Sunday, October 26, 2008

OMM: on my high horse (again)

I was out at a dinner last night (the Commonwealth Games Scotland Awards Dinner - Chris Hoy won the main award) and the first I heard about the OMM problems was when I received a text from John K about 10.30pm. When I got home I checked out the BBC website and Sky News, both of whom were covering the story in some detail. I know Brian M was running and there were probably a few others taking part that I know, so it was a great relief today to find out that everyone was alright.

However that is not the main purpose of this post. It is to express my disbelief at some of the comments that appeared on the BBC website forum last night, from people who have probably never set foot anywhere near the countryside. For example: "I hope all these runners apologise to the emergency services". What is that person talking about? Doesn't he or she know that a lot of these runners ARE members of the emergency services, and if they weren't used to being out in treacherous conditions they wouldn't be much use when it came to some of the more difficult search work? I know a few people who do some of the more extreme mountain challenges (such as Brian, Marco and Pete) and these are amongst the most experienced guys on the hills you could find anywhere. If I was to be stuck out there in conditions like yesterday I would certainly feel happier knowing they were looking after my safety. It is no coincidence that there were no serious casualties - the people taking part yesterday were experienced and would not be allowed in to the event if they were not properly equpped and able to cope with the worst of the elements.

And while I am on my high horse, what about these comments:
Organisers of a Lake District fell run abandoned in treacherous weather had been warned about the risks, police say.
I don't know if any of you have had experience of organising a road race. If you have organised one in Scotland, you will know that a condition of getting a permit from the governing body is that you have to notify the police about the event. When you have done so, you receive a standard letter back from the police saying that they do not encourage anyone to hold any event on public roads, and if you do decide to go ahead then it is at your own risk and you may be held liable if anything goes wrong. Honestly, it's true. Just ask any race organiser if you don't believe me. Some encouragement to organise an event which will improve the health of those in the local community, is capable of boosting local tourism, and has been proved to play a role in reducing the level of crime, is it not? I know people who have cancelled races after receiving the police letter, which I think is really sad. However, as the police warn every event organiser about the risks, I am not sure there is really anything different about the warning given in this case - although the media seem to think it is a big deal.

Anyway, back to more mundane things. I went up to the WHW on Friday night and ran from Balmaha to Rowardennan and back. It was dark all the way back and I was completely on my own - I should probably have been "warned about the risks" in case I tripped over some stones or trees, fell into Loch Lomond, met some mad psychopath in the dark on the route, or met some other disaster. Thankfully nothing untoward happened, I really enjoyed the run, and finished off with a coffee and muffin in front of the roaring fire in the Oak Tree Inn. Had I not been driving I would have sampled one of their 39 malt whiskies which were sitting on a shelf at the back of a bar - maybe another time. I think we should organise some more 'Friday night runs' - it is good fun doing these in the dark, and would be even better with some company. Those not driving could finish off with a malt.

Then today I went to Kilmacolm, a small village in Renfrewshire near where I was brought up, and did the 10k. I finished in 40.26 which I thought was ok, given the strong wind and my run on Friday night. It was well organised and a nice route, mostly on quiet roads and the cycle path, which I am sure reduced the risks - except for the cyclists and people walking their dogs..

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Today I ran in one of Scotland's best races, the Aviemore half marathon. The route goes through some of the most scenic trails in Scotland - round the Badaguish Outdoor Centre estate, up to Glenmore, round Loch Morlich, then down the new cycle track to Aviemore before finishing at the Macdonald Hotel in the centre of the town. It is one of my favourite races and I made sure I had plenty of time to enjoy the stunning scenery, finishing in 1 hour 31 minutes and 32 seconds - 4 minutes or so slower than last year. Phil was about 4 minutes ahead of me in a season's best of 1.27.50.

It was my first race since the Perth 24 hour ultra and I ran as hard as I could, but didn't feel I had any speed in my legs at all. Not to worry; it was an excellent day out. It even stayed dry for all of the time we were running, and the strong wind was behind us for most of the route. If you are looking for a half marathon in October next year, I would strongly recommend this one.

Now it is time to start training properly, and to get my half marathon time back down to the low 1.20s :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Maybe I haven't fully recovered yet

It's Saturday night and I've nothing better to do than sit in front of a computer and update my blog. I know that is sad, but in my defence I'm hoping to get an early night as I'm going on an 18 km walk tomorrow as part of the Crieff 'Drovers Tryst' festival, from Ardeonaig on Loch Tay to Invergeldie, north of Comrie. I've never been on an organised walk before so it will be something new. I just hope it is dry. Unfortunately dogs are not allowed, so Lucy will have to stay at home - that will not go down well at all when I head off without her.

Today I did my longest run since the 24 hour race - a 13 mile loop mostly on road with Phil. We headed from my house down to Blackford, along the A9 for half a mile or so, through the golf courses at Gleneagles, and back home by the back roads. Although we managed to complete it at about 7 and a half minute mile pace, there were a lot of times it felt like a bit of a struggle, especially the last few miles back up the hill into a strong wind. I'm sure the bottle of wine and two large whiskies last night didn't help, although as is so often the case it felt like a good idea at the time. I felt so tired afterwards that I fell asleep watching the first half of the England game. I suspect I wasn't the only one.

Both Phil and I are doing the Aviemore half marathon next Sunday, so it was good to get a decent run in. Aviemore is a superb half marathon - mostly off-road, through some of the best scenery Scotland has to offer. I don't expect to run a particularly fast time but am really looking forward to getting out there and just enjoying it.

Good luck to Neal and Caroline at the Chicago marathon tomorrow.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I spent most of the day wishing I had been at the Loch Ness marathon - it's the first one I've missed - and it wasn't made any easier watching most of the UK doing the Great North Run on television this morning. My 'sensible' head tells me that you can't do everything, and that it would have been daft to do a marathon just 3 weeks after the 24 hour race. On the other hand, my instinct tells me that I was an idiot for not entering, and I should just have gone for it - even doing the 10k would have been better than not being there at all. Anyway, by the afternoon I was so frustrated that I jumped in the car with a surprised but delighted dog and headed to Tyndrum. It was sunny, I had the roof down in the car (even though it was freezing), and had an excellent run with Lucy (the dog) down the West Highland Way track to the bridge after St Fillans, then back the same way. It was only 7 miles but it helped blow away some of the frustrations of the day, if only temporarily.

A big well done to everyone who finished one of today's races. A particularly special well done to Thomas for his 2.48 marathon PB at Cologne - that is quality running.