Monday, 14 April 2014


Quite a few Dunbar runners headed off to St Andrews yesterday for the St Andrews Running Festival. An event which offered a choice of half-mara, 10k or a dinky little 5k.

To say that the organisation of this event had been shambolic would be a bit of an understatement.

The route was changed from a nice sounding 13 mile loop that took in a small part of the iconic “Chariots of Fire” beach, to a 4 lap route that took in the beach 4 times, back to a 13 mile loop…only to be put back to the dreaded 4 loop option on Friday last week.

The start time of 10:00 was changed (again on Friday) to 9:15 – no biggie, perhaps, but when you’ve booked a bus and tried to judge your arrival time so that you wouldn’t have to leave Dunbar in the middle of the night, it was going to cut it a bit fine.

We also had tales of runners who had paid their entry (were on entry centrals lists) who “could not be found” on the organisers records.

We were treated to emails that tried to be TOO informative – the route was changed due to eight marshals succumbing to bouts of diarrhoea and two managing to get tickets for a football match (and hence unavailable). I don’t need to know that.

Anyway….. Our coach driver got us there on time and we were greeted by the sight of a massive queue for registration. A strange “system” appeared to be in place whereby runners who had already collected their numbers on the Saturday, still had to register and sign in on the race day !!??!! Very strange.

Finally got our numbers, and chips, and set off for what would be a very short warm up along the beach.

Got back to the start with seconds to spare just before the off.

I’d been a bit worried about the state of my legs after the previous weeks mara, but once the gun goes off you just filter out such thoughts and get on with it. I was a man with a plan…… Get away from everyone else as fast as I could then clench my teeth and try to hold on to any advantage I’d got (an OK[ish] plan for a half or less – madness for anything longer). I was also a bit concerned as I’d had my own wee bout of illness on Saturday night/Sunday morning and hadn’t even been able to face breakfast when we got up at 5:30 (see above about too much information J ). Would a half on an empty stomach be wise?

With the race being 4 laps I was already passing slower runners as I came towards the end of my second lap (their first). By my third and fourth lap, the relatively narrow paths were pretty congested with slower runners. Most people were OK and moved when they heard someone coming up behind them. But one of the “problems” was that I kind of “lost sight” of the two guys ahead – I knew I was never going to catch them, but it would have been nice to gauge how far ahead they were getting. Likewise, once or twice when I looked over my shoulder I couldn’t see the guy who was behind me as he was “lost” in the crowd.

It wasn’t “great” that the loop brought you through a busy car park (no marshals) and you had to run through the line of runners queuing to get their numbers for the 10K.

Anyhow… Came across the line in what I thought was third. Only to be handed the prize for second and to be told that the chap who had been leading for a good bit of the race had “blown up” and dropped way back. As I say because I was passing slower runners for most of the last two laps I obviously never noticed.

Got “changed” into some warmer gear and headed off with the other “half mara” runners to the wind swept beach to watch and cheer on the 10k runners. Nick – who had already done the half decided to “do the 10k” (unofficially) “just to get his 20 in for the day!!

The 10k was a simple two loop repetition of the previous four loop half. Originally, according to the organisers info, both races were supposed to be held at the same time (over different routes) which was part of the reason we chose it as a club “day out”. Ah well…..

After the 10k (which was only 50 minutes late in starting) it was pretty much back on to the bus and off to Anstruther for “chips” (never my first choice in foodstuffs).

All in all a good day out despite a pretty poorly organised race.

Monday, 7 April 2014


Maybe I should have carbed up a bit more.

An alcohol theme to the prize giving - Anne was delighted.
Well. Sunday's Lochaber marathon was another text book example of "how NOT to pace a marathon".
Honestly. I've not even looked at my mile splits myself and I certainly won't be sharing them with anyone anytime soon.
By about mile 4 I was 5th on the road and I held that till about mile 15.
The weather was atrocious. The rain had started about an hour before the race and never really let up all the while we were out. The wind wasn't too bad to begin with, but you could feel it picking up as the miles ticked by. Never a head wind as such. It was more the type that just seems to attack you from all directions (except from behind). One "problem" with the rain was the fact that I decided not to wear my specs - they end up worse than useless in the rain. I can see well enough not to miss signs, marshals etc. I just kept my head down and my eyes fixed on the road ahead and tried to avoid pot holes etc.
At one point I really thought I was on for a PB but, as I say, by about 15 I got passed by a couple of guys and it dented my confidence.
Then by about 20 I got passed by another small group (down to 10th).
Either I picked it up a wee bit, or one of that group was suffering even more than me, because I caught him at 23 - ran with him for a couple of miles, then pulled away at 25 to come in 9th in 2:55:35.
Anyone whos done this race knows there is a small hill at about 25.5 - nothing long and not really too steep - but a real bustard of a thing when you need it least. Thankfully once you get to the top of the hill the finish at the shint pitch isn't too far away.
Once back to the finish point I nipped over to our hotel (about 400m from the finish line) and put on a warm, dry top and jacket, grabbed some dry stuff for Anne and headed out to watch some others come in.
Anne looked a bit "wobbly" at the end and looked as though she had been through the mill but was pleased with her time.
After a shower we headed back to the sports hall for the prize giving.
Delighted to get 1st MV50 and happy that Anne got 3rd FV50 - though less than impressed to notice that regardless of place all the ladies trophies were a good bit bigger than the males. On top of that my prize of three bottles of ale will go to Anne as well.
Out for a nice curry after the race. Anyone not familiar with downtown Fort William on a Sunday night will delight in watching the traditional pass-times of drinking in the street, smoking AND shouting obscenities - and that's just the teenage girls!

Out today for a nice slow four mile recovery run before breakfast.......sore.