Race Report: The Great Winter Run 2017

Race Report: The Great Winter Run 2017

Date: 7th January 2017

Profile: One Big Hill

Terrain: Road

Weather: Dry and mild, for the time of year

Website: greatrun.org

Positives: excellent organisation, positive crowd support

Negatives: that hill!

For years, I’ve watched the Great Winter Cross County Championships and the Great Winter Run from the comfort of my living room. But every year I’ve also always said that I’d love to take part.

Well, 2017 was the year.

As we had decided to buy the Great Run’s Scottish Season Pass, it gave us entry to the 5K Winter Run. And so, instead of heading home after work on Friday, 6th January we headed off to our hotel in Edinburgh instead. We had booked the Ibis on South Bridge, as we knew we’d be pretty close to the start time, and to the action, at Holyrood Park. As usual, I made sure my kit was ready the night before: 

On Saturday morning we were up early, and on our way to the start line with all of the other runners. The venue was well laid out, clearly sign posted and easy to access. We got there round about warm up time, which was perfect. We made our way into the corral and took the obligatory selfie: 

As @TheWelshWookie was injured, we had already agreed to run our own race, and so when the start came, I headed off amongst the crowds and headed up Arthurs’ Seat. We had been allocated the Pink Corral, and in future I’ll definitely upgrade my time. Within moments I was surrounded by walkers who had either set off running too quickly, hadn’t anticipated the hill or had only ever intended to walk. Now, @TheWookie was walking – and I would never criticise walkers – but here’s where extra corrals would help – if there was a walk/run or walk corral it would help, I’ve seen it work elsewhere. Anyway, I spent the first kilometre dodging lots and lots of walkers, which was frustrating and did affect my pace. More than once, people stopped dead in front of me.

When we reached the first kilometre marker we were greeted by a piper which lifted my spirits a little, and the walking crowd certainly dispersed a bit. The second kilometre continued the climb up the hill, and as we reached the third kilometre, we had levelled out and were greeted with beautiful views across the city of Edinburgh.

Then, the fun started; the long, downhill section taking us back to the start line. It was ace! My legs moved faster than they have done in quite a while, and I felt like I was gliding downhill. I overtook a guy who was playing an accordion, which was fab!

As the hill levelled out with a few hundred metres to go, we could hear singing, and as we crossed the finish line there was the ‘Sing in the City’ chorus to sing us across. It was great! I collected my goodie bag, which already contained my t shirt and medal before heading back to the hotel, and to meet @TheWelshWookie.

This was my first run trying out the NRC App on my Watch, and it worked great – no need to worry about finding a GPS signal, which was so much easier.

Here’s the goodie bag: 

And the medal and long sleeved T shirt: 

Here is the route of the run, too: 

After we had showered, changed and packed, we headed back to Holyrood Park to cheer on the participants in the Cross Country Championships. Yay! 

We’ll be back next year, definitely!
 
 

Advertisements
Race Report: Tarbert 10k Dookers Doubler

Race Report: Tarbert 10k Dookers Doubler

This year’s Tarbert races featured a new challenge: the Dookers Doubler! Thirty or do of us set out to run both the 5k and 10k runs, and I was looking forward to it.

First up was the 5k, which took us from Garvel road end along the harbour to the end point and back. It’s such a fast and flat route that a PB is a distinct possibility: not for us, though; knowing we had the 10k still to come meant we were taking it easy! 

As ever, the support was tremendous. The marshals were excellent and the runners all supported each other, too. It was a pleasure to run. As we crossed the finish line, we collected our first medal, changed over our bin for the next race and lined up, ready for the tougher 10k. 

While the 5k is fast and flat, the 10k is hillier, with two off road, trip sections. Although these are tough, they give runners cracking views over the village. @TheWelshWookie pulled his calf as we turned the first corner, so I found myself running on my own for most of it. But, given the excellent support, that was not a problem. I walked the first trail section up to Maggies Cottage, as runners were heading back downhill towards us slower runners and I didn’t want to hinder any of them. Next we headed back through the village, along the harbour past the crowds and back again, this time heading up Big Brae and around the Castle loop offering fabulous views over Tarbert. I love it up there! I kept asking the marshals if they had any gin for me….. but no joy. Maybe next year someone will oblige! 😉  Next, it was back down Big Brae and along the harbour front to the finish line. Although my legs were tired, the support really kept me going. 

I collected my second medal (yay!), goodie bag and specially designed Doubler t shirt. We were treated to masses of goodies: home baking, tablet (the thought of that tablet kept me going), water, bananas, sandwiches galore. It is brilliant! 

I then headed out to cheer @TheWelshWookie across the finish line and we stayed around chatting and to support those who had placed. There are loads of awards up for grabs at this event, with fantastic prizes. 

Overall, my 5k time was slower than last time, but I took three minutes off my 10k time from last year, so I was very, very pleased!

When 2017’s event opens, I’ll be first in line to sign up 🙂

Race Report: The Color Run, Glasgow

Race Report: The Color Run, Glasgow

Last year, @TheWelshWookie and I signed up for the inaugural Color Run UK Glasgow event. Unfortunately, it was cancelled, and I was a little worried that we wouldn’t see the event in Glasgow any time soon.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and this year I took part with my bestie, Pauline, Olivia, my Goddaughter and her friend Holly. And so it was a dry but overcast morning that we hopped on a train, ready to take part in what I knew would be a fantastic event.

It wasn’t my first Color Run: Angie and I took part in the UK’s first ever Color Run in London back in 2014. I was looking forward to the event once again!

By the time we arrived at the SECC start line, the warm up was well underway. Local DJ Des Clark had the crowd going, and I loved the Clubbercise routines that were used for the warm up. We had plenty of time for a few pre-race snaps before it was time to join the line up for the start itself.2016-07-17_095424380_AB7C9_iOS.jpg 

We walked, and jog-walked this event, which was great. We took our time, soaked up the atmosphere and made the most of it. The route took us through the city centre, which was fantastic! As you’d expect, there were four colour zones en route, and we were doused properly at each one 🙂 

 One of the highlights for me was the bubble machines which filled the tunnel at Central Station with multi coloured bubbles! 

The end of the route took us to the Merchant City, which was set up with a stage. a DJ and some brilliant music. There were some freebies at the end: the usual water and snacks, but also some wipes, to help clear off some of the powder. Before we did that, of course, we took part in the final colour burst, which was fab. 

I really enjoyed the event – walking it was a little different,  but it meant I was able to really soak up the atmosphere, and have fun en route skipping, jogging and laughing our way around.

Will we be back next year? You bet!

 

Race Report: The Great North Run 2015

Race Report: The Great North Run 2015

Date: 13th September 2015

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Warm and sunny

Website: greatrun.org

Positives: excellent organisation, first class support, seems like the whole of Newcastle, Gateshead and South Shields get behind the event

Negatives: I hate to complain about sunshine, but it was unanticipated, and I could have done without it!

As with many runners, the Great North Run has been on my bucket list for years. I had secured a lace last year, but had to defer after I picked up an injury. So, I felt more than ready and a bit overwhelmed as the date for this race came around. To add to all of that, the news that Mo Farah was running just made it even more special.

The lead up to the event was great, with frequent emails from the Great Run team and numerous social media posts about the event really meant I was looking forward to it, and very excited. @TheWelshWookie and I had booked the ‘coach, sleep and run’ package from Glasgow, via Nirvana Europe, and we didn’t quite know what to expect. We knew that our accommodation would be in Newcastle University halls of residence, which were very near the start line, and we were open to just seeing how the weekend turned out. It was excellent, and I can’t recommend the Nirvana Europe package highly enough.

We arrived at Buchanan Bus Station on Saturday morning, and spotted our bus right away:  

 We were first at the bus stance, but before long, a few other runners arrived. There were 10 of us on the bus, and it was a great crowd of friendly, supportive runners – as I’m sure you’d expect. Due to the low numbers, the coach had been subbed for a minibus (albeit a nice, comfy one), and our driver, Frank introduced himself. He’d been drafted in at short notice, and – to be honest – didn’t have much of a clue about where he was going. But, being a friendly bunch, mobiles were used as sat navs, to get us to where we were going.

Anyway, we made it to Newcastle, and to our digs, which were at Castle Leazes. We were warmly welcomed, and headed to the check in area where we were given our room keys and a goody bag:  

  That was a lovely wee surprise! There were plenty of staff on hand to continue with the welcome, and to make sure we found our rooms ok. The rooms were basic, as you’d expect, but ideal, with a bed, sink, desk, shelves, etc. There was plenty of tea and coffee available in the communal kitchen area, which was welcome.  

 In the evening, @TheWelshWookie and I headed out into the city, to find our bearings. We easily found the start line, and snapped a picture of what would be the start muster in only a few hours:  

 We then wandered through the city centre, and down to see the iconic landmarks at the quayside, such as the millennium bridge, and the Sage building:  

 We noticed that there was someone on the roof of the Sage building. Imagine our surprise when we got home and watched back the coverage to discover that it was none other than fellow runner and thoroughly good bloke, Professor Brian Cox, recording the opening scenes for the TV coverage! 😀   

  After a quick bite to eat, we took a lovely stroll up past St James’ Park, and back to the halls of residence for an early night. 

 As ever, I had my race gear ready to go the night before: 

 We were up at a decent time, and had arranged to get our bags back to the mini bus at 8am, so that Frank could get the bus out before the roads were closed, and we arranged to all meet back at the South Shields pick up point by 3pm or 3.30pm for departure. We then went to the refectory for breakfast. There was a brilliant spread: while we stuck to our usual breakfast of fruit and yoghurt, there was plenty of porridge and bananas being consumed, as well as some folks enjoying a full cooked breakfast 😮

Wee were grateful for the Newcastle Uni goody bags, as we could use these for some snacks and a change of clothes at the finish line. The forecast was for grey, cloudy skies and cool temperatures, so I thought we’d need something warm to change into. It had been very chilly when we put our bags onto the mini bus. Little did we know that this was going to change!

But, as we had decided to take bags, we had to get these onto the baggage buses by 10.10am. So, at around 9.50am, we strolled up to the start area, which had been totally transformed from the evening before. We easily found the right buses, and stashed our bags. I remembered to take a photo in case I couldn’t remember where the bags were:  

  And then we made our way into the starting pen. As we did so, the sun broke through the clouds, and the heat began to build. There were plenty of large screens by each pen, which was fantastic: it really kept you entertained as you waited. I also did my first ever Periscope broadcast, and having watched it back, I definitely need to give more thought to what I’m doing in future. It was fun 🙂

    
  Anyway, we watched the start of the ladies’ race and the ‘wheels of steel’ wheelchair race, and eventually it as time for the start of the men’s and mass participation race. I was great to watch Mo Farah et al actually start, knowing we’d be passing through the start soon! Then, the Red Arrows were overhead, and looked fantastic: 

 Well, when I say soon, it took our wave over half an hour to get to the start line! As we walked towards the start, there was a real mixture of excitement and a touch of angst as I realised that the sun was staying out, and I had no sun cream on. Ooops!

The support right from the beginning was amazing. As we ran through the tunnels and underpasses of the first mile or two, there was a lot of supportive ‘Oggie, oggie, oggies’ which was amazing! I had such a huge smile on my face!

The support as we ran over the Tyne Bridge was unbelievable – the streets were full, and nowhere on the course was unsupported. As we got to mile three, we had an impromptu pit stop so the ‘TheWelshWookie’ could use the facilities. And then, at mile four, it was my turn to stop. But, I stopped at the St. John’s Ambulance tent, in search of some sun cream. Fortunately, they carry sachets of Factor 30, God bless them!

Once I was suitably smothered in cream, we could get back to the run, and into our rhythm. After two early stops, and a crowded field, as well as a hot, hot day, we decided to just take the run easy, and make the most of it – savour the atmosphere. And that’s what we did.

We waved as we passed charity buses, we sang along as we passed the many music points, including joining in with ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ amongst other tunes. We high fived many, many kids who lined the route. It was awesome!

We were blown away by the support. And the food! Wow! I have never seen so many people with so much food for runners. Yes, there were tons of jelly babies and jelly beans. But there were also people handing out ice lollies and ice poles, polo mints, fresh lemonade, a young guy even offered us a can of Strongbow! 😉

Our favourite was the lady offering fresh sausage rolls, telling us that they were lovely – she sounded just like Sarah Millican! 😉 It was just awesome!

I won’t say that this race flew by – it didn’t. Miles 6 – 9 did, but there were a couple of tough points, too, particularly the hill at mile 11. It wasn’t as bad as I had expected, but it was tough. Just then, the Red Arrows were back overhead, and their aerial display really kept us entertained.

Then, there was the downhill stretch towards the sea, which was tough on the joint at that stage, and we found ourselves running the final mile along the water front. The support was outstanding.
We could hear music behind us, getting closer, and as it did so, it changed to ‘Uptown Funk’. Just what we needed for the final stretch! So, there we were, belting it out as we ran along the front, when we realised that the music was from a runner pushing another participant in a wheelchair. Wowee! And, yes, they did overtake us!

Then we were at the finish, and we crossed the line, in true Mobot style. Wow. I have goosebumps thinking about it now 🙂

There was a short walk from the finish to the medal collection, where @TheWelshWookie and I had to split up, as we were funnelled through the finish by t-shirt size. I collected my medal, give to me by a young guy with a hearty ‘well done’, which he must have said hundreds or thousands of times already.

We met back up again, and then walked to the baggage buses to retrieve our gear. There was a huge changing area, which was great, as I could get into some comfy clothes for the bus journey home. We then made our way to the bus, to find that only two guys had gotten there before us! So, we had time to chill out, have some snacks, and enjoy the sun, before boarding the bus back to Glasgow.

Here’s a map of the race: 

  Our stats: 2:39:01 my slowest HM to date, but that didn’t matter in the slightest

The Medal: 

 Goody Bag: Lucozade, water, crisps, cereal bar, samples and leaflets: 

 T-shirt: A pretty cool finisher’s medal. Excuse the wild hair – I’d taken off my visor, and the wind picked up just as I was having my pic taken! 😮  

  
I had left my Nike SportWatch in my room (which the staff kindly returned to me), so I used my Nike App to record the run. I’m not sure what happened, as it recorded the run as almost 15 miles!

I can understand why people rate the GNR so highly. I really is the King of Half Marathons. If you ever get the chance to run it, take that opportunity! And if you have run it, what were your thoughts about it? I’d love to hear them.

Race Report: The Tarbert TT10K 2015

Race Report: The Tarbert TT10K 2015

Date: 15th August 2015

Profile: Mostly flat, but with three killer hills

Terrain: Mixed: road and trail

Weather: Warm and sunny, but with short rain showers

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Tarbert-10km/570186306335004

Positives: Brilliant course, awesome views and the best support. Beats bigger races for organisation!

Negatives: Those flipping hills!

This was the third year of my local race, the Tarbert 10K. If you read my post on Monday, you’ll know that @TheWelshWookie and I tagged along on the 5k and ran it before the 10K, but this report is focussing on the main event we signed up for – the 10K.

I’ll also begin by noting that I didn’t take anywhere near as many pictures before the race started – I think I was just too busy thinking about enjoying the run! 🙂

As I always do, I had my race gear ready to go the night before. I had two tops sorted, road shoes for the 5K and trail shoes for the 10K at the ready. Note the second ‘elite’ race number in a row – after being Number 1 for the Carradale Canter, I was now Number 2 for the TT10K! 😀  

 This race had an 11 am start, but we were up and breakfasted early, and ready to run the earlier 5K at 10am. @TheWelshWookie drove the car into the village so that we had somewhere to stash our change of t shirts and shoes, and some snacks for in between the runs, and then we had a lovely stroll down to the harbour in the sunshine.  

 We were so busy chatting away to other runners, supporters and marshals that we almost missed the start of the 5K! But, we made it, and thoroughly enjoyed the fast, flat course, and the brilliant support. We were done in 33.15, which was a surprise, as we planned to take it really easy.

We had a quick change, and once again made our way to Garvel Road end for the start of the 10K. We mustered at the back, knowing that we’d be amongst the slower runners. We listened to the race briefing, pointing out the mud we could expect at Maggies Cottage and at the Tarbert Castle loop. There had been a couple of changes to the route this year. Instead of entering the first trail section through the main gates of the Heritage Centre, we entered through the gates to the horse paddock, and ran over the rubber surface. That was different! Our return into the village had changed too, and we had to run past our house, along side the astroturf, along the TAWNI path and out at the school where @TheWelshWookie works before heading back out along the harbour. It was great to mix it up!

Here’s a map of the race:  

 The race was started by a countdown and an air horn, and we were off. We didn’t start too fast, and kept to our planned pace, knowing that the first section involved a climb uphill, with a tight turn. It’s always a hard start to a race, and this year was no different! But the views at the top of Lady Ileene Road are worth it, sweeping over the harbour. We could then recover on the downward run back off Lady Ileene Road and towards the Herifage Centre, through the rubber paddock and onto the first trail section up to Maggie’s Cottage. This is a long, slow incline on a muddy trail up to a turning point that gradually gets steeper and steeper. We were warned by Muriel, one of the marshals, to keep to the middle as it was very slippery on the left. Fortunately, as there were no more runners during our descent, we could actually run on the right, and could avoid the slip hazard altogether.

We headed out of the heritage centre, back onto the road and towards our house. Hazel caught a great photo of us at this point:  

 Thanks Hazel! And @TheWelshWookie half joked about popping home for a cuppa 😉

Next we ran a route we do most days – along past the astroturf, so it was a very comfortable run for us. We then made our way up the TAWNI trail path (TAWNI stands for Tarbert Academy Wildlife & Nature Initiative) towards the school, and then downhill to the harbour. We then ran our usual route along the front, past the 5K mark, all the way to the turning circle at the end, known locally as The Concrete. There, we were met by Jacqui and some others, with water and some much needed jelly babies!

We headed off again, back along the harbour, and up to the killer hill at Big Brae. We did not even attempt to run this – it’s a definite walk, with its steep incline and twists and turns! We also had faster runners hurtling past us heading back downhill, so it was easier for them if we walked, tucking ourselves into the left hand side. Then, we were at the muddy, boggy, Castle Loop, with its hills. But, like other parts of the course, it’s well worth it for the stunning views. I’m pleased to report that we didn’t see any adders this time!

Already we had reached the five mile mark, at the top of the final, big hill. We made our way back around the remainder of the loop, back down big brae, and along the harbour to the finish line.

As every other year, the support was fantastic, with plenty of cheering and support. I haven’t mentioned how well marshalled this event is, with plenty of guidance and help, and cheers along the way. It really does knock the socks off other events.

We gratefully received our hand made, pottery medals which were white this year, and our goody bags – turquoise gym bags with the TT10K logo on them. They were fab! And the neon orange T shirt is great for running on roads, like we do around here.

The Fisherman’s Mission were supporting the event, and there was copious amounts of tea, coffee, home baking and most especially tablet! This was manned by my friend and colleague Sheena, who snuck me a piece of tablet as I waited in the queue. Thanks, Sheena!

There was enough food to feed three villages – we could help ourselves to the home baking, as well as to water, apples, bananas, Tunnock’s caramel wafers, mars bars and a wide selection of pre-packed sandwiches. I grabbed a mars bar, water and a tuna & sweet corn sandwich – a perfect take away lunch!

We waited around, chatting with other runners, comparing times and tales from the run. We then watched the prize giving, with winners receiving bespoke acrylic plaques from Midton Acrylics. They were really unusual and brilliant!

Before we left, I popped over to have a quick chat with Lorraine, one of the organisers, and congratulated her on a job well done – and thanked her for yet another brilliant event. 

Our stats: 1:16:27. 10 minutes slower than the first year; but 2 minutes faster than last year, which is fantastic, given we had just run a 5K and last year was on fresh legs 🙂

The Medal: A locally made pottery medal, with the Tarbert Castle logo embossed on it.  

 Goody Bag: A fab gym bag with the logo on it, T shirt, trolley coin, air freshener, water and mars bar. I didn’t know these were in there before I took another of each, along with my sandwich too!  

 T-shirt: Bright neon orange this year, with silver writing and logo, with the local slogan ‘Run, Jeck, Run’ on the back 😀

 
   
I now feel ready for the Great North Run, and just need to keep on track over the next few weeks. This race is a must in my calendar, it’s been very highly rated in Runner’s World, so please check it out. Even better, come and join us next year!

Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation

Hello, how was your weekend?

Mine was fab, thanks. We had visitors: my BFF Pauline, her hubby Gavin, Olivia and Christopher. We had a blast! And, I think we were really good – we ate well (80/20 of course, mostly healthy with a few G and Ts) and we were active too. On Saturday, Olivia and Christopher joined in at our SUPercise session, which was brilliant fun. Both did so well!

  
In the afternoon, we then had a good walk into Lochgilphead. It was pouring with rain, we were soaked, but it was good to get a solid 10K or so in the bag.

Tonight, @TheWelshWookie and I ran a solid four miles around the harbour. I really enjoyed it, and feel in control, with six weeks to go until the Great North Run.

  
Tomorrow calls for a seven miler, so keep your fingers crossed for a dry day 🙂

Here’s a little something to help get your week started:

3e17d044d620e65d0d85717ed48f058f

Have a wonderful week!

Race Report: The Inaugural Carradale Canter 10K

Race Report: The Inaugural Carradale Canter 10K

Date: 12th July 2015

Profile: Undulating

Terrain: Mixed: road, sand and trail

Weather: Warm and sunny

Website: https://www.facebook.com/greatcarradalecanter

Positives: brilliant course, with a mix of hills, flat, beach, road and trail. Excellent support, awesome views

Negatives: not a negative, but a quick field on a difficult course left me fourth from last 😮

Carradale is a picturesque village nestled on the east coast of the Kintyre peninsula, some 25 miles south of Tarbert. It’s blessed with a lovely harbour (with a working fishing fleet) as well as a golden sandy beach and a great network of forestry trails. If you read my post about crewing for Julia at the Kintyre Way ultra, you’ll perhaps remember that Carradale is also located on the Kintyre Way.

As ever, I had my race gear ready to go the night before:  Fortunately, the race wasn’t an early one as it was scheduled for an 11.30 am start (I’m assuming this might be to do with the tide, making the beach section easier to run), and so this morning we had plenty of time to get ready, have breakfast and the drive the long and winding road to Carradale (yes, THE ‘long and winding road’ that Paul McCartney wrote about 😉 )

The sun was shining as we arrived in Carradale. We parked in the primary school car park, and as we were doing so, waved to the marshals we knew, who were having their briefing. We walked to the harbour for registration, and as we walked, saw that the village was a little hillier than we had remembered!

The registration area was pretty busy when we got there, and when we checked in, I realised that I’d been given bib number one! Wowee! I realised, looking around at the other runners, that I might actually be the first runner with bib #1 to finish last 😮 

  
We checked our bags, then chatted to other runners as we waited for the race briefing, and everyone was relaxed and having fun. Then we had a short walk to the start of the 10K, where we had our race briefing. Instructions today included things like ‘watch out for adders’ and ‘beware of the mud’…. I knew this was going to be an interesting race!

Here’s a map of the race:

 The race was started by a countdown and a starter’s pistol, and we were straight onto the road leading back into the village – and it was a tough hill! It got the legs working from the start. TheWelshWookie and I knew we’d be slow, and so we kept to the back of the pack. The support was great from the start, with villagers out in their gardens to support us all.

We soon turned off to the left, and headed down a country lane to the beach – my first ever race section on the beach! Although it was tough, I surprised myself, because I really enjoyed it – I had a smile plastered on my face. A lady asked to take our picture (I think she liked the skort). She had camera problems, but we stopped and waited, to let her take a snap – I think we were happy for the break, but it did cost us a couple of minutes (not that time was a concern for us). I loved dodging the jelly fish and the flotsam and jetsam, and before we knew it we were back onto a track road, and heading for the forestry section.

The forestry part was great – lovely and cool, shaded, soft underfoot. We were soon way behind the pack, and had the run to ourselves. We didn’t see any adders, but were treated to an awesome aerial display by a golden eagle – lucky us 😀

Next was a short section back on the road before heading onto the kintyre way at the Network Centre (you’ll see pictures in my blog post here), and then we were at the hilly part – a steep climb up a forestry track to the highest point of the race. Well, that got the heart going! We walked it, unsurprisingly! Next was a great downhill section for about a kilometre along forestry roads.

Finally, we had the last section: into the village along the main road, back along a side road, up a short grassy hill, down a track, through a field, over a style and then onto the harbour road, where we could see the finish line 🙂

We reached the finish line to a somewhat subdued welcome – but we were not far from last, and people had been waiting to see the finishers for a looooong time by then, so I’m thankful they stayed!

I was handed a goody bag which contained the medal, and grabbed a bottle of water. Other runners were really chatty, and we had a great catch up with quite a few people about how we’d found the run, and how amazingly scenic it was.

TheWelshWookie and I then headed to the barbecue, and joined the burger queue. As we were waiting, the prize giving was taking place. So while we cheered and clapped for the winners, I didn’t manage to take any pictures. Sorry! We were in the queue with Karen, one of our fellow SUPercisers, which was fab. We enjoyed our burgers in glorious sunshine, watching a seal play in the harbour, before heading home to Tarbert. On the walk back to the car we chatted with Gail from Campbeltown about running adventures, and I was struck once again as to how friendly and supportive runners are of each other. 

 Our stats: 1:17:17. My, my – slow, even by my slow standards! No matter, it was worth it.

 The Medal: Engraved, and it came with stickers to add your time to it. No, don’t think I’ll do that!

 Goody Bag: banana, bottle of water and an ace buff style scarf!

 T-shirt: None, but no problem with that

When I got home, I uploaded my run and was greeted with this milestone:

  
And right away, I reset my Nike Coach for the Great North Run training – nine weeks today! :O

I’d definitely do this run again. You’d never know it was an inaugural event as it was so well organised and supported. Roll on next year’s event!

Race Report: Gate to Gate Fun Run at Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran

Race Report: Gate to Gate Fun Run at Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran

Date: 21st June 2015

Profile: Undulating

Terrain: Road

Weather: Warm and sunny

Website: runarran.com

Positives: very relaxed vibe, well organised, great entertainment, and Jog Scotty was there 🙂

Negatives: a little hillier than I expected, my poor show, 10 minutes slower than my 5K PB

As you probably know, @TheWelshWookie and I were supposed to be running The Color Run in Glasgow on 22nd June, which was cancelled. Then, fate intervened, and up popped the Gate to Gate run on Facebook, only minutes after I found out that the run was cancelled. Result! We found an excellent replacement and had just as much fun as we would have had in Glasgow.

The Gate to Gate run takes place in the grounds of Brodick Castle, which is a National Trust castle on the Isle of Arran. For us, Arran is very easy to reach as we can hop on the ferry from Claonaig, which is only around 8 miles south of Tarbert. The ferry takes us into Lochranza, and Brodick is around a 14 mile drive towards the south of the island. Perfect!

I laid out my gear the night before, as usual. As it was my first organised run of the year, I’ll admit that I double checked my bag a few times. The weather forecast was for grey, overcast, misty weather, but one report said it might brighten up later. I was optimistic, but opted for a vest and skort combo:

 On the morning of the race, we were up early, had our breakfast and hopped into the car for the short drive to the ferry. It was as forecast: grey and miserable. Oh well! When we arrived at Claonaig, it was already busy, with quite a few cars already queued and waiting for the ferry to come in.

   When we arrived at Lochranza, the sky wasn’t as heavy, and the sun began to appear as we drove down to Brodick Castle. We parked up,and walked through the grounds of the castle to register and pick up our bibs. We were pleasantly surprised by the stalls that were set up: it was busier than we had expected! Apart from the pick up point there was a bar courtesy of the Douglas Hotel, a huge tombola stall, the local Co-op were also there. There was also a DJ, blasting out upbeat tunes. Perfect! When we picked up our packs, we had a lovely chat with the volunteers, and they were brilliant. I got a really great vibe about this event right away.

      By their organisation, I could tell this wasn’t their first rodeo (so to speak), everything was so, so well arranged and relaxed. Jog Scotty was sitting nearby, ready to greet the runners, which was cool!

We went back to the car to change, and then headed back to the start/finish line to enjoy the atmosphere. As we arrived, we could hear the skirl of the pipes, and the Isle of Arran pipe band was there. They were great, if a bit serious looking:

 We then had our group warm up with Jog Scotty, and a count down, and we were off!

Here’s a map of the race:

The race started with a lovely, fast downhill section towards the gate we had arrived through. But, of course, this meant that there was an almighty uphill facing us next as we turned at the gate and headed back. The day had really warmed up, and the sun was blazing as the race kicked off at 12.30. I had to walk for part of the hill section, and cursed my quick start. We then ran on, past the castle turn and onto a lovely flat section, which too soon became another down hill section towards the other gate. Just as we reached the second gate, @TheWelshWookie felt a pain in his calf. We stopped as he tried to stretch it out and then we walked some too, to see how it felt. We then continued on a jog/run back up the big hill. As we reached the 4k mark, he told me to just run on, so I ran the final part myself.

There were a few photo points, which I had fun at – gawd knows what the pictures will be like!

As I rounded the corner, the support ramped up, and as I crossed the line I was greeted by cheers and applause. It was fab! The marshaling was good – a couple of very supportive marshals were along the route. I appreciate the work they do even more now, so tried to thank them as I passed.

When I crossed the line, I collected my medal, my goody bag, a bottle of water, a banana and a fresh scone with jam and cream! Wowee!

I then chatted with the Marie Curie fundraiser, as we waited for @TheWelshWookie to cross the finish line: she gave me a cereal bar, too, so I got loads of stuff for such a small race.

Our stats: 35:30 or so. I forgot to switch off my watch as I crossed the line, so I accidentally added a minute or so to my time by accident. I was about 10 minutes slower than my PB, but -hey- I had fun!

The Medal: As part of the Jog Scotland series, it was a Jog Scotland medal

 Goody Bag: some awesome Arran Aromatics goodies, a water bottle, a voucher for a tub of local ice cream (I had mint choc chip, it was ace!), some local oatcakes, my scone with jam and cream, banana and water. I probably gained an extra pound with all of the foodie goodies!

    T-shirt: None, none needed.

We waited around, and watched the prize giving, as we ate our scone and enjoyed the sunshine.

When we got back to Lochranza, I ran another 2 miles while waiting for the ferry. I then ran another 2 miles when we got back to Claonaig. All in all, I manage to clock up my 7.5 miles scheduled for the day – and I have the sunburn to prove it! 😮

I also reached a magic milestone – I’ve now run 1,000 miles with Nike! Woopie! 😀

 I’d definitely do this run again, and I’ll be keeping my eye out for more races on Arran in future! 🙂

The Inveraray Jail Break

The Inveraray Jail Break

I woke up early this morning: after yesterday’s paddle boarding escapades, I didn’t want to accidentally sleep in. I opened one eye, a little worried that the forecast snow may have arrived. I got up, peeped out of the window, and was surprised to see that it was only wet. Huh, yes, only wet.

@TheWelshWookie was already up, so we had breakfast and got ready for our morning of marshalling. I layered up: winter running tights, long sleeved running top, running socks……. And, no, I wasn’t actually running today! I added a fleece sweater, welly socks, water proofs, hat, scarf, gloves and wellies. We were out the door and on our way to Inveraray. 🙂

About an hour later, we arrived. We parked up, and finished getting ready. My outfit was completed with one of @TheWookie’s fluorescent work jackets- no one was going to miss us. The briefing was scheduled for 10am, so we made our way to Inveraray Jail. On the way we were stopped twice- once by someone who held up traffic just wanting to know what was going on, and then by a runner wanting to know about parking.

Here’s the start of the race, outside the jail: I should point out that the Jail is now a museum, which is well worth a visit. I’m sure I’ve shared pictures before 😉

Registration and briefings were held inside, which was just as well because the rain was torrential. We knew we were in for a soaking- but we were well prepared for that. 

 Fee, the wonderful race organiser (and jog Scotland leader, and cycling organiser, phew! Some how I missed taking a pic of her!) gave us our briefing, handing out emergency contact details and advice. Everything was so well organised: we even had a lift to our marshalling point!

Off we went, into cars, up to Inveraray Castle. We reached the marquee, and thought we’d be walking to our point. But, no, further transportation had been provided! There before us was a vehicle and trailer for us all to pile into! Now, I didn’t manage a proper picture of the actual vehicle, but it was like this, with a trailer attached. I think ours was bigger:  

We loaded up: I was in the trailer, and off we went! 😀 it was brilliant! I did remember then to take a quick snap: 

We were positioned at a gate, and were first to be dropped off. Here’s the wee truck as it left us, climbing upwards: 
We had around half an hour until the race started, so we had a good chat- in the rain- and got ready. Here’s our view- the runners came along the road in the distance before beginning their ascent: 

And, of course, I had time to pose 😉 

It was soon 11am, and only 6 minutes 30 seconds later the first runners were already reaching us, and we were well past the 2k mark. Wow! So impressive!

There were three races: one for full jail breakers, one for junior jail breakers and a kids race. The first two races came up past us- the full race made its way up to Dun Na Cuaiche, where they were rewarded with fabulous views and the skirl of the pipes 😀

Here’s Dun Na Cuaiche, from the finish- it’s at the top of the hill, I’m sure you can make it out: 

We really enjoyed being out there, supporting the runners. It was humbling, how many runners were working hard but still found time to smile or thank us :). Runners are a great bunch, aren’t they? 😉

Before we knew it, the runners were on their way back down. Everyone did so, so well. I was really surprised how quickly everyone was past us- both ways- up and down that hill. And I was so caught up that I didn’t take any photos of any runners – not one! Sorry about that!

We were then picked back up by the wee truck, and taken back down to the finish line at the Castle: 

Although we were a little cold and very wet, we had a great time. The marshals each had a goody bag, containing water, a cereal bar and some delicious home made tablet. Yum!
We grabbed a coffee, and walked back down towards the car park, ready to head home after going to church first.

Now that we’re back home, we’ve had a dip in the hot tub to thaw out, and we’re now enjoying a cuppa with that delish tablet.

 Thanks to Fee for such a great event!

Race Report: GB Relay 2014

Race Report: GB Relay 2014

Date: 8th June 2014

Profile: Flat

Terrain: Road

Weather: Warm and sunny

Website: http://gbrelay.com/

Positives: a very different experience, feel-good factor of participating in a world record attempt

Negatives: the time slippage

OK, so the GB Relay 2014 isn’t a race, but I thought I’d report on it using my normal format 😉

The GB Relay is a world record breaking attempt for the longest continual running relay. Each participant signs up for a stage which vary in length, but average out at around 10K. There is a baton containing a GPS unit transferred from runner to runner, and everyone is responsible for their own safety, checking out their route, etc. As it isn’t a race, and each stage has a start and finish time, everyone is encouraged to run 10 minute miles.

The first major difference for @TheWelshWookie and I in participating in this was the time of our stage: we were due to run at 6.19pm, which meant no early rise, and no need to pack the night before. We had super quality relay T shirts, which were personalised:

20140610-193836-70716288.jpg

So, on Sunday, we headed first to Oban, did some shopping, then onto Strath of Appin, which was our end point. We parked the car, and got ready: I gave myself a thorough coating of both suncream and midge repellent: I needed both! As we had no support available due to a family event, we had to walk to the start point of our stage: the village of Duror, in the Highlands, 8 miles away.

In the week leading up to the event, I’d been in touch with the runners on either side of our stage to agree handover locations and swap contact numbers, to keep everyone updated on progress. As @TheWookie and I were a couple of miles into our walk, we heard that the relay was running about an hour behind schedule 😦

It was too late for us to turn back and wait in the car, so we continued on, enjoying the scenery, and checking out the route itself. Fortunately, most of it could be run along the cycle path, with only the two miles immediately from Duror having to be run on the main road. The route was lovely:

20140610-193831-70711879.jpg 20140610-193834-70714406.jpg 20140610-193830-70710667.jpg 20140610-193833-70713471.jpg 20140610-193832-70712677.jpg

A team from Dunoon Hill Runners were running the two stages before us, including the hilly section over Glencoe. When they handed over to Ian, who was handing over to us, they got changed and drove to meet us in Duror, to collect Ian when he arrived. It was lovely to meet Kirsty again, and also to meet Jean and Angela. They had managed to pull back some of the time deficit, and so we weren’t delayed for quite an hour!

Before we knew it, Ian was approaching, and it was time for us to run!

Ian passed the GPS tracker to @TheWelshWookie, and we were off!

20140610-193837-70717552.jpg 20140610-193837-70717389.jpg

The tracker was a small box with a handle, but was quite light. It was a little awkward to carry, but not as bad as I expected. The icky part was the handle and velcro wrist strap that was soaked in a week’s worth of runner’s sweat! Eeew! We were warned not to drop the tracker, or let it touch the ground because that would nullify the record attempt.

DSC_0055.JPG.opt466x262o0,0s466x262

Given that we were trying to run a little fast to make up time, and to get off the road section as soon as possible, the first two miles flew by. When we reached the start of mile 3, I thought we’d only gone one mile! Yay!

I really enjoyed running the middle part of the stage: it was great that we’d just walked it in reverse, as I was able to check of landmarks as we saw them.

At around mile 5, the walk around Oban, the walk to Duror and the slightly faster-than-usual pace took its toll on TheWelshWookie. His recurring knee problem made an unwelcome appearance, and for the next mile our pace slowed. At the six mile marker, we made the decision that I should run on, so that @TheWookie could run at a slower pace and not aggravate his knee further. We also wanted to finish on time, so I ran on ahead.

For the final mile, I struggled a little myself. I was relishing the opportunity to run on tired legs, and I reminded myself that this would stand me in good stead with my marathon training 😉

The final quarter mile is a long, flat stretch, and I could see Fee and the girls from Inveraray Jog Scotland, who I was handing the baton on to. They had their bright yellow t-shirts, which helped motivate me  in the final section. As they saw that I was on my own, they asked where my husband was: my first reaction was who? 😉 Oh, yeah, that’s right, I’m married! 🙂 So I said I’d ditched him due to injury 😉

20140610-193837-70717722.jpg

I passed on the baton, along with the message not to let it touch the ground, and off they ran!

@TheWelshWookie was only a few minutes behind, and ran most of the last mile, which is a good sign for his knee. We rehydrated, then jumped in the car and drove to Oban where we celebrated with fish and chips 😀 Yum! The sunset was spectacular, but I didn’t get a good shot of it. The sky ahead was red, with a neon-looking rainbow, I’ve never seen one like that before. This pic does not do the vibrant colours justice:

20140610-193837-70717202.jpg

Here’s a map of our route:

Screenshot (23)

There is no medal, and no goodie bag, but there is a feeling of accomplishment, participation and that you’re part of something, which gives this event a really special feeling.

The relay is still underway, and if all goes well is due to finish on 2nd July. I can’t wait to hear if we are record breakers!

20140610-193835-70715463.jpg 20140608-233557-84957920.jpg