Tom Scott Memorial 10M

A huge thank you to Runbetweeners Kirstin and Paul for this fantastic write up of the Tom Scott Memorial 10M race. This has been one of our top races for the last few years and is always a great event…

The Warm Up

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View of from the finish line – the Loch at Strathclyde Park – a beautiful day (photo credit: Finola Ashe)

Kirstin: 31st March, first day of spring when the clocks go forward, and Mother’s Day. So naturally I was up at six to eat my porridge before going to collect Paul, and head to Strathclyde Park for the Tom Scott Memorial 10 mile road race. After a brief journey in which t-shirts/gloves/base layers and sunglasses were debated as racing options, we met Finola and were good to go.

Paul: An absolutely smashing day for a race; not too warm, hardly a breath (in the main) and glorious sunshine.  It was time for my first crack at a 10 mile race.  I’m definitely of the opinion that the weather helped lift me for this one.  Training had been good after the rigours of Strathaven, but I’d been a bit lazy the last couple of weeks.  I’d three targets in mind, but the middle one (a 1:25) was the realistic target (and had been for some time).

 

The Start Line

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Partaking in a leisurely warm-up, though we’d like to say we always look this at ease when running (Photo credit: Alan@allsport-images)

Kirstin: It’s funny how as a runner you can find such a sense of camaraderie standing in car parks and toilet queues. Personally, I was very excited to spot Mark Gallagher of Running Friends Scotland blogging fame. I didn’t fan-girl, but it was close. It was clear this was an impressive field, and over 700 runners, completing the 6k and 10 mile option set off together, making for a very impressive site to behold spread out across the loch in the park.

Paul: As Kirstin said, a hectic start (as anyone that’s done Parkrun up there will know) with both races starting at the same time.  Based on previous times, I’d positioned myself after the middle but hadn’t taken account of the 6K runners, but no harm was done. I went off at, I thought, a reasonable pace, but mile marker one passed in 7:34, and I forced myself to calm down.  The flat course didn’t help, I wanted to push, but once beyond the Parkrun bit it gets a bit undulating and we were soon turning on the main road towards M&Ds.  A long, steady, uphill, then downhill took me to 4 miles.

 

Running Hard

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Kirstin: I had also set off at a fast pace (we all were there for a PB), and enjoyed the first half of the race. However, at mile 5, as you run back along to the Watersports Centre, I was overtaken by scores of faster club runners on their final sprint home. This should have been inspirational but was just demoralising as I knew had to go round the loch again at this point. Paul was significantly ahead of me at this point, so his view was slightly different…

Paul: Past 5 miles and heading towards the Watersports Centre was the long straight, and a wee bit of wind.  Comfortable at this point I was approaching the Centre for the first time (we were to head round the back) when the lead out cyclist past and announced the lead runners were coming through.  The leader passed me about 50 metres before the turn off point.  I don’t know why, but I wasn’t really happy with that. (Kirstin: I would take being half as slow as the winner any day of the week!)

 

The Long Road Home

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Kirstin: At mile seven I caught the lovely Terry Nimmo from the Bellahouston Roadrunners (also a Runbetweener), and she was absolutely my saviour in the final stretch. I’d pushed myself way too hard in the first half. Every inch of my body hurt and I was so ready to quit, but Terry expertly coached and coaxed me round to a personal best at this distance of 1:37:15. I can’t thank Terry enough.

Paul: I’d settled into a rhythm, enjoying the scenery, avoiding (or failing, as it turns out) the midges with one full lap of the lake (6K) to do.  I was feeling it a bit, but knew there was only one more up and down section to go.  I decided to assess the situation at 8 miles.  At 8 miles I was looking to be almost bang-on a 1:20 time.  That was my top target and was outstanding in its own right, but I was feeling it.  But I’m stubborn, so Go Hard or Go Home. 800 metres to go the Low Battery warning came on obscuring all timings on my watch – but I didn’t want to press the button for fear of pressing the wrong one.  Lets be honest, we can’t have Strava having incorrect data!!  Crossed the line in 1:19:14.  Delighted, I was.  Nowhere near the front, over 30 minutes behind the winner, and I couldn’t have cared less as under 1:20 hadn’t really felt realistic.

 

The Finish Line

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Amazing how quickly you can recover with a medal and mars bar in hand! Paul, Terry, Kirstin and Finola from left to right (photo credit: Finola Ashe)

Kirstin: At the finish I met with Paul and Finola again, who had blasted their races and came out with amazing PBs. Paul looked like a car windshield, covered in the midges which has plagued us the whole way round, which was testament to his speed. A caramel log and a mars bar later, and suddenly I was feeling great again. Funny that. On the whole I enjoyed the race (though nobody warned me about the hills or the midges). I recognise that this is a fast course for fast runners but it pushed me to a PB, and was another race I am proud to say I’ve completed.

Paul: I had a medal, a mars bar and a midge beard…and a smile.

Kyles 10 Miles – Round 3

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The Scottish Wife Carrying World Championship Squad in Training

 

Our pick for race of the year 2016, there was never any doubt that The Boy and I would be in Tighnabruaich yesterday for the annual Kyles 10 Miles Road Race. With the biggest every entry it was great to see so many familiar faces toeing the start line as well as many of our friends taking on this iconic race for the first time. Importantly though the race remained small enough to retain the intimate community vibe which has made it such a popular and well regarded event.

 

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The Sun Always Shines on the Kyles 10 Miles

 

There was a good turnout from both Bellahouston Harriers and Dunoon Hill Runners  this year meaning I was in for a no-win scenario plumping for a colour clashing combo of Harriers vest and Hill Runners buff after donning the local vest. Whilst my usual rule is ‘when in Argyll or on a hill don the Hill Runners vest’ I had travelled down from Glasgow with my Harriers team mates and wasn’t even too sure if my Dunoon vest had made it through the laundry cycle after the Cowal Hill Race.

 

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I wish I could just follow The Boys lead and not worry about my racing attire

 

Most pleasingly though for The Boy and I was the strong turnout from our Monday night running group. For some this was their longest race to date and they did brilliantly on a tough, but ultimately rewarding, route.

 

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Overview of the Route

 

On to the race itself I’ve promised The Boy I will keep it brief (for a fuller course overview see previous posts). So in a sentence this is a looped route with 6 hilly miles followed by four reasonably flat miles on open country roads. And if the editor had his way that would be it. Perhaps he’s keen to keep this one close to his chest, I wonder why?

 

If I really have to keep it short and you’re going to stop reading here all I will say is this is a race that you should seriously consider doing at least once.

 

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Just the right amount of elevation to test the legs 🙂 on the official scale of bumpy to mountainous

 

For those who want a little bit more keep reading…

 

The route is situated in one of the most incredibly scenic parts of the now Rough Guide awarded most beautiful country in the world. There are too many vistas to mention but the top views on the route include a short sideways glimpse of Ostel Bay, one of Argyll’s hidden gems, and jaw dropping panoramas over the Isle of Arran. With an early September date in the race calendar it provides a good test before Autumn Marathons and 1/2s and there’s more than a decent chance of good weather – the two good days in May and then again in September after all are what we Scots refer to as summer.

 

 

As well as the views the organisers manage to maintain a level of personal service alongside a professional race day experience that rivals the best out there. This was evident again despite a larger entry this year. This includes contact in advance with the organisers through to on the day assistance.  Throw in an incredibly friendly welcome from marshals, locals and interested passers by and you’ve got the key ingredients for our kind of race. The true test of a race as everyone knows though is in the post race refuelling options and here the Kyles 10 Miles triumphs with refreshments on tap, home baking and burgers cooking on the BBQ within metres of the finish line.

 

 

This year’s race went well overall with The Boy and I both recording course best times and bookending the top 10 much to our delight. It was great to see both Harriers / Hill Runners and friends of the Runbetweeners running strong on a tough route. Interestingly if my school running club had entered as a team we’d have been in with a good shout of a team prize.

 

Personally I felt strong over the hills but struggled to pick it up on the flat final 4 miles, a now familiar tale. After reaching the top of the shinty / golf course hill at the 1st mile marker I worked with ‘man in red running top’ to close the gap on the ever consistently fast Iain Morrison and a runner from Garscube Harriers. Closing the gap over the next two miles ‘man in red running top’ and I continued to climb and descend at a good pace over the outward section of the loop. Having someone to battle against definitely contributed to a personal best performance for me but on the final descent towards Carry Farm I struggled to maintain the downhill pace, gradually losing contact with ‘man in red running top’. This left me hopelessly adrift and running alone for the final few miles. Digging deep I was pleased to see later that I managed to maintain a sub 20 min 5k pace over the last section of the route when it felt like I was wading in treacle. The last mile was brutal with my legs feeling heavier with each passing step but I was delighted to cross the line in a little over 66 minutes.

 

The Boy was already gearing up for a two mile cool down by the time I finished and looks in great shape ahead of his tilt at the Berlin Marathon in two weeks. Congratulations to him for the win with a 40 second improvement on last year’s effort and for photo of the day.

 

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Most impressive yesterday though were the performances by The Runbetweeners who have caught the running bug badly. Despite the odd blister and tired legs everyone loved the route and it was great to see everyone coming home with giant smiles across their faces. It really was a fantastic achievement by each of them. A good warm up for tomorrow nights time trial 😉

 

 

As always thanks to the race organisers and marshals who give so tirelessly of their own time. It is much appreciated.

 

Race sträva – https://www.strava.com/activities/1176057742/overview 

 

Photo credits:

Claire Lamont

Alan G Forsyth Photography (snapped by Pam)

Paul Paterson

Tom Scott Road Race – 10 Miler

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Sunday morning saw a welcome break in London Marathon training as I joined a big squad of Harriers heading to Strathclyde Park for the annual Tom Scott 10 Mile Road Race. This would be my first time around the long standing event on the Scottish Racing calendar and I was looking forward to testing out the legs on the road after a winter of marathon training and cross-country. It was also great to see a few Runbetweeners both taking part (some in Harriers vests) and spectating around the course offering welcome encouragement.

 

Dropping down to 10 miles after a series of 18 to 21 milers over the last few months meant I could ditch the gels, water and bulky trainers for the trusted saltire vest and luminous racing shoes. Feeling faster already I even managed a pb before the start line as I clocked a 2 mile warm up with the ‘fast boys’. I usually use the first section of a race to warm up but I definitely noticed a looseness in the legs during the first mile that meant I was able to hit the ground running.

 

Looping towards the top of the Loch to begin with I was amazed how much shifting there was in the pack with runners moving forwards and backwards – this might have been down to the ‘gun time’ only policy forcing a lot of runners near the front of the pack on the start line. I seemed to have gauged it about right and settled in to a small pack as we made our way through the woods before working our way down the opposite side of the Loch.

 

Around this point the field thinned and I was focused on maintaining an even pace. The target was 6-45s. This would give an indication I was in good shape a few weeks out from London. Staying within this pace felt reasonably good and I reached the water station at 3 miles feeling pretty strong as evidenced by my glamour shot below.

 

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Photo Courtesy of Kevin Ramage – Facebook

 

Taking my usual race approach I started to pick up the pace in the middle section and started moving up the field. I always find this a good boost to my confidence and find the focus of catching each runner a good diversionary tactic.

 

Rounding the corner and switching back on to the main road I felt strong through mile 4 (a long gradual uphill climb – my Hill Running grounding is pretty helpful at times like this) and passed some familiar faces before latching on to the back of a passing Garscube Harrier who I had passed around mile 3. It was clear he was running comfortably and had decided to push the pace on a bit so from mile 5 onwards the speed gradually increased to a little over 6 minute miling. This would be closer to my 5k pace after almost 10k in the miles but I felt in good shape so went with it.

 

The course retraces the first miles between miles 5-6 before completing a full loop of the Loch towards the finish line. Pleasingly the pace felt pretty good during these miles until around mile 8 when my legs began to feel heavy – unsurprising given a 21 miler only a few days before and a reasonably paced tilt at Pollok the day before. Being able to see the finish so close across the Loch led to an uncomfortable watch check as I clocked that I still had more than 2 miles to go. Head down I was determined to keep the pace and dragged on by my new found pacemaker I was able to sustain it with a slight tailwind.

 

Exiting the small wood for the last time my pacemaker put the foot down and pushed on leaving me flying solo down the home straight. With just over a mile to go at this point I decided to aim for around 1k to go before picking up the pace one last time – the increase on tired legs led to an uncomfortable final few minutes but I was determined not to be passed.

 

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Photo Courtesy of Kevin Ramage – Facebook

I crossed the line in a little over 63 minutes, averaging 6-20s for the whole run setting not only a 10 mile PB (not hard as my only other 10 miler was around the hills of the Kyles 10 Miles) but an improvement of 8 seconds on my 10k PB during the race and 4 minutes quicker than I had targeted at the start of the race. A baw hair outside the top 100 in a very, very quick field so plenty to draw me back to this one next year. Hopefully The Boy will finally be injury free too so that he can mount a challenge after today’s run confirmed me as champion in the mini-league runbetweeners section of the winter championships.

 

A definite focus for the year will be to take a bigger chunk off my 10k time once London is out of the way.

 

Thanks as always to the marshals and organisers.

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/924814958/overview

Kyles 10 Miles

After stumbling across this picturesque race last year, Kenny and I booked ourselves in early for a return visit – it did not disappoint!

Last year we had both loved the race but it had been a last minute entry and we had not even considered the possibility of making a weekend of it. This year we knew better and decided to make the most of the event by booking ourselves in to the Kames Hotel for a couple of days to fully enjoy the post-race BBQ and ceilidh.

The 12pm start was ideal and allowed us to have a decent night’s kip and a reasonable breakfast before we would need to start thinking about warming up. Nevertheless I still felt a little disappointed at having to turn away the full cooked breakfast in order to stick to my reliable pre-race bowl of porridge! The weather was certainly better than that of the previous day and, as we made our way to the start, conditions were looking fantastic.

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I have been working my way through a marathon program over the last couple of months and, with only 5 weeks to go until my target race, this would be a real test of how effective that time had been. The hilly nature of the course meant that it would be difficult to judge my current fitness levels purely on time however I knew that I would get an idea of where I currently sit by comparing my time to that of last year. I certainly felt fitter this time around, but an official confirmation was the goal!

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As I warmed up, any hope of a first place finish disappeared when I spotted Neil Renault preparing to take his place on the start line. I also spotted Broc Drury, last year’s winner, fitting in some final stretches before taking his own place and I hoped I would give him a good battle. Last year Broc beat me by a couple of minutes however I was confident that this year I should be able to knock some time off my previous performance and therefore believed I could hold on to him for a few miles at least (I was wrong!).

The race began with the familiar climb up and out of Tighnabruich – which seemed to never stop – and I found myself tucked in behind Neil and Broc. I soon realised as we crested the hill however that I was running a little too fast and that I would have to let the pair of them get away. And so they did – quickly! I settled into a steady rhythm and felt good despite the horrifically undulating first few miles.

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As I reached the half way point I was still sitting in 3rd and felt great. I calculated that I was on for a pb and decided to try and pick up the pace a little, safe in the knowledge that the remainder of the course would be relatively flat. It was also at around this point that I remembered to actually look around and take in the spectacular surroundings that I was encountering. Last year I barely noticed the beauty of the route as I was too busy staring at the road before me! Some of the sights were truly stunning and I started to plan less strenuous trips to explore the area further in future.

During the second half of the race I started to pass the walkers who were completing the same route but had started earlier in the morning. This was a great distraction as I had been running solo for a while now and the cheers of support were fantastic motivation to keep pushing. I will be the first to admit that I struggle to maintain pressure on myself to really push hard when I am running alone and the eyes of these walkers was exactly what I needed to inspire me to keep digging deep.

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Coming into the final miles I was pleased to note that I still felt strong. I knew I was running much faster than I had done last year and my legs were feeling surprisingly fresh after all of the climbing in the first half of the race. I was able to  maintain a nice pace into the final mile and then really kick for home when I spotted to huge gazebo that promised the finish and a burger!

I was over the moon to finish in 56:51 – two and a half minutes quicker than last year and nearly thirty seconds inside the previous course record. Neil had managed to win in an incredible 53:33 with Broc crossing the line just over a minute later.

As I crossed the line it was great to be joined by Vicki and Lisa, along with Kenny’s dad, to cheer Kenny to the finish as he managed to sneak inside the top 20. Burgers were eaten and we wandered over to the local pitches to take in some of the shinty before grabbing a cuppa and a cake in a local tearoom. After that it was a chance for some shuteye and recovery before hitting the post-race ceilidh (and fantastic buffet) where we learned how to dance like helicopters.

All in all this was a brilliant weekend and I will definitely be back!

 

Tom Scott Memorial 10Miler

Having really enjoyed the National Road Relays last weekend, I was particularly looking forward to stepping up to the longer distance of the Tom Scott Memorial 10 Miler. Last year this was my favourite race of the season (outside of the London Marathon) and I was keen to have another crack at it. It was also exciting to know that we were heading to the race with yet another phenomenal turnout from the Harriers which meant I could be sure of an epic support team along the route! Whilst a little chilly initially, the weather would be ideal for racing and, once the warm-up was done and dusted, it was time to shed the final layers, lace up the racers and make my way to the start line.

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Toeing the line reminded me of just how many fantastic runners were competing in this event – being the National Championships, I probably should have been aware of this already but it had somehow slipped my mind! The familiar nerves made an appearance at this point and thoughts remained fixed on keeping my footing as the crowded start would make the first few strides a little tricky. Nevertheless we got away with no difficulties and it was not long before I found myself tucked into the middle of a pack of Harriers. There are few feelings quite as satisfying as running at speed in a pack with your mates and feeling strong. As the group moved up the field it became clear that there would be four of us working together over the flat and fast course. Colin took the lead within the group and set a brisk pace which I knew would lead me to a good time and possibly a shiny new PB. A glance to my left and my right revealed Cris and Gregor also ticking over at a strong pace and this only added to the positive feeling as we made our way through the early miles.

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As we completed the first loop of the Loch I felt great. The group were still running well and we had managed to move up the field with some success. The Bella cheer squad were once again out in force and gave us a massive boost as we entered the second half of the race. It was at about the seven mile mark that thoughts of the finish started to creep in. I had been feeling very strong so far although I definitely noticed the increase in pace. Colin led the group on and the pace continued to build. It was at about the eighth mile that we started to spread out a little and I began to worry that I would not be able to hold on – the pace was increasing steadily and doubt was creeping in. The knowledge that the remainder of the course was pancake flat, and that there were two rapid Harriers chasing me down, just about kept me going as the finish line approached. It was surprising to find a second wind for the final few hundred metres and  I managed to put in a final burst to cross the line in 54:26 – A big new pb!

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Having shaved thirty seconds from my previous best, I was over the moon with the performance. It was an added bonus then when I was told that we were in with a chance of a National Medal. The results were announced and we had taken the silver! Awesome! Not only that, but the Bella women’s team had also taken the bronze medal and Fraser and Erica had both claimed individual victories for their own age categories. All in all it was a great day for the club – last year we had one runner in the top 20 finishers in the men’s race, this year we had four. Things are moving in the right direction! I made my way home happy with my medal and got fired into an amazing curry and a beer to celebrate. A great end to a great day!

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Kyles 10 Miles

Recommendations don’t come much higher than the stellar race reviews I got from fellow Dunoon Hill Runners who took part in this event last year so it was a no brainer that I would travel to one of my favourite parts of the world to take part in the 6th Kyles 10 Mile Road Race last Saturday. Argyll’s Secret Coast is a stunning part of the world and one of those Scottish destinations that if we had the weather would make you never go abroad again.

Dunoon Hill Runners - Raring to Go

And so it was – a glorious day for a drive up Loch Lomond before crossing the Rest and Be Thankful en route to one of Scotland’s most iconic view points over the Kyles of Bute. Jack (The Boy) managed to blag a last minute slot so we headed up for a rare joint foray discussing his forthcoming stag night which is likely to set both our training schedules back months. Arriving an hour before race start we decided to park at the start line and walk up to registration. This gave us our first taste of ‘shinty hill’ and an indication that undulating was perhaps a slight understatement in the course description.

Pleasantries exchanged and the competition sussed (The Boy is more interested in this than me – I was more concerned with the bake sale happening in Kames Hall and wondering how many cakes 10 miles would earn me) we were back to the start before we knew it in the baking heat of the Argyll sun. That’s right when the sun was out from behind the clouds it was scorch – a taps aft kind of day.

And so we were off – Adopting my now trademark slow-burn I eased into the race on the first mile uphill past the shinty pitch and the golf course. The mile marker was marked with a ‘cheeky’ fellow and the messages and posters of encouragement at each mile certainly helped pass the time and raise a smile or two along the way. This is as tough a first mile as you will find in any race and it is important to set a steady pace and hold something in reserve.

A gradual downhill through the second mile meant two things –

1. It allowed me to pick up my speed

2. We were surely in for another uphill climb soon

Feeling strong we turned left and started to head south. By now I was warmed up and running around 6-45minute mile to 7-30minute mile depending on the lay of the land. I was even picking off a few runners who’d perhaps set of too fast or were feeling the effects of the climb out from the start. I settled into a rhythm about 20 metres behind a chap who seemed to be doing a good job of reeling in a runner or two every mile. The course is up and down at this point but the scenery certainly helped take the mind off the climbs.

My mind started to wander on mile 3 thinking about work, passing a minute or so. Shockingly on looking up I realised my pacemaker had opened up a lead of about 60 metres. Lack of concentration has always been my downfall in team sports and I hadn’t really considered until now what impact it could have on my running.

I spent the time until mile 4 closing the gap again. In the distance spectacular views of Arran began to appear and I was pleased to get a glimpse of Ostel Bay as we climbed again nearing the southern most point of the route. Around mile 5-7 I started to feel the effects of pushing the pace but managed to hold strong as we turned to head north. By now we were passing some of the walkers who had set off on the route an hour early. A great idea to involve more people in the event. In the opposite direction one of the only vehicles we passed all day on these tranquil country roads approached. Despite being an open-road event the course felt safe and marshals guided runners on the sharpest corners.

I was starting to plot my end-race strategy and knew I had enough in the tank to attack the final 3 miles but decided to hold off until 8.5 miles. I was glad of this decision as the further north we ran the stronger the head wind seemed to get. This definitely exacerbated the heaviness in the legs. My experienced pacemaker decided to tuck in behind me although I’m not sure the wind was coming from the same direction to allow him to benefit from my wind shadow. It was only right that I did some of the work and we passed another few runners and a lot of walkers between miles 6 and 8. Passing me again my pacemaker headed for home and we had a bit of a smack down in mile 8 until I managed to pull away in the final mile.

I finished strongly and felt I could have gone for another mile or two which was a confidence booster in my longest run for a while. Again it showed that I had set off too conservatively and I need to learn to push myself harder in the earlier stages of the race. However I really enjoyed the race and that continues to become more important to me. The scenery, company and course was excellent. Added in some great performances from The Boy in second place and my Dunoon Hill Runners team mates and it was a great day all round.

The weather continued to reward us and to top it off there was a BBQ at the Kames Hotel right on the finish line. Despite leaving our wallets at the start line we managed to get back in time for a burger and the prize giving.

Post Race Priorities - Raiding the Goody Bag
Post Race Priorities – Raiding the Goody Bag

I’m a certainty to return next year and I think this race now goes up there with Mok Run as one of my must do races in the season. A friendly field, spectacular setting and a challenging course. Just gutted we didn’t realise there was a ceilidh. Next year. We’ll be back.