The Runbetweeners Review 2017

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Wow that was faster than a quick spin around parkrun – 2017, over in a flash. Another good year for both of us both on and off the road with pbs, great races, running abroad and new friends made. So before we start setting out goals at the beginning of a new year it’s that Oscar-esque moment that races up and down the land have been waiting for: the now annual Runbetweeners pick of the best races around in 2017.

 

Prior to the glittery prizes being handed out (there are none before anyone contacts us) we both agree that this years major highlight has been the real establishment of The Runbetweeners running group in the south side of Glasgow – to such an extent that we’ve now both been ‘spotted’ on at least two occasions. In true Ant and Dec fashion though it’s clear some of you are still not sure which one’s The Boy and which one is Kenny. The best ‘spot’ was definitely as we cheered on the Stirling Marathon and two runners after a few double takes gave us a shout of ‘it’s definitely them. It’s The Runbetweeners. The most handsome runners in the south side of Glasgow’. We might have added the ‘most handsome’ bit in case the shouter is reading this ūüôā

 

Anyway back to the group, we are delighted that our numbers continue to grow and many of our members are taking on new and exciting personal challenges. We have had great times together with monthly trips to taste some of the best cakes the central belt has to offer, often with a sideshow of a parkrun or charity 5k.

 

Unbelievably, we were shortlisted for JogScotland Group of the Year towards the end of 2017. We had a great night at the Scottish Athletics Awards with an impressive 30 members in attendance and although we did not win the main prize it was a huge honour to even be considered and to rub shoulders with the great and the good including Callum Hawkins, Laura Muir and Sammi Kinghorn.

 

This blog though is about the races we most enjoyed in 2017 and ones we’d encourage you to look out for in 2018. Hope you enjoy and let us know if you agree or have your own favourites.

 

10. Sheffield Hallam parkrun

JA: I returned to Sheffield Hallam parkrun at the start of 2017 and was chuffed to be lining up alongside the incredible Jess Ennis! The run was a fun and fast one and the atmosphere was fantastic. It was also nice to have a chat with Paul Sinton-Hewitt himself at the end of the run and to discuss the experiences that I have had as part of the team at Rouken Glen Junior parkrun

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/running-with-an-olympic-legend/

 

9.  The Jimmy Irvine

KT: A great run for both of us. I loved the undulating, lapped course around Bellahouston Park. This one makes the Top 10 for me as I am convinced it’s one of my best ever race performances. A day when I felt good, ran hard and secured a massive pb.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/the-jimmy-irvine-10k/

 

8. Tom Scott 10 Miler

KT: This was my first shot at the 10 mile distance and another cracking day when everything just seemed to click. I felt strong throughout and was able to reel in a number of runners on the small inclines in the second half of the route. This was a key race in my build up to London and showed I was coming out of winter training in good shape for the new season. A real confidence builder.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/tom-scott-road-race-10-miler/

 

7. Cowal Hill Race

KT: This is a proper race. A real traditional no-frills event. Cheap to enter with a small field of runners it is a tough uphill slog followed by a sprint to the finish. With beers and food on tap and free entry to The Cowal Games at the end this one has everything you would want. I love going back to Dunoon to catch up with the guys in the Hill Runners and was pleased to finish so high up the field.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/08/26/cowal-hill-race/

 

6. Moira’s Run

JA/KT: This was a great day out with The Runbetweeners and a brilliantly appropriate race for our club. The sun always shines on Moira’s run with the race itself taking second place to the wonderfully happy atmosphere that engulfs the park. Great to see so many familiar faces and a brilliant effort by all of The Runbetweeners on a very tough course.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/11/16/moiras-run-5k/

 

5. Bellahouston Harriers Time Trial

JA: The Harriers Time Trials this year were all fantastic and the July event was a particular favourite of mine this year. The cheap entry cost, enthusiastic turnout and fantastic post-run soup always make this a good experience but this event was also my first time at dipping below 10minutes which had been a big barrier on the horizon for a while. Loved it!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/bellahouston-harriers-2m-time-trial/

 

4. Run Mhor Half Marathon

KT: I loved the scenery, the climbs and the race with this one being a battle to hold on to position from the start for me. With the right amount of road, trail and challenge this suited me to a tea. I was pleased to run so quickly on a very tough course following a reasonable break after the London Marathon. The food and drink at the end didn’t interest me in the slightest or have any bearing on my decision to rank this one so highly ūüôā

JA: As Kenny has mentioned, the stunning location of this run made it a fantastic experience and the climb at the end, whilst horrific during the running, led to a particularly incredible view. Also, any race that ends with a free pint and a fish and chips van is going to be good with me!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/run-mhor-2017-a-top-ten-route/

 

3. The Kyles 10 Miles

KT: Another race that seems to be blessed with guaranteed sunshine. This has become a must do event for our calendar for the last few years. I was again pleased with my run and a big course pb. Pleased to see so many familiar faces making the journey and hopefully more will make the trip this year.

JA: This was our third trip to the event and we have had a hat-trick of glorious weather. This was a big PB for the both of us and it was great to sit out in the sun after the race and enjoy a beer and a burger with a group of good pals.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/kyles-10-miles-round-3/

 

2. The Coigach Half Marathon

KT: About as perfect an event as I could imagine making the 5 hour journey totally worth it. Incredible scenery, fantastic hospitality, a challenging route and brilliant post-race catering. If The Boy had made the journey this would definitely have been our race of the year. As it is it’s ranked as our highest place race in Scotland for 2017.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/coigach-half-marathon/

 

1. London Marathon / Berlin Marathon

KT: I’ve never felt so comfortable in any race and knew I was on for a big pb at London this year. This is just a special race. The emotion, the support, the sights and the noise are overwhelming at times. I focused on enjoying the experience this time around after learning harsh lessons and having my butt kicked in previous marathons and managed a near 20 minute pb with plenty left in the tank for my next visit to the big smoke.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/04/30/tips-for-first-time-marathoners-the-london-marathon-2017/

 

JA: The entire build up to this event was a fantastic experience and I loved having good mates (and a wife!) to prepare with in the weeks prior to the event. The weekend away was awesome and the race went perfectly to plan. Vicki and I both ran nice PBs and it was great to celebrate the run with our pals afterwards in Berlin.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/a-very-late-summary-of-my-final-preparations-for-the-berlin-marathon/

 

 

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!

 

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.