Gwyn has secretly run the London marathon, posting an amazing time of 2h 33 min 46 sec and finishing 122nd!!
He did one bad thing and didn't run under the Westies banner, he was clubless..... Excluding that one miscalculation, well done Gwyn on a superb run :)
Thought i'd give a little post-race report on the Anniversary Waltz wot took place over the weekend.
It were right hard.
Got passed by a Carnethy type on the climb to High Spy. Bugger!
Got passed by two Bog Trotters on the meander down toward Cat Bells. Bastard!
Managed to overtake an injured runner just before the finish line and haul myself potentially into the top 300. 'Ave it!
Before I left Scotland in February I said to a few people that I was running a marathon in Japan and I'd write a race report. So here it is, apologies for dirtying these pages with talk of road running.I entered the Nagano marathon as I had read a book about Japanese running so decided to enter this marathon while we were here. After paying the £80!?! entrance fee I quickly forgot about it until it was time to book accommodation. It turns out that it's quite a popular event and there aren't many hotels in Nagano so resorted to a number of begging emails to hotels to find us space. My wife was really appreciating the slight diversion to our itinerary for this random marathon of mine by this point.... Anyway, prior to going to Japan we were spending some time in India so the bulk of my training involved running up and down the beach in sweltering heat. I managed a few decent length runs but it was a bit of a struggle and I found myself dreaming of a bit of Scottish drizzle. The Westies top got a few runs so the word has been spread to India. We had to register the day before which was pretty interesting. Lots of signs that I didn't understand and not a great deal of western faces. I started to panic that people might start to think I was some kind of elite runner only to disappoint when they saw me running. Also, the Mizuno stall was selling shoes based on the time you wanted to finish. If only I had known it was that easy... Race day arrived with an 8.30am start time. I didn't really have any great expectations due to the sporadic training and just set out to enjoy it. The whole event was amazingly organised and the Japanese participants all looked the part. People getting taped up in places I didn't know you could put tape and a bit of communal chanting and the race started by some kind of celebrity. The route seemed to take in all of the venues from the 1998 Nagano Olympics with some bits skirting around the city. It was really scenic for a road marathon as Nagano is surrounded by the Japanese alps so plenty to look at. The first half went by with a decent pace but nothing too crazy knowing I have always struggled in the second half in the past. Lots of gels were being consumed by others as I ate my chocolate fudge bar as we went to the second half of the race. My knee was giving me a bit of trouble but I tried to ignore it and just enjoy it. The crowd was really good, the joy on an old ladies face when someone collapsed with cramp will stay with me forever! The last 10km was a bit of a struggle as the lack of training caught up with me but staring at the mountains in the distance kept me going. The Japanese runners seem to love a dramatic collapse so it was like a scene from Saving Private Ryan near the end but I managed to finish in 3.42 which is a PB. I was happy with this given the lack of `proper ' training. My Westies top was out in full glory and being the best small to medium sized hill running club in the west end of Glasgow expected numerous shout outs from others. They are obviously not well versed in Scottish hill running over here any no one battered an eye lid! Enjoy your running over the new season. I'll be missing the hills!
SHOCK & DENIAL
Flock sake this is harder than it should be, why the hell do I feel so drained already? Must just be a rough patch, lost a few places on that last climb but I'll make them up on the descent.
PAIN & GUILT
Why the hell did we go to the pub after the meal, I knew I needed an early night. And the last couple of weeks - that cold was just an excuse for being a wimp and not training.
ANGER AND BARGAINING
F**k sake they shouldn't be in front of me! What the f**k do they think they're doing! Right, come on, just need one good line and I can reel them back.
REFLECTION AND LONLINESS
What a disaster - to come all this way to mess up a British Champs race, absolutely pathetic. So many people passing, no-one says hello. (Though a few yell 'Come on Mercia!')
THE UPWARD TURN
At least Niall's not here to beat me.
RECONSTRUCTION AND WORKING THROUGH
Cracking day for it though - amazing cloud inversion across the Irish Sea the mist-shrouded crags of the nearby peaks are beautiful and the final mile through the forest trail is idyllic. And the Frank Sinatraimpersonator in the Italian place last night was pretty good. Let's just jot this down as a training on a nice day.
ACCEPTANCE AND HOPE
OK, it's just a training run and that's fine. You can let people past on the single track, no need to ruin their race. Ignore the shouts from Sam & Gregor, overtaking a slower runner on the last 100M after you've given up on the race would just be puerile. Get in some decent miles before Stuc a Chroin and I'll be fine.
On a stunning spring day a bunch of fine Westies, young and old, sauntered round the 33 miles of the 3 Lochs Way, from Inveruglas through Arrochar down to Helensburgh and up and over to Balloch. We had a great time, great company, ice creams, Irn Bru and beer at the end. We were honoured to have our great pal Cam Burt over from NZ to join us and George allowed us a wee peek into his Charles Rennie Mackintosh replica house " The Hill House" in Helensburgh. A fine example of why we are the "best small to medium sized running club in the West of Scotland. WESTIEEEEEEES.
Photo's from Criffel hill race... by James Callender
THE START OF THE 2017 SCOTTISH HILL CHAMPIONSHIP
I have checked it out and, at Ufford Park Health Spa (no, I have no idea where that is) you can have a half hour mud treatment for £29 all on your own! Why pay so much for so little when by entering Criffel Hill Race, for as little as £8, you can enjoy (in my case) 1hour 28 minutes of total emersion in black blog alongside 200 other head cases?!
Having disgraced myself in Scotland last year (think back to the DQ in The Highlander and getting lost and taking 3hrs in my own back garden in the navigation leg in the FRA relays) it was evident I was in no way fit or competent to hold let alone run with a map. Time to look to tamer racing environments where banner tape and gigantic fluorescent arrows painted on the floor are present every 200m mean that navigation really shouldn’t be too big an issue.
So with a get out of work free card until mid-March and Leyre on a work placement in Geneva with a free flat on the edge of the Jura mountains, I of course jumped on the opportunity to take up my new part-time role as cleaner/chauffeur/professional housewife whilst Leyre did hideous hours in the lab Monday-Friday. Whilst taking my professional duties very seriously, it did allow me ample time to profit from the unseasonably warm February weather and get in plenty of hill running and cross-country skiing.
To the racing- things are pretty sparse in the alps at this time of year with most complaining that it’s too cold and dangerous (ie hard) anywhere when there might be a possibility of encountering snow. However there are a few small regional races that attract the ‘hard-core’ of the alpine running scene. The first of these that we decided to attend was the Trail des Huilles in the small village of Bourget-en-Huille in the Massif de la Belledonne. We decided to prepare well for the race the night before and cut down the morning drive by staying with some old housemates in Chambery. Needless to say the electro festival in an abandoned industrial unit complete with oysters and hot tubs perhaps wasn’t the greatest idea as we stumbled back to the house at 3 in the morning. Feeling slightly worse for wear, the prompt 8am start was just lovely. Leyre deciding to get the pain over with shortly and sharply opting for the shorter parcours at 16km and I deciding on the slow and painful 30km option. Courses were to be commended, both picturesque and ‘technical’, I mean at one point there was actually snow and a little of this unknown medium known as ‘mud’. My personal highlight during the race coming with one Frenchman asking, whilst referring to my Westies vest, as to why on earth I was wearing a netball bib to run a trail race? I guess I didn’t really know my indeed I was wearing a netball bib to a race…
Finish line arrived and Leyre putting in a formidable early season performance was 4th woman. I on the other hand was nowhere to be seen on the race list. Dismayed not have been included in the final classification, I did surprisingly notice another Westie who neither Leyre or myself recognised on the list- a certain “Coddy Lunningham” was 35th of 170 overall in the long race.
So on to the next weekend then and this time we opted for the 26km Trail de Gros Foug, a race starting at sunset through some vineyards near Aix les Bains before reaching some arbitrary point about 70m below the summit of the hill “Le Gros Foug” at 1000m and before coming back down an old forest track. The race was made fairly interesting by the carrying of head torches and the UV painted arrows on the trail made navigation fairly simple (although I still managed to take two wrong turns on the descent). Apparently the year before the race had attracted nearly 200 but biblical rains and wind (think of an average evening on the Campsies) obviously left it to the real hard-core and we just over 80 at the starting line.
Couldn’t complain with results, especially seeing as there were two French gents with the medics at the end of the race with what looked like early onset Hypothermia and everyone was denouncing the horrendous conditions (again think Campsies in early April). 22nd for me and I think (if I’m not wrong?) first Westies win of the year with Leyre taking first female senior along with a bottle of local wine, 25€, flowers and most importantly a bloody good Tefal frying pan! Now you definitely don’t get that from Carnethy 5 do you?
I should finally report from the third race of the year just this weekend but alas it was not to be. Leyre being her typical Spanish self, “misread” the start time and when we turned up at 12 o’clock the winners had already arrived 45 minutes earlier and we were politely (and rather pitifully) informed that the race started at 9 o’clock. A coincidence, or did Leyre just fancy 3 hours more in her bed? I’ll let you all decide. Needless to say it was a glorious spring day of sun and 20 degrees and seeing as the course was still marked, we decided to go and run the 30km anyway.
A grand total of 7 Westies turned up for the Glasgow University Hares and Hounds 5-Mile Road Race on Saturday. All interest was focussed on the semi-elite end of the field with the long running rivalry between Grim and Struthers being re-kindled. At the start, new member Chris and his pal went off at a pace I couldn't match so I settled down to churn out some consistent kms, pretty difficult with the course having more ups and downs than I realised. On the 2nd lap people were starting to struggle a bit and I moved up a few places and crept past Chris and pushed on to the finish.
Highlight of the day, however, was watching the battle between Grim and Struthers. Grim entered the last 250m with a 20m lead only to see it come down to 1 or 2 metres as Struthers pushed hard for glory. However, Grim held on to win by 1 second in his best time since 2013. For those of you who remember the classic battles between Seb Coe and Steve Ovett its a bit like that, except in slow motion.
Alas, no points gained on Winter League leader Don who also turned up. With his attendance at Devilla on Sunday and the National XC next weekend he's looking good for the Winter League 2016/17.
41) Ian Thurlbeck 32:16
48) Chris Butler 33:16
56) Don Reid 34:09
58) Chris McKiddie 34:27
107) Graeme Orr 41:29
108) Ian Struthers 41:30
123) Eileen Hamil 46:01
And it has only just turned February. I travelled down to Yorkshire to take part in the Rombalds Stride, which is a grand tour of the Ilkley moor, plus surrounding hillocks. The race was marketed as a long distance walk organised by local scouts, but the majority of the folk lining up at the start were definitely planning on more than just a leisurely stroll. Without warning, the masses started galloping down the lane so I quickly got myself together and set off after them (do people not even bother with a 3-2-1 nowdays?). We headed towards the forest leading to the village where Emmerdale used to be filmed – apparently this is some sort of TV programme. The pace at the start was very leisurely, but seemed to get very slightly faster all the time. Soon enough, there was no longer any time to take in the sights, my focus solely on trying to stay on the heels of the local lads in front. This was crucial, since they were required to take care of the navigation for me around the various lanes, footpaths and whatever these ‘snickets’ are that my girlfriend kept on talking about. I was quickly questioned about who I was, and what was I doing in the front pack, before I was accepted as a part of the leading group, who were very friendly thereafter. The same was certainly true of the marshals, though I would have been slightly faster had it not been for one old lady who engulfed me in massive hug at the second checkpoint, asking “Are you o.k. lovey?”. The refreshments along the course deserve a mention too, which included the culinary delights of gingerbread men, parkin and swiss rolls on route as well as good helping of pies and peas in end. The only downside was that there were no prizes for 3rd place; only the top two got to take home crystal tumblers, but this is Yorkshire after all. Grand weather, nice day out, 23 miles / 1600 feet of climb, mud, sweat but no tears. (Thanks also to my ghost-writer for the help….).
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