What a great weekend helping out at the inaugural Dunoon Ultra 55k and Relay. Centred around Loch Eck the route is a tough one with plenty of climbs but lots of great views. The weekend and the atmosphere started for me as I got on the boat on Friday night when I bumped into some of the runners and spent some time catching up with my pals from Dunoon Hill Runners and answering lots of questions about the route, bag drops and bus transfers at registration.
Onto Saturday morning and after loading up the car with drop bags at Race HQ I headed out to Benmore to meet the remaining marshals. I was part of the team based at checkpoint one – the first chance the ultra runners had to pick up food, refill water battles and recharge their batteries. This was around 8.5 miles in. Situated at the road crossing above the Whistlefield it is a tough climb up Puck’s Glen, before a fun descent followed by the beginnings of the climb to the highest point about Loch Eck. Estimating a lead time of approximately an hour and approximately 2 hours to see everyone through we were all impressed to see all the runners through in quick fire.
We then moved on to help marshal the longest on-road stretch leading into Glenbranter – seeing the runners again at mile 14 and spotting some of the second leg relay runners shortly after the changeover. Again everyone was looking great, smiling for photos (see link below) and supporting one another on the course.
Onwards to Glenkin (around 25.5 miles in) and after guiding some of the runners across the road it was from here that I picked up my last marshalling role of the day as the tail runner shadowing the runners home for the final 7miles. Climbing out of Glenkin is tough enough and thankfully I didn’t already have 25.5 miles in the legs. There were some very angry and eerie crows in the woods at this point and I was glad to be able to see the final runners for company 🙂
Reaching the top of the final ascent and nearing the Camel’s Hump we started the long and gradual descent (apart form the last climb) into Dunoon. This gave me a chance to chat with Kirsten, hear about her experience and see the town from a great vantage point. Hitting the tarmac for the last mile and a quarter Kirsten showed real grit and determination to cross the line in 9 hours exactly – an epic effort and she was given a hero’s reception at Dunoon Pier before summing up the energy to manage one last sprint to catch the soon to depart ferry!
Credit to the runners, many running for great causes, who remained in good spirits throughout and well done to Dunoon Presents and Dunoon Hill Runners for organising a great new event. I only picked up two pieces of litter on the last 8 miles of the course and these both looked like they had been there for years.
Looking forward to the next one already 🙂
My camera was passed around most of the day and this is what it managed to capture. Enjoy.