Hill Training Sessions

The first Dunoon Hill Runners hill training session will be held on Tuesday 27th May 2014 (thereafter on Mondays). Meeting at the car park entering Ardnadam Farm off of the Dunoon-Sandbank high road, drive straight up and before you reach the gate turn right into the car park. Please be ready to begin training at 6.30pm. Cost = £1.

Hill Training Week 1 – full details [PDF]

Read about the benefits of hill training here [PDF]

South Cowal 10K – 18 May 2014

Big thanks to Iain Cairns and all the marshals for their excellent organisation and support of the South Cowal 10K and Fun Run today, despite atrocious weather. Well done to the first finishers, Joe McKnight and Lisa Marshall, both of Dunoon Hill Runners! And to all other  Dunoon Hill Runners taking part.

Here are the 10K results.

Event photos taken by Ken Clark Photography can be found here – please contact Ken if you wish to purchase/copy any of the photos on his page.

Bupa Great Women’s 10K, Glasgow 2014

… in which I almost matched the winner’s finish time

by Pam Forsyth

For some reason, I had been particularly nervous in the lead-up to this race – much more so than the Great Scottish Run half marathon (also in Glasgow) last October, for example. It struck me the day before the race, that I had lost more sleep, fretted more and generally been a right pain in the backside more sensitive in the preceding week, which begged the question – why?

The trouble with training for and running a 10K is that the focus soon becomes the time in which you run it, as opposed to the distance itself. And that translates to … suffering!

The morning of the race saw me with stomach butterflies. Before leaving, I had had a brief look at Facebook and quickly saw a couple of updates which indicated that the previous day’s Kintyre Way Ultra/Relay/Epic had been a great success for Dunoon Hill Runners. The pressure was now on to not let the side down with my small effort. On the way to Glasgow,  I stopped at Tesco to use their loo (sorry, Tesco – I didn’t buy anything) and I noticed how my hand was a bit trembly as I reached for the tap. How ridiculous, I thought.

Bellahouston ParkParking at Ibrox was much easier than anticipated and I was pleased to see a large bank of portaloos in Bellahouston park (there were more at the start line too). It must be said that the Great Runs are all highly organised and provide more than adequate facilities. Being a women’s event too, the portapotties were clean and usable (no elbows required!). What a luxury.

Inspired by elite Scottish athlete, Susan Partridge, whom I’d just seen warming up (if you could call her fast pace a warm-up), I jogged over to the start line. When I’d originally received my race number in the post, I recall staring at it in an attempt to figure out what coloured wave I was in – my bib didn’t have a colour. Panic! Then I realised, white is a colour. This shocked me a little as I’d been far from the white wave in the Great Scottish Run. I therefore associated it entirely with very fast club runners. So I assumed there had been some terrible mistake which would result in me being swept along at sub 6-minute miles until the point of collapse (fairly quickly, I would imagine). The fact is that the women’s 10K has a bit of a narrower field, which bumped me up into the slightly scary world of white runners (so to speak). I noticed a certain glint in my fellow-runners’ eyes that suggested serious business. This was going to be no fun run if you were clad in a white bib.

As we assembled, listening to the thundering bass of the count-down “heartbeat” (seriously not helpful to the tense, nervous headache that I was developing), something caught my eye. It was a sign … quite literally. It read “50 min pacer”. She stood beside me. The sign taunted me. The heartbeat thumped. The gun fired.

Start lineAnd we were off! Suddenly, I realised why I’d been nervous all week … this was the moment. I was going for sub-50 minutes! My watch was reading sub 8-minute miles … I could do this! Or could I? Gosh, it was awfully fast. And didn’t I know that the worst thing to do in a race is go out too fast? And hadn’t I not done much speed training due to injury? And wasn’t my heart rate reading a little on the high side? Never mind, I would stick with the 50 minute pacer lady like glue, if only she’d stop speeding up.

I recall the witty banter among the Great Scottish Run runners last year, the cheers from the crowd gratefully received, the drums, the pipers – I think they were all there on Sunday too, well apart from the witty banter (all I could hear was huffing and puffing from the serious white wave runners). Yet I wasn’t encouraged one iota by any of it. My only focus was 50-minute-pacer-lady, and breathing. On I ran, still keeping below the 8-minute mark, albeit barely.

Then something bad happened in Pollok Park at around 33 minutes. I would describe it in the classic terms of hitting a wall, or the wheels falling off, or blowing up. Physically, the tank suddenly felt empty and I had to resist the urge to walk/collapse/hail a taxi. How can this be happening, I wondered? My brain kicked in with the obvious conclusion – you went out too fast. You can’t run this pace. You are an idiot. Etc. Forced to slow down, I fumbled desperately with my water bottle and contemplated the embarrassment of a DNF. As I watched 50-minute-pacer-lady running off into the sunset along with my hopes and dreams, I discovered that I was actually still moving and that my revised goal was now to continue to do so. I might not set a PB, but perhaps I could avoid a PW (Personal Worst). Maybe I could even start to enjoy the race. It was only later, when I’d reviewed the information uploaded from my watch that I realised, I had been running up a hill (where had that come from?!). In addition, in contradiction to the weather forecast, the sun had come out and it had been really quite warm. It had been a very sweaty hill.

Pace chart

And so I trotted along for a bit, taking any small mercies that I could out of the situation. I became aware of a pacer passing me and despondently accepted that this must be the 55 minute one. To my astonishment, I realised it was not – it was my 50-minute-pacer-lady! How was that possible? Had I entered some kind of time warp? Or had she stopped to take her jacket off? I suspect the latter.

So we were off again! Like a greyhound after a rabbit (or more like a donkey after a carrot), I was infused with renewed hope as I chased down the ever elusive pacer-lady. The crowds cheered, the pipers played, the elephants danced (or I could have been hallucinating) all the way to the finish. I vaguely recall running past a bank of photographers and I summoned up a grimace, absolutely not giving a flying fig about how I looked in tomorrow’s Daily Record. It was all about survival now.

Got my blingAs I dared to view my cumulative time on my watch, my heart took a little dip upon realising I was not going to break 50 minutes, but would instead come heartbreakingly close. Indeed, my finish time was 50:35 … 35 little seconds between victory and total desolation. OK, I exaggerate. The truth is, I felt fairly content that I couldn’t have bettered that time. I left it all out on the course, as they say (at some point, I may go back and collect it).

Walking back to the car at Ibrox, Susan ran past us, warming down (does she ever stop running, I wonder?). The fact is that, at the exact time she was finishing the race in an astonishing 33 minutes 52 seconds, I was also almost finishing along with her – albeit at a slightly different point on the course.

The winner: Susan Partridge

The winner: Susan Partridge, 33:52

As I reflect on the race, it was rather special to be running alongside so many other female runners, and the impressive fitness levels made me raise my game, as did the well wishes received from my fellow Dunoon Hill Runners before the race. Thanks go to all! Sadly, I lost 50-minute-pacer-lady in the crowd, but I do owe her a big thank-you too 🙂

Hoka Highland Fling 2014

by Ian C Marshall

I guess it all started in a conversation with Iain Cairns….

Ian C MarshallI had not long completed the extreme Ironman race City to Summit, I had been mulling over what new challenge to set myself. Before I knew what I was letting myself in for after listening to Iain’s ultra tales I had pressed the enter button for the HOKA Highland Fling “What had I just done?!!” It was 53 miles of trail running along the famous West Highland Way starting from Milngavie and finishing in Tyndrum. 53 miles!! I remembered thinking 53 miles! 53 miles!!!! The longest previous run I had done was 27 in the Ironman event and to think I’d have to do that all again, why had I listened to Iain?!


Representing DHR at the FlingThe decision had somewhat coincided with starting up Dunoon Hill Runners and my fear of never managing to push myself to that sort of distance quickly evaporated as the weeks went by and the club grew and grew. I guess in truth I was feeding on everyone’s enthusiasm and motivation for the races they were preparing themselves for. This is what helped me the most, joining up with new friends and old alike, running the trails and hills around Cowal, these guys were an inspiration, none more so than Walshy (sure he hasn’t been called that since school lol).

Lisa and Iain

Lisa and Iain

On the evening before Lisa and I arrived in Glasgow, Lisa who also had entered had struggled with injury early on in her training yet decided with a push to run the first 27 miles of the route and then bail out. Given her most recent long run of 21 miles, a sensible option… I don’t tend to get too nervous about races however Lisa made up for this as she was more excited and nervous than a child on Christmas Eve! We or should I say I prepared our drop bags and got all our kit sorted, forecast wasn’t looking too bad for the morning.

Highland Fling StartAt 5.30am we arrived at Milngavie along with 600+ other runners, meeting up with Iain Cairns, the atmosphere was tangible and I was soon scoping other runners kit taking note for my Christmas wish list  As usual every single person there looked fitter than I did and that was my one and only brief negative thought “what have I done?!” laughing inside rather hysterically.

The claxon sounded and we were off like well disciplined ants following the road out of Milngavie and onto the West Highland Way. The field spread out much quicker than I had anticipated and I soon lost sight of Lisa and Iain, unbeknown to me they were not that far behind.

David and David

David and David

Thirteen miles in, arriving at Drymen, I first spotted the ever cheeky and enthusiastic Ken Clark as he bore down on me with his big lens! Then a cheer from Kenny Taylor who I later found out was disappointed to see me in shorts! As we crossed over the road David Wilson (Pup) and David Walsh (otherwise engaged in the portaloo) were waiting on their respective relay runners. I was feeling good at this point and muttered a quarter of a way there to which I heard a reply “he’s optimistic”. I was soon to realise just exactly what those words meant…

Conic Hill was the first challenge of the day and like so many others found myself walking up it to conserve energy for the rest of the race. Disappointingly it was very misty and it wasn’t until descending over the other side did the mist clear and we were afforded stunning views over Loch Lomond. What would normally be a straight forward descent for me was turning into a hardship and it was at this point I realised I was not having a great run. I think we always hope on race day that everything will click and it’ll be one of those effortless enjoyable runs, however this was not the day.

By the time I arrived at Balmaha I was feeling pretty done in, that was 21 miles in with another 32 to go! I knew the next 15 miles having recce’d it with Iain Cairns earlier on in the year and felt it should go well however at the next check point Rowardennan, mile 27 I was struggling. Silke, local GP and Glenpark Harrier was there to greet me and following a stern talking too, told me to ease back. Five minutes later and having fuelled up I set off at a slower pace, aiming to recover enough that the next half would be doable.

I arrived at Inversnaid feeling much better, the slower pace and the more technical terrain brought my heart rate down and the 7 miles passed relatively quickly. I felt a surge of confidence only 19 miles left….. what was to come though can only be politely described as horrible and I confess I had moments of dummy spitting and toy throwing out of the pram! The section between Inversnaid and Beinglas Farm just served to take away what little energy I had left in my legs. Remarkably though I still felt better at mile 41 arriving at Beinglas Farm than I did at mile 27 and I was also told that Lisa had continued on beyond Rowardennan! The Glenpark Harrier girls were there again to greet and assist me and even offered me a massage! It was here I knew I was going to finish and looking at my watch I’d even managed to maintain a reasonable pace but the legs were beginning to hurt.

Leaving Beinglas I ran alongside a guy from France, originally from Scotland, I guess a good ten years younger and adorned in full Salomon kit, we got on great, good chat and sharing in our pain when from nowhere that little competitive voice jumped in my head and said “come on Marshy you can’t let this guy beat you”. Seriously I thought I have 10 miles to go, completing what would arguably be the greatest physical challenge I’d ever done and I’m challenging this guy to a race and he was completely unaware of it! Even so I couldn’t help myself and I pushed on and dug deep eventually shaking him off and from somewhere I found the energy to run all but the long climbs, even catching a few guys on the descents whose quads were obviously destroyed. The last 3 miles approached as I came off the hill when the arch of my left foot either strained or went into cramp, whatever it was I was in pain. I realised I was on for a sub 11 hour race, previously aiming for sub 12 hours, I recall Ken Clark at the farm with 2 miles to go snapping away with his camera, I barely felt I could muster a smile.

Soon I could hear the faint sound of bagpipes in the distance, knowing that I was close to the finish line, rounding several corners the ground opened up to a huge long red carpet with a massive inflatable arch at the end. The carpet lined both sides with supporters cheering encouragement, suddenly all the pain and stiffness evaporated and I crossed the line in 10 hours 55 minutes. Thirty seconds later the pain returned, my legs turned to cement and as our supporters will testify I was walking like a dog that had just been neutered! Still I managed to make the beer tent! Never again I thought, seriously that was the hardest thing ever……..

Hoka goodiesThe HOKA Highland Fling is a must do race for any Ultra runner or aspiring Ultra runner. I have raced many events over the past 4 years and this was without doubt the best as well as the hardest but don’t let that put you off! It’s achievable, the organisation, the support along the way, the atmosphere, the grand finish that makes you feels like an Olympian and not to mention the goody bag… technical t-shirt, buff, bottle of Prosecco and a medal all for £32 entry! Some of us even got a wind cheater jacket (you know who you are!!).

Three days later the pain and stiffness had gone and I was beginning to contemplate which Ultras I would like to do next so honestly it wasn’t that bad…. Thanks to Ken Clark Photography and Ronnie Cairns Photography, the Glenpark Harrier girls, Lynda Nairn for her cake at the end and my ever reliable friend David Walsh for driving me back home. Got to say it, I’m proud to be part of Dunoon Hill Runners!

Cornalees Hill Race – 14 May 2014

Dunoon Hill Runners have been invited to enter the Cornalees Hill Race Wednesday 14th May by the hosts, Glenpark Harriers.

It’s a low key event – one of Glenpark’s Club Championship Races for ALL Juniors & Seniors.

Junior 1/2 mile uphill race 7.15pm start (Entry Free).

Senior 5.5 mile race 7.30pm start (Entry £2, includes refreshments afterwards).

Registration in Orangefield clubhouse from6pm – 6.50pm (latecomers can turn-up and register at the start line).

Route: From Woodstock road at Pennyfern to Hillside Hill (the hill above the Cornalees Centre) and back again.

Changing and showers available for Men and Women in Orangefield clubhouse
Tea & Coffee & cakes in clubhouse afterwards

Great Success for DHR at Kintyre Way Ultra and Relay Race

Congratulations to all 18 Dunoon Hill Runners who took part in the 2014 Kintyre Way Ultra and Relay Race. It was a hugely successful day for the Club with DHR relay teams taking up first, fourth, fifth and sixth places in the 35 mile relay. Six DHR runners successfully completed the 35 mile ultra distance too. A great effort from all!

Kintyre Way Ultra and Relay 2014 Results.

Photos to follow!

Roger Stewart

Roger StewartRoger will be running the Edinburgh Marathon on 25 May 2014 in order to raise funds for the Dunoon Multiple Sclerosis Society who are benefiting local people living with MS. His JustGiving page is here if you would like to donate.

How/when did you start running, in particular hill/trail running?

I was a keen runner at Sandbank Primary School. I took running up again 7 years ago and was running mostly on the road. I started running on trails 8 months ago, with the Dunoon Hill Runners and I enjoy different challenges with this group.

Why do you run?

I run because I enjoy it  – getting outdoors and it’s a good way to switch off. I run to keep fit and healthy … also to confuse my family as running is mostly alien to them!

What is your favourite running route?

The “Loch Eck Loop” has become my favourite. I’ve only done it 3 times, but it’s a great challenge and the views are the best.

What have been your favourite races?

The Great Scottish Run Half Marathon, which I’ve done 3 times, and the Glasgow Santa Dash (done 5 times). Both have a great atmosphere as the Glasgow people are so friendly.

What is your greatest running achievement?

Winning the Willie Jukes Memorial Trophy (first local at Cowal Highland Gathering 5K) in 2012, and first local at the 2013 Cowal Highland Gathering 5K (Camel’s Hump) in 2013. Also, first local at Cowalfest’s 2013 Benmore 10K. The last 2 races were my very first hill races.

What are your goals/ambitions?

To complete my first marathon – Edinburgh in 2014, and one day the London Marathon. I’m also competing in Tough Mudder as part of Team Dunoon in June 2014 and I aim to survive to tell the tale!

Who is your running hero?

Mo Farah is a runner to aspire to, but anyone who gets out there and runs any distance and pace is a hero – including my wife, who has the drive and determination to run despite having MS.

What is your most essential piece of kit?

My new club vest 🙂 And a good pair of running shoes.

Favourite inspirational running quote or piece of advice.

I’m a fun runner  – my advice is not to take things too seriously. We’re only here once, so enjoy!

Info on Dunoon Hill Runners Summer Series

by Kenny Taylor, Secretary

These are exciting times for hill and trail runners in Dunoon and Cowal as the breakfast runs go from strength to strength and the hills around us are lit up with neon jackets, the sound of laughter, panting breaths and the glorious sight of runners on the trails.

This update is to let you know that the club intends to coordinate a very informal summer series. The series (or league) will see points awarded to those who choose to run in races from a set list published on the DHR website. These 6-8 races all take place between May and October and will give you the ideal opportunity to put all that winter training into practice.

While the mention of the word ‘race’ will strike fear into the hearts of many these events have been chosen to encourage people who have maybe not raced before to dip their toe into the water. The series events will also give members further opportunities to socialise and run more regularly. The club is very much about participation and you will be sure of great support from other club runners at these events should you choose to take part. We would love to see as many members (and maybe even vests!) at the events as possible.

The events have been picked to give a good mix of distances, surfaces and to be easily accessible from Dunoon. They provide a mix of challenges that will test everyone and give you a chance to measure your progress through the season. Can we remind you that should you wish to participate you must abide by the event rules and instructions of race officials at all times and that you run at your own risk in the series and at breakfast runs.

Deliberately the majority of events in the series will be local as the club are keen to support those in the community who do such great work organising these events by encouraging a good turnout from members. Some will even be new events organised by the club and we hope to see as many of you at these events as possible.

To include everyone (and not just the speedies) points will be awarded for:

a. Participation;
b. Volunteering (up to 2 of the events can be scoring events if you turn up to help);
c. Personal Bests; and
d. Finish Position

The more events you take part in, the higher up the table you are likely to find yourself. At the end of the series prizes will be awarded in various categories. We also hope to create teams within the club if enough people decide to take part in the series. The teams will be mixed and more experienced runners are more than happy to support and offer advice to others. There are no rules as to how many races you need to take part – one, some or all is fine. Detailed information about the scoring system can be found here [PDF]. Please be aware that the race calendar has not yet been finalised and is subject to change.

The first event of the series will take place on Sunday the 18th of May. Somewhat unusually this will be a road race – this means no hills! The South Cowal 10k has been running for a number of years and starts at Innellan Village Hall and follows the road to Toward before returning to finish in Innellan. The event is organised by Dunoon Hill Runner Iain Cairns and all entry money helps projects in the local community. There are shorter distance events for children on the day as well and there are plans to have food and drink available so it should be a really good event.

If you have any questions about the first race please see the South Cowal Community Festival Page on Facebook or look out for information in the local paper.

Details of other events in the series will be published on the website and by email in advance once the event calendar has been finalised. In the meantime if you have any questions about the series please contact me using the details below.

Summer League Rules Document [PDF]


Kenny Taylor
Club Secretary
Dunoon Hill Runners