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).

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.