Race information and FAQs for the Dunoon 50K “Wee Eck” Ultramarathon on 8 October 2016 can be found here [PDF]
by Lucie Noakes
At 6am I was rudely awoken by my alarm with the daunting thought that I would be taking on the mighty Goatfell Hill Race in approximately 6 hours’ time. My stomach turned as I felt both the nerves and excitement of what I imagined could be the hardest race I have ever done.
The journey consisted of rain, rain and more rain. At this stage I was tired, grumpy and lacking any form of enthusiasm. As the ferry approached Brodick though, the sun came out and lit up the Arran mountains including Goatfell which looked very monstrous!! I collected my race number from the Observation Lounge on the ferry which was buzzing full of experienced runners, young and old telling stories of their own hill racing adventures.
Unfortunately I was lacking the ‘Dunoon Hill Runners’ posse but I knew everyone would be cheering me on in their own way (in the comfort of their own bed probably!!) and thankfully I had my Dad there to support me.
We made our way to the Ormidale Pavilion in Brodick where I changed into my race kit and stood amongst all the crazy runners – me being one of them. It was at that moment that I started to question myself as I eyed up all the professional looking runners around me. “Am I really going to run up that hill?”. It genuinely looked massive but I had done a reasonable amount of hill training which would hopefully have done some good. I did however manage to sprain my ankle a week prior to the race which wasn’t ideal! Apart from that I really loved my training. It has shown me that my heart truly belongs in the hills.
Before I knew it I heard the “3, 2, 1 GO!” Adrenaline pumped all through my body as we shot off round the grassy track and onto the main road. It was a great atmosphere with the crowds cheering and pipers piping. I kept a steady pace but when I hit the road my legs were totally confused – they were ready for the hills, not the road!! Following the road was a long stony gradual path which, after the morning rain had a nice water feature running back down it.
The higher I got the more technical it became. I kept my head down to avoid being distracted by the beautiful scenery. The path disappeared into large boulders which is where the scrambling began.
My calves were screaming, my heart was racing and head was beginning to feel a little light. This is when the jelly babies surfaced out of my waist bag. You can never go wrong with a few jelly babies!!
Once the faster runners started to pass me down the hill I was given a much needed boost to reach the summit. One guy very kindly told me I only had a couple of minutes to go and amazingly he was right! It wasn’t long until I was at the top of Goatfell. What an amazing feeling getting to the top and knowing it was downhill all the way. I was looking forward to the incredible views but sadly the visibility was poor so I had no choice but to head back down. Oh! How do I go down again?
With jelly legs I began my descent. This is where full concentration was required and the downhill muscles were woken up. For me, the scary part was the uncontrollable feeling that one wrong step could put me in the back of the medic’s quad. It did sound an easier option but, of course, I wanted to finish the race. I passed one woman sitting on a rock surrounded by marshals with what looked like a nasty gash to her forehead. Unbelievably she was still laughing but that spooked me a little and it made me feel very thankful that I was still in one piece. My ankle managed to stay intact thanks to Elaine’s magic tape!! There were a few scary moments though where I caught my foot on a rock and flew a short distance with my arms flailing while my heart skipped a beat or two.
It was a speedy run down to the bottom. My legs were not for stopping and, to be honest, I can’t remember much of the downhill. I do however remember dragging my heavy legs along the never-ending road at the bottom. The sun was beating down, my tank was nearly empty but I was determined to get over that line and hopefully in a time under 2 hours. As I entered the stadium I felt a huge relief and rush of adrenaline. All I had to do was get those tired legs round the track and over the line. Sounds easy right…
I could have cried on the last lap, everything hurt and my head was spinning but the finish was within sight. I had been warned that the hardest part was on the flat at the end. With gritted teeth and all the strength I had left I got round the track and over the line where Dad was there waiting patiently to give me a big proud hug.
I absolutely love the overwhelming feeling of finishing a race, knowing that you’ve pushed yourself so hard and being completely knackered that you start to feel a bit drunk. There is no feeling quite like it.
I am so grateful that I have the ability to run on the hills. It makes me so happy and always leaves me striving for more. For me, it’s all about believing in yourself, saying I CAN do it and being able to prove everyone that ever doubted you, wrong.
Dunoon Hill Runner, Anne Lloyd-Evans, has posted a great commentary on her recent participation in 3 notable Scottish hill races: the Slioch Horseshoe, the Paps of Jura and the Trotternish Ridge. Pull up a chair and enjoy! Read all about it here.
The minutes of the DHR Committee meeting held on Friday 20 May 2016 can be found here [PDF].
The weekend of 21-22 May 2016 was packed full of races for the Dunoon Hill Runners, who were seen wearing the vest locally and further afield – all the way to the Lake District and Copenhagen! Congratulations to all who successfully completed the following races:
- Slioch Horseshoe Hill Race (Anne Lloyd-Evans – third Senior Female)
- Goatfell Hill Race (Lucie Noakes – third Senior Female)
- South Cowal 10K (Charlie Collins – winner, Marion Mcmillan – winner, and 10 other DHRs)
- Brathay Windermere Marathon (Kat Ullrich)
- Keswick Mountain Festival 50K Ultra Trail Race (Morven Walsh)
- Keswick Mountain Festival 10K Trail Race (Bethany Walsh)
- Copenhagen Marathon (Kristine Stewart, Roger Stewart)
For once the night before the HOKA Highland Fling was a relaxed affair. Between myself and Secretary Kenny, we had the relay team prepared. Emails had been sorted, team legs agreed, registration complete, numbers and instructions given. All I had to do was complete 12.5 miles on leg 1 of the relay then I could settle back and watch the result unfold and cheer on Kevin Nairn and Ricky Reid in the full event. I had publicly stated that I’d be delighted with a top 10 finish while secretly hoping for a top 5 – after all, I had 3 other runners who were strong. Up until seeing Elaine (of Cowal Physiotherapy) the evening before, I was still having doubts about my own fitness, having torn my tensor fasciae latae 5 weeks before, and latterly suffering from ITB issues as a result. I shouldn’t really have been running (having been told to take a minimum of 6 weeks off). However, after Elaine’s specialist intervention, I awoke at 4 am with no pain – a first all week.
Leaving home at 4.30 am, we arrived at Milngavie at 6.01 am and saw the last of the solo runners disappearing. The start line looked quite different with only a hundred or so people milling around, and not the familiar buzz and excitement of hundreds of runners ready to go. 7 am arrived quickly and after checking with Scott Hill, I decided to stick with his brother who was aiming to run a sub 8 minute/mile pace. Given my fitness concerns I thought it wise to run with him and see how long I could hang in.
Seconds before the start horn sounded, I found myself right at the front of 52 other runners, all sense and sensibility seemingly gone and my race brain had taken over. Even as I found myself being pulled along with 4 other runners establishing a quick lead, thinking I’m going to struggle to maintain this and hearing Iain Cairns’ voice telling me his relay team account, I didn’t slow down (my heart rate monitor will confirm this, having peaked at 177 bpm in the first 5 minutes!). It’s amazing, however, that despite fitness and injury concerns, the responsibility you feel for the team overrides everything. I had managed to get to the 10k mark in a shade over 45 minutes, climbing around 500 feet, when I found myself sandwiched between second and fourth place with only around 30 seconds between us. There was no way I was letting this place go and it was as early as then that I thought a podium place was possible given the quality of runners I had waiting in the team. I’d set off hoping to get in under 1:45 and found myself handing over to Roger in 1:34. It’s the first time in any race I have ever done in my life that I was happy with my time.
With no time to waste, Roger was off and, with the thought of the iconic Conic Hill to climb, we headed to Balmaha to pick up Mike to take him to Rowardennan where Roger would hand over to him. Everything was going smoothly and we were enjoying the 11 mile single track journey to the third hand-over point when Mike exclaimed he’d forgotten his watch! Not to worry, we had a spare one (albeit a brighter colour) and duly handed it over. Seconds later, and following a few expletives, Mike proclaimed he’d forgotten his trainers!! A quick u-turn, a little bit of Hamiltonesque driving, shoes collected and we were back on course for Rowardennan.
Upon arriving, we had time to enjoy some of the “extras” put on at the race (OK, I had a massage) while Lisa and Mike helped out at a water station (lol). Just after 2 hours, handing over to Roger, we spotted the distinctive club colours and excitement overcame us again. We had seen the relay teams come in, including one with David Millar (a sub 35 minute 10k runner). It was great seeing Ricky and Kevin (looking forward to their race reports!), quickly followed by Roger. After a slick hand over, Mike set off in fourth place but only seconds behind third. We were still on course for a podium slot. First and second place were at least a good 8 to 15 minutes ahead. Back in the car, we were Beinn Ghlas bound, a good 90 minute drive due to single track and a congested Loch Lomond road. I was beginning to worry I’d miss the last hand over to Grant. With 2 miles before we turned at Tarbet for Beinn Ghlas, Grant was calling. Great, he’s arrived at his checkpoint, I thought. “How far is it from Luss?” Grant asked. Aargh!!!!!!! (and a few other things) passed through my mind. Grant was lost. After he was headed back in the correct direction, I was now stressing that Mike would be standing waiting for him and the hope of a podium place was dissolving.
After managing to blag the official to let 2 of our vehicles in without a pass, Grant and I got to the hand-over point. Phew, no Mike! The team who had led from the beginning were there – “11 minutes ahead”, one of their runners said. I quickly recognised the yellow vest of the team who were in second and suddenly Mike storming by him on the straight leading to the changeover! Mike had had the run of his life and,with the slickest changeover of the day, Grant was off, leaving only a trail of dust. We were now in second place! We were 13 minutes behind with 12 miles left to run. I turned to the first placed team and said, “That’s just over a minute a mile quicker that we have to go …”. We each looked at one another knowing that potentially a huge upset could be on the cards. My only slight concern was that Grant had no idea what position we were in, yet I knew he was so fired up after his detour and, coupled with his desire to win, I silently believed for the first time we had a genuine chance to win this.
Arriving at Tyndrum, I met Grant’s family and stressed that they should be at the finish for no later than 2 pm as I expected Grant to be in not too much after that. We all assembled at the red carpeted finishing straight, where there were flags, spectators cheering, whistling and cow bells clanging. The digital clock hit 8.00:00 which meant we had been on the course for 7 hours. I’d hoped for a sub 7:30 finish. There was no sign of the first placed team finisher and they were predicting that their runner would come in any minute – then there he was screaming down the finishing straight as though he was running a 100 metre race. The crowds reacted to his effort and speed – yet it wasn’t their runner, it was ours! The bright black, yellow and red of the Dunoon Hill Runners vest was crossing the line! We had just come first in one of the most prestigious ultra races in the UK which was also this year’s host to the UK and Scottish Ultra Trail Running Championships. To top it off, not only did we win, but we overhauled 13 minutes and finished 10 minutes ahead!
Our team, made up of Ian Marshall, Roger Stewart, Michael Tweedley and Grant MacKellar, had each run the race of their lives and brought home a fantastic piece of silverware!
Following on from the great DHR success at the Hoka Highland Fling race on Saturday 30 April 2016, we had more winning runners on Sunday 1 May – this time at the Inveraray Jail Break race. Congratulations go to Lucie Noakes for coming in as first Senior Female, Niamh Evans as third Junior Female and Roger Stewart as third Male Vet. (It should be noted that Roger was one of the DHR relay team who won the Hoka Highland Fling Relay Race the previous day!). What a weekend!
Huge congratulations to the Dunoon Hill Runners relay team for coming first in the 53 mile Hoka Highland Fling Relay Race on Saturday 30 April 2016. An incredible achievement for team members Ian Marshall, Roger Stewart, Michael Tweedley and Grant Mackellar.
In addition, a big well done to Ricky Reid and Kevin Nairn who successfully completed the Hoka Highland Fling 53 mile ultramarathon race.
A great day for the club!
The Dunoon Ultra Marathon just got even better! The option of the Dunoon Ultra Marathon Relay for teams has been added. Same date, same route, but you get to do it in teams of three with three spectacular legs. 8th October. Find out more here.
Many Dunoon Hill Runners were involved in the second Dunoon Ride and Run, a multi-stage enduro-style event incorporating a 34-mile cycle and 9-mile run broken down into eight timed sections with a break or ‘transition’ between each section. Those who weren’t participating were busy marshalling and cheering on competitors along the various stages.
And Dunoon Hill Runners took top spots in the Run Only, with Kenny Taylor coming in as winner, Roger Stewart as third overall and Lucie Noakes as first female (and sixth overall). Iain Cairns was fifth overall in a change of discipline in the Ride Only. Charlie Collins came in fourth overall in the Ride and Run, and Kate Mcghie was third female in the Ride and Run.
It was great to see some of our newer members doing extremely well out on the course too.
A big well done to all who took part, and all who supported!
Official event photos can be found here.
The minutes of the DHR Committee meeting held on Friday 11 March 2016 can be found here [PDF].
Dunoon Hill Runners are delighted to support Dunoon Presents in the introduction of the “Wee Eck” Ultra Marathon to be held on 8 October 2016, possibly the most scenic ultra in Scotland, and in our very own back yard!
Entry is now open at Entrycentral.com.
The Dunoon/Loch Eck 50k Ultra Marathon will start from the famous RBGE Benmore Botanic Gardens and will take you through some of the area’s top beauty spots. Climb up the gorge path through magical Pucks Glen and then race along the forestry trail and climb high above Loch Eck. You’ll be treated to fantastic views north and south of the loch, particularly as you reach the highest section of the run 600m above sea level. Descend through Glenbranter Forest and return south on the west side of Loch Eck. Then it’s back to Dunoon through the forest trails and natural woodland of Bishop’s Glen. This last mile stretches north alongside the beach giving you beautiful views of the hills above Wemyss Bay, Inverkip and Gourock. Don’t be tempted to cool off in the water! The finish at the iconic Dunoon Pier is just a sprint away.
Entry is £33 (early bird discount is £23 for the first 100 entrants, £33 for 101-200). This includes:
- Tea, coffee and fresh croissants at registration
- Coach transfer to Benmore Gardens (15 minutes)
- Changing facilities
- Full event support including electronic chip timing, check points, drop bags and food/water stations, full first aid back up and at the finish, a fantastic “Ultra cool” goodie bag as a memento of a great day, full of high quality gifts.
Registration for the Dunoon Ultra will be at the Dunoon Pier at:
1900 hrs – 2000 hrs on Friday 7th October at Dunoon Pier
0800 hrs – 0930 hrs on Saturday 8th October at Dunoon
The DHR 2016 AGM and Prizegiving was held on Saturday 27 February at Kirn and Hunters Quay Bowling Club and was very well attended by both existing and new members. Proceedings commenced with the AGM, the minutes of which can be found here [PDF].
The Prizegiving ensued and the following trophies were presented:
- 2015 Summer Series Handicap Race Winner – Kate Mcghie
- 2015 Summer Series Vertical K Race Winner – Grant Mackellar
- 2015 Summer Series Senior Female Winner – Lindsay Moss (not in attendance)
- 2015 Summer Series Senior Male Winner – Iain Cairns
- 2015 Summer Series Senior Veteran Female Winner – Lisa Marshall
- 2015 Summer Series Senior Veteran Male Winner – Roger Stewart
- Most Improved Female (as voted by members) – Kristine Stewart
- Most Improved Male (as voted by members) – Bobby Good
- President’s Trophy for Most Inspirational Runner – Kristine Stewart
Other prizes were also awarded:
- 2015 Summer Series Handicap Race First Male Finisher – Kieron Fitzpatrick
- 2015 Summer Series Handicap Race First Female Finisher – Kate Mcghie
- 2015 Summer Series Handicap Race Overall Winner – Grant Mackellar (16:51.8 – Course Record)
Medals were presented to all members who had participated in at least two 2015 Summer Series events, and a special commendation was given to Isla Witherow for being the only member to participate in all 6 events.
Congratulations to all the prize winners!
by Lucie Noakes
On Saturday the 13th of February 2016, eighteen intrepid Dunoon Hill Runners set off to attempt the infamous Carnethy 5 hill race. There was excitement, there were nerves, but little did we know that the conditions were going to make for an even more interesting afternoon on the hills.
This was my first ever hill race so I was nervous and unsure but I knew everyone was very encouraging and made me feel at ease. I had no idea what to expect but just went with the flow and hoped I would survive to tell the tale!
The journey consisted of compass lessons (yawn), map reading lessons and the general consensus that there is “no going back”. I think everyone was just buzzing for the disco bus!!
We had our first pit stop at Costa Coffee to catch up with the others and fill up with caffeine and buns. A short while later though, there was a realisation by some that topping up with coffee was not necessarily the best idea before boarding a bus that was lacking in the toilet department.
Penicuik was eventually found and we arrived at the school meeting point in thick snow, the biggest snowflakes I have ever seen. A foretaste of what was yet to come! Once I was race ready with my number and all-important Sealskinz socks (courtesy of Michelle), I actually realised that I had to do it.
Standing at the start line my toes were numb and the snow was falling thick and fast. The peaks were nowhere to be seen, completely hidden by a thick blanket of snow and low cloud. The lone piper created a fitting atmosphere before we set off like warriors, going to battle the 5 peaks.
The ascent up Scald Law was intense. Below the hips everything was aching. My view wasn’t pretty as I followed other runners one by one in a line up the hill on a narrow snow covered path. The top of the hill was well hidden but I knew I had reached the summit when I was suddenly blasted by even more wind, hail and snow. Pretty nasty! Clare’s jacket had completely frozen by that stage!
I stormed on over the next few summits (the easy ones allegedly). At each corner I turned my sight was temporarily blurred from the mass of snow hitting my face. Sandy’s idea of bringing sunglasses was a good one after all!
Credit goes out to the marshals, a large number were spread out across the hills (armed with ski goggles and their very best waterproofs). Giving out positivity and encouragement in those conditions couldn’t have been easy but I’m glad they were there. I would have been a big lost snowman without them!
I don’t remember every detail of the race – I was just concentrating on moving forward – but at one stage I found myself sliding down the hill on my bum. I wasn’t the only one! It seemed like the only way down at the time. It was great fun too!
I kept wondering when I would get to the last hill and only realised I had got to the top when I saw the tents in the distance. It was such a relief but I still had to get myself down the hill. This was more challenging than I’d imagined. The faster runners had already loosened the rock so it was only a matter of time until I landed on my backside! Several falls later the hill levelled off and I could see the finishing flags. I was so happy! I got through the bog and over the finish line with a big smile 🙂
There was an incredible amount of effort put in by all runners. We had 8 new to the race including myself, Roger, Sandy, Clare, Christopher, Ali, Charlie and Grant. Four runners (Ricky, Lisa, Kieron and Kirsty) even managed a PB despite the Arctic conditions. Although unable to finish the race, Ali reached the Arctic summit of Scald Law. I admire her determination and think she is a fantastic role model! First Male and Female were Grant and Lisa – so speedy, everyone was just brilliant!
Our very own DHR support crew – Kenny and Michelle were there from start to finish and a very important part of the team. Fortunately, they left the pom poms at home but they did manage to safely protect Kirsty’s Sloe Gin which proved to be a very important and much appreciated post-race medicinal potion. They even managed to avoid the temptation of a quick trip to Harvey Nicks in Edinburgh whilst guardians of Roger’s wallet. Although, perhaps he should wait until his credit card statement arrives!
The bus home was a great laugh and included some well-deserved beverages. Bryan, Ricky and Kieron managed to persuade Coach, Roger and Charlie to stay out for a few more. I was just disappointed that there were no disco lights 😉
It is hard to put into words how much I have loved being part of such a supportive and encouraging club. Morven has been like my Running Mum from day one, always looking out for me. Lisa too, always giving me great advice. I feel like part of a large family 🙂 Well done again everyone and thank you to each and every one of you for making my first race really special. It turned out to be an amazing experience and I cannot wait to continue this hill running adventure!
See you next year Carnethy. A bit of sunshine wouldn’t go amiss – please?
Congratulations to all the Dunoon Hill Runners who took part in the 2016 Craigdon Carnethy 5 race – in what were some extremely challenging conditions. A snowy white-out and biting easterly winds were the order of the day, requiring great fortitude and tenacity – and that was just to stand at the start line! A strong contingent of Dunoon Hill Runners participated, with several running this race for the first time. A big well done to all, including the DHR support crew! Surely next year will be easier 🙂
You can find the Dunoon Hill Runners Club membership application form below. Please print it out and fill it in. Completed forms and relevant fees can be passed to a committee member or handed in at 7 pm at the Club’s AGM on 27 February (details here). All fees are due by 28 February 2016.
Just when you thought summer was a distant memory (or even a distant hope), Dunoon Hill Runners is bringing it back! Two further races will take place to complete the 2015 Summer Series in order to determine final placings. Details are as follows:
- Saturday 20 February 2016 – Royal Botanic Gardens, Benmore at 9 am. Vertical K sprint. Tea, coffee and cakes afterwards.
- Saturday 27 February 2016 – Glenkin at 9 am. Club Handicap race. The final sprint for glory!
Club members only.
David (husband) suggested it and I don’t think he even guessed how much I would fall in love with this sport. I had never run so, nearly 7 years ago David suggested we go for a run … of course this was not on the road or flat but up Glenkin. To say I found it hard was an understatement, but it pushed me more and more. When I could run Glenkin all the way, I then joined the all female running group in Dunoon and met my lifelong friends, Jean Bryson and Kirsty Mundell. The rest as they say is history as I then found my passion in trail and hill running with Dunoon Hill Runners.
Why do you run?
Because I am lucky to be able to, and it’s my passion, my freedom, my time out, my head space. It’s my challenge exploring new trails and hills that you can only reach on foot. Oh and I love rivers and mud and being out with my buddies – Jean, Michelle, Clare and Kirsty have joined me on many runs where laughter is very much on the agenda. When Ricky joins me on long runs he just wants to bury me with a shovel and leave me on the trail!! Think my enthusiasm grates after 20 miles …
What is your favourite running route?
In Argyll, we are so lucky to be able to enjoy what is on our doorstep and it is all beautiful. I never tire of the Loch Eck loop.
What have been your favourite races?
The Devil o’ the Highlands Ultra – 43 miles from Tyndrum to Fort William, a stunning route where you are running through what has got to be the most magical place, Glencoe.
The Cateran Trail Ultra – 55 miles through the Scottish Highlands (even though Jean said my feet looked like tripe at the end!).
The Carnethy 5 – a mad 6 mile hill race in the Pentlands.
What is your greatest running achievement?
I ran my first marathon in Lochaber with Jean Bryson in memory of my mum Violet who sadly lost her battle with Ovarian Cancer 11 years ago. I ran for the charity The Eve Appeal and raised nearly £2,000. Since then I have raised money for Breast Cancer and Cystic Fibrosis charities all from my running.
What are your goals/ambitions?
To run my seventh Ultra but my first solo race in a few months in the Lake District. As Bryan said to me, I’ll always find someone to talk to and I love that I return from every race with new friends. Also running with our club and enjoying old and new challenges together. Watching our club grow and develop and having this amazing bunch of friends who really are the best.
Who is your running hero?
I admire anyone who gets up one day and takes action, pulls on their trainers and starts running because that really is the hardest part. I also love Simon Pegg who plays the character Dennis in the movie “Run Fat Boy Run”. It tells the tale of what every non runner goes through to become a runner and the challenges faced – and also because his shorts are more micro than our very own coach’s! You have to watch, and run with the coach in the summer 🙂
What is your most essential piece of kit?
My shoes – I have a lovely variety for all different terrain (say nothing, Pup!), Shock Absorber bra ( girls know why), my mobile phone in case Ricky did take me out with a shovel, snacks and £10 just in case – although on a beautiful hot race last July in the Lakes it almost got spent as Jamie and I passed a beer garden and the temptation was nearly too much!
Do you have other interests/pastimes?
My brilliant family and watching my daughter Bethany develop her own love for running. Our working spaniel, Jess, and friends and our running club. I’m happy being with them all and having fun on my runs.
What is your favourite inspirational running quote or piece of advice?
“It’s just a wee tootle” and, “It’s just round the corner”. You’ve all heard them and you’ve all said them back 🙂
The Dunoon Hill Runners AGM and Prizegiving will be held on Saturday 27 February 2016 at Kirn and Hunters Quay Bowling Club, starting at 7 pm. Please forward any agenda items to the Club Secretary – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the AGM, a presentation of trophies and awards will be given. Renewal and new memberships will take place between 7 and 7.30pm.