Monday, 21 June 2010

Edinburgh Moon Walk - Saturday 19th June

There was no running for me this weekend it was the Moonwalk in Edinburgh and I was chauffeur, bag carrier and photographer whilst Yasmin covered 26 miles over-night around Edinburgh. Starting just before midnight amongst 10,000 other walkers Yasmin had decided there was to be no half measures and went for the full moon!

The course took in most of the centre of Edinburgh before heading towards the coast at Lower Granton and via Newhaven, Leith and Portobello before heading back around Holyrood for the second time and arriving back at Inverleith Park for the finish.

I grabbed a few hours sleep whenever I could but made sure I was around the course to provide encouragement when it was most needed.

Yasmin completed her epic adventure just after 8am on Sunday morning.

Here are some Moon Walk Photos - more to follow

Kirkintilloch 10k - Update

I completed my 5th race in two weeks last Thursday - the Kirkintilloch 10k. There seemed to be a bigger and better quality field this year for what is a very enjoyable multi terrain race. It was a warm evening again and wary of the fact that I have been over-racing recently, I started off at a fairly steady pace. The first few km felt relatively easy but I noted I was in agroup that included some runners that have been around a minute ahead of me in recent 10k races.

Most of the race is along the tow path of the Forth and Clyde Canal. Not the best surface for speed but at least it is flat. At about 4km it opened up a bit and the field was starting to spread out a little. At half way we turn off the canal and up a steep hill towards Bishopbriggs. The next 2km are along the road before turning back onto the canal. Gerry Craig had opened up a gap but as we turned back onto the canal I saw Chris Upson and Paul Carroll not far behind.

I worked as hard as I could back along the canal and was starting to close Gerry down a little but couldn't catch him as the finish approached. 19th place and 37.33. not a bad performance on this course.

The race was won by Eritrean asylum seeker Robel Negash of Bellahouston Harriers in 32.14 almost a minute ahead of Shettleston's Paul Sorrie.

Gerry Craig finished in 37.26 and 17th position and Peter Ramsay 44.05 - 69th position.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Kirkintilloch 10k - Thursday 17th June

Tomorrow night I complete a hectic period of racing by competing in the Kirkintilloch 10k. This is a multi-terrain race, well organised by Kirkintilloch Olympians, run mainly along the Forth and Clyde Canal. I have certainly been over-racing recently but this will be my last one for a while. My plan is to get back to some serious training. My racing will be far more focused for the remainder of the year and I have a few specific targets in mind.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Vale of Leven 10k

I completed my second 10k road race of the weekend this morning - the Vale of Leven 10k at Balloch. I was hoping to show off the sunglasses I won at Bendrigg yesterday but they definitely were not required. The warm sunshine of yesterday had made way for a grey, wet morning.

After yesterday's race, my legs weren't feeling too bad but I was not looking forward to asking them to race again today. Driving down to the start at Loch Lomond I decided to take it easy and just get round to complete the fourth and last race in the Polaroid series. I didn't have a target in mind - just to run and enjoy it. However, as soon as I was lining up at the start I began to think it would be good to try and run inside 40 mins.

I did take it very easy at the start and until we finished climbing at about 2.5km. I then started to work my through the field on the downhill section that followed. At halfway, I was inside 20 mins, passing runners and feeling quite comfortable. The hill at 7km brought back some bad memories of Bendrigg but I was flying over the last few km. With about 800 metres to go I passed Chris Upson , who had done a 10 mile hill race yesterday, and we both managed a sprint to the finish line to dip under 39 mins. I ran 38.50 for 52 place.

Gerry Craig ran his first race since the Edinburgh Marathon and was pleased with his progress to finish in 37.41. Ralph Connolly ran a PB and edged closer to his goal of a sub 40 min clocking but just missed it by 5 seconds! Christine Catterson 45.01 and Donald Branney 45.10 completed the Victoria Park City of Glasgow finishers this morning.


Bendrigg 10k Photos

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Bendrigg 10k

The first part of my twin 10k challenge is done. The Bendrigg race set off at 2pm today in warm conditions but not too hot for racing and Kendal's Danny Parkinson was looking to set a new course record. Southport Waterloo was represented by myself, Brian Davey, Andy Hudson and Vicky Harvey.

As ever, I set off a bit too fast on the downhill start and hit the first km in 4th place. I expected to pay for such a quick start and get passed but I found myself passing a runner and moving into third place with only Danny and supervet Paul Muller in front of me. I felt I was going well even on the hills and as the km's passed, I was still in third. Although well ahead of me I could still see Paul Muller at 6km and so it was a bit disconcerting to see him running back towards me at 7km! He turned again and sped off into the distance, leaving me a bit puzzled but still nobody had passed me. 8 to 9km is mainly downhill and I felt good even if I was a bit apprehensive about the last km - Heartbreak Hill! A sharp left turn at 9km gave me an opportunity to glance behind and I could see Wesham's Peter Cruse closing me down. I beat Peter at the Dent 14 back in March but only after a real battle with him over the last 3 miles and I am not in the same sort of form now. Heartbreak hill certainly lived up to its name for me today, as soon as I hit it, I died and Peter eased past me to snatch third place by 10 metres. I finished 4th in 38.04, ok my slowest 10k this year but I always feel that this course is between 1-2 minutes slower than an average road 10k. I was also somewhat encouraged because i felt a lot stronger than I have been doing over this distance and this was my highest finishing position ever on this course.
Next in was Brian Davey in just over 40 minutes, Andy ran well to finish in 42 mins and Vicky a little slower than last year but still 6th woman in 47 mins. Unfortunately, we were beaten by local club Helm Hill Harriers for both the team prize and vets team prize.
Paul Muller explained that despite running this race for the last 20 or so years and winning on many occasions, he thought he had gone the wrong way and so turned back. This error no doubt cost him significantly time wise but he held on to 2nd place with ease.
Photos and full results to follow.
Tomorrow, I have to do it all again for the final race in the Polaroid series at Loch Lomond.

Friday, 11 June 2010

I have a tough schedule planned for this weekend - a 10k double header!

Tomorrow I team up with the Southport Waterloo squad for the Bendrigg 10k. A roller coaster of a road race along quiet country lanes around Bendrigg Lodge just outside Kendal. There is a sting in the tail of this race with a steep climb for the last km to the finish line.

Sunday is nearer home and I will pull on my Victoria Park vest for the last in the Polaroid 10k series, the Vale of Leven. Starting at Loch Lomond Shores, the hills in this race come early on with some climbing through Balloch Country park.

I am not expecting fast times for either of these but the plan will be to try hard on Saturday and take it a little easier on Sunday. I have hardly run this week and so hopefully I will be well rested for the next few challenging days.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Chris Moon a pie and two halfs half marathon

I spotted this intriguingly named race a few weeks ago and the promise of a mainly downhill half marathon certainly sounded appealing! This was a point to point race starting with a 7 mile loop of undulating forest trails around the Whitelees windfarm in South Lanarkshire, followed by a mainly downhill run into Strathaven along quiet country lanes. Proceeds were in aid of the The Erskine Hospital-a charity organisation that cares for and employs ex-servicemen and so there were no T shirts or medals - just a coach trip to the start and a pie and a pint afterwards. Sounded great and I entered straight away even though it meant I would be running 5 races in 2 weeks.

This was the first time this race had taken place and so it was a small group of runners taking part and none of us knew what to expect of the course. The buses dropped us off at the entrance to the forest and within a short walk we were at the start and ready to go. The forest trails were pretty good but a bit rocky in places and despite a short climb at the start, the first mile was fast. A steep climb to the 2 mile marker followed and then we were running along some undulating paths in the shadow of the huge wind turbines that seemed to stretch for miles. Two leaders had disappeared into the distance by this stage, third and fourth were gradually pulling away from me and I was running neck and neck with local runner, Ian Hughes from Calderglen Harriers, in fifth and sixth places. I had narrowly beaten Ian a few weeks ago at the Monklands Half Marathon and by the looks of the youngsters ahead of us and the large gap opening up behind us, we were scrapping for the vets prize. Worryingly, Ian was pulling away from me on the hills but I was catching him and easing past him on the downhill stretches.
Before long we were out onto the road and I was looking forward to the downhill running to the finish. Mile 8 didn't disappoint and it was fast, very fast but then we were going back uphill and with the help of some local supporters urging him on my rival had pulled away from me. He passed the fourth placed runner who was slowing as I also caught him. I recognised his Irn Bru vest - it was the runner that appeared in all the Scottish papers having collapsed within sight of the finish line at the Edinburgh Marathon and was helped to his feet and over the line by another runner. Considering that was just two weeks ago I couldn't believe he was back racing so soon and running well. I chatted with him about his Edinburgh experience and he told me that despite his problems on the finish straight he ran 3.00.12 in his first ever marathon. Amazingly, the runner who heroically sacrificed his own time to help a fellow runner in distress did dip under three hours on chip timing because he started from further back in the field.

I pushed on and despite the promise of downhill, it certainly didn't feel like it with some long steep climbs as well as downhill sections. Before long we were running into Strathaven and I could see Ian Hughes was flying and had caught up another runner to take third overall. I held on to fifth place and second vet - so my only reward this time was a glass of water and a Jaffa Cake on the finish line.

This was a tough but enjoyable race. I hope it is not the first and last Chris Moon Half. Only 60 runners took part but I am sure it will gain in popularity in the future. There were at least three other races on in and around Glasgow on the same day but this is ideal for anyone looking for a challenging, low key, small and friendly race. The pie and ale were good too. A great day out.


Chris Moon is a former Army officer with operational experience who worked for a charity clearing landmines in Asia and Africa is one of the few westerners to have survived kidnap by the Khmer Rouge guerrillas in Cambodia.

Two years later he was blown up in a remote minefield in East Africa. He was walking in a supposedly cleared area in Mozambique in 1995 when the blast resulted in the loss of his lower right arm and leg. Doctors say he survived against the odds due to his determination and fitness.
Within a year of leaving hospital he successfully completed the London Marathon and a Masters Degree in Security Management.

He's done numerous marathons and many of the world's toughest ultra marathons including the Great Sahara Run and Badwater the 135-mile continuous ultra through Death Valley to the mountains.

He's taken parties to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and run the length of Cambodia to raise funds for charities assisting the disabled

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Chris Moon Half Marathon

Ran a great race today - the Chris Moon Half Marathon. Partly off-road around the Whitelees Forest windfarm and then by road to the finish at the Strathaven Gala. The route has an overall drop of 600ft but it didn't feel like it with some steep climbs particularly around the forest tracks.

I finished 5th overall in 1.22 - full report to follow.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Recommended Reading

Life on the Run: Coast to Coast (by Matt Beardshall)

The idea of crossing Britain on foot has interested me since I first read Wainwight's Coast to Coast book many years ago. The thought of running it is even more appealing and so Matt Beardshall's account of his cross country adventure was a must read. Two runners decided to repeat Wainwright's original route from St Bees to Robin Hoods Bay - 180 miles in 7 days. Matt and Vin, accompanied by friend Mal on his mountain bike attempted this challenge back in 2006.

This book is a compelling account of their adventure and the challenges they met along the way. What makes this an interesting read is that these guys are every day runners - they are not Dean Karnazes - and so this was not an easy target they set themselves. Of course I won't tell you whether they all made it across to the east coast in one piece - you should get a copy and read this one for yourself.

I have to admit that despite the enormity of the task, after reading this I couldn't help but be inspired to attempt this day. I have lent my copy to a few running pals in the hope that they would be similarly motivated but nae luck so far.....maybe there is something wrong with me to even think about attempting this! Even if you are not inclined to race accross Britain, I recommend you at least read about it.

How to run a PB at London!

I was amused by the story in the press this week about Anthony Gaskell the 69 year old Merseyside runner who was about to be awarded the 'fastest pensioner' title for his stunning performance at the London Marathon this year. However, his 3.05 time aroused suspicion because he was previously unheard of. After studying his split times it emerged he had completed the second half of the race in just over 40 minutes! Gaskell admitted taking a short cut and knocking 10 miles off. However, he claimed he didn't cheat, he had to drop out due to injury and took the shortest route to the finish to collect his belongings. Yes, presumably crossing the finish line and collecting his finishers medal on the way!

The fastest pensioner title was eventually awarded to its rightful owner, Cheshire based Colin Rathbone who finished in a speedy 3.05.51. Well done Colin - I only hope I am still running those sort of times when I reach 65!

More stories of famous marathon cheats

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Polaroid Series - Dumbarton 10k

Tonight was the third race in the Polaroid Series, at Dumbarton. This is normally the fastest in the series, but not tonight! The temperature was still around 23c when the race started and I decided to take it easy for the first few km and then try and work my way through the field. All went to plan until about 6km but it was humid and it became a struggle to keep the pace going. At one stage I worried my time would be worse but I crossed the line in 37.38. Most of the talk after the race was about how difficult the conditions were and everyone's time seems to have been a little slower this week. A tough one tonight but this is the first of 5 races I am running in the next two weeks. My next race is the Chris Moon Half Marathon at Strathaven on Sunday.