Jean Bryson

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

I started road running at age 39. I got bored running the streets and didn’t fancy bilateral knee replacements, so decided to try DHR. The rest is history!

Why do you run?

I run to stop myself becoming a homicidal maniac. And of course to keep my six pack.

What is your favourite running route?

Anywhere off road-except Glenkin – with Dunoon Hill Runners for company.

What have been your favourite races?

My favourite official run is not a hill run – the Great North Run is brill! I also loved the Volcano Run, run by Kirsty Mundell and family.

What is your greatest running achievement?

Getting to the end of the 2014 Glencoe Marathon. Thanks to David Walsh.

What are your goals/ambitions?

To get faster! How hard can it be?!! I want to finish Glencoe next year with some runners behind me, not a man walking his dug!!

Who is your running hero?

All the Dunoon Hill Runners – for just doing it!!

What is your most essential piece of kit?

My Garmin watch. Would be lost without it! Lol …

Do you have other interests/pastimes?

Socialising – oh, and socialising.

What is your favourite inspirational running quote or piece of advice?

“For ****’s sake, another ******- ****** of a hill!”. Oh, and – “Pull back!” (Can’t say that next year though, cos need to speed up!).

(Editor’s note: For the uncensored version of the above, please speak to Jean!).

Glen Ogle 33mi Ultramarathon 2014

by Morven Walsh

Team DHR at Glenogle 33 Ultra 2014

Team DHR (Jamie on phone to insurance)

“That’s not good.” That’s how our day began and were the words that Jamie uttered quietly after we had just ploughed into a dead deer in the middle of the road (well, its torso) en route to the Glenogle 33 Ultra race! 6:50 am, dark and with my head stuck in the kit bag, we took flight then landed with a loud thud … silence … then we limped to the side of the road. Ricky and Kevin were next to hit the deer, quickly followed by Ian and Lisa who by this time had avoided a hit. So there we were, 6 DHR’s standing at the side of the road looking anxiously at Jamie’s poor Audi. Ricky asked, “What’s supposed to be in there, dude?”, as he pointed a foot at the holes in the bumper. Jamie replied, ”The lights!!”

After a brief check, “Are we all okay?”, it was decided to call the insurance company en route and continue to the start line. It’s never dull with us lot! Off to register we go, the weather turning out much better than expected. At registration, we followed a stream of runners of all different shapes, sizes and compression gear. With numbers collected and pinned on, we were set – the Dunoon Hill Runners were ready for action. Because of the deer incident we didn’t have much time for pre-race nerves and all too soon we were ready to run. A brief but relaxed and informal talk by the organisers, some nervous laughter and it was time.

The Glenogle 33 Ultra is an extremely relaxed race. Due to the bad weather the days leading up to it, it had been decided to turn the race route round and start from Killin running to Strathyre then back. Jamie and I had learned a few lessons running the Kintyre Ultra and decided we didn’t need drop bags but just to carry enough of what we both use and would require. The marshals were fantastic and so supportive. We met up with Nikki, a fellow runner who we became friends with on the Kintyre run. After a quick hug and catch up, we were off. The route is mostly trail through forest with a long stretch on a viaduct; there is a middle loop which takes you on the quiet B roads at Lochearnhead. There are amazing properties on this part and we had much admiration for different houses (we even spotted a lovely intact Audi similar to the broken one we had left sitting on the road side a few hours earlier!).

Jamie and I continued our tootle. It was all new to me but Jamie had already run this race twice before. We played cat and mouse with a few runners and ultimately set out to enjoy the race and finish. About mile 28, at the last check point, we met up with David, Jean, Bethany and Aimee. A quick cup of tea and more hugs then we were off again. Jamie decided at mile 30 that he had whiplash!! (Such drama). He also nearly didn’t make it to the finish as, when running over the viaduct earlier and out of nowhere, he said, “I wonder how many people think you are my mum”. He must have been wishing to end his ultra racing career at this point!! (Only 8 years older, I am ). We think we ran our fastest mile about mile 31, as we overtook a poor runner who I am sure thought we had completely lost the plot as we tried out the “Ricky Reid downhill manoeuvre”, leaning forward, arms by our side shouting, “Wheeeeeeeeee …!”. Then we were back in Killen, crossing the bridge and heading to the finish. Once again, Jamie distracted me and sprinted to the finish but, as in normal race finishes for us, was only joking and waited as we crossed together. Welcomed by our families and fellow Dunoon Hill Runners, there was many hugs and a lot of support.

Morven and Jamie, happy to have finished

Morven and Jamie, happy to have finished

We had a fantastic run on the Glenogle 33 Ultra; it was full of beautiful scenery, excellent organisation and support from marshals and a fair share of other crazy runners. I have to say, we may not be the fastest runners in any race, but we love it. Finishing in a time of 6:42, we were delighted. Jamie has run this quicker on his own but he told me it was boring!! So I am just going to take his word for this. Fellow DHRs, Ian, Ricky and Kevin smashed the course in their fantastic fast times and did the club proud. It is an absolute honour for me to stand at any race start with these fabulous men and run the same race. I always feel a little emotional at the start and finish and would not be doing any of these races without the support and friendship we all have from our club. I also have to say I love running with Jamie. We have the maddest fun on all our races and really appreciate the fact we get to go off and have our ultra running adventures.

After all this excitement we had promised the children a Halloween party as we did not want them to miss out. So there we all were a few hours later, dressed in a variety of costumes and having our party faces decorated so expertly by little Rowan, not quite believing we had just run this race. To top it all, I won the lottery … all £25 which went towards a fantastic breakfast on the way home the next morning, the perfect finish to another Dunoon Hill Runner weekend away.

Ultra races may sound mind-boggling but, honestly, any one can run them. You train, you relax and set out on a new adventure, meeting great, like-minded runners on the way. It’s a great day out! Thank you everyone for sharing them with us, the next one is just round the corner!!!!!!

Morven & Jamie

PS: The update on the car repair bill … Jamie said it is quite DEER at £3,000 … “STAGGERING”, I replied! 🙂

The Southside Six – Sunday 2 November 2014

by Kenny Taylor

Kenny and Jack at the Southside Six raceNow in its fourth year, the Southside Six has become something of a Glasgow running institution. The race had intrigued me over the last few years as friends had raved about it. Previously I hadn’t managed to get around to getting a place (I’ve usually still been in my rest phase after a spring marathon – OK, 6 months is a long rest!). Anyway, those pesky friends – some runners and some serial volunteers – recommended that I apply earlier this year when entries went live. I duly followed tweets and Facebook updates in the weeks leading up to entry and quickly learned that the first challenge was to secure a coveted place on the start line. Entry banked, I was amazed to hear that the race had sold out in a matter of minutes – a testament to the reputation and loyal following the race organisers have gained in a few short years.

Fast forward several months and I found myself standing on the start line on Sunday ready to see more of the city than I’d seen in the previous 16 years of living in Glasgow … actually scrap that, the 28 mile Clyde Trail with Jack will still probably be the most I ever see, or want to see, of Glasgow in one day! Me, Jack and Clyde still have a real love hate relationship and it was the sight of the wooden Clyde mascot that welcomed me to the start line in Queens Park.

In essence the Southside Six is a tour of six parks in the Southside of the city (Queen’s, King’s, Linn, Rouken Glen, Pollock and Bellahouston Park). Coming in at 16 miles, the race is a great stepping stone for anyone considering a marathon and offers a good mix of road and trail running with equal measures of tarmac mud and puddles thrown in for good measure. A really well organised event, ridiculously cheap and soup and cakes at the finish line mean this is a race that I will definitely look to incorporate into next year’s calendar.

So, it all sounds too good to be true – well the truth is that the Southside Six is an incredibly challenging run. The golden boy, my pal Jack, said it was the hardest run he’s ever done (to be fair he’s never run one of Kirsty’s legendary uphill slogs in Dunoon but we’ll let that pass). This was a hard slog at times. Departing Queen’s Park (from the flagpole) the route passed downhill into Mount Florida with some hairy traffic dodging on the open roads. Shocked faces showed that other Garmin junkies had flown out the blocks far too fast on the early downhill section.

Climbing out of Mount Florida, the race heads towards King’s Park. Even this early in the race you are conscious that your goal time might need to be re-evaluated to take into account the hilliness of the course – I knew I shouldn’t have worn my Dunoon Hill Runner’s vest, people always think I am going to be good on the hills!

In each park your race number is adorned by happy stickering volunteers – there are six stickers in total, see the theme developing? This led to some hilarious clashes as some runners tried to be “stuck” on the run, not an approach I’d recommend and one that doesn’t permit a cheeky wee breather as you are issued with your sticker.

Leaving King’s Park there was a further ascent up to Linn Park. This was a new one for me but another really incredible green space in the heart of the city. One to visit again at a more leisurely pace in the future. Other than the loveliness my only other abiding memory of this section was the originally themed race feature of the staircase out of the park! The first of several on the route.

A long road section followed next through the leafy suburbs of the Southside and I was delighted to see my former colleague, Emma, a fellow runner who’s had a nasty spate of injuries this season, standing right on cue outside her house. When I say I saw Emma I mean I heard Emma. Man, that girl is enthusiastic. Like enthusiastic off the scale. I felt like Jess Ennis powering down the home straight in the Olympic Stadium. I did spot some of Emma’s more reserved and slightly embarrassed relatives cowering in her porch but she gave a real dose of encouragement early on in the course.

Before entering park 4 of 6 there was another steep climb, this time up the Ayr road. This was getting worse than one of Kirsty’s “small” hill runs where she promises it won’t be that hilly! Rather than miles I was calculating elevation profiles in my head and reckoned there couldn’t be much more climbing from this point onwards.

Back on the flat and going well, I was approaching work turf, Rouken Glen Park. This is where I train the pupils from Woodfarm High School on a Tuesday after work so I know this territory well. Rouken Glen is a great park for trail running and the kids at school enjoy running off the tarmac and getting wet and muddy – the parents who collect them probably don’t appreciate me sharing this passion as dirty trainers clamber into their cars. I really enjoyed the Rouken Glen and then Pollock Park section of the course, miles 8 through 12 by my reckoning. This was the part of the race I still felt quite strong and was well in the groove after a tricky opening few miles. The trail sections in both parks could be miles away from the hustle and bustle of Buchanan Street and the Highland cows set against the backdrop of Pollock House add a touch of Highland gravitas and class not normally associated with an “urban” road race.

Covered in mud, we emerged out of Pollock Park and crossed the M77 for the short transition to Bellahouston Park.

I’ll be honest, Bellahouston Park was rubbish. The race got pretty tough from this point on. To remain positive I got a nice photo in Bellahouston and not much else. Although I actually overtook a Hoka Fling wearing runner – one of those mythical creatures! Maybe Bellahouston wasn’t as bad as I thought! Twelve miles in though on a 16 miler is definitely the death zone. People are slowing and it’s important to keep the rhythm going. So the organisers try their best to accommodate you and put the sticker checkpoint at the highest point of the park, you guessed it – up a set of stairs. There’s something quite head lightening about running up a flight of stairs 11 miles in to a race and it definitely took a while to catch the breath.

The next road section saw the route head back for home turf and Queen’s Park. Loads of shouts for Dunoon (I will collect my royalties cheque for the PR at the Christmas Dinner) or was it ‘that goon’ helped to pass the final miles.

Muddy feet after Southside SixAs we approached Queen’s Park I saw my old pal hiding behind the gate – back slightly turned as if he still suspected me of kidnapping his brother and was plotting to exact his revenge on me at any moment. The giant wooden Clyde! What should have been a welcome sight sent shivers down my spine as I thought about our 28 mile cross Glasgow Clyde and Seek adventure earlier this summer. Well this time he let me pass no bother but his revenge was hiding just around the corner. One final staircase where you expect to finish but is cruelly followed by a final climb to the top of Queen’s Park to finish the race in just a smidgen (official race term for 2 minutes) over the 2 hour mark.

Despite the hills and the toughness of the course I would definitely recommend the Southside Six to anyone who is looking to move up the distances on the roads and who likes to get value for money. Post race soup and home baking rounded off a really great event. The golden boy Jack even finished third. Maybe I won’t bring him to one of our races next year after all.

Ali McCrossan

Ali McCrossan

Photo courtesy: Ken Clark Photography

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

October 2013, after marshalling at the Benmore Gardens 5/10k (Cowalfest).

Why do you run?

Because I feel better for it.

What is your favourite running route?

Bishops Glen, Glen Fyne – across the burn, to Innellan and back to Bishops Glen.

What have been your favourite races?

The Wee Beastie triathlon and the Glencoe Half Marathon

What is your greatest running achievement?

Completing the Glencoe Half Marathon

What are your goals/ambitions?

I’m thinking of trying to get to the top of the Cobbler at a quicker pace than I would walk it!!

Who is your running hero?

There are a few – the lady that started it all, Kirsty Mundell, mountain marathon runners, and Niamh and Popaidh Evans – who will not be afraid to try.

What is your most essential piece of kit?

My trainers.

Do you have other interests/pastimes?

Swimming in and across the River Clyde.

What is your favourite inspirational running quote or piece of advice?

Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try.

Antonine Trail Race (ATR) 2014 Report

by Kenny Taylor

Kenny at ATR 2014Now in its third year the ATR, organised by AdventureZone Scotland, is a 13.8 mile off road trail race. The route follows the historic Antonine Wall. Conveniently, the event starts and finishes at Croy railway station – a twenty-minute drive from Glasgow making it accessible by car and train.

This was my second time running the event. Last year I ran with some work colleagues and knew very little about what to expect. Fairly new to trail and hill running it was fair to say I was slightly apprehensive about what to expect. Standing there on the start line I was totally out of my comfort zone in my shiny new trail shoes which stood out like a sore thumb amongst the hordes of muddy and well trodden Salomons.

I start by mentioning last year as the ATR is a sort of starting point in my off-road running obsession. I remember the race well, particularly the fact that I exceeded my own pre-race expectations and that we exchanged positions for most of the race with a tattooed guy with an epic beard in Roman Gladiator sandals. I remember being in equal parts puzzled and curious about the guy with the distinctive appearance who was apparently breezing the race in sandals. I had read “Born to Run” whilst travelling that summer and knew a little about barefoot running, but it was a surprise to see sandals on what I expected to be a very rough and technical course.

Anyway fast forward twelve months and I’ve now run a number of off-road races, including the recent Glencoe Marathon. In fact this year I have run as many off-road miles as I have on the tarmac. I’ve also met the aforementioned bearded, tattooed and sandal-clad runner who is now well known to me as Graham Kelly. We’ve crossed paths at numerous races, while I’ve been out training hikes with some of my pupils and at this year’s London Marathon. As it turns out we are also both regular runners, and beer drinkers, with the Westies Cross Country Running Club in Glasgow.

So back to this year’s ATR race. It was run in fairly awful conditions with all 200 runners huddling under a family-sized gazebo pre-race to listen to the race briefing before setting off. The first two miles follow the golf course along a narrow path that does not permit passing. Remembering this from last year I tried to place myself in the pack but probably went about 20 places ahead of where I should be in a very strong field. So I found myself running too fast early on but it was difficult to fall back so I decided to ease back at mile three. This coincided with monsoon rain conditions that had me considering whether a walk back to the train station for an early bath would be an appropriate course of action.

Negative thoughts were buried to the back of the mind and I carried on. Thankfully the rain died away to a more gentle ‘lashing it down’. The first ten miles of the race are net downhill so it is easy to get carried away as you run through Kelvin Valley before approaching the town of Twechar. However any thoughts of speeding up were curtailed around mile 8 on the approach to Twechar by the 100 metre swim section – a new addition this year – thanks to the previously mentioned monsoon rain waters. Knee-deep wading at the foot of the valley gave a good chance to take a breath before the first climb up the forestry trail behind the town. This is the first of two small climbs on the route – cruelly both ascents are placed in the last few miles of the race.

A short descent follows the first climb before a steep climb up Croy Hill at mile 12. By this time I realised I was on track to match last year’s sub 2 hour finish, not bad considering Glencoe and the Cowalfest ‘mountain’ races had drained my legs in the last fortnight. I gleefully tore down the other side of Croy Hill and along the now swamp-like narrow trail at the golf course to finish in 1 hour 57. A good run in dreadful conditions. 13.8 miles is a real mind messer for the road running side of my brain and I again found the last half mile much tougher than it should have been due to my obsession with the magic numbers of 13.1 and 26.2.

Lovely grubby SalomonsOverall I really enjoyed the ATR and would happily recommend it to others. My now well trodden Salomons coped well. However, I’m not quite ready to run the race in a pair of sandals. Speaking of sandals, I bumped into Graham again at the end of this year’s race. He didn’t run in his sandals this year but being back at the ATR reminded me how my running tastes and preferences have changed over the last twelve months since my first visit to the Antonine Wall. Graham’s inspiration for ‘barefoot running’ comes from the Tarahumara. He has taken part in the Tarahumara Ultra Race outlined in the book “Born to Run”. Who knows, maybe one day the Dunoon Hill Runners vest will make an appearance there – I’m working on Lisa to see if Mexico can be considered as a honeymoon destination.

Kenny’s race info can be found here.

Next Breakfast Run – 25 October 2014 Greenock Park Run

The next Dunoon Hill Runners Breakfast Run will consist of the 5K Greenock Park Run along Greenock Esplanade on Sat 25 October 2014 at 9.20 am. Park Run is a growing network of weekly races that occur all over the UK. Each event is open to runners of all abilities and relies on volunteers to function.

In order to receive a time, each participant needs to:

  • register online beforehand here
  • print a barcode which is unique to each individual runner
  • bring this barcode to each Park Run event that they take part in.

Please note that this event is not organised by Dunoon Hill Runners.

Cowalfest 10K and 5K Trails Races

Cowalfest 10K and 5K Trails Races winners

Cowalfest 10K and 5K Trails Races winners (click to enlarge)

The Cowalfest 5K Fun Run and 10K were once again well received on Sunday (12 October) with runners coming from as far as Perthshire to participate in the stunning setting of Benmore Botanical Gardens. The weather was perfect and times were fast in the well attended 10k.

David Millar defended his 2013 title in a blistering 34 minutes, followed closely by Dunoon Hill Runners own David Walsh, Lisa Marshall and Pam Forsyth. Local Sam Way also ran a very keen race to finish first veteran male, followed by Marion Houston picking up the female veteran trophy.

In the untimed 5K Fun Run, a large number of participants, some out for their first time, had a fast race with local Dominick Kerr picking up the trophy very closely followed by Nicky Ritchie. Clare McFadden running for Dunoon Hill Runners lifted first female home while Mhairi Hunter won the first local female, all runners of course received a finishers pottery medal specially designed by Blue Sky Craft and a goody bag.

Organisers said: “The Cowalfest committee would like to thank all staff at Benmore Botanical Gardens and the shop and café, volunteers and marshals without whom the races would not be possible, sponsors including Run4It, 9Bar, SCOTTISH RUNNING GUIDE, Purdie’s Dunoon, Fynest Fish Inveraray, Argyll Holidays for providing our much needed water station and junior goody bags, Winston Churchill Venison, Loch Fyne Oysters, Fyne Ales, Blue Sky Craft for the pottery medals and Ken Clark Photography for providing the runners with some very special mementoes. Look forward to seeing you all next year.”

Photos courtesy of Ken Clark Photography can be found here.

Photos courtesy of Alan G Forsyth Photography can be found here

Race results are here.