Inverness Half Marathon

Thanks to Runbetweener Finola Ashe for her excellent race report. Japes is a fantastic organisation and always on the lookout for pilots.

 

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(Warning, pop the kettle on before you settle down to this)

I came across a group called Japes about 18 months ago, and when word got out back in January that there was going to be an outing to the Inverness half, the word ‘No’ just wasn’t in my vocabulary and as it turns out, this was to be my 11th run with this lovely crowd of people!

Japes is a donation funded inclusion project, imagined and brought to fruition by the unstoppable Nelson Liddle. Japes allows people that for whatever reason are not able, to be involved in events and experience things that they wouldn’t normally do. Japes has 2 customised purpose built wheelchairs that are called joelette’s.

Japes is basically a group of like-minded runners (crew) that escort a Pilot (person in the chair) around courses, up hills, you name it and Japes have done it! Everything from parkrun, 5km, Santa dashes, 10km, half marathon, full marathon and even scaled Ben Lomond and Mount Snowden recently, Japes has achieved it all.

So I got all packed up and set off on Saturday morning as I was staying in a hotel the night before the main event and we had arranged to meet our pilot David Munn at Cheshire House in Inverness (where he lives) on Saturday. Japes do a ‘Meet the pilot’ before any outing to let the pilot see and experience the joelette so that there are no surprises on race day, we were using the twin-wheeled joelette.

This joelette is specifically designed for road events.

After meeting David and one of the carers Jason at Cheshire House, it was off for a half mile trial run round the block to ensure everyone was happy. Then for me, it was off for a quick walk around town before meeting some of the crew later for dinner and a catch up.

Race Day!

After breakfast in the hotel, it was off to registration to pick up my number and meet the crew for a cup of tea before heading back to Cheshire house to get David and then it was off to the start line for us all. Due to 2cm of snow and high winds being forecast throughout the race, it was not 1, not 2 but 3 changes of clothing later before I was as ready as I would ever be.

I should at this point say, that we always try and make sure that the pilot has the best, most comfortable and enjoyable experience we can provide. We had heard in advance that David likes 80’s pop and so with Kylie, Wham, Spandau Ballet and a bit of Queen on Nelson’s homemade sound system, off we set blaring towards the event area. On the jog round to the start, the reaction and support was amazing and this makes it even more special for the pilot.

Last minute checks and the starting pistol went off, we were on our way and the sleet had started!

When we got just passed 1 mile marker, we had a quick stop for David to put on a rain poncho as it was becoming increasingly clear there wasn’t going to be a break in the weather and we didn’t want David ending up cold and soaked through for the duration. After this quick pit-stop, things were going well but by the time we got to the first water station at mile 3, it was clear that the T in the park flimsy freebie type poncho David had on, just wasn’t going to cut the mustard for the full event.

The wind and sleet were relentless at this point and so we pulled up, stopped to have a drink and get the big bad boy industrial waterproof cover on him. It just so happened at this water station there was a Red Cross Landrover and the first aid guys kindly gave us a blanket to help keep David all cosy and warm beneath the rain cover.

At this point of the course, we knew that the main uphill climb was just in front of us between miles 4 and 5.5. As we progressed on and got to the bottom of the hill, there was a left hand turn that took us up into woods, where there was thankfully a bit of protection from the wind. It was during this uphill section, that we had a slight malfunction with the joelette that brought us to a grinding halt (literally) twice. There was a location pin that stabilises the joelette that wouldn’t click into place properly but we quickly decided that this wouldn’t stop us or ruin David’s run and so we took the next couple of miles gingerly and slowly. There was even a break in the snow/sleet/wind (whatever it was) and the sun came out for at least a couple of minutes!

 

As we approached the next water station around the 6 mile marker, we decided to stop, get drinks, some much needed fuel on board (Jelly babies) and properly fix the joelette if we could. Ted (crew member) managed to expertly get us going again but after this 10 minute stop, the weather had turned yet again. We were rapidly getting cold and so upped our pace slightly over the next section to get us all warmed up again.

Miles 6-9 were through a residential area with a make shift band out playing (brilliant), lots of cars tooting and shouts of support, which were all met with big smiles and waves from the Japes gang. We were happily singing to Kylie and Wham the whole way, much to the entertainment of fellow runners who were around us. I always liken a Japes run to a kitchen party or I also call it ‘the party at the back’.

By mile 10 (just a parkrun to go!) although the weather had deteriorated even further, the crowds were starting to gather again and as we went over Ness Bridge at mile 11 we were then onto the finishing road home.

Runners who had already finished were cheering us on and we ran passed Cheshire House again with David’s co-residents all out shouting words of encouragement for him, it’s at this point that words are difficult to find to say thanks to these folk for making David’s journey all the better.

At last we had reached mile 13, it was down to a lap of the race track before the finish line which was in sight and the stadium was busy.

 

Over the finish line we went, medals, fruit, shortbread, t-shirts all taken on board, we were delighted to finish in one piece.

We made our way back to Cheshire House for some much needed tea and cake very kindly put on by the staff.

David had big smiles all over his face and this is what Japes is all about, showing off his medal and telling the stories of what happened out on the course but most importantly, giving him an experience and happiness of something that wouldn’t normally be possible.

Just look at David’s smile!

 

Whilst we had been running round, I said to Helena (crew member), I absolutely love running with Japes, it is teamwork at its best and the sense you get of helping others experience what able bodied runners can do is immense (I can’t actually think of a word that describes the feeling properly). I found this run particularly poignant, as David is roughly the same age as myself. It makes me feel very blessed in what I can physically do and what I can achieve on my own and as long as I am capable, I will be out running with Japes, it was an absolute pleasure and honour to run with David!

If you fancy reading a bit more about what Japes get up to, visit www.japes.scot or the Japes facebook page.

On a last note, I bet you are all wondering what our time was……well we normally measure Japes runs by the longer it takes us, the more fun we are having out on the course.

I was swithering whether to actually put this into the race report or not because it means absolutely nothing to me…..not a jot!

REMEMBER – Running is NOT all about times and personal bests, it’s so easy to forget about the fun side of it!

But to curb your curiosity, our moving time was 2.39.17 with our official time of 2.48.07….get in there!

FAQ’s

Q Is it fun? Yip

Q Is it harder than running a normal half marathon? Yip but you are on such a high with adrenaline that you don’t notice until you try and get out of bed the next day

Q How many crew does it take? With the twin wheel, I would say minimum 3 but we rarely do an event with less than 7 crew

Q Do all the crew run the full distance? Yes

Q Are you pushing the chair for the full distance? No, we purposely have more crew than are needed on the joelette at one time. This allows folk to swap out, rest your arms and recover before going back on.

Q What speed do you run at? Anything between 10-12 min miles if running but we have walking breaks if the terrain is difficult or if it’s a steep hill.

Q Would you recommend it? Yip, I think it should be mandatory that every runner does a Japes run.

Q Would do it again? Absolutely, r

ead paragraph 1 again, this was my 11th event as a Japester and it’s totally addictive!

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Stathaven Striders Half Marathon

Thanks to Paul K. for his review of the Strathaven Half Marathon which was contested in tough conditions yesterday. Well done to everyone who took part and thanks to Paul for his excellent race report. First time we’ve heard of blogging as a race completion strategy.

 

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Well that’s the first race of the year for me under the belt, and what a way to start. I had a plan to run hopefully four or five half marathons this year and, both wanting to start early and keep some motivation over the winter, had signed up for the Strathaven Striders Half.

 

This had, pretty much, kept me going over winter and, with my trusty training partners Finola and Kirstin, helped me run some ridiculously early Sunday long runs. If I never see Stewarton Road again, I’ll be a happy man.

 

As everyone does, it’s weather watch time in the week running up to a big race. Last year had, apparently, been predominantly snow and there were multiple warnings about the conditions in the briefing emails. Given that it was a) February and b) in Strathaven going towards the windfarm, I was under no illusions; a sunny, balmy race this wasn’t going to be.

 

I dressed on race day with a short sleeved base layer, t-shirt and shorts, but had about three different outfits in a bag with me. Registration over, and the long-sleeved base layer was quickly donned. Training had been going well but looking at the conditions (and having had a sore throat last week) my approach was planned and a revised, conservative, time of under 2 hours was agreed on (I was, of course, arguing with myself in my head). There was a good Runbetweener turnout as well, although a few were masquerading as Bella Harriers!!!!
We set off, walking, from the school – behind the obligatory piper – and round to the start. Pre-race briefing had been held indoors. Overcast and blowy, it was a sign of things to come. The race was off promptly at 10:15 with a wee wriggle round some houses and side streets, and we were then out onto the country lanes.

 

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I’d talked to a few folk that had done this before and knew that the outward half of the loop was uphill, and that was true. I can think of only one proper downhill section in the first half of the race. Although appearing to be always on the up, there weren’t any significant hills to start with (I’m thinking of Stewarton Road again), but the problem was the wind. The race’s tagline was ‘Run With The Wind’ and they weren’t wrong. I’m told it was, in parts, around 20 mph gusting to 40 mph – and you felt every bit of it from about a mile out, until about four and a half miles. It blew into you, or across you; there was no respite or let-up – it was constant. I started writing this report in my head at this point to take my mind off it.

 

 

The weather made the view bleak and other than one family cheering on Carol (I hope she did well) the only other spectators were three horses and some sheep. I must mention the very patient cyclist who got caught up with us near the start. He graciously freewheeled until there was a clear space to pass, rather than weaving in and out. He also appeared open to bribes for a backie. Although bleak, there was a good bit of banter on the course, especially when the forecasted rain started. I felt my decision not to race hard was vindicated.

 

At four and half there was the first significant hill, but in the blink of a 90 degree turn, the wind died. Wow, I couldn’t believe the difference, and wasn’t bothered about the hill either, longish as it was taking us up to the water station at roughly halfway. I found it getting a bit busier on this hill, passing folk who’d started off too fast. However, in turn, I found a few passing me.

 

The water station also coincided with the top of a hill and a nice big downhill section followed. I fairly flew down this, and nearly paid for it later, bit it felt good. Downhill, over halfway, no real wind – what could go wrong? Plenty, as it turned out.

With the out part being uphill there is a reasonable assumption that the back part was predominantly down, but that didn’t feel like it was the case (Garmin & Strava will call me a liar though). I’m beginning to think of Arran last year which appeared to be 13 miles all uphill despite starting and finishing at the same point.

 

Country lanes had, momentarily, turned into farm tracks, but still flat. At just over 8 miles I took a gel to help with the final section. But half a mile later I was in trouble – the wind was back, with a vengeance, and so was the uphill nature of the course. One corner almost had me at a standstill, and a post race look at Garmin (eventually) showed that, albeit briefly, my pace had dropped to 10:53 a mile! It had been 6:35 a mile on the downhill at half way, and was roughly 2 minutes a mile slower than training pace. Iron Maiden’s ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’ popped into my head and I was acutely aware of the lack of support in terms of my training partners, or friendly faces. Race days are definitely different to training runs.

 

The wind so bad, directly into my face, that at this point I was questioning my own sanity, and post race discussions found out that I wasn’t the only one. It was also at this point in the race that I lost my target runner. I spent most of the first part about 20 to 30 metres behind her, but had overtaken her before half way. She passed me and was off, and I felt absolutely spent. The wind didn’t die again until about 11 and a half miles and, hand on heart, I can say that those three miles were some of the toughest I’ve run. The mantra of one foot in front of the other was so appropriate. Thankfully the course began to level/go down and allowed a measure of control to return.
The legs were heavy as we entered the last mile, but I knew that bit was downhill and I was determined to finish as strong as I could. Entering the park with 200 metres to go, all over thickish grass, it was hammer down and making the whole thing look like a breeze. You need to put a show on, after all my kids were watching.

 

I’ll be honest to say that I found the race tough, as did many others. Brutal (in terms of the wind) was an often used, but apt, word. Without the wind, I’m sure that would be a different race, but it’s fair to say that the race is definitely a test. I was glad of my training – especially Stewarton Road, and would have struggled on this occasion without it.

 

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One final surprise, seven seconds off my PB. That’s my 5K and Half PBs broken this year already. Don’t know how I managed it, can’t explain why, but I’ll take it. Don’t know what that says, though, about either my performance or my previous PB, but I look forward to answering that question throughout the year.

 

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Great Scottish Run – Kirstin

Regular Runbetweener Kirstin has written us a fantastic guest review of last week’s Great Scottish Run…

Having joined the Runbetweeners over two years ago, and strangely turned into someone who can run and enjoys running, the GSR Half seemed like the ideal challenge to take myself to the next level. I’d completed one half marathon before – on holiday in Amsterdam in Oct 2017 with no training behind me other than the GSR 10k – and after months struggling to train for an eventually cancelled Alloa Half, I decided I was finally going to conquer this distance. The timing of this race was perfect, as I could take advantage of the lovely summer weather and long daylight hours to actually put in the significant training that had always been lacking from my race efforts.

My training officially started with the Run the Blades 10k– from then on I added a mile a week to my long runs. I knew there were some issues with my general fitness, so I also joined a 10 week strength and conditioning class, and I know this has had a huge impact on my stamina. The training was tough at points, but I knew it was necessary, and on the morning of the run, I knew I was able to run the distance, and run it well.

Race day arrived. The train journey in to the city centre was very busy with runners, and it was great to be able to see the 10k runners along the Clyde as we approached Central Station. I had downloaded the app on my phone, so I knew my fellow Runbetweeners including Kirsty Cunningham and Susan Redpath were well into their 10k efforts and I vainly tried to spot them. A short jog later, and I was at the start. I had a target time in my head, based on my Kyles 10 Miles effort, and on the week of the race slowly started vocalising this, slipping out to people that “I’m really keeping it a secret, but I want sub 2:15”. However, something funny happens to me when I’m on the start line of any run though – I get competitive. And as soon as I found myself in the green wave – front and centre – I knew I wanted 2:10. I couldn’t see anyone I knew around me that I could run with to help me secure this target, or even a pacer (short people problems), but I decided I should push myself and before I could question things further it was time for a cheesy choreographed mass warm-up and then we were off!

The run starts by following the same route as the 10k, with an incline up St Vincent street, a quick jog round trendy Finnieston, and then the highlight of running over the Kingston Bridge! My pace was fairly fast for the first three miles – I decided I needed to make this time at the start to give me a shot at 2:10, but then I steadied myself out and settled in for the long haul. I didn’t know the next part of the route too well, but I soon found myself on familiar territory as many of my training runs had been around Pollokshields, leading into Pollok Park. Knowing where I was going really helped, as I could set myself clear targets. There was also great support from Runbetweeners spectators Donna Gillon, Jenny Brown and Blythe Lindsay.

Running through the park was lovely as always, but when we came out and made our way to Bellahouston we found ourselves in a very cold, heavy shower and running into a headwind. This mile wasn’t pleasant. Soon though we were out of Bellahouston and on to the home straight. I really couldn’t believe how quickly the race was passing and how strong I felt. I checked my watch at every mile and my pacing was really steady. I knew I could make 2:10, and unbelievably I saw I could get home sooner than that! From miles nine to twelve, my mantra became “maintain”. I was so scared of running out of steam, and this part of the race was hard work – but I wasn’t giving up! Running over the Squinty Bridge I got another boost, with great encouragement from Ian McBain of GFR. From then on, it was straight alongside the river to the finish. This is such a fantastic part of the course – everyone has given their all, and it really putting in their best efforts. Unbelievably, as I hit about 12 and a half miles I spotted June MacLeod ahead of me. This is how I knew I had just run the race of my life, as June is a much faster runner than me. In June’s defence, she was on her twentieth mile of the day, as part of her Bamburgh Marathon training. I chased June to the finish and was absolutely delighted to finish in 2:08:28.

This race really is a special one. The huge number of participants across the 10k and Half Marathon events, and the family mile and races for young people the day before gives Glasgow a huge buzz. A huge number of Runbetweeners not yet mentioned in this report participated including Gillian Glass, Karen Rosling, Anne Williamson, Jill Mair, Paul Burningham, and Jacqueline Glass. (Jack and Kenny ran too of course). The event is wholly inclusive, but also provides the ideal challenge and I can’t wait to return next year.

Coigach Half Marathon

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A Proper Course Map

 

After several aborted attempts we excitedly made the journey north last weekend for the 2017 Coigach Half Marathon, the 6th running of the race. Starting in the village of Achiltibue, by Ullapool, the epic drive started after work on the Friday via Inverness before completing the 5 hour road trip on the morning of the race.

 

Leaving Ullapool it became obvious why our friend Catherine sold this as a must do race. The mountains grow in stature and loom over the single track road which leads towards Achiltibuie with each passing mile and as you near the coast you are met with stunning views over the Summer Isles. This was our first visit to this part of Scotland and without doubt the landscape provided a stunning backdrop for a race. Off to a good start.

 

Registration was friendly and professional showing again that the level of service you get at local runs is usually far superior to mega city events. Another bonus was receiving change from my £15, a very fairly priced event.

 

After checking in with friends in the neighbouring village of Achnahaird and settling in to our digs for the weekend we headed back to the start line. As the map shows this is a looped course that hugs the coastline before heading inland and back towards the start area. As promised there was also some decent elevation (this would be greater than either Arran or Run Mhor, two tough courses I’d attempted earlier in the year). This was about as much as I knew about the route so I set about trying to get some local knowledge prior to the start of the race.

 

In the 90 minutes after arriving at registration Catherine and her family had told me about the two big climbs on the route (the one I could see and the bigger one I couldn’t), the volunteers at check in had told me to save something for the last few ‘tough’ miles and I’d also learned the finish was not downhill to the community hall but up a pretty steep gravel path to the school playing field. And also the start line was 1km out of town 🙂

 

Despite all this I knew that the course played to my strengths on the uphill with a reasonable amount of elevation giving me the opportunity to hold on to some faster opponents. The route was also remeasured and would be shorter this time around meaning I’d already saved approximately 400 metres on last year’s entrants.

 

After waiting on ‘Uncle Angus’ to park the bus and jog back to the start line the ladies were called to the front of the field of 49 runners – good to see manners are alive and kicking. Race instructions were on the wry side – right up my street. And then we were off….

 

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Feeling Good At the Start of the Course – Photo Credit Anne McGee

 

The first couple of miles descend to sea level and with the wind at your back it is difficult not to go off too fast. In fact after a few hundred metres I found myself in unknown territory as I briefly led the field. Quickly realising how dangerous this would be I moved behind the lead pack of 4 runners who were clocking along at a decent pace. I decided at this point with local knowledge fresh in my mind to slow down a little in advance of the hills, wind and tough final few miles and watched the leaders gradually open up a gap on me. I’d decided to target as close to a 1:30 half as possible given the undulation so was conscious of bagging some time on the faster downhill miles without going crazy. Not always an easy balance.

 

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By the time we reached the foot of the first climb at the 5k mark I was totally isolated but enjoying the views out over the Summer Isles. Gritting my teeth the climb was tough as the wind now moved across the route rather than at our backs but with the top generally in sight most of the way it was a case of getting the job done. Rounding the first corner the route levels off briefly allowing runners to refocus energies on the scenery and dodging the sheep lazily meandering their way across the track. Around this time I closed the distance quickly and passed the runner in 4th place, noting that the field ahead has stretched with the 3 runners now well spaced out.

 

A long and enjoyable downhill section follows the first big climb. Checking my watch I was well on for 1:30 and was comfortably beating my pb pace from the Glasgow Half on these easier miles. Feeling good I tried to open up a bit of a gap on the runners behind by pushing hard through this section.

 

 

Turning inland around the 6 mile marker the second, and biggest, of the climbs stretches out before you with an encouraging cry from the marshal, ‘there will be water at the top… if it’s not blown away!’. The wall of wind at this point was fierce as you meet it head on for the duration of the ascent. A bad combination in anyone’s books. Focusing on the runner ahead I worked hard in the climb and reached the top looking reasonably fresh (see picture above) having moved into third place. Sensibly the volunteers at the water station had moved beyond the hill to a sheltered section of the route.

 

Potentially the best bit of the course the profile is downhill for the next couple of miles as the road heads towards Achnahaird where Lisa and I were staying for the weekend. Lochs and mountains enclose you and provide respite from the wind making for enjoyable running. With all eyes on the runner in second place it was in hindsight a bonus that Natalie Stevenson of Fusion Triathlon Club came blazing back at me on the downhill section as we were able to work together through this section. This caused me to run these miles faster than I would have on my own. I was racing rather than pacing my own race.

 

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Beating the Speed Trap on the Downhill

 

With the support crew out in force at the bottom of the hill I passed through Achnahaird in good time and feeling fit. Nothing though was going to prepare us for the section between Achnahaird and Achiltibuie where the relatively gentle climb was exacerbated by the worst head winds of the day. Natalie and I passed the runner in second place between mile 10 and 11 but the pace dropped dramatically on this section as the combination of physical and mental fatigue took their toll.

 

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Stretching ahead and giving myself a bit of a gap in second place it took all my efforts to keep going as you can tell from my very bad poker face in the picture above. With the balls of my feet burning badly again in my new shoes it was very much a case of ticking off each step and talking myself through to the end after being a tad ambitious in the middle section of the course. Mental note – remember all local knowledge in future races as the final miles definitely required something in reserve.

 

Turning in to the final mile and a half of the course and heading back (up) through Achiltibuie the relatively gradual incline felt a million times harder that the first climb or second ‘big’ climb earlier in the route. It was now a case of getting to the end and trying to hold on to second position.

 

Rounding the final corner at the 13 mile marker the last thing I wanted to see was a gravel track headed steeply uphill to the finish line and it was at pretty much walking pace that I completed the course. I was absolutely delighted though to finish on the podium and in second place on a tough course. My time of 1:25:39 was within a minute of my pb which on this route was a real step forward given that I didn’t manage to break 1:30:00 at Arran on a course with 70 metres less elevation.

 

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All in this was another top race and a definite contender for the most scenic route I’ve run. It would definitely be on the list for an annual visit. I absolutely loved everything about the route and it must rank as one of Scotland’s most friendly races. The final ace in the pack was a great post-race buffet in the Community Hall. A top event this run was small, friendly, scenic and challenging in just the right measures.

 

These are the days when you need to be really grateful that I’m able to be out there in such amazing places. For me this was about as close as it gets; the day when I managed to hit a rich vein of form on a course well suited to my strengths in a remarkable part of our beautiful country.

 

Well done and thanks as always to the race organisers and everyone who gave up their time on the day to help out including Anne McGee who uploaded some of the photos (copyright) to the events page and is raising money for the Highland Hospice.

 

Strava geeks check out my race performance below:

https://www.strava.com/activities/1234998509/overview

Glasgow Half #greatscottishrun

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The Runbetweeners at the Start Line

 

It was brollies at the ready this morning as I headed in to town to meet my Dad early doors. One of the biggest events in the cities sporting calendar, it’s brilliant to see the streets of Glasgow given over to runners for the day and although the weather was miserable at best the sprinters definitely got the best of the day as conditions deteriorated in the early afternoon. Heading towards the river the buzz on the Broomielaw as the 10k runners hit the 9k mark certainly inspired me as I said my goodbyes and made my way towards George Square for the start of the half.

 

The Great Scottish Run had not been in my plans this year with cost a significant factor given the range of community / running club organised in many stunning parts of the country. Followers of the blog will know that that big city runs don’t feature too often but there’s something special about pounding the streets of your home town with larger numbers of spectators than normal. With a half price entry due to last’s years short course I decided to go for it and was determined to finally dip under the 90 minute mark this morning after narrowly missing out on a number of very challenging courses earlier in the season.

 

It was great to see so many Runbetweeners taking on the challenge this morning and people were in good spirits before the start.  Everyone was confident following a good period of training and keen to round of the summer season in style. In my own head (after a pep talk by The Claw) I was aiming for a race plan of:

 

Goal A – sub 85 minutes

Goal B – 87.5 minutes

Goal C – Sub 90 minutes

 

Setting multiple goals is something I have picked up from listening to the Marathon Talk podcasts and it’s something I wish I had been capable of doing earlier in my running journey.

 

Heading off from St Vincent Street I stuck with David from the Harriers who was pacing the 90 minute runners. A relatively gentle but prolonged uphill drag it’s important not to get too carried away here and on the climb up the Kingston Bridge if you are to run well on the flat later on. I was deliberately holding something in reserve and between the 1 and 2 mile mark I started to move away from the 90 minute group.

 

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Early Doors – Photo Credit Coach Tony Coyne

 

The section between Scotland Street School and Pollok park ticks off a lot of miles and I was pleased to see a huge Harriers and Runbetweener support crew at the end of St Andrews Drive including both my wife and The Boy. This meant I would see them again 3km later when exiting the park. Feeling spurred on by their support I picked up the pace a little and started passing other runners regularly. The uphill reverse parkrun climb is part of the Harriers Time Trial route and I was able to put local knowledge to good effect. I know the number of paces, every pot hole and inch of this section of the route and through gritted teeth I maintained a sub 6-30 minute mile pace before picking up to a quicker split at the brow of the hill.

 

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Photo Credit Jacqueline Glass

 

Exiting the park and spurred on by my support crew for the last time I knew the toughest miles lay ahead. Bellahouston Park is a tough little section as you pass through the middle miles of the course and switchback a number of times. I was feeling confident though a bit concerned that the field was getting a bit strung out. On the two small Bella climbs I managed to pass a few other runners bringing me into contact with a group of about 4 runners for the pass down Paisley Road West.

 

A watch check showed I was about 18 seconds outside Goal A around the 9 mile mark but on track for Goal B. A quick body MOT told me I was in good nick although the ball of my foot was burning badly – this has happened in my last few runs in racing flats. Turns in particular were painful but more the grin and bear it than slow down sort of pain. Most importantly my legs still felt good and my breathing was controlled, even on the climbs. I was definitely on for a crack at Goal A so I decided to try and pick up the pace rather than leave it too late and regret it later on.

 

Miles 10-12 passed comfortably as I clocked 6-20s. Crossing the Squinty Bridge I knew the finish was approx 1.5 miles away and I decided to kick again along the flat drag. The road quality improves here and it was nice not to feel every small crack and bump in the road in my racers as the ball of my foot continued to burn badly in my new shoes.

 

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Weather Deteriorating Badly – Photo Credit Kenny Phillips

 

As I neared the final 1k it was head down and dig deep time for the first time in the race as a combination of the distance and quick miles caught up on me. Seeing the big screen and a motivating message from my number 1 fan gave me the oomph heading into the final 400 metres. I could see the White Wave clock ticking closer and closer to Goal A with each passing stride but was delighted to cross the line just under 1:25:00 and in a chip time of 1:24:42. Officially a PB of 5mins 27seconds. Not bad.

 

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This is definitely one of my top 3 performances alongside my stand out 10 mile races of 2017. 2018 is going to be about the Marathon and 5k and 10k and I need to take confidence from recent performances. This was a great end to a brilliant week after The Boy and I received news that The Runbetweeners has been nominated in the category of Best JogScotland group.

 

It was great to shelter under the umbrella in The Clutha’s beer garden as the wind picked up and rain got heavier cheering on Harriers, Runbetweeners and familiar faces. Most looked pleased with their efforts and are hopefully resting up and reliving the day on catch up TV. Well done to everyone and I’ll maybe even see you next year.

 

If you like what we do and want to keep up to date with The Runbetweeners give our Facebook page a like. We’re also on Twitter and Instagram and you can follow the blog.

 

https://www.facebook.com/The-Runbetweeners-1654515041438088/?hc_ref=ARRhLENQCIfzjOLpiwSV5Abn1T8H3LvB8as6KiA2k201dwpCsP5bx-HOAKB5VclUHC8

 

Strava Geeks – link below:

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/1210568205/overview

The Isle of Arran Half Marathon – Boats, Trains and Automobiles

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Team Bella Before The Race

Just back from another enjoyable day trip, this time to the Isle of Arran Half Marathon. Another great local event which ticked a number of runbetweener requirements; reachable as a day trip, scenic and a relatively small field. Safe to say the Isle of Arran Half Marathon is another fine addition to the list of road races on our great tour of Scottish Classics.

An early start was required for this one as we (minus The Boy) caught the 8-40am train from Glasgow Central. Method of transport number 1 gave plenty time to catch up with other runners. Ross, the returner and experienced Arran runner assured us this would be undulating but flatter than Run Mhor last week putting my mind at ease. The boat crossing, method of transport number 2, passed smoothly as we waited for the canteen queue to die down before ploughing into the breakfast rolls ignoring Brian’s no food 3 hours before a run rule.

Upon race entry runners have the option of bundling coach travel to the start line at Blackwaterfoot and when we disembarked at Brodick we were efficiently directed to our awaiting coach – method of transport number 3. Slowly ascending out of Brodick it was clear that undulating would be the theme of the day as we quickly crossed the String Road to the east coast of the island.

Registration at the finish line gave runners the chance to scope out the final 200m lapped section of the course around the grassy field. After a short pre-race welcome and briefing we were off, this time by my preferred mode of travel; foot – method of transport number 4.

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Registration / Start / Finish Area

I’ll sum up this race pretty quickly as it didn’t go particularly well for me personally. My race pretty much split into 3 parts. A Trilogy so to speak…

Episode 1 – Flying (almost gave me the excuse to call the article planes, trains and automobiles)

The first few miles are predominantly uphill. This occurs at a time in the race when everyone is pumped with adrenaline and running too fast. You would think I’d learn by now but no I went off at sub 1-30 pace on the inclines draining the energy stores early doors. This was going to come back and bite me big time in future episodes. Despite this I was feeling good and mile 4 provides a good bit of downhill into Machrie where the cross winds coming off the sea hit you for the first time. I was hitting 6-22 per minute miling and things felt pretty good. I was in a pack of 3 with two runners from Garscube Harriers and we had built up a reasonable gap on the runners behind.

Episode 2: Driving with a Flat

Turning at the hairpin out of Machrie things started to fall apart pretty badly as I was dropped by the two other runners . First by a few metres and then by a good 15 seconds over each of the next few miles. Thinking back this was the time I needed to dig in but my legs were tired from my exertions at Run Mhor the previous week and just as I started to slow Team Garscube seemed to move up a gear. Looking back at my Strava profile this is the longest and steepest incline in the route and although it feels reasonably gentle while running it was clearly taking its toll as I started to suffer badly.

I was hoping for a first legitimate sub 1-30 and this was throwing a spanner in the works despite building up a 60 second buffer in the first 4 miles. Apparently there was some downhill on this section but my legs still wouldn’t believe you if you told them. The sound of my flat footed trainers slapping off the tarmac confirmed what I knew… I was gubbed and struggling to keep my legs turning over. Exiting Episode 2 on to the String Road I was hoping for a gentle downhill home straight back to Blackwaterfoot with a sub 1-30 still a possibility.

Episode 3: Towing a Caravan

Unfortunately for me on the day the hills kept coming and they all felt like mountains by this stage of the race. Devoid of energy my mind started giving in and I slowed down badly on miles 10 and 11 which rolled back towards Shiskine. Team Garscube were now small dots in the distance and I was just hanging on. Despite a decent amount of descent into the finish I just couldn’t get going again until the home straight missing out on my sub 1-30 target by 9 seconds on the official results.

Collapsing in a heap I was surprised to have run it so close as I had given up the chase at the start of episode 3. However I had been hoping to be comfortably under the 1-30 mark so was a bit disappointed with my run. As usual my mood was perked up pretty quickly by a goody bag containing home made rolls and biscuits. A real nice touch and it was great to hear Brian who I had travelled with had finished in 10th spot with a huge pb. Coming 2nd in the V60 category he beat all of the V50s too. An incredible and inspiring effort. Finding out Team Garscube had put two minutes on me showed me what I think I am capable of on a flat course. 15th place overall so not too bad.

It was great then to turn my attentions to spectating as I watched the rest of the guys from Rouken Glen Juniors and Bellahouston Harriers come in. We then headed for a couple of refreshments in the local hotel before catching the bus back to Brodick. After a good feed on the ferry home we managed to cadge a lift home to the southside – method of transport number 5 by my count – arriving knackered and stiff after a hard run.

As always thanks to the marshals and race organisers. This was a really well organised event with a community feel. Small touches like the rolls in the goody bags complimented traditional aspects like the lack of chipped timing giving this race an authentic feel which is sadly lacking from the mega-city events where you feel more like a number than a participant.

A tough race that I am glad I did – maybe next time I won’t do another hard race quite so close.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1064661436/overview

Run Mhor 2017 – A Top Ten Route?

Yesterday we travelled north to take part in the second Run Mhor half marathon. This was one we’ve been looking forward to since entering several months ago following several recommendations of ‘this will be right up your street’. Reading the pre-race blurb it certainly ticked a lot of the boxes including a scenic run, small field, driving distance from home and post race refreshments within hobbling distance of the finish line.

 

In April I had been lucky enough to stay at the Mhor Hostel for a couple of nights as a birthday treat giving me the advantage of checking out the route in advance and on the car journey I enjoyed winding The Boy up about the route. With experience though came the knowledge of ‘that hill’ and in hinsight blind naivety might have been a better option than knowing what was coming around the 10 mile marker.

 

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After being well marshalled into our parking slot we registered and caught up with the rest of the Harriers – many of whom were returning to take part in their second Mhor Run (big pressure on them now to remain ever presents). The Boy warmed up as we all huddled together to stay warm before he studied the route map carefully, keen to see how many hills there were and how many opportunities he would have to get lost. This attention to detail is perhaps one of the many reasons why he will in every race, regardless of distance, run 1 minute a mile faster than me.

 

The event saw a big increase in runners this year with 200 runners registered for the Half Marathon, 100 for the 10k and a well attended kids run. This was testament to the word of mouth effect a well organised race can have amongst the tight knit running community. There are still many gaps in the racing calendar and small towns would be well placed to consider hosting sporting events given the economic benefits a run can bring. Kingshouse certainly lived up to the billing with a warm welcome from the friendly registration team.

 

On to the race itself. The first mile climbs gradually out of Kingshouse before dropping down again into Balquhidder around the two mile mark passing the resting place of Rob Roy. I was passed in the second mile by two runners as the pack naturally ordered itself after a typically adrenaline fuelled first mile 🙂 This section gives the legs a test of what is to come.

 

Around this time I started to think that I was probably around 11th place after setting off ambitiously up the hill before regaining my composure and settling into a 6-45 pacing strategy. Sticking to my pre-race plan my aim was to run as close to 7 minute miling as I could over the route meaning that I needed to dip under this marker in the early and flatter miles to ensure some money in the bank before ‘that hill’.

 

Turning past Loch Voil I took a second to enjoy the scenery. A small roadside percussion band were serenading the runners, the sun was peeking through the clouds and you couldn’t have picked anything better to be doing on a Saturday lunch time.

 

The next few miles of the course were my favourite during the training run. Passing through a tree lined hamlet the valley then opens up as you snake along the river bank enjoying the flat surface and opening the legs. The gap between me and a crop of runners stubbornly remained over the next two miles but as we started the first of two climbs in the forest above Stathyre I closed down and passed two other runners. I pushed hard over the next section and really raced the uphill miles, pleased in my mind that I was perhaps now within shot of a top 10 place.

 

The downhill section into Strathyre is a welcome treat after the wannabe ‘small’ hill that would be unfavourably referred to in any other race that couldn’t boast ‘that hill’. At one point just approaching Strathyre I almost took a wrong turn down a lane before realising the sign was just ahead of the concealed turn in the road ahead. This was to prove crucial later on.

 

The route returns to the start/finish zone along the cycle path for a few miles and this was a chance to try and hunt down another runner within sight but this gap remained consistent despite trying to close it several times.  Heading out of Kingshouse for the second time this time around we headed north parallel to the main road (the second lap of the half marathon follows the single lap route covered by the 10k runners). We had done this lap first when on holiday earlier in the year and I was looking forward to the first mile through the woods. By this time though my legs were starting to grumble after the exertion of trying to put a gap between me and the two runners I had passed at Strathyre. I had hoped to ease back a little content in the knowledge I had dropped them by this stage.

 

The next two miles are gently undulating but feel properly mountainous by this stage and it was unfortunately somewhere in the woods that the heavy breathing and footsteps appeared behind me – definitely not part of the plan. I managed to hold off for around half a mile before being passed by a runner I assumed had been the guy I saw stretching out a cramp around mile 2 – not one of my Stathyre passes but still a place. Doubts about a top 10 finish crept in.

 

Despite this the section here is a great bit of the route as the 10k runners pass in the opposite direction as they approach the end of their race, offering encouragement whilst unwittingly wearing the joyous look of ‘my beer is closer than your beer’ across their pained but soon to be relieved faces.

 

As we approached Lochearnhead I became increasingly conscious of another runner nearing me and he drew alongside as we crossed the bridge. Mustering up some words of encouragement for him he told me that him and the runner in front had gone the wrong way just before Strathyre and were trying to claw back positions. This meant I was still in good positioning and perhaps still in with a shout of a top 10 finish perking up my spirits a little at a tough stage in the run. Despite being slower than both (they had clearly covered more ground than me with their misdirection) I actually managed to latch onto the two guys as they hunted down the guy one place ahead of me who had stubbornly maintained the gap between us.

 

At this stage no amount of position maths, split analysis or post race meal planning was going to detract from the fact that ‘that hill’ was now here. It started much steeper than I remembered it when I told Lisa to walk one set of poles and jog the next. Race mode on there was no way I could walk it though…. was there? It was touch and go but I was glad of the company at this point and actually closed the gap on the two ‘lost boy’ runners on the climb as we hair-pinned our way up the hill. Under two minutes of running I later found out thanks to Strava segments that I had reached the summit only 4 seconds slower than The Boy who was probably now close to the finish line 🙂

 

As the lost boys stopped to hydrate I carried on in pursuit of finish line safe in the knowledge the net elevation was very much downhill for the last few miles. It didn’t take them long to pass me again and within a mile I was again chasing them down. At this point I expected the downhill to help pull me towards the finish but it never really felt that I was running on anything other than flat as the drop stretches over a much greater distance than the short but brutal climb. During the time there were 3 runners in sight but each was running well and I was struggling after the effects of the previous 10 and a bit miles.

 

Approaching the home straight I was pleased to meet the Bella girls running in the opposite direction en mass toward ‘That Hill’. With some mutual ‘mon the bella’ shouts of encouragement exchanged they definitely looked to be enjoying the run much more than me but I was pleased to hear that I was possibly in around 10th place by their reckoning whilst ‘The Boy’ had not got lost and was apparently looking good for the win.

 

Gritting my teeth I tried to pull onto the shoulder of one of the ‘lost boys’ several times in the final cruelly undulating section of the route but he was able to respond strongly each time so I convinced myself I should be gracious and let him keep at least one spot after his additional yardage early on. Chasing other runners definitely pulled me home to a quicker time than I would if I had become detached and running solo meaning I was able to maintain and regain a decent pace on the approach to and descent from ‘that hill’.

 

By my reckoning before ‘that hill’ I had built up about a 90 second buffer for a sub 1:30 (which would have been my first official time under the 90 minute marker after the Great Scottish Run 2016 episode) so I was a little bit disappointed to pass the 2km to go sign on 1:23 giving me next to no realistic chance of dipping below 90. It was still good to stretch the legs though as the final section of the route passed through the woods just outside Kingshouse again. With a chunky half mile post 13 mile marker this was a tad over the official half distance (in any other business we would call this ‘extra free’) making the 90 minute marker a bridge too far this time around.

 

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Hunting a Lost Boy in Vain

 

Exiting the wood with 200 metres to go and roared on by super-supporter Kirsty Cochrane I managed one last kick and almost gained a place. It wasn’t to be though leaving my top 10 finish in jeopardy after crossing the line in a time of 1:32:20.

 

At this stage my plan had been to collect my race position token from StuWeb van, change into warm clothes and then get some food but as usual this all went out the window when I noticed the proximity of the post race refreshment tent. My cool down therefore involved a welcome complimentary Mhor 84 beer and having a good chuckle at The Boy doing a professional cool down. I was please to hear The Boy had picked up the win and was pleased with his run. He reminded me about getting my official timing print out. Confirming my time I was slightly disappointed to get a placing of 12th after gunning hard for a top 10 but The Boy told me that some half marathon runners had done the 10k and were appearing in the half results meaning the final results might change.

 

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Well Deserved Post Race Refreshments

 

So does Run Mhor deliver? In one word absolutely.

 

This was a great, but tough, event. I ran hard and thankfully my marathon training seems to have me in better shape for the half than I have been before. Measuring 13.5 miles officially with over 200m of ascent it wouldn’t be too unrealistic to think that I could run 5 minutes quicker on a flat course. But that wasn’t what yesterday was about. It was about finding another intimate race in a new part of Scotland to add to our list of must-do running experiences and Run Mhor is really an event to watch as it will surely grow in popularity again next year. The scenery above everything else is what makes this one.

 

Will we back? 100%

Would I recommend it to others? As long as they won’t make it harder for me to get in the top 10 – 100%

 

Oh and one last thing – when the final results were published there I was sitting pretty in 8th place. Absolutely delighted.

 

Runbetweeners 1st and 8th. Now to get the organisers to instigate a team prize next year 🙂

 

As always thanks to the race organisers and marshals for giving up their time so we could enjoy our run.

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/1051933610

Alloa Half Marathon!

This morning was a funny one for me. Alloa had been a target that I set myself back in January, as I was just starting to get some fitness back, after a fall from a curb in December left me with a badly sprained ankle and a severely bruised ego. Instead I found myself packing a bag to spectate at the event after the National X-Country of three weeks ago left me with stress damage to my shin. As much as I was gutted to be missing the race itself, I was excited to have the chance to see plenty of our ‘Runbetweeners’ running group in action – some of whom were taking part in their first ever attempt at the distance.

Race logo

As we drove down to Alloa the forecast was mixed. Glasgow seemed destined for rain but the BBC were adamant that the weather at our destination would merely be ‘cloudy’. Pulling into Alloa however it was clear that this would not be the case and, as the sun broke through a sky as blue as my Bella vest, I found myself shedding layers and preparing for a hot one. The run was a busy one and a crowded start area generated a fantastic atmosphere as the unconventional choice of ‘Westlife’ blared out over the speakers –  I guess that’s one way to ensure people get a quick start out of the blocks!

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The runners passed me by after a one mile loop brought them back round past the start and it was exciting to see the lead pack being chased down by a group including Colin  Thomas of Bellahouston Harriers and Shaun Lyon of Greenock Glenpark Harriers. As other familiar faces made their way down the course, it was nice to be able to offer a cheer of support and report back to interested parties. It wasn’t long before Paul Burningham flew by as the first of the Runbetweener contingent. Paul’s recent form has shown fantastic progress and he seems to be setting himself a PB every time he dons his trainers. Today would be no different.

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It was exciting to be watching Vicki taking part in her first half marathon since completing her debut at ‘Balloch to Clydebank’ last year. As she glided past enthusiastically, it was fantastic to see the progress that she also has made with her running and it was clear that she would be looking for a big PB today.

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Once the remaining runners had disappeared around the corner I set about on the most important mission of the morning: coffee. Rumour had it there was a D’nisi in Alloa and I was determined to find it. I was in luck. A short walk into the town centre and I was rewarded with a huge cappucino and the weather even took another turn for the better! I made my way back round the course away from the finish in order to see the runners coming into the final mile.

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Colin was the first Bella Harrier to come flying past en route to a finish time of 73:58 while Russell Whittington of the Road Runners, fresh from a Kenyan training camp with Colin, crossed the line in 78:13. There were several good performances in windy conditions including a great run by Neil Nairn who managed to improve on his time from last year by an impressive 5 minutes.

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I started to make my way back to the finish and it was great to see all of the Runbetweeners racing hard as they made their way down the long final stretch towards the welcoming, inflatable archway. At the finish line we discussed the race over some home baking and free samples of a strange BCAA concoction that was being handed out. Generally, the feedback was very positive with the event seeming to generate a good atmosphere and enough runners to maintain a good depth to the field. It was highlighted however that several water stations had run out by the time that some of our runners reached them and that the large crowds and limited toilet facilities meant that several runners missed the start as they were waiting in queues. I can only imagine that the unexpected hot weather meant that more water was being consumed than the organisers may have anticipated but it was a shame that some of the runners then had to endure the heat with no way of re-hydrating themselves. Hopefully this is something that is addressed for next year’s event.

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This was a fantastic turnout from the Runbetweeners and we managed to get 14 of the group across the finish line! Hopefully we can choose another race in the near future to target and get another great showing. Well done to the following Runbetweeners who absolutely smashed it today: Paul, Jill, Susan, Sarah, June, Jacqueline, Vicki, Pauline, Anne, Kirsty, Angela, Stephanie, Liz, Jennifer (Sorry if I’ve missed anyone!)

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The Runbetweeners Review 2016

At this time of year (well we’re a week late but most of you will be used to us being late by now) folks normally sit down, reflect on the previous 12 months and plan for the year ahead. It’s been a pretty phenomenal year running wise both on the track (and road, trail and hill) and off it with visits to old and new races near and far including some international excursions, the growth of our own running group and the launch of Rouken Glen Junior parkrun. A year of pb’s for both of us but what have been the highlights?

Between us we have raced a lot in the last year making it hard to narrow down the list to just 10. Therefore we went for 12 So here follows the countdown of our best 12 races from 2016.

Look out for next week’s blog post as we pick 12 races for 2017.

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  1. Springburn parkrun (Kenny) – 14th of May 2016

This one makes the list as I managed to break 19 minutes for the 5k for the first time in a shiny new pb of 18-47 (gaining qualification to the elite sub 19 minute pack at the Harriers). Jack, in the middle of a heavy training schedule, decided to pace on this one allowing me to shadow him around the two loop course. Running in a small pack is something that I’ve learned this year can be extremely effective in pursuit of personal best times. An added bonus on this one was gate-crashing Springburn’s 2nd birthday celebrations meaning there was cake aplenty at the finish.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/happy-birthday-springburn-parkrun/

    11. Polaroid Clydebank 10k (Jack) – 19th May 2017.

The Polaroid series has been a staple of my running calendar for the last few years and in 2016 I approached it in a slightly different way. In the past I had entered all four events but this year I decided to enter just one and to target it for a personal best. I was over the moon to break 33minutes for the first time here and this made it a highlight of the year for me!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/polaroid-clydebank-10k-2016/

  1.  Brian Goodwin 10k (Kenny) – 17th of June 2017

Another pb for me on a brilliant evening in Pollok Park. After dipping under 40 minutes for the first time at Troon a few weeks before, I was delighted to take a good chunk off  my 10k time finishing in 39-30. An annual event, the race is organised by our club – Bellahouston Harriers. Knowing I was pacing the Men’s 10k a couple of days later, I decided to take this one easy but felt good from the start and again used similar runners to pull me along. Moral of the story: if you are feeling in the zone just go for it. A two lap course, the route takes in many of the flatter parts of the park and Haggs Road. To top it off entry includes a beer and a burger. What more could you ask for?

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/brian-goodwin-10k-2/

     9. parkrun du Bois de Bolougne. (Jack) – 26th March 2017.

What better way to spend my birthday that by striding around a Parisian park – they even let me cross the line first (there’s no winning in parkrun, apparently). This was my first international parkrun and was followed with cake and champagne under the Eiffel Tower. An awesome day and a birthday I will never forget!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/a-parisian-parkrun/

  1. #Glasgowparkrunsmashup (Both) – 15th of April 2016

2016’s answer to the Clyde Trail this was the one that was meant to send us trending worldwide. Unfortunately while we were up before dawn the rest of the running world was asleep, uninterested or both. The idea was simple – run each of Glasgow’s 5 parkrun routes in one go arriving at Pollok in time for the 9-30 start. As usual planning a sensible route was almost the undoing of this challenge as we cycled between each of the parks. Much harder than anticipated when the idea was hatched over a beer or two – 15.5 miles of running, more on the bike and very little enthusiasm, interest or support for a daft idea making this everything a good runbetweeners challenge should be Surely still a record? parkrun UK we are still waiting on official notice…

https://twitter.com/search?q=glasgowparkrunsmashup&src=typd

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/glasgow-parkrun-smash-up/

     7. Bushy parkrun (Jack) – 25th December 2016

This Christmas I decided to head back to where it all began and took part in Bushy parkrun. Lining up alongside 1200 other parkrunners for a free 5k run on Christmas morning was incredible and the atmosphere was even better than I had expected. I will definitely be back!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/bushy-parkrun-a-christmas-cracker/

  1. Dunoon Ride and Run (Kenny) – 2nd of April 2016

A momentous day as I topped the podium at this event in my hometown. Put together by the team at No Fuss Events the concept of this one is to bring the cycling enduro concept to running. Basically there are four timed stages and you can walk / jog or sprint between each. A 5k out along the prom is stage 1. Stage 2 is a gentle uphill trail section of around a mile. Stage 3 is two laps of the ash track at the local stadium. The final stage is a trail and road downhill smash up finishing on the newly restored pier. Total times from all four stages are added together and the lowest time wins. Simple. In this case the winner was shocked – especially since I’d taken a wrong turn on the first 5k section. My first and likely only victory – hopefully the event never happens again and I can lay claim to the title for the rest of my running days!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/dunoon-ride-run/

     5. Tom Scott Memorial 10Miler (Jack) – 10th April 2016.

This was a favourite of mine in 2015 also. There is a huge field at this event and there is always an abundance of fast runners. This means that there is usually a good pack to run in. At this year’s event I felt great and managed to run with a brilliant group of good mates who were all hitting good levels at fitness at the same time. The result was a fantastic pack run with a train of Harriers and a big PB for myself.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/tom-scott-memorial-10miler/

  1. The SouthSide Six (SS6) Kenny – 6th of November 2016

One of our absolute favourite races of the year and a Glasgow institution. The only reason the SS6 is not at the top of the list is that it’s been there before. This year Jack gave the run a pass leaving me to join the others toeing the line in this challenging 16-mile course. For those who’ve not done the race before it’s a 6 park tour of the south side painfully climbing to the highest peak in the two hilliest collecting stickers along the way. A brutal finish up the stairs and slopes of Queens Park, this one is always worth it for the excellent feed alone. This route sells out quickly so register for facebook updates to ensure you don’t miss out in 2017.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/southside-six-2016-ss6/

     3. MOKrun 1/2 Marathon (Jack) – 29th May 2016.

Our third visit to the Mull of Kintyre and, despite not coming home with the trophy, we still loved the experience of the weekend. A friendly, well organised event with a fantastic route and a brilliant post-run Ceilidh. Magic.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/running-a-mok-in-campbeltown/

      2. TCS Amsterdam Marathon 2016 (Jack) – 16th October 2016.

After four months of focused training, I finally made my way over to Amsterdam in an attempt at a new pb. A brilliant weekend and my first international Marathon – I’m sure it wont be the last!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/amsterdam-marathon-2016/
And the number 1 race of 2016 in our humble opinion….

  1. Kyles 10 Miles (Both) – 10th of September 2016

This was our second visit to the Kyles of Bute and this race did not disappoint. A challenging and hilly route the 10 mile distance is a good marker to test out speed endurance. Guaranteed good weather (we’ve been twice and it’s been sunny both times), unbelievable scenery, beer on tap at the end and a BBQ followed by a ceilidh in the evening. A cracking race; low key, excellently marshalled, reasonably priced and growing in popularity year on year. A worthy winner of the title of 2016 Runbetweeners Race of the Year.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/kyles-10-miles-2/

 

Finally, a short footnote to those races that didn’t quite go to plan in 2016. No prizes for guessing which race ends up in the number 1 slot. Bang goes the idea that the runbetweeners will ever make our fortune Stateside…

 

  1. Toward for a Tenner (Kenny) – 6th of August 2016

Before I go on – Jack won this race, it was brilliantly and cheerfully marshaled, well organised and positively reviewed by local and visiting runners. I’ll be going back in 2017 and this race offers excellent value relative to other similar half marathons.  The addition of a 10k race makes this an inclusive running festival. Any negative feedback that follows is down to my own race naivety. On a positive note I suppose you learn more from the nightmare races than the ones that go well but this was everything that could go wrong in one race for me.

Starting far too fast and thinking I was in much better shape than I was, I decided to launch an attack on a near 5 minute pb on this one. There is no excuse really as this is my neck of the woods therefore I should have anticipated the wind factor which made running out in the first half a much more demanding effort than it would otherwise have been. Struggling badly the group I was in gradually put some serious distance between me and them as a stream of runners gradually passed me with words of genuine encouragement.

 

However I couldn’t help but slow to a near standstill by mile 7 reaching a point of exhaustion usually associated with a heavy session of sprint intervals or hill reps. Burned out by half way I managed to drag myself home thanks to the support and encouragement of my friends from Dunoon Hill Runners who were out in force (plus the fact is was an out and back course and all my gear was back at the start line). The first race I’ve run/walked in a long time and a massive positive split on the second half of the race. Meeting a friend who suffered an underwear malfunction and was running pantless for the final miles perked my spirits at mile 10 giving me the last ounce of strength to jog home the final 3 miles. The closest I’ve come to DNF’ing yet.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/08/08/toward-for-a-tenner/

  1. Nationals – Short Course X Country (Kenny) – 5th of November 2016

Not a bad run – in fact I ran pretty well. Also not down do my hatred for the terrain as I’ve enjoyed the x-country much more this year. Perhaps I’m developing a love for the grass and mud as I become more experienced, fitter or maybe it was just down to the fact the weather has been much better than equivalent events in 2015.

This had all the ingredients to be a good one – I’d been training well, top athletes such as Laura Muir were competing and the event was reasonably close by meaning we could get there early enough to see some of the top junior and female races.

However the choice of venue was a strange one. The route was a two lap, pancake flat circuit around a playing field. Single file around the park perimeter the route lacked imagination or the challenge you would normally associate with such a prestigious race in the Scottish Athletics’ calendar. As a result it didn’t get a look in on the blog. Shame.

The worst race of 2016 award goes to…

1. Sommer Sports Florida Clermont 5k (Jack) – July 2016

You will have heard me rant about this one before I am sure but what kind of race doesn’t set up the finish line! Having got up early on my honeymoon to go and race this 5k in Florida, I was loving leading the pack for the whole race. I built myself up a nice lead and kept running for the finish – only to find that the finish line wasn’t there yet! I kept running down the road until I realised there was a problem and when I turned back the finish line had been constructed behind me! Witnesses at the end of the race spoke to the organisers and it was decided that I would still get the trophy but an angry competitor (relegated to second place) kick up a fuss and I did not get it. The organisers then ignored my email (I know I got petty!) and refused to respond to my questions on Twitter. I’m going to stop writing about it now because it’s getting me angry again haha -for more info read the review 😉

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/there-is-no-finish-line/