Dunoon Hill Runners’ Summer of Achievement

It’s been a highly productive summer for Dunoon Hill Runners, with club members pursuing a broad range of distance and personal fitness goals. The club has been represented in races ranging from 10K to almost 100 miles in length, mostly on hilly trail but with an occasional foray on to tarmac.

The longest distance, at 96 miles, was the West Highland Way Race. This was David Wilson’s third outing and saw him take almost 3 hours off of his 2017 time, coming in at 22 hours, 55 minutes. Ricky Reid took an almost identical time off of his previous year’s time, coming in at 23 hours and 21 minutes this year.

Ricky went on to earn the title of “Triple Crown” winner, after having run all 3 major races on the West Highland Way in 2018, including the 53 mile Highland Fling and the 42 mile Devil O’ The Highlands.

Dunoon Hill Runners could be found in numbers at races across the country such as the Goatfell Hill Race, the Glen Lyon Ultra, the Cowal Way Chase, the Fort William Marathon, the Devil O’ The Highlands , the Lakes Sky Ultra, the Dunoon Presents Half Marathon and 10K, the Calderglen 10K and the Bute Highland Games 10K. The 2017 President’s Trophy winner, Bryan Fitzpatrick, has kept busy, competing in over a dozen Scottish Hill Racing series events as well as club races so far this year – too many to list!

The second year of the Cowal Way Chase produced a second place for Roger Stewart in the 18 mile trail race, plus a first female place for Marion Mcmillan and third overall for Ricky Reid in the 30 mile ultra race.

Elsewhere, new member Stuart Greenway snagged first place at the Dunoon Presents 10K while Ross Morley-Trapnell was first in the MV50 category. It’s been a great season for Jean Mclennan who came fourth in her FV50 category in the Highland Fling among other accomplishments. And returning to the Devil O’ The Highlands, Grant Mackellar finished in an impressive twelfth place overall.

Kat Sims ran the Lakes Sky Ultra in the Lake District, a race described as “extreme mountain racing”, where she was the fifth female finisher.

No stranger to distance running, Morven Walsh had set herself her most ambitious challenge yet by taking on the 73 mile Great Glen Way Ultra in July. The route follows the major natural faultline from Fort William to Inverness and starts at 1 am on a Saturday morning. Runners have 22 hours to complete the race with no support crew allowed. Morven finished comfortably in 19 hours and 41 minutes.

Wrapping up the summer, the club, including several beginners, was out in force at the Cowal Highland Gathering competing in both the road and the hill races.

Of course, it’s not all about huge distances and podium places as there have been many other personal achievements, including Ciorsdan Taylor’s first Dunoon Half Marathon, where she raised over £500 for Olly’s Wee Bothy. Whilst several members have used their club training to assist with fitness for other disciplines such as triathlon, Eilidh Brown attributes her DHR training with enabling her to obtain 10 international refereeing caps at the European Touch Rugby Championships. For others, still being able to fit into their running vest was noted as being the height of attainment.

Member Catriona MacIntyre summed it up by saying, “I’m happy to have stuck at it for more than a few weeks! Thank you DHR for getting me there.”

An Upward Trend For Dunoon Hill Runners

2018 is off to a strong start for Dunoon Hill Runners. Attendance was boosted lately by the presence of over 30 beginners, most of whom concluded 10 weeks of training, culminating in a 10K trail run around Glenkin forestry. The club is now delighted to welcome many of these new runners aboard as full members, bringing the membership total to over 100. It has been encouraging to see the surge in interest in running on the scenic hills of Cowal, even attracting residents of Inverclyde along to training nights.

Meanwhile, the first hill race of the season took place on 10 February, the tough and notorious Carnethy 5 on the chilly Pentland hills. A strong team of 11 Dunoon Hill Runners was entered in this edition, each of whom put in a formidable performance which was a credit to the club. Overall, the men’s team placed eleventh, and the women’s team seventh.

Team DHR, Carneth 5 2018

LtoR: Jean Mclennan, Fiona Ramsay, Kat Sims, Bryan Fitzpatrick, Sara Cudahy, Lucie Noakes, Steve Danby, Ross Morley-Trapnell, Richie Longster, Ricky Reid (missing: Grant Mackellar)

First to complete was Grant Mackellar in a very speedy 1:00:23. Despite beating his previous year’s time by nearly 4 minutes, Grant’s reaction was, “I’m a little disappointed not to break the hour, but it gives me a target for next year”. Ricky Reid took over a minute off of his 2017 time, coming in at 1:05:23. A delighted Bryan Fitzpatrick saw a personal best of 1:09:34, an almost 9 minute gain over the previous year, and a colossal 28 minutes off of his 2016 time.

First Dunoon female in was Fiona Ramsay in a superb 1:16:05. She was followed by Sara Cudahy in 1:17:20 and Lucie Noakes in 1:19:41. Sara and Lucie improved on their 2017 times by almost 2 minutes and over 4 minutes respectively. Also notably, Jean Mclennan took over 8 minutes off of her 2017 time, and placed seventh in her category of F50 with a time of 1:24:52.

Completing the team were Kat Sims (who set a PB of 1:20:11), Ross Morley-Trapnell (1:20:26), Richie Longster (1:24:37) and Steve Danby (1:35:53). This was Fiona, Ross and Steve’s first experience of the Carnethy 5, which Ross described as “brutal”.

The club will be having its AGM and Prizegiving at Cowal Golf Club on 24 February 2018 (at 7 pm). This will be preceded by a Handicap Race at Glenkin earlier in the day.

Lucie Noakes

Lucie Noakes

Lucie’s Account

This was 20 year old Lucie Noakes’ third year of racing at Carnethy. Here is her account of her 2018 experience:
“The Carnethy 5 hill race is a 6 mile run which takes you on a loop around five peaks (totalling 2,500 feet of ascent) before returning to the finish.

Having the race in February makes it that little bit more interesting and leaves us all wondering each year what weather we will face. The last two years I have taken part, the weather has been nothing short of horrendous, so this year we were ready for anything.

As luck would have it, the weather was in our favour – some sunshine, a little bit of rain and some strong gusts of wind – much better! It was strange for once to be able to see the tops of the hills and where you were going, it made it a bit more enjoyable.

After the mass start of 500 plus runners, you find yourself in a disorderly line to begin the first ascent up to the top of Scald Law – a real test for the legs and not the easiest of starts. You then take on 3 more hills (South Black Hill, East Kip and West Kip) before running right back down to a flat stretch for about a mile until you start the final climb up Carnethy Hill. This is the last hill, the one that puts your tired legs to the test especially with a nasty false summit!

After a jelly baby half way up, which took me a good 5 minutes to eat, I was at the top of the last hill – a massive relief with only the downhill left to go. This is my favourite part – head down, arms out and letting my legs do all the work.

I always find it hard to describe the feeling you get crossing that finish line but, I love it. The endorphins are flowing, and then you get a cuppa, a biscuit and a pat on the back … brilliant! Can’t wait for Carnethy number 4!”

Running the West Highland Way – 2017

At 1 am on Saturday 24 June, four Dunoon Hill Runners lined up at the start of the prestigious West Highland Way Race. Over a course distance of 95 miles, competitors would spend up to a day and 2 nights running between Milngavie and Fort William, a formidable prospect for even the most experienced of ultra runners.

Always a highlight in the club calendar, a full crew of supporters was in attendance, either providing assistance at checkpoints or pacing runners from Auchtertyre onwards, as permitted by race rules.

Fresh off of his Kintyre Way Ultra race win, Michael Tweedley set a fast pace from the outset, which saw him holding a place in the top 5 leaders for some time. Club hopes were dashed, however, when Michael succumbed to injury and withdrew from the race after over 60 miles of solid running. Remaining on the course were Lisa Marshall, Ricky Reid and David Wilson. This was Lisa’s first time attempting the full course, having run over half of it in the Highland Fling race earlier in the year. It was unfinished business for Ricky, having had to withdraw mid-race in 2016, and David was returning with an eye on improving his completion time from the previous year.

With memories of the sun-baked, midge-infested 2016 race, very different conditions faced competitors and supporters alike this year as bad weather closed in during the later hours of Saturday. Full waterproof attire and a tough mental attitude were needed to cover the final sections in the eary hours of Sunday morning.

David was the first club runner to complete the distance, in a time of 25 hours and 45 minutes, successfully achieving his goal by taking over two and a half hours off of his previous year’s time. Proving that persistence pays off, Ricky was not far behind at 26 hours and 17 minutes. It was an emotional finish for Lisa as she reached the course end in 30 hours and 19 minutes, a tremendous effort of stamina despite a niggling injury. All finishers were presented with the much coveted West Highland Way Race goblet in recognition of their achievement.

Despite some disappointment at this race for Michael, it was some consolation for the club to find extensive coverage of his winning performance in the Kintyre Way Ultra race on the BBC’s “Adventure Show”, aired on 27 June. With the Dunoon Hill Runners vest on prominent display, it provided excellent publicity for the club and for the area.

Dunoon Hill Runners at the races

It’s been a busy summer running season so far for the Dunoon Hill Runners, with club members competing in races throughout the country.

Kat Ullrich took part in the Salomon 50Km Ultra Trail Race at the Keswick Mountain Festival, a very tough route on mostly technical single track and featuring 2000 metres of ascent. She placed an impressive fourth in her category of Senior Female.

In other races, Lucie Shaw, Kate Taylor and Nicola Newman completed the Edinburgh Marathon, while Rachel Wells saw success in the Polaroid 10K race series in Balloch. Jean Bryson and Morven Walsh finished the 8.5 miles Milngavie Trail Race which they reported as a well-organised and enjoyable event. Shona Ritchie, Lucie Shaw, Christine Boyle and Sheila Ireland all completed the Simplyhealth Great Women’s 10K Run in Glasgow. John Colquhoun and Michael Pearce went slightly further afield, racing in the Blackpool Half Marathon.

Bryan Fitzpatrick at Goatfell Hill Race

On slightly hillier terrain, Bryan Fitzpatrick, Lucie Noakes, Grant Mackellar, Claire McFadden and Kat Ullrich successfully finished the challenging Goatfell Hill Race on Arran in impressive times, with Grant coming in 34th out of 220 runners. Bryan took 37 minutes off of his personal best time for this race, despite a nasty tumble! Kirsty Mundell came in third in the Senior Female Vet category of the Rattray and Blairgowrie Half Marathon. And last, but definitely not least, Jean Mclennan led the way at the Brack Hill Race in Arrochar, coming in first female.

Jean Mclennan at Brack Hill Race

The club’s own local summer series of races starts on 20 June with a 10K trail race in Glenkin. The series will also include a long hill race in July, to which other running clubs will be invited.

And 4 club members are presently preparing for the 95 mile West Highland Way overnight race on 24 June, an annual calendar highlight for participants and their support teams alike.

Off to a great start!

Dunoon Hill Runners club member, Michael Tweedley, has won the Kintyre Way Ultramarathon in a blistering time of 4:52:17. Conditions were sunny and warm for the race, held on 6 May, which covers a distance of 35.5 miles from Tayinloan to Campbeltown. Michael is no stranger to local podiums, having won the inaugural Dunoon 55K Ultramarathon last year. The Kintyre route was also successfully completed by fellow club runners, Elaine Graham and Michelle Cameron.

Michael Tweedley, Grant Mackellar and Bryan Fitzpatrick all produced fast results in the short but tough Beinn Dubhh hill race at Luss on 26 April, with Michael coming in seventh. And David Walsh saw success at the Stuc a'Chroin long hill race on 6 May, a gruelling 22 km with 1500 metres of climbing, described as one of the most arduous races in Britain. Bryan Fitzpatrick and David Walsh then went on to set personal bests in the Ben Lomond hill race on 13 May, with Bryan taking over 30 minutes off of his previous time. Race season continues apace and Dunoon Hill Runners will be found running up Goat Fell and Ben Nevis, among many other hills, as well as taking on the 95 mile West Highland Way race in the coming weeks.

Michael Tweedley being interviewed by BBC

Michael Tweedley on the podum

Michael Tweedley on the podum

Presenter Dougie Vipond was filming for the BBC’s Adventure Show and took the opportunity to meet the Dunoon Hill Runners, interviewing Michael at the finish.

The 2017 race season has well and truly commenced for the club, which has been represented at several other prestigious events across the country. This included the 53 mile Highland Fling Ultramarathon through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, held on 29 April. The five individual club runners who completed this formidable race were returnees Ian Marshall, Ricky Reid and Lisa Marshall, all of whom set personal bests, as well as first timers, Richie Longster and Sabrina Collins Brolly. This was Sabrina’s longest ever distance, having completed her first ultra last October, the Dunoon 55K Ultramarathon. In addition, the female relay team, consisting of Angela Wilson, Lucie Shaw, Sara Cudahy and Kat Ullrich, performed very well, reaching the end in an excellent time.

Sabrina Collins Brolly at the Highland Fling finish

Sabrina Collins Brolly at the Highland Fling finish

That same weekend, Annie Lloyd Evans completed the Fellsman for her fourth time. This consists of a high level traverse covering more than 60 miles over very hard rugged moorland in the Yorkshire Dales. The route has a total elevation gain of over 11,000 feet and requires good navigational skills.

Nearer to home, Morven Walsh and Jean Maclennan finished strongly in the 31 mile Glen Lyon Ultra on 6 May – an achievement made all the more challenging by the warmer temperatures that day.

Michael Tweedley, Grant Mackellar and Bryan Fitzpatrick all produced fast results in the short but tough Beinn Dubhh hill race at Luss on 26 April, with Michael coming in seventh. And David Walsh saw success at the Stuc a’Chroin long hill race on 6 May, a gruelling 22 km with 1500 metres of climbing, described as one of the most arduous races in Britain. Bryan Fitzpatrick and David Walsh then went on to set personal bests in the Ben Lomond hill race on 13 May, with Bryan taking over 30 minutes off of his previous time.

Race season continues apace and Dunoon Hill Runners will be found running up Goat Fell and Ben Nevis, among many other hills, as well as taking on the 95 mile West Highland Way race in the coming weeks.

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.

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.