k to go we caught up with the Divas, the competition was alive and well and truly on. At this point I made a bad tactical error. Katie complained of sore feet so I offered a couple of Ibuprofen. She took them and a couple of shot bloks and when they kicked in the Divas were away never to be seen again. It was at this point Bob and I hit the wall, or more graphically more of a near vertical climb up the hillside. As the Divas skipped their way up we sat down, frequently, only making the top after much effort and sweat.

Lovely spot for a check point

From there it was downhill to the finish and we even managed a limping jog to the finish line. Katie

and Sam were busy sunbathing and were quick to remind us they were first finishers – credit where credit is due they were awesomely strong on those final few kilomtetres.

And so we had done it – completed the LAMM. The Divas finished 15th ( Day 1 6hrs 36 mins / Day 2 7hrs 34 mins with an overall time of 14 hr 10 mins).

The Deeside Duo finished 22nd ( Day 1 6 hrs 43 mins / Day 2 8 hrs with an overall total time of 14 hrs 43 mins)

On day one we covered 28 k with a height gain of 1600 mtrs and day 2 was 30 k with a height gain of 2000 mtrs.

After the prize giving ( which I had to give a miss due to the smell of food from the café making me feel decidedly sick ) we headed off to find a nice cool river in which to was ease aching muscles – anyone watching would have wondered what healing powers were in the water as four apparently incapacitated individuals tried to get in and out of the water.

There then followed a pleasant evening in Tarbet, a couple of beers, a big portion of fish and chips and some great conversation reminiscing on two days on Harris. One of the things that struck me was the friendly, social feeling on the LAMM – chatting to people you knew, chatting to some you vaguely knew and chatting to some who you’d never met before. Like minded people sharing experiences and conversations on a pleasant Hebridean evening.

Would I do it again ? Well Sam and I have an agreement that if either of us utter a sentence containing the words “ Enter Mountain Marathon” there is a permission to hold them and beat some sense into them !

A hobble on Luskentyre beach on Sunday morning before we caught the ferry back was interspersed with eating plenty to make up some of the calories lost. It was a good excuse to eat anything for the rest of the week.

There was a fifth Deesider there as well – Jenny Glass ran with an Edinburgh University colleague and looked glad to have finished but as always, did it with a big smile on her face – well done Jenny.  And in the friendly nature of the event it was good to see a good representation from Cosmics including Ian Hamilton who often trains along with us. 

It only remains for me to thank my three Deeside colleagues for playing their part in a great weekend, especially Bob for his navigation and support at times when I was struggling. The Divas were worthy winners of our informal competition, well deserved congratulations from me ladies.       

The most important part of the day – rehydrating time    

London Marathon Adventure!

Cannot believe it was almost 2 months ago!

Had really been looking forward to London Marathon 2018 ever since my good for age entry was confirmed last summer. The serious training began in the New Year with the weekly mileage averaging around 50/60 miles per week until last few weeks of tapering in early April.  Most of this training was undertaken in pretty miserable wintry weather, at the time I was not to know this would be of minimal benefit during the race!

 

When I arrived in London on  Friday afternoon the weather had become tropical in fact it was like being in the Mediterranean! This did not bode well as had not previously run long distances in that heat. I had a feeling this could be a long and tiring day after arriving at the race village in Greenwich Park on Sunday morning dripping in sweat after jogging 2 miles from the hotel. The goal was to finish comfortably inside the 3 hour mark around 2hours 50-55 minutes but that looked a tall order in this heat!

Being in the fast good for age entry meant I was fortunate enough to be placed in quite an advanced starting position behind the elite runners so did not have to worry about congestion at the beginning and I set off at a fairly steady pace passing through the 10k point in just under 43 minutes, however even at this early stage was beginning to feel the heat and having to consume more fluids than normal to stay hydrated.  I wanted to push on a bit and increase the pace slightly but found this difficult because of the heat and also the sheer volume of runners in front (around 40,000 runner took part!) which meant overtaking someone was not always easy.

Consequently, I arrived at the halfway point in just over 1 hour and 29 minutes about 3 minutes slower than had planned. By now it was beginning to feel quite hot so I decided the goal now would be to finish in under 3 hours by following the 3 hour pacer. This approach worked well for a while and I was able to gradually up the tempo but at the same time it also felt like a real strenuous effort to stay in touch with the pacer and I was concerned that I would not be able to sustain this pace until the end. I arrived at the 30k (19 mile) mark, outside the tall buildings of Canary Wharf in 2 hours and 8 minutes still on course to break 3 hours if could run 7 minute miles until the finish but at this point things began to slip.  Despite taking on plenty of Water and Gels to maintain hydrated and top up energy levels I felt like the pace was beginning to drop and it was fast becoming a real struggle.  It even proved too much for the pacer who dropped off around 22 miles and I never saw him again!

As we crossed Tower Bridge for the 2nd time the pace began to drop a bit more rapidly and I realised that the sub 3 hour marathon was looking increasingly unlikely unless I could do something miraculous to reverse the trend!  I decided to forget the time and enjoy the last few miles along the Thames Embankment, past Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace until the  finish at the Mall.

Crossing the finish line in 3 hours 4 minutes and 48 seconds I was so exhausted that I could barely stand up!  Thankfully St James park was nearby so went and chilled there for a while afterwards along with loads of other marathon runners. It would have been nice to run under 3 hours but the heat certainly took its toll in the end, although at least I managed to fulfil the Good for age entry criteria for next year. London marathon was a really enjoyable experience despite the challenging conditions and it was great to see so many spectators come out and support all the runners involved, its definitely in my plans to return and do it again next year.

 

Jamie

 

 

 

Yetholm Hill Race

Well done to James Espie, Stephanie Provan, Alan Smith and Stuart Pringle who competed in the Yetholm Hill race on Sunday.  This was the 2nd of the 6 races which make up the SHR championship series.  Steph won the ladies race, James finished 8th and Alan was 3rd in the V50

James and Steph also put in excellent performances the previous day representing Scotland at the British Mountain Running Championships at Sedburgh.  They were part of the mens and womens teams which finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.