Another Year of Success for Dunoon Hill Runners

Saturday 18 February 2017 commenced with the last event of the Dunoon Hill Runners 2016-17 league series, the Handicap Race. Start times were allocated appropriate to each runner based on their season’s performance, and competitors set off chasing each other down on a damp and muddy Glenkin 5K route. First across the finish line was Bryan Fitzpatrick, followed by Lucie Shaw.

Later that day, the AGM and prizegiving were once again held at the Kirn and Hunters Quay Bowling Club. Dunoon Hill Runners Chairman, Ian Marshall, reviewed another successful year, with members continuing to represent the club in both local and national events. Two new committee members were voted into the positions of Secretary and Race Organisation Officer.

The prizegiving came next and included 2 handsome new trophies hand made by Dunoon Grammar School students, Isaac Lines and Elizabeth Stirling. In addition to the official shields and trophies, some light-hearted recognition was given to specific members for their outstanding contributions in the fields of swearing, sob story-telling, weight loss, animal rescue and a special award for heroic efforts in under-training.

List of Prizewinners:
President’s Trophy for Most Inspirational Runner – Ali McCrossan
Most Improved Male Runner (as voted by members) – Bryan Fitzpatrick
Most Improved Female Runner (as voted by members) – Lucie Shaw

Summer League Series:
Senior Male Winner – Ricky Reid
Senior Female Winner – Lucie Noakes
Senior Veteran Male Winner – Roger Stewart
Senior Veteran Female Winner – Morven Walsh

Handicap Race Male – Bryan Fitzpatrick
Handicap Race Female – Lucie Shaw
Handicap Race Overall Male – Grant Mackellar
Handicap Race Overall Female – Lindsay Moss
Vertical KM Male – Ricky Reid
Vertical KM Female – Lucie Noakes
Long Hill Race Male – Ricky Reid
Long Hill Race Female – Ronee McCarthy
Downhill Race Male – Ricky Reid
Downhill Race Female – Morven Walsh

10K Trail Race Male – Grant Mackellar
10K Trail Race Female – Lucie Noakes
Kilbride Hill Race Male – Grant Mackellar
Kilbride Hill Race Female – Lucie Noakes
Medals were also presented to all members who participated in at least 3 league events.

DHR 2017 prizewinners

L to R back: Morven Walsh, Lucie Shaw, Roger Stewart, Grant Mackellar, Bryan Fitzpatrick, Ricky Reid.
L to R front: Ronee McCarthy, Lucie Noakes, Richie Longster

Dunoon Hill Runners Are On The Up!

DHR Vertical KM competitors

DHR Vertical KM competitors

The penultimate race in the Dunoon Hill Runners’ 2016-17 league series of 6 races took place on Saturday 4 February 2017. This was the Vertical KM – which is as the title suggests, a brutal kilometre of relentless climbing! It was held on a damp and misty morning, when hardy competitors
signed up for an all-out, lung-busting ascent of the hills above Loch Eck.

Ricky Reid

Ricky Reid takes the lead in the Vertical KM race

Competition was fierce, but the finishing order soon became apparent as the runners approached the upper reaches of the route. Continuing a string of league race successes this season, the first male finisher was Ricky Reid in a time of 7 minutes 11 seconds, closely followed by Grant Mackellar in
7:38 and Charlie Collins in 7:53. The first female was Lucie Noakes, who has also had a very successful season, in 8:29. She was followed by Kat Sims in 8:39 and Morven Walsh in 9:55.

On Saturday 11 February, a 10-strong club contingent headed over to the Pentland hills to run the legendary Craigdon Carnethy 5 hill race, organised by the Carnethy Hill Running Club. This race is renowned for its brutal conditions and this year was no exception, with officials advising that it was the worst weather in the history of the race. Undaunted, the Dunoon Hill Runners set forth and, despite very high winds and searing wind chill, outstanding performances were achieved. The women’s team came in fourth overall, with results led by Sara Cudahy whose first appearance at this race produced a highly impressive time of 01:19:12. The men’s team came in twelfth overall,  with results led by Grant Mackellar in an incredible 1:03:43. Several personal bests were accomplished and special mention must go to Bryan Fitzpatrick, who took almost 20 minutes off of his 2016 finish time, coming in at 1:18:07.

DHR 2017 Carnethy 5 Hill Race competitors

DHR 2017 Carnethy 5 Hill Race competitors

The final race of the Dunoon Hill Runners league series was the Handicap race, held on Saturday 18 February 2017 (info to follow).

Anyone wishing to join the Dunoon Hill Runners is invited to complete a membership form and bring it along to a training session, or pass to a committee member.

2017 AGM and Prizegiving – 18 February 2017

The Dunoon Hill Runners AGM and Prizegiving will be held on Saturday 18 February 2017 at Kirn and Hunters Quay Bowling Club, starting at 7.30 pm. Please forward any agenda items to the Club Secretary – secretary@dunoonhillrunners.org.uk.  Renewal and new memberships will take place at this time.

Following the AGM, a presentation of trophies and awards will be given, followed by a party (at approx 8.30 pm).

2017 Beginners’ Training Sessions Commence

Dunoon Hill Runners is pleased to welcome beginners to a training session specially tailored for those new to hill running, or those wishing to return after some absence. We will be operating an 8 week block of weekly training runs, at 6 pm each Tuesday, commencing 17 January 2017. Please advise Morven Walsh of your intention to attend, and complete a temporary membership form which you can print out and bring along to training. The cost is £3 per session. Trail shoes are recommended and a head torch is required.

Runners must be 12 years of age or over.

Please note that anyone between the ages of 12 and 16 years must run with an accompanying adult. A disclaimer form must be completed for anyone aged between 12 and 16 years.

Please also note that anyone who has recently had a baby or been through surgery will require to provide a doctor’s certificate clearing them to train.

2017/18 Membership Application Form

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 6 pm at the Club’s AGM on 18 February (details to follow). All fees are due by 18 February 2017.

Dunoon 55K Ultramarathon 2016 – a great success!

Dunoon 55K Wee Eck UltramarathonThe big day has come and gone with the completion of the inaugural 55K Dunoon Ultramarathon (also known as the “Wee Eck”) on Saturday 8 October 2016. By all accounts, it was a tremendous success! Dunoon Presents and Dunoon Hill Runners have been inundated with highly positive feedback about all aspects of the day – from trail-marking to marshaling to checkpoints to winners’ mementoes and goody bags … and even the weather co-operated!

Here is one well-known Scottish ultra runner’s race report – Fiona Rennie’s “Dunoon ‘Wee Eck’ Ultra”, with a small extract here:

“For an inaugural race there is always a possibility of some wee teething problems but if there were any I was not aware of them, a class event from start to finish, complimentary breakfast at both registration and race start, enthusiastic friendly helpers and marshals throughout, a stunningly beautiful well marked route, great reception at the finish …”

Photos from the day can be found at:

Alan G Forsyth Photography – Dunoon Hill Runners photographer
– First album – The Start
– Second album – Ardentinny Road
– Third album – Benmore/Loch Eck
– Fourth album – The Finish, Dunoon Pier

Ken Clark Photography – Dunoon Presents photographer
First album
Second album
Third album
Fourth album

A date has already been set for next year – mark your calendars for Sat 7 October 2017! Watch this space for more details.Loch Eck - Dunoon 55K Ultramarathon

Completing the West Highland Way Foot Race

by Richie Longster

West Highland Way Dunoon Hill Runners

LtoR: Kevin Nairn, David Wilson, Richie Longster, Ricky Reid

In a moment of madness I entered the West Highland Way Foot Race, which consists of 96 miles of hill and trail. I had never run anywhere near 96 miles throughout my training and on 18 June 2016, the day of the race, I was filled with doubt that my legs would carry me through the next 2 sunrises. My attempts to convince my fellow comrades Ricky Reid, David Wilson and Kevin Nairn that I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do this fell completely on deaf ears!

As the start bell rang at 1 am, and with the tremendous support of family and friends, all 201 runners from all around the world excitedly set off into the night towards the first stop, Balmaha. At this point I was thinking, “It’s OK, Richie, you can pull out of this any time you like”. It wasn’t long before I watched the sun rise over the picturesque Conich Hill and I descended into Balmaha. I was feeling good but remained mindful that I had the same distance to do another 3 times over and the route was only going to get tougher.

Pressing on to Rowardennan, the terrain and miles weren’t the only battle, the midges became intolerable. There were clouds of them and not even the elite racers could out-run them! It was a tough section as the pesky midges remained an unwelcome distraction all the way to Inversnaid.

Beinn Ghlas was a welcome sight and this is where I was met by my incredible support crew including my wife, support runners and our amazing local physio Elaine Graham of Cowal Physiotherapy, who strapped up my knees as they were beginning to ache. After a bit of grub, I hit the trail once again.

51 miles had passed, another 45 to go, and I met up with my first support runner, Linda Good ,who helped me push on to Bridge of Orchy to meet Lisa Marshall, my second support runner, who kept my spirits up with her good banter.  By this point I had developed the mother of all shin splints and I knew from here on in there would be little running. Having made good progress until then, I could theoretically walk to Fort William within the required timescales but I knew my success would depend on a positive mindset. On arrival at Glen Coe Ski Centre, 71 miles in, I was greeted with a much longed for fish supper, and the queen of pain relief, Elaine, worked her magic on me again!

Ian Marshall and Richie Longster

Ian Marshall and Richie Longster

Night was creeping in and I was down to my last section, only a marathon distance to go! I knew if there was ever a man who would get me through this next section it would be Ian Marshall who was my third support runner. My calculations were indicating that, at my current pace, it would be 9 hard hours incorporating the infamous Devil’s Staircase and the climb out of Kinlochleven before I passed that finish line. It was a daunting prospect because by now every step was painful and slow.

Through the night, going over the Devils Staircase and down into Kinlochleven tested all my mental and physical strength and, with the sun rising for the second time, I had 14 miles remaining. From here on in my memory is vague, mostly due to lack of sleep but what I do remember is that I spent my time concentrating on simply putting one foot in front of the other.

The last few miles were on tarmac. It was relentless but the extreme exhaustion I felt was soon replaced with euphoria as I was met by the cheers and support of Dunoon Hill Runners as I crossed the finish line in Fort William at 7am.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! But not next year!

Goatfell Hill Race 2016

Lucie Noakes, Goatfell Hill Race 2016

Lucie Noakes, 3rd Senior Female, Goatfell Hill Race 2016 (Patricia Carvalho Photography)

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.

A weekend at the races

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:

Morven Walsh at the Keswick Mountain Festival 50K Ultra Trail Race

Morven Walsh at the Keswick Mountain Festival 50K Ultra Trail Race

Lucie Noakes, 3rd Senior Female at Goatfell Hill Race, Arran

Lucie Noakes, 3rd Senior Female at Goatfell Hill Race, Arran

2016 South Cowal 10K

South Cowal 10K

Roger and Kristine Stewart at Copenhagen Marathon

Roger and Kristine Stewart at Copenhagen Marathon

Race Report: Hoka Highland Fling Ultramarathon Relay Race 2016

Hoka Highland Fling 2016 Relay Team

Michael Tweedley, Ian Marshall, Grant Mackellar and Roger Stewart (l to r) of the winning Dunoon Hill Runners relay team – Hoka Highland Fling 2016

by Ian C Marshall

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!

More winning from DHR – Inveraray Jail Break 2016

Inveraray Jail Break 2016

Lucie and Roger break out of jail

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!

Inveraray Jail Break 2016 - DHR winners

Roger Stewart, Lucie Noakes and Niamh Evans